THE SEASON OF EVERY DAY

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Chapter 10: The ones who never sleep

The sunrise catches me with the lights on, putting my thoughts down on paper. I couldn’t sleep since three o’clock in the morning. I decided to do something to kill the time, and this was the perfect way to do it. I look embarrassed at the pages I had left behind when I took the drafts to Raisa. There was described “Dan” alias “Dylan”, and I had the inspiration to take them out before I gave the papers to Raisa, without knowing that I had made the best choice in my entire life. Somehow, I just didn’t want her to find out everything I felt for the sexy police officer I had met in the bar that night. I didn’t like at first that she asked for my writings because I wasn’t used to opening up to people, especially when it came to my feelings. On the other hand, I was happy that someone was finally interested in my work. Anyway, that decision made me not to embarrass myself.

I hear a knock on the door.

“Come in!”

Raisa comes inside, dragging after her a laptop and some wires.

“I saw the lights on. You didn’t sleep last night.”

“I had some inspiration.”

“I’ve read your drafts. You have talent. You should use it. Those descriptions… I loved them. But I have a question.”

“Tell me.”

“It’s all true? Or is it some fiction too?”

“It’s all true. Only the names are changed. But there are only the main ideas…”

“You’ve stopped when you went to that woman… Daria. “

I’d changed the names. I didn’t want her to know more than necessary.

“Yeah, I’m working now on the rest.”

“Here. I brought you a laptop. I don’t really use it. I thought that it will help you. You don’t have to torment with paper and pen anymore.”

“True artists suffer”, I joke.

“I think that you’ve suffered enough. I’ll wait for you in the kitchen.

In ten minutes I’m ready and I walk to Raisa’s house, not before I put the laptop on the written papers. I’m struggling with some thoughts. I don’t want to give her the rest of my book because I don’t want her to know about the story that Dalia had told me. I don’t want anyone to know because I don’t want what I’m going to do next. I don’t even know why I continue writing. Maybe because I need to set myself free somehow.

When I step into the kitchen I see Dylan wearing his police officer suit. He’s getting ready to go to work. Today is my day off, so I sit comfortably at the table. Raisa is making some eggs, and I help her cut in slices some tomatoes.

“Morning”, says Dylan.

“Morning.”

“How did you sleep?”

“The inspiration didn’t let her sleep”, Raisa answers for me.

“I’ve heard you’re writing a book”, says Dylan.

“Inspired by her life!” continues Raisa to praise me.

“Yeah… well, yes.”

“Congrats. A few can do it these days. You’re endangered species”, he laughs.

We sit at the table. I’m savoring the eggs, while Dylan’s playing with the fork on his plate.

“Oh. This is another reason for which men don’t line up at my door. I don’t know how to cook.”

“But it’s really good!” I say chewing a piece of tomato.

“Dylan doesn’t think the same way”, she laughs.

Raisa gets up and cleans the table, then she takes her bag. A trace of perfume behind her.

“I’m going to the store to check on Mia. It’s not like I can’t see her on my phone, but I want to talk to her”, she smiles.

“Technology…” I mumble.

Raisa leaves, and I remain with Dylan and a cup of coffee in my hands.

“You’re not supposed to go to work?”

“I’ll go. Are you that excited to get rid of me?”

“I was just asking.”

“I’ve been surprised to see you here. It’s like whatever I do, some energy from the Universe keeps bringing you back to me”, he smiles.

“Yeah”, I grumble.

“I went to look for Dalia, you know.”

I felt something in my throat.

“But I’ve told you not to get involved!”

“She doesn’t live there anymore. An old lady opened the door and she told me that she moved out.”

The news broke on me like cold water. Dalia was on the run again.

“I’ve searched in the database for her, but I couldn’t find out where she went. I’m sorry.”

“Please don’t look for anything! It’s my life and I know what I have to do!”

He looks at me weird.

“Why don’t you let anyone help you?”

“Because.”

“Dominic told me that he met you.”

I felt I was catching fire. He knew I slept behind the train station.

“Good! Then you know that I don’t have much to offer and I am a delinquent! You shouldn’t talk to me!”

“Why are you doing this?”

“Doing what?”

“Pushing everyone away. Or me, at least. You’ve accepted Raisa’s help pretty quick, so why don’t you accept mine?”

“If I had known she was your sister, I wouldn’t have accepted it…” I mumble.

“What was that?” he asks offended.

“Nothing”, I sigh.

Dylan gets up and sips the last drop of coffee.

“Have a nice day!” he says angrily and slams the door.

I remain there, grumpy. I didn’t want to offend him again, but the words just came out of my mouth. Maybe this is the way I can keep him away from my problems. From my story. The ones who knew about my problems had ended up dead, and he was getting closer to the truth without knowing it.

