Inside the mind of Dr. Stephen Connor lives a battle between control and weakness. Enjoy!
A Lapse in Theory
In theory, he had control. Disease bent to his will; authorities stepped aside at his word; staff obeyed in both awe and fear. Because all of life was in his control. In theory.
In truth, control was non-existent. Daily he fought for purchase on the downward slope that was his life, but… His sister died anyway; his wife left anyway; his alcoholism resurfaced anyway. Because all appearance of perfection was an illusion. Carefully crafted, but false as hope to the dying. In truth.
Fortunately, this was hardly common knowledge. In keeping those who attempted to look closer at a distance, he avoided discovery. His vulnerability was masked by command and harshness. They saw his toughness, his determination and counted it to his favor. But the lie of it all spoke of his cowardice.
Except lately, he began to sense a lapse. A tiny crack in his desert threatened to fracture into a fault line. And then he pinpointed the source; someone was getting in, just left of his better defenses. As if he'd given his inner sentinels the night off. She'd moved undetected beyond the first barrier; his demanding, 'hands off' aura which radiated past his skin. She'd then skirted around the fights, the verbal snaps and the cold stare. His army, with its array of self-protecting weaponry, was slowly retreating against orders. He despised such blatant disobedience.
But the greater traitor was his heart, as it refused to summon the appropriate anger at her invasion. Oh, there was fury. Only it was reserved for himself. Some part of him wanted to break. Still, he couldn't surrender what little precious control he possessed. What would he have left?
It occurred to him that the tighter he gripped, the less control he actually had. But this was tolerable, as long as the outward appearance held up. That façade kept his universe from collapsing into chaos. Or at least, that was the theory. One he knew she'd love to test. She'd want him to let go and finish the fall down the slope. Experience promised him that she couldn't catch him.
The fearless leader was far too afraid of the landing to let a lapse prove him wrong.