Sunlight filtered through the trees. It had been a long time since he had a beautiful and peaceful morning. Music filled the air. Electra sat beside him as she played the final notes with her flute.
“Where did you learn to play? Fred asked. The few pieces he had heard her play were original. He had always wanted to ask her about the music but the chance never came.
Electra smiled, leaned over him and her eyes fell on his cheek. He turned his head and kissed her in the mouth. It was soft and warm just as he remembered it. Fred waited for her to pull back, his heart racing at what she would do. Her rejection would crush him. Tentatively and slowly, he kissed her again. He shivered when she responded, her breath warm against his mouth. His hand came up to her neck as hers cupped his cheek. When Fred would have wanted to deepen it, she moved away. He let her. Just like him, she was a little out of breath. Electra rose to her feet and smiled, her eyes glistening with tears. She walked to the stream, dipped her foot in the cold water and then the other. The water was up to her waist when Fred realized what she was planning.
“Electra,” he called.
She didn’t stop.
Fred tried to push himself up, but his legs wouldn’t move. He couldn’t feel them. Frantically, he crawled against the dirt.
Only her head was visible now.
Her head sank into the depths.
“She is gone.” A deer stood beside him. Its gaze lingered on the stream. “Lost forever.”
“Please help her.” Fred recognized Strago.
The deer lowered its head and locked eyes with him. “Wake up, human. It is time.”
It was the last day of rehearsals for the graduation rites. The academy was nearly empty except for the teachers and graduating students. Fewer still in the early morning light. Dawn had broken in the past half hour. Fred’s friends waited for him outside the High School building. He was expected any minute now. His mom had allowed him to join the general rehearsal after missing most practice days for physical therapy.
“Does he know yet?” Michael asked. It wasn’t the first time that question was directed to James.
“You realize he’s going to kill you?”
As if on cue, they saw Fred at a distance. His movements rigid and shoulders tensed, he marched-limped over to them. James bit back the urge to step back. He could feel Fred’s fury before he registered the dangerous glint in Fred’s eyes, which locked onto him.
“We need to talk,” Fred said.
Michael glanced at James. The pity and the look of I-told-you-so warred in his dark eyes as he dragged Paolo away.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Up close, Fred’s shoulders shook with barely restrained anger. His knuckles were white from how he held his cane in a death grip.
“What—?” Before he knew what was happening, Fred swung.
James fell on his side in shock. Fred wasn’t any better, having fallen too. He had lost his balance when he delivered the blow.
“Don’t deny it! I went to the tunnel.”
After waking from the dream, he had swiftly changed his clothes and snuck out of the mansion only to discover that the tunnel was blocked. Mr. Roucan had ordered someone to seal the opening with concrete. Fred had gone to the hallway where Louis had taken him before. The passage was too dark and he couldn’t find the invisible doorway. His disability added to his frustration and developed into anger as he began to put the pieces together. Everyone had worked to keep him ignorant about Electra since he woke.
“You think I wanted to keep this from you? Louis made me promise not to tell you. I only agreed because we almost lost you. One minute, you were breathing. The next, you were dead!” James shouted.
Mr. Roucan had ordered his staff for an ambulance. He had gone into the mansion carrying an unconscious Louis leaving James with the housekeeper by Fred’s prone form. They had moved him just inside the front door when James realized he wasn’t breathing. He had alerted the housekeeper to call for help and…
He smiled humorlessly. “Hard to imagine that I had to perform my first CPR to my best friend.” His lip smarted. James raised his fingers on it and came away with blood.
“Where is she?” Fred’s fury dissipated. He hadn’t known about James reviving him.
“We didn’t know how you’ll handle it when you woke. Louis begged us not to tell. And with your mom always around – we haven’t a clue if she knew about Electra and you.”
“Where?” He didn’t want explanations. He was desperate to find her. Lost forever repeated over and over in his mind.
“She’s dead. My man found her in the morgue. She was dead on arrival.” The shattered expression in Fred’s face stopped him from saying what else he knew.
James had discovered Sheila sobbing in a rarely used part of the high school library. He had felt sorry for her and lent his handkerchief. She was vulnerable and in need of someone to talk to. Sheila had eventually told him the truth. Victoria had committed suicide, contradicting the news that Roucan Academy’s golden girl had drowned in the bathtub. She had argued with Mr. Roucan on the phone after confirming that her doppelganger was not imagined and lived within the school grounds. She had been livid with her father’s reticence about the matter. As a form of revenge or rebellion – being a minor – Victoria took the car for a spin. Anger made her more careless and didn’t see the person crossing the street. The body hit the windshield. She freaked out and drove away from the scene when she saw that the victim wore her face.
“I’m sorry, Fred. Even if I told you, we couldn’t have done anything.” James crouched beside Fred to help him up.
Fred looped his arm over James’ shoulders. He grunted as he was pulled up to his feet. Tears pricked the back of his eyes and blurred his vision. He blinked a few times to clear it. Fred glanced sidelong at James. Blood had trickled down his chin.
“Your lip is bleeding.”
“It’s nothing.” James dabbed the wound with a handkerchief. The lip was swollen. “You punch like a girl.”
Fred snorted, seeing through the lie. He thought about the only other time he had ever used his fists to express himself. There was bad blood between him and the teacher since the first day. But the last straw had been the insult directed at his mom.
“Will you stop that?” James snapped. He had stepped back several feet from him.
Fred’s brows shot up. What did I do?
“It’s depressing.” James started walking. Fred still looked at him quizzically. Frustrated, he said: “You can’t help your feelings for Electra” – Fred dropped his eyes to the floor – “and I’m sorry for your loss. But stop wallowing in self-pity.”
Fred nodded. Halfway to the classroom, he said: “You’re an empath.”
“You could say that.” James shrugged. “Others prefer onion-skinned or cry baby.”
Everything was packed and readied days ahead. Fred’s mom had seen to it. Mother and son had the longest talk they’ve ever had the night before graduation day. She had, at last, explained to him the real reason why his father couldn’t make it to the event. They had finalized the divorce on Fred’s first semester in the academy. But there were still documents that had to be attended to thus, they were leaving in two hours after the commencement exercises. She had suggested he spend an hour with his friends and say his goodbyes.
Flanked by friends, Fred stood in front of the sealed tunnel. The pain in his chest was unbearable. It was impossible to think of the right words to say to her. His mouth quirked at the thoughts spinning in his head: he would have followed her in the afterlife. Undoubtedly, Electra would hate him for that after having saved his life. It would probably earn him more than a slap. And his Mom needed him more than ever. She loved his Dad despite their differences and ceaseless arguments. Then again, their love destroyed them both – made them unhappy.
The corners of his mouth drooped. It was too late to say I love you.
He stooped down and placed a rose on the ground.
Fred rose to his feet and left.
Copyright © 2014-2016 Cecilia Beatriz. All rights reserved.
A/N: Well, I was a little nervous when I started this chapter since this is my first time writing anything like this.
Anyway, Fred is lucky to have a best friend. James is such a good guy, isn’t he? It seems he has problems when it comes to dealing with people’s emotions .
So, I’ve answered what really happened to Victoria. But have you noticed Louis hadn’t made an appearance to Fred?
Is Electra really gone? Oops… that slipped… Hehehe.
This is not the end, folks. We’re back to reality in the next chapter.
If you have suggestions, requests or simply have an opinion, please leave a comment. Comments and likes are always welcome.