I woke up on a hospital-style bed. Eric was sitting next to me on a hospital visitor-style chair. He smiled at me. I smiled back as I sat up.
"Where are we?" I asked.
"In the Camp Infirmary. I put you to sleep while we were in the cave."
"Oh of course. I remember now. I wouldn't believe I'd needed it, though." I felt rejuvenated and almost brand new. No aches, no fear, just satisfying energy.
"The Camp Staff, work wonders, don't they?"
Eric's brow furrowed. "I had something I wanted to say to you," he said quietly.
"What?" I whispered, suddenly terribly anxious.
"I wanted to talk about ... me. Wait, no, that sounds really self-centred. What I meant to say is that I wanted to talk about the effect I've been having on you. It ... troubles me."
I realised he wanted to talk about his soul. So he'd noticed he wasn't quite the perfect guy I'd told him he was too. Well, I suppose that made things easier.
"Me too," I confessed.
Eric looked surprised. "You know what I'm about to say?"
"Yeah, I've been thinking about it too. I was really ashamed of myself when Denia told us off for last night - I've never rebelled before in my life."
"I bet you haven't," Eric murmured to himself. To me, he said "Then you'll probably realise that I'm not this golden guy you think I am. I've ... done things in the past. Things that would shock you. I desperately hope that they won't change things between us, but I have to warn you that contact with me will stain your record and taint your perfect soul. I'm even scared that my bad personality will rub off on you a little."
I swallowed. "That is ... quite worrying."
Eric looked depressed. "I wish I wasn't so bad. I would change for you without a second thought. I have changed. But that won't change my past." He looked straight into my eyes. "Mystry..." He swallowed hard. "I don't think we were meant to be."
I didn't respond instantly. Things were really that bad. I was torn. I didn't want to feel things for a bad boy but I couldn't help loving him. I'd grown addicted to his kiss. The very reason this had started was dodgy: a golden aura didn't show you the things you needed to know about a person to be in a relationship with them (and I realised I'd been reckless in assuming that he would be as amazing as the light that shone off him); but now that I had gotten to know him a little bit better, I didn't want to finish things. Maybe it was even better that I had fallen in love with him upon first sight: after all, the moments we'd shared had been wonderful and I'd have been terribly judgemental had I gotten to know him properly first.
I started to question who I was. I had thought that I could tell everything about a person by their aura, but what if an aura wasn't related to someone's soul at all? What if it just conveyed a person's emotion at any given time? That made me look bad. Even though I had always been a pacifist and quick to love and respect others, people with dark auras had caused me to feel unease. It made me look stupid too. I had trusted without hesitation everyone with a light, fluffy aura. And oh how idiotic and vain I had been to think I was great and had an untainted soul because my aura was silver!
Hang on a minute. If I wasn't so perfect, then what obligation did I have to be in a relationship with someone who was also not perfect? None at all.
But then... striving for perfection was part of who I was inside. It was so deeply ingrained within me that I had to continue to do so to avoid self-betrayal. Regardless of whether I was actually perfect, I had a duty to myself to maintain my values. And they were good values. Letting your conscience rule you meant that you were thoughtful and never hurt people. Giving that up would be like saying I didn't care about being nice anymore.
Oh this was so confusing! I was lost and helpless like a child. Eric could help me through that. But how could I love him when I didn't know who I was anymore? He could help me find myself... But how could I find myself around a person whose very aura influenced me? Questions, questions, never-ending questions. What was the answer?
"I need a break," I finally said, tortured by my contemplation and the absence of a solution to my problem. I winced at how the words had come out.
Eric didn't seem to mind. He looked like he had a headache. He'd obviously heard all my thoughts. Well, at least I wouldn't have to repeat them and it was definitely good that he would understand my response.
He nodded. "That's a very good plan," he said quietly.
"So, I guess this is ... goodbye..." I said, even more quietly.
"You'll still see me around."
"You know what I mean."
"I love you," Eric told me. This gave me some sort of understanding of life. Too bad I was surrendering that, too.
"I love you too," I said, but I wasn't sure: I wasn't sure of anything.
Eric leant in and kissed me. I could feel how hard it was for him. But my imagination couldn't scratch the surface because I wasn't in the same situation as him: I didn't possess the knowledge that I could change someone's mind with a thought. The temptation for him to do so must have been torturous. I gently pushed him away.
"I'm sorry," I whispered.
He shook his head.
"I, er, need some air," he said. I could see the tears in his eyes. "See you around."
With that, he got up and left my side. He ignored the glances he got from the others. I lay back down and covered my face with the duvet. I didn't want to see the world for a while.