Chapter 27

Harriet

                Beth and Sara left at five o’clock, an hour before dinner. I asked my mum if I could invite Arthur over and she offered to cook for him as well. I was about to pick up my phone when I realised I didn’t know his number. I felt slightly sheepish at that moment, remembering telling him he should call me before he wanted to come over when in actual fact, he didn’t know my number. I set off at a brisk pace to the park, crossed the large, intimidating, slightly scary meadow (where it occurred to me that no one would hear me scream if harm befell me), walked through the equally frightening and rather foreboding forest and arrived at the mansion at about a quarter to six.

                I knocked on the door and nearly groaned aloud when I saw Henry. He saw me and he looked surprised but then sad. He gazed almost wistfully at me.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hi,” I said coldly. “Can you fetch Arthur for me?”

Henry didn’t move. He looked into my eyes and I was briefly distracted by the sadness in his. I watched his face warily, watching for any sign that he might be hypnotising me. My thoughts remained in place, though, and I wondered what he hoped to get out of this. It was then that I noticed a light touch at the end of a few strands of my hair. I had been concentrating on Henry’s gaze so much that I hadn’t noticed his arm coming up. His fingers were gentle and caressing. I looked down at them. They were stroking my hair like a cat’s fur and the steady rhythm of the movement transfixed me I couldn’t look away not even to glare and I was also unable to speak, absorbed by the hypnotic motions. I barely noticed shadow coming across my face and warm breath floating on the air closer to me. Henry kissed me on the cheek. I looked up, startled, the spell of his fingers broken as if the brush of his lips on my skin had acted like a click and prevented further entrancement. Briefly I saw him wincing, eyes shut to focus on his feelings, with the pain the kiss was causing him before I slapped him. His eyes flew open. He looked shocked.

“I’m ... so ... sorry,” he said, stepping back, still looking horrified.

“Yeah, right!” I exclaimed in annoyance. “Now, are you getting Arthur not?”

I was cross and embarrassed that I’d not been able to stop him sooner and just ... frustrated at his feelings for me. How could he love me? How?

Henry turned and strode upstairs. I distantly heard a knock on a door before Arthur walked downstairs. I heard a slam of another door, presumably Henry’s.

Henry

            Oh no! What have I done? She probably thinks I was feeling opportunistic and captivated her deliberately so I could kiss her! I know for certain that she’ll never take me as a boyfriend now. Why was I so stupid? But then again, I wasn’t thinking at all. Everything just happened ..., was natural. It didn’t appear to require the permission of my conscious mind.

            She was standing there and, despite her frosty stare, she reminded me of the first day we met. I remembered the brief friendship we had and was filled with a longing to revive it. The way she looked at me evoked physical pain from me. That wary gaze: she was checking I wasn’t hypnotising her! She thinks I’m capable of hypnotising her again!

            When I kissed her ..., it was bliss and agony rolled into one. Such a sweet tender moment tainted by my desperation and knowledge that she didn’t love me back and has no intention of ever wanting to love me back is both a reason for living - where I imagine being united with my raison d’être - and a brutal, cold, merciless killing so I have to endure a long, painful death.

            Each time I think I’m dead, each time the sight of her releases a bubble of my hope from the prison I’ve locked it in and makes me feel life could be worth living, I’m killed again. I’m constantly being murdered and revived by my feelings for her and it is torture! I want to stay in one state: I feel almost ill from going backwards and forwards so much. The bigger, sensible part of me wants death: detachment from the real world and suffering (because that kind of suffering would remain at a plateau); but a small and incredibly stupid part of me wants life: love, happiness and Harriet. 

Someone kill me for real.

Harriet

Arthur frowned as he approached.

“Is something wrong?” he asked as he reached the door.

“I’m fine,” I said dismissively. “I was going to ask if you wanted to come round to my place. My mum’s doing dinner and you’re welcome to eat with us.” I took a deep breath, realising I sounded flustered.

“What happened with Henry?”

“I really don’t want to talk about it.”Arthur looked concerned, but closed the door behind him and followed him outside.

“Um, won’t your parents mind?” I asked.

Arthur looked briefly confused but then he shook his head. “They wouldn’t care if we went out and got drunk to be honest. Even though we’re underage.”

“Wow, I see what Henry meant about not caring.”

Arthur walked along beside me, looking as if he couldn’t care less about what either Henry or his parents did.

He gave me a sudden smile. “So, you came all the way to my house to ask if I wanted to come to yours?”

I grinned. “Yes. Can you believe we haven’t even exchanged numbers yet?”

Arthur replied, “I can actually.” Stopping, he leant down to kiss me. “I wonder about the times I do talk to you.”

I kissed him back. I attempted to convey my feelings more to him, still upset by what Henry had done. I put his arms around me, wanting him to shelter me from the rest of the world which definitely didn’t know what love was, despite what Henry thought.

He gently pushed me away, sensing something was wrong.

“Tell me what happened,” he said, kissing me to try to persuade me to let him try to help me.

“It doesn’t matter.” I answered firmly. “I want to forget about it.”

Arthur sighed and was silent for the rest of the walk home.

***

Arthur

             It really is annoying that she wouldn’t talk to me. I’m meant to be the one she can always count on, who she can open up to without fear of judgement or rejection. I love her, for goodness’ sake! Sometimes I wonder if she really loves me back.

The End

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