Voices came to him, shrieks of agony and pleas from behind him piercing his ears over, and over again. His own voice was hoarse from the smoke, tears coursing down his cheeks while he had pummeled and clawed against glass and metal alike trying desperately to get to his children. He tried to shake the images, the sounds from his mind and found the voices stayed with him. Only they seemed calmer, cajoling even and Christopher dimly realized the voices were no longer from the past. Quietly, he opened the door and heard Susan speaking in low tones to a man. She addressed the man as Officer.
It was as though all the memories had frozen within him then shattered into fragments and splinters destined to cut each separate nerve ending. Then, he thought, she was just like everyone else after all. Doing her part, aiding him in the way that seemed most humane to her at the time, then ready to send him off to where he belonged. Relief flowed throw him at that realization- the world was just as he always thought it to be. Cold and obligatory with compassion being the only avenue chosen when there was no other left to pick. It was only worthwhile when one couldn’t escape the recriminations of not having acted.
Part of him felt smug, even as he stood, naked and vulnerable, waiting for the inevitable knock on the door asking him to come down. The world was less scary this way, and less lonely.
Quickly he dressed, eschewing the clean garments she had given him, and moved down the stairs. He looked for a sign of her, of the cop, but instead found it to be quiet as a tomb. Again he found his hand wrapped around the knob quickly covered by a softer, gentler one than his own. Christopher didn’t want to be there any longer, not to be under the gaze of a woman so intent upon keeping her guise of benevolence wrapped around her. Unaware he had said as much aloud, he found himself in awe of the strength of that pale hand removing his from the nob.
The hand was rough under her own, shades darker in color from the length of the time in the outdoors she assumed. Her gaze traveled up and down the man before her, wondering why he was still in the clothes he had been wearing earlier and not those she had given to him. It took all her strength to pry his fingers from the knob, and still more she didn’t know she possessed to lead him back into her family room. She felt the tension in his body as he saw the officer sitting on the couch, hat cast aside, with a mug of coffee in his grasp. It’s okay, she heard herself say, this is my son.
Be sure to check back in on Thursday as we learn more about Susan!
If you’re just joining the story please check out the very first episode of the serial here.