Cora was astounded, yet debilitated; she never thought it was possible, but there she was, witness to the fireworks exploding in his eyes. He was staring at nothing in particular, zoned out in a trance-like state. She could have waved her hand in his face and she wouldn’t have gotten a response. Waiting for him to answer was beyond useless and disappointing, because one was sure to never come. Several long moments of bloated silence passed, to which an apology finally bubbled to her lips. Before she could even utter a word, let alone swallow the sudden dryness in her throat that should have been her voice, Alex turned on his heel and stalked away from her. His shoulders tensed, making every muscle and flaw extremely prominent. What struck her as odd were the two stump-like scars that were etched into his skin between his shoulder blades, as though they were carved with an artisan’s hand. They weren't a particular eye-sore, but they couldn’t be overlooked either; Cora wondered how she hadn't noticed the marks until now, especially when they were straddling the vertebrae of his spine.
It was cold out, definitely below zero, but that couldn’t compare to the coldness she felt inside her while Alex walked away from her. How cliché, she thought. The girl took a few tiny steps in a meager attempt to follow him, but she couldn’t feel her numbed feet, and stumbled to the hard ground. Dirt collapsed around her fingers. Cora allowed her hands to grow red with the cold. The bright glare of the sun was burning her eyes like lasers, and Cora had to squint against the light of day. When she tried to find her voice again, it was thick with emotion. How someone could move her this much, stir this kind of emotion in her when she was so used to being unexpressive, detached? Burying her feelings had worked, but it got to the point where her repressed emotions boiled up to the surface, under her skin like a crimson blush, on the tip of her tongue like sharp wit, or like needles on the backs of her eyes with unshed, traitor tears. When it got like this, she’d cry and cry, her tears would gush like a river breaking free of a dam. She was like water in a pot on the stove; when she was on the burner for too long, she bubbled over in an episode of raw emotion.