"And now, it's time to leave and turn to dust"

The Cinematic Orchestra, To Build a Home

Chapter one – prologue

The only difference was the gray of the sky, as if the darkness of her life had suddenly made it up to the clouds and embraced them of its cold monochrome of light. The rain fell down in silence along the windows just like the tears that came to die at the corner of her lips by night. She still cried; alone in a bed that rocked her to endless hours of insomnia. The pain hadn't gone away. As a matter of fact, it was burning harshly on her heart and kept on weighing; oppressed her mind.

You made a choice.

Deal with that.

Two days had already passed by during which she hadn't left the suite. Huddled on an ancient armchair she had observed the traffic in the street below. The world hadn't stopped, not even slowed down for a tiny second and if it might have sounded normal, she found it terribly unfair proving her one more time that at the end, she was a mere detail in life. Nothing else.

What pushed her to grab a trench coat and an umbrella on the third day will probably remain unknown even long after she will have died for it belonging to the blurry rules that define one's existence. Fate or coincidence it would nonetheless lead to the same then settle down the rest of her life.

The street noises took her aback and the icy breeze slid down her spine as she found herself outside on the sidewalk. The world looked too real and insecure all of a sudden. Within forty-eight hours she had grown accustomed to the stuffy atmosphere of the hotel suite, the crackling in the fireplace and the odd sensation that nothing bad would ever happen again as long as she remained aside, passive. But she had crossed the lines as if succumbing to whatever life was supposed to bring even though it would be bad.

The lack of definite plans made her panic as a sight-seeing bus passed down the street and took her out of her daydreams. She was in a foreign country without the slightest reference to stick to except a few memories she desperately tried to run away from. In vain.

"Are you in need of a taxi, miss?"

I am in need of him.

Of a new beginning.

Shaking her head to the hotel bellhop, she slowly went down the cobblestone street and made it back to the world in the most utter indifference. The castle she could observe from the windows of her suite up on the third floor had now disappeared behind the buildings and while looking for it, she found herself facing the gray clouds, the silent rain of Edinburgh that seemed to match so well her life. She had never liked irony, mostly because it hurt even more than needed.

Her legs began to shake as she reached the corner of the street. Unable to sit down on a bench under the rain, she pushed the doors of a pub instead and stepped in. Too absorbed in a match of rugby the locals barely paid attention to her as she ordered a pint and went to a table by the fireplace. She should have taken a book, something to keep her busy. Then she wouldn't have had to drown herself in beer.

...

"Will you ever stop this? I didn't take you here so you could make a fool of yourself in public!"

As a matter of fact, nobody had noticed that she had got drunk but Stanley. Years of experience and he couldn't stand it anymore. It had happened one day. His angry voice had hit the air and taken her aback but from then on whenever she had too many drinks, they always argued. If he advanced the idea that it made him feel ashamed, deep inside she knew that his anger actually came from the frustration to live a failed marriage. That's why she didn't insist and preferred to remain quiet instead.

I can't blame him for my own mistakes.

They are mine, will always be.

"Are you hungry? I am sure that you haven't eaten anything."

For a few seconds she considered his words and came to the realization that she had indeed skipped any meal, one more time. It just hadn't crossed her mind. Cars had been passing in the street all morning till she had made it to the pub and lost herself in pints.

"I have forgotten to eat."

Her remark made him scoff and as a perplexed laugh played on his lips, she stared at him blankly. She was a failure. Stanley might not have said it out loud but the sentiment appeared clearly enough in his reactions and before it, she felt like nothing but to apologize quietly. In her mind.

"How can one forget to eat? It is vital, not optional. Go change and I will order you something to have in your suite."

Stilettos in hand she stood up and headed to the bathroom but suddenly stopped then turned around to look at her husband intensely.

"And breathing?"

She was slurring the words in a hoarse, tired voice. Eyes fixed on the menu, Stan frowned and sighed loudly.

"What breathing?"

She let go of her shoes and swallowed hard. The question was too loud in her head. She felt sick, dizzy. Perhaps she had had too many beers.

"Is it vital too or just an option? I wish I could stop breathing. After all, it did. It did, you know... It did stop breathing."

Stanley shook his head, convinced she was too intoxicated now to even come up with a comment that would make sense. But instead of an angry tone, his voice sounded soft suddenly. Soft and sorry.

"Go change, Karen. You are tired and need to eat."