She stands silently for a moment and takes a deep breath, her eyes widening. "World's hottest celebrity. The living room... nothing, those stairs though..." She turns, running up them. "Emily." I hear her say at the top. The mention of her name makes the memory flicker in my head as I look up at her. I tell Alice to go entertain herself in her room for a while so that mom and dad can talk. She nods and does as I say and despite the memory in my head, I can't help but smile a little. She's such a good kid.
"What about Emily?" I ask cautiously.
"After you told me what you did. I remember always edging away from the top of the stairs... you used to pull me away."
"I don't like being at the top of the stairs. It makes me nervous."
"I'm not surprised."
"So you remember me telling you what I did to Emily... what else d'you remember?" She wanders into our bedroom, sitting on our bed. She pauses for a minute before falling back onto it, staring at the ceiling.
"This brings back a lot of memories, not useful ones but... pleasant ones."
"At least they're good ones, I guess," I shrug, sitting on the edge of the bed next to her.
"There's one of you and, another guy. I'm not sure who it is though."
"Ahh. God, what was I like? I seem like a slut in these memories."
"You're not a slut, you just like to have fun." I laugh slightly.
"Mmm." She sits up. "This place is brimming with memories." She looks around. "I remember, where everything is. It's just, the ones of you, I want." She sighs, "are there any other rooms of importance?"
"Your art room," I mutter, "dunno how many paintings you still have here, though."
"Art room, where is it?"
"Thought you knew where everything is," I smile, standing up and offering her my hand again.
"Well, I know where objects are, inside the rooms I've already been in," she says, taking my hand. Meh, same difference. I take her across the landing to her art room, shying away from the stairs without even thinking about it before I notice I'm brushing up against the wall.
"This room, is so warm. I like it here." She murmurs, "a home away from home." She trails her hands along the walls and the objects inside the room, as she looks around it, taking in all she can. "This... No... I don't like this. I burnt them all. You made me so mad when you left. I burnt all of them, but one."
"I know, I'm sorry," I whisper, watching as she looks around at the paintings still there. Looks like she reverted to landscapes and trees while I was away. Some of them are covered by sheets. There's one, in the corner near the easel that's covered by a sheet that catches my eye. The only reason I noticed it is because it's on its own.
"What?" she asks. I look up at her.
"What're you looking at?"
"That painting over there on its own. What's it of?" I ask, wondering if she'll remember.
"Mmm, it's you."
"The one you didn't burn, right? What do I look like in that one?" I think I can remember which one it is. The one where she painted me with just one wing.
"Top off, of course. I dunno why I kept painting you like that. One, black wing but you look rather innocent." She explains, pulling off the sheet to check.
"I'll be egotistical and say it's because I have a good body," I laugh as she reveals the painting.
"I think I was a little obsessed with you."
"I don't mind," I smile, looking from her to the painting. "Remember why you painted me like that?" I'm sure as hell curious.
"Umm, yeah, I loved you, you were my angel." Past tense. Ouch. Again. "But something was tainting you. Hence only one wing and why it's black." Tainted? I'm not tainted, I'm just me.
"Anything else in this room, then?"
"Not that I know of."
"Nothing else coming back?"
"I remember sitting for you a while ago, only I wasn't in the mood for sitting still, if you catch my drift. You ended up painting something very different to what you meant to. Don't remember that?"
She moves to another covered up painting in the other corner, standing in front of it. "Nope."
"What's that one then?"
"This is nothing." I walk over to her, putting my arm around her and look down at the sheet over the painting for a moment.
"C'mon, it's late. We should get some sleep," I mutter.
"Umm yeah." She nods.
"You can have the bed. I'll have the sofa if you want. Doubt you wanna sleep next to a complete stranger," I force a laugh and walk across the room. "I'll just go say goodnight to Alice."
"Hey, you're not," she calls after me and I look back at her.
"Pretty much. It's okay, I don't mind," I smile tightly and move across the landing again to Alice's room, "bedtime," I say brightly as I walk into her room.
"Aww, okay..." she whines, and I bend down and kiss her forehead.
"Sorry, beautiful. We'll go to the park again tomorrow and find Rayn, okay?"
"Yeah, okay," she grins, not noticing how fake my smile is.
"C'mon. Get changed and into bed, I'll be back in five minutes to say goodnight." She nods and starts to search through her drawers. "Good girl," I mutter, wandering out again. I go to the airing cupboard and pull out a pillow and a blanket and wonder vaguely what I did with my bag as I walk down the stairs.
"Luca, stop!" Gemme whines, but I ignore her, and the building hysteria as I dump them on one of the sofas and spot my bag by the front door. "Luca!"
"Mmm?" I mumble, making my bag slide across the floor to me while I make a kind of bed thing on the sofa.
"You're not a stranger," she says, hovering in the doorway, avoiding my bag as it slides past her. Drugs sound good right about now. Ecstasy, maybe.
"No, I'm the boyfriend you can't even remember meeting," I mutter, pulling out a pair of joggers and dumping my bag on the floor as I undo my pants to get changed.
"I... why are you suddenly being like this?" I pull the sweat pants on and collapse onto the sofa, hugging my legs to my chest, trying to clear my mind.
"Sorry, I'm just... tired. I'm grouchy when I'm tired," I lie, trying to make the cravings go away. I'm not really tired, c'mon. I spent most of the journey here sleeping as it was. On top of that, I just go huggy when I'm tired. Not grouchy.
"Oh, well, if you don't want to sleep with me. If I have a bad dream, am I still welcome to come see you if I have a bad dream?"
"Of course," I nod, looking up at her. Oh, shit. I forgot about Alice. Some dad I am. I stand back up again.
"Whatever I've done, I'm sorry." She whispers as I walk past her, dropping her gaze to the floor. I stop and turn back to her.
"You've not done anything," I sigh, pushing a hand back through my hair. "I'm just... having a bad day," I laugh, trying not to let it sound hysterical, "and a craving. But I can't, I'm s'posed to be strong..."
"Then, d'ya think sleeping on your own is a good idea? Okay, granted I don't remember meeting you. But I remember the love I feel for you. I remember the beach." She laughs. "I also remember screwing you in practically every way invented."
"No, I was just hoping I might get away with it..." I pause, "we've not tried the 69 yet."