Chapter 49 | The Same World

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Elena's P.O.V.

Lost and unhinged. Astray and perished.

I felt so disoriented, I didn't know what to do or where to go. My impetus was empty, hollow like the inside of a statue.

Where do I find the strength to hold on? Why do I still hear the beating of my heart when I can't feel it? How am I supposed to survive a dead life?

It was punching me in different degrees, at different angles, and in different times. And hell did I fall hard.

Hell. That was where I was.

The world had lost its color; its spirit. All I could see was the gray hue everywhere and in everyone. There was nothing lively or great in this universe. A heart there might be, but it is as functional as the lungs of a dead man.

Nothing felt right. Nothing could make it feel right. Not even when I'm surrounded by my element.

The school's theater room might not be as big or majestic as the one in the past. However, I had enjoyed being here just as much as I had loved the old one. But that was before everything had changed; before the world went dark.

I sat on the empty stage, feeling how the spotlight from the ceiling warmed my skin. The room was dim and gloomy looking, mirroring the colorless world.

Although the school had closed hours ago, I still had access. I had as much access as Emil when he decided to sit quietly next to me.

I didn't expect him to talk or anything, or even try to communicate. He looked tired; lacking sleep and peace.

For hours we sat like that, side by side, in silence and in comfort. It was a welcoming warmth for the both of us; a temporary help that secured us. But it didn't erase the reality, it didn't lessen weights. It was just a blanket; thin but there.

"I'm sorry."

It was quiet and raspy. An instrument that had not been used for an entirety. Although the words were unclear and differently shaped - produced with a lack of tools, - it was the only thing I could understand in this world.

I turned my head to him, not believing what was happening. This was the first time that I have ever heard him speak — that I have ever heard his words.

Finally, he met my eyes. His dark orbs red and swollen, trying not to drown in tears.

"It's because of you that Franny taught us some sign language. Right?" The answer was obvious, but I still asked just to hear it out loud.

"There is a reason why I can't and don't talk," Emil signed slowly, looking at nothing but air in the gray room. I watched him carefully, listening to his silent grief. "Believe it or not, but I loved to sing when I was younger. It was the biggest luxury I had in life. The most precious thing."

He didn't smile or show any emotions when he signed. His hand motions were sharp and active, dancing to tell a story.

"My parents weren't exactly. . . gentle. They had their own problems with alcohol and drugs, and I often got caught in the after effects. I think they hated me. Or maybe they just hated the fact that they had a responsibility for a child. Either way, they never hesitated to. . . when they. . ."

The motions became sloppy at the end, but it wasn't necessary for him to finish it. My worry for him and his well-being - his knowledge of how to cover bruises and injuries, to dwindle pain and increase the healing - was answered.

"One day, they found out that I sang and even heard me on a concert in elementary school. I thought they had enjoyed it loved it even. But when I got home, they—" Emil had to stop there.

It was overwhelming for the both of us, and in a heartbeat, I took a hold of his trembling hands. He was so cold and so brittle, and it ached in every cell to hear the evilness that had been inflicted upon him.

I didn't think my heart could ache more than it did. It was just so unfair, and I hated the world even more.

Instead of finishing the story with sign language, Emil opened his mouth and illustrated the end, showing the dark abuse that was now part of his life.

My hand covered my own mouth in horror, and I could feel how the misery and pain were burning my eyes.

"Oh, Emil."

That's why the black-haired boy can't and don't want to talk. That's why his first words were somewhat unclear and not audible.

Because he had no tongue.

"Emil," I gently stroked his cheek, wiping the heavy tears off as softly as I could. He closed his eyes under my touch, trying to control his uneven breathing.

There are two things you need to get used to if life is going to be bearable; the ravages of years, and the injustice of men.

It wasn't fair. He is such a beautiful being and he didn't deserve an inch of such brutality.

How cruel can you be to hurt somebody so much? How evil can one be? Was this the same world we've spent laughing and enjoying life? The same world that I had once smiled in?

He hugged me so carefully and so softly, and I held him in my arms, letting him cry and sob and everything.

"Franny knows, doesn't he?" I whispered softly, stroking his back and hair as gently as I could. "When we were at Carl's house, it was Franny you texted, wasn't it? Because you live with him. Right?"

It took a couple of minutes before he confirmed. I hadn't actually needed a clarification as it was all too clear. His shell wasn't even intact, it was broken and destroyed inside out.

Emil looked so shattered and crushed in my arms, but I knew better. At this moment, as he was crying and twisting in agony, I saw what great strength he held.

He was the strongest person that I have ever met. Without tears, his ribs would've burned and smoldered. And just like soap cleans one's body, tears do the same for the soul.

It was at that moment that the realization was uncovered, melting and disbanding the heavy truth.

I have to move on.

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