Chapter 10

Written by: Lrennes

“Claudia… come on Claudia. Come back to me now…”

Simon’s voice became more and more clear, but it was different. There was nothing menacing about it. It was the opposite, soothing, encouraging, like he was trying to coax a child from a deep slumber with as little trauma as possible.

“It’s ok, I’ve got you. Come on now.”

His words seemed rehearsed, familiar. Like dejavu.

“You’re alright.”

I focused my eyes and looked into his. His expression was one of calm, collected empathy. Or was it sympathy? Hard to tell.

“Where’s Viola? Why did you want me to think you were dead?”

The sentences came together with difficulty. They felt laboured. Confused.

Simon smiled in response, but only with his mouth. His eyes betrayed a more unpleasant emotion: sadness.

“It’s OK, you’re OK, let’s get you home now,” he said.

The confusion became more manifest as it teetered on frustration. I began to resist his attempts to escort me from the campervan, pulling against the arm he had around my waist.

“No, not without Viola, where are you taking me? You don’t love me. You wanted me to think you were dead.”

Simon halted his attempts to guide me away and let out a gentle sigh. He turned back to me.

“Viola’s not here, sweetheart.”

“Don’t’ call me that.” My response hurt him visibly.

“Alright. Viola hasn’t been here for a long time. Neither has Davey.”

How did he know about Davey? I stopped resisting for a moment and let him guide me from the camper van while I grappled with what he was saying. It felt like the right thing to do for some reason.

“Sorry about this, guys, sometimes it’s hard to know that these things are going to happen.”

“It’s alright,” one of the two men standing outside spoke. “We understand. Let us know if we can do anything.”

The Mason brothers. I surveyed them in perplexed puzzlement as they walked past.

“Thanks,” he said. “I’ll see you guys later.”

“Let’s get you home.”

My disposition switched to one of bewilderment. I knew something wasn’t right. My grip on reality felt tenuous. Tethered. Distant.

“I don’t understand,” I said as he helped me to the car.

“I know,” he replied.

This wasn’t supposed to happen to people like us, I thought to myself. This wasn’t an affliction that was meant to trouble people our age. If anyone should suffer from this illness, it ought to be reserved for the elderly; for the decrepit, decaying minds of those who had already experienced a lucid lifetime.

He escorted me from the car and ushered me inside, undressed me and put me to bed.

He knows that tomorrow I will wake up, and explain what happened, as always. I will remember and, hopefully, I will be ok for a while. And then it will happen again, more and more frequently. I will slip away from reality and he will find me and guide me back.

The countdown begins. Again.