The pencil went up the slanted desk and came back down only to be sent off again by a sharp twitch from Lee's finger.
Up, down. Up, down. Up, down.
She watched it with disinterest, head resting on her arm, eyes tracking the movement but not actually see it. Beside her arm, the music box assembled from Alex's gifted kit played through its haunting melody, internal terminals winding down until the song came to an end. Only then did she move, rewinding the spring and letting the little particleboard robot sing.
Two weeks into her sulk, Lee's fingers lost their dexterity, creativity seizing up like an engine without oil. Three weeks, and she had to start tracking her bathing habits after her mother made a comment about lingering musk. The last thing Lee wanted was anyone prying into her sudden mood shift. The same couldn't be said for Em who sensed what the culprit might be and spoke her peace.
"Look, all I'm saying — and I can't believe I'm actually saying this — is that you can't leave things like they are."
There's no point, Em. There never was.
"Will you pull your head out of your ass for two seconds and actually use your brain?" she snapped. Lee shot a scathing look the blind woman returned with stony indifference. "You got your feelings hurt. I get that, but the two of you were never mutually exclusive, were you? That was a direct question, Leanna."
No, she grunted, hating the admission but knowing it for the truth it was.
"Then it seems to me some wires were crossed, and you two need to talk."
What if I don't want to? she challenged. What if I feel this was all a mistake, and I just want to pretend it didn't happen?
"Well, for starters, you shouldn't have gotten me and your mother involved in the first place if you didn't want this to go anywhere. Secondly, if that's how you really feel, then you were in it for the wrong reason." Em shrugged, shelving the book in her hands.
I didn't plan on falling in love!
"No, but you blundered into it without a second thought to the consequences! You knew what was happening, and you didn't pump the brakes. You didn't set up boundaries. Love isn't like the storybooks, Lee. There's no clear path, and both parties have to actually fucking communicate and put in the work for things to work out. Life isn't a Disney movie. You don't just kiss once and that's the end."
Funny, because I'm pretty much the embodiment of Quasimodo, Lee argued, making gestures at herself before returning to her pencil flicking.
"Hija de la...denme paciencia porque si me dan fuerza la mato," Em muttered, hands together in a prayer fashion, fingers pressed against her lips. She inhaled once through her nose to effectively calm herself. "Fine, sit in your cave and sulk. Let Alex go and move on. But don't you dare do any of that without a verbal confirmation from her that this is over."
Why should I bother? Lee kicked her chair into a tight spin, arms folded across her chest when the momentum petered out and put her facing her aunt.
"Take it from someone who never got to say goodbye," Em said from the doorway, the slope of her shoulders enough to tell Lee she was wrestling an old sadness. "Whatever the pain, whatever the heartache, get closure. Don't live your life with a what-if. It'll eat you alive."
Hit with a profound pang of guilt because she really was being an insensitive, immature sod, Lee reached out, but her aunt was gone, leaving only her words behind.
YOU ARE READING
Journalist Alexandra Bailey never believed she'd become another tragic statistic ripe for the front pages. Abducted off the street. Beaten bloody. Left for dead in the unforgiving winter. The article wrote itself. And her crime? Not even she knew, b...