Lucas shook the tears out of his eyes. He hadn’t dreamt that colourless memoir in ages. It was a little shocking to find himself back in his bed, an adult and free from the capture that had ensnared his unconscious self. His cardboard box stash of odds and ends from his Redshire flat protruded from the space next to his bed. Still there, with its held memories looming, it was sitting. No more. Lucas squeezed his eyes closed. No, he didn’t want to be awake nor asleep.
“I’m safe,” he whispered aloud. “I am loved by God and by a wonderful woman. Nobody can hurt me.”
Still, Lucas felt sick wiping the sweat from his brow.
The bedclothes almost strangled him; he thrust them away from his throat only to find himself facing the blank walls that taunted him, dizzied him. Lucas reached for his glasses.
With the heavy blanket throttling him no longer, Lucas attempted to jump out of bed with a mind of happiness. It wasn't going to happen. Not today. Not when Léa had shed tears on his shoulder over a man who had almost stricken Andrea.
When he shot his digital alarm-clock a look, the digital display blurred on command. It was 'never early enough'.
Almost without realising it, Lucas then twitched the lampshade straight so its depicted sun faced the way of the compass plastered to his wall. He drew his hand back to let it hand in the mid-air. One, two, three. Lucas lowered his hand and walked steadily away. Habit. It was his entire life's weakness.
The swift sounds of crockery being moved about downstairs snatched his attention away from the detention of the interior of his space. Andrea: he'd done everything for her. In her rights as a Psychologist, she could offer treatment. In her role as a girlfriend, she should have presented her case and left well alone.
"Yet, it is the ones we love the most who break and beat our hearts," he muttered, rifling through his clothes to no amusement.
He had gone to confession the previous evening, spending his moments pouring out the truth of his fears and his memories. He had spent many minutes staring at the Blessed Sacrament, pondering which move to make next. He wouldn’t push Andrea away just for his own sake, but humiliation left a hole in Lucas’ decision.
Now, Lucas could think of nothing better to do than to hide in the local church, all steeples curving towards a gentler idea of turning to religious life. No, he had cast that mantle off, too, when he had become so desperate as to write into a newspaper for romance. Andrea was the lucky circumstance from that. He should concede to what she wanted. Should.
He dressed quickly, ignoring all the colours that blended together in his wardrobe. Instead of work clothes, for the students would have no need of him until after Christmas, Lucas fetched himself a warm jumper to put over his trousers. The same as usual. The same drear cloth that he dressed in day after day, for the same routines, once nice now a bore on his spirit.
When he headed downstairs, the dream was already threads and cobwebs lost. In the kitchen stood Andrea, busy, but certainly dressed. She had dark circles shadowing her eyes.
“Good morning.” Her words were barely more than a whisper, as if she had given leave of her voice over the night. Andrea’s hair furrowed and rose in the wrong places; she had yet to make herself up for the day. Not that she looked any less pretty. Andrea could have been standing there naked and Lucas would not have batted an eye over the difference. Well….
“Hi,” he said, hiding the grin that he couldn’t refuse. They crossed paths in the middle of the kitchen, Lucas going to get his cereal and Andrea coming away from the cupboard. She sat down and took one spoonful of her breakfast, before eyeing her partner.
“Have you thought about whether you’ll see Dr. Morrison this morning?”
“This morning?” asked Lucas.
“He rang to say that the appointment had to be changed.”
“Oh.” Suddenly, he was no longer keen for breakfast. Biting down the unfair nervousness that arose in his throat, Lucas poured himself out some cereal. He would eat despite everything.
“Have you thought about it, sweetheart?”
Lucas positioned himself opposite her on the kitchen table, and stretched out his hands gingerly.
“Andrea,” he stroked a finger across her hand. She looked up, those deep, brown eyes penetrating through his exterior. There would be no need to say what he was thinking – Andrea undoubtedly already knew – but Lucas did so anyway. “I’ve been thinking. I’m worried about what is going to come up.” He cleared his throat.
“Is that a no, then?”
“It’s not a no….”
Andrea tapped her fingers on the table. They sounded, listless and without a rhythm. It disgusted Lucas to think that even that irritated him. He wanted to take her hands and tap them together with his to create meaningful music. Yet, he just couldn’t explain to her what it was to feel so stressed, with a mind that constantly screamed at him to sort the world around. All those painful ideas that brewed in his mind were enough to give two people a headache.
“I want to go, but it feels too much like a mess,” he declared. “I don’t know what to do.”
“I’ll go with you to the session,” suggested Andrea.
Lucas swallowed. “All right. If you wish.”
“If you don’t want me to –”
“No, I do.” He didn’t dare again use the excuse of not wanting to have his life revealed to him. It had gone on for too long.
Andrea ran a hand briskly through her locks. “I’ll get a hairbrush, you finish your breakfast. We’ll take your car in five minutes.”
She gestured to the door and to his car beyond, a greater formality than if they were to pop into the red Mini opposite.