Yuri's eyes held mine. I nearly stumbled over my own feet in my hurry to get to the bed.
I lunged forward and grabbed his lifeless hand around mine. He wouldn't speak. His eyes were red-rimmed and blank of all emotion. The vitality had seeped out of his face, pronouncing the dark circles under his eyes. His energy felt diluted to a hundredth of mine. I don't know how to describe it other than that I felt it. I felt his condemnation, his rejection. It was like a block of ice sliding down the length of my spine. He didn't want to speak to me.
Yuri's hand was uncharacteristically hot. I gripped it with all my might. I wanted to force some expression back into his face. Please, I wanted to say. Please forgive me. Please don't look at me like that.
I tore my gaze away from Yuri to meet his father's voice. Did he know what I had done? Krié stood at the foot of the bed together with his wife. His face looked apprehensive, if not slightly tired. I was struck by how he looked his age for once. The wrinkles around his mouth folded in on themselves. Yuri's mother had taken off her surgical mask. Her hands were being held, much like I was holding Yuri's, by her husband's larger ones. She leaned her head on the side of his arm in exhaustion.
- I don't think the Boy is feeling up to a conversation right now. Why don't we give him some room to recover? Krié's voice was calm, soothing, the exact antonym of what I was feeling inside.
When I turned my attention back to Yuri, I saw that he had turned away, looking out the windows. Slowly I untangled my fingers from his limp ones. I stepped away from his bed. It was only as my weight had left the side of his body, that Yuri glanced my away. A brief dart of the eyes, too brief to make sense of the thousands of emotions clouding my thoughts.
With heavy steps, I went over and sat on a chair beside the windows. Mister and Madame Karamov where standing up and talking in Brommin. The television was turned to a cartoon. Bright, animated gestures filled the screen. I don't remember what the room looked like. It keeps changing every time I try to recall it. The few times I actively think back on that day, I find myself filling the gaps with fiction.
Besides, what was there to take in when my heart was wailing inside my chest? When it felt like every cell in my body had been cinched and smothered to death?
I don't recall anything with clarity except the side of Yuri's head. His matted hair, disorderly from the friction against the pillows, his skin which had a paler tone than usual, his avoidant posture. He had on a baby blue hospital shirt, a matching blanket covered his legs. There was a machine next to his bed from which a tube disappeared into his nostrils, and an I.V drip on the other side, but it didn't look like it was in use.
His eyes refused to meet mine. I knew then for certain that he hated me. He would never forgive me.
I blinked away the tears pooling in my eyes and washed down the stiffness lodged in my throat with unshed tears.
I considered walking out the door. I wondered if it was possible to make it home on foot. I wondered what I was doing there, in that room, when it was clear I wasn't wanted. Why had I been stupid enough to believe that Yuri would forgive me? I recalled the way his screams had pierced the sky. The way he'd looked at me with panicked eyes, and the way his sobs had vibrated through me as I had held him in my arms. I remembered how it had felt like my spine would curl in on itself.
My feet stood up on their own volition. I thought they were guiding me to the door, but I found myself striding back to the bed. I stopped a good meter away, straight within Yuri's field of vision. He looked at me, but he might as well have been looking through me. His eyes were blank, glazed-over in thought.
YOU ARE READING
If We ExistGeneral Fiction
🏆A 2018 Wattys Winner🏆 Two boys, one ethnically segregated town. Two sides, one war. Yuri Karamov's existence is like Schrödinger's cat, simultaneously both dead and alive. In Ru Konstantin's mind, Yuri is still the same vibrant young man he was w...