Broken Record

"I can't do this. I can't do this. I just can't," he repeated over and over again. Like a scratched CD, he had reverted to that phrase every few seconds. The words were practically engraved in my mind now, floating before my eyelids when I closed my eyes to escape from this chaos. I can't do this. I opened my eyes.

"Clare, what am I supposed to do?" he asked, his eyes wide with wonder and derangement and so many other things I didn't understand. I shook my head. He took my shoulder in his cold hand and grasped it fiercely. "Don't leave, okay? I can't do this by myself. Please. Just stay."

There it was again. I can't do this. I could feel my lips curl into themselves as he squeezed harder. I looked at him as his crazed, wide stare grew even more twisted. I ripped my gaze away from him and looked behind him, at the shroud that took over his whole being. His belongings. I shuddered, looking at the pictures of Julia and the figurines and the books and the papers and I just couldn't help but feel small, strange. A chill rolled down my spine and through my body and cracked my foundation. I found myself shaking my head.

"I'm just trying to help, Eli," I pleaded, feeling tears prick my eyes. "But this," I gestured to the avalanche around us, "this has to go. You have to let it go."

"But I can't," he replied, a skipped record. I let one tear fall but I turned away, hiding it from his penetrating stare. "This is my life."

"This is not your life," I responded immediately, feeling my breath catch in my throat like a fly in a spider web. Fighting to keep my voice afloat, I continued, "Out there is your life."

I pointed to his bedroom door with a trembling finger. "Cece and Bullfrog, your hearse, Degrassi, those things are your life. And your music, your clothes, your friends," and I added this softly, "me? That's your life. This stuff is just that. Stuff."

He looked around in bewilderment, his lips parted just slightly. His eyes rested on several things until he finally rested them upon me, the crazed, ravenous look gone from his stare. Now his eyes were big and glossy with something I had never seen before.

"I just… I," he stuttered, looking down at his hands. "I feel so stupid."

"Don't," I told him, taking a clammy hand and lacing my fingers through it. He grasped my hand like a rope pulling him from the ocean depths. It shook a little. "You're still my hero"

A tear slid from his eye surreptitiously. He wiped it away with his pinky and gave me a tiny smile. "You're hero?"

I nodded, a smile surfacing on my face as well. He leaned in and kissed my forehead.

"I guess we should give it another try, then."

Hope you enjoyed.