I return to the barn, where I continue writing. I hear a car in the yard, so I get up and put the papers into the wardrobe. I want to tell Raisa that I’m taking a break with the writing because I don’t want to cause her trouble with my story. I remain surprised when I see Dylan’s car. Not the police one, but a black Volkswagen, from which he gets out pretty upset. He was supposed to be at work.

I remain thinking for a moment, and I decide to get in there and fix the odd situation I had created earlier, maybe even to apologize for my savage behavior. I rush to get in the living room, where I find him with a glass of wine in his hand.

“Hey. It’s a little early for wine, don’t you think?”

“I have a day off. I’ve forgotten and I went there for nothing”, he explains with a trace of sadness in his voice.

I sit on the chair, in front of him.

“Look, I didn’t mean what I said earlier. It wasn’t supposed to come out that way. I know I’m a little savage sometimes, but I can’t help it. It’s the way I am… I sometimes offend people without thinking. But don’t get involved anymore. Believe me when I tell you that you’re not doing anything good when you’re looking for information.”

“I found out that one of my colleagues stopped the security system when Daniel was murdered.”

“So, you discovered that it was murder.”

“No, but now I truly believe this. That man quit that day. We can’t find him now.”

“Whom have you told about this?”

“Uhm, Gibson.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Gibson…”

“He didn’t like that I got involved in this. Something is wrong with this man. The way he accused you like he was determined to put you in jail, the way he treated you that night as if he knew something was going on and he wanted to cover it.”

He was talking in a strange way. He wasn’t wearing the police officer uniform, he didn’t have the gun on him anymore, and neither the badge. He was wearing a blue shirt, which highlighted his green eyes.

“Stan will cause you trouble if you keep interfering in his work.”

He puts his head on the ground as if he carried on his shoulders all the burdens in the world. Raisa’s car arrives in the yard, so I get up to welcome her, leaving Dylan at the table. She is surprised to see her brother home, but she believes him when he tells her that he’s not working.

I feel though that there’s something more, something that Dylan is not telling us. He gets up and heads to his room, and he doesn’t come out for the next hours.

In the afternoon, Raisa’s phone keeps ringing. After a conversation in which the person on the other line speaks more than Raisa, she approaches me.

“Are you free? It’s Mia. She has a family problem. She wants to know if you can do her shifts for three days.”

“Sure.”

“She will make it up to you.”

I prepare to go to the store again, where Raisa takes me. There are a couple of hours until I close up, and people won’t stop coming in. Time passes fast, and I can’t stop thinking about the way Dylan spoke earlier. The clock soon shows nine and a half, so I prepare to close when I see a man running to the store.”

“I closed, sorry.”

“Please. I just want to buy one thing! It will take only a minute!”

I roll my eyes.

“What is that thing?”

He shows me embarrassed the toilet paper from the shelf. I start laughing, and even though I was suspicious until that moment, I let him inside, realizing that I’m dealing with a normal person, with normal needs, not some psycho. She pays and leaves me a tip, thanking me for saving him from an embarrassing situation.

I let him leave, and I lock up the store’s door. Raisa’s not waiting for me, even if I look for her down the street. I turn left, and when I pass by the corner, a door from a block opens in front of me. I hit it strongly and I lose my balance. The man offers me his hand, but I push it away angrily, ready to swear. When I look up, I see the man with the toilet paper, and I start laughing.

“What idiot makes a door to open on the outside? People can get hurt”, I grumble.

He blushes.

“Me… I put the door…”

I feel ashamed too. I had done a stupid thing again.

“Sorry…I…”

“No! I apologize. I kept you from your schedule, and now I messed up.”

I smile, a sign that I wasn’t so upset anymore. He looked like he was about twenty-nine, but he seemed to be mature enough. His brown hair and eyes gave him a mysterious air. He wasn’t so tall, just a little taller than me.

“Tyler”, he says.

“Cara”, I smile.

I walk away, but I see him running after me.

“Cara, a beautiful name.”

I continue walking, but he follows me.

“Look, Cara. I know I might seem stressful, but I want to make it up to you for all the bad stuff I did today. Do you accept to grab you a coffee?”

I look weird at him. No one had ever asked me out that way before. I want to say “no”, but something makes me change my mind at the last second. I forget about Raisa or Dylan, and I really want to meet new people and start a new life, so I smile at him.

“Where?”

“Here, at the restaurant across the street”, he says.

“Fine. When?”

“How about now?” he laughs.

We head together to the place where we are supposed to know each other better. He’s wearing shorts and slippers. This is not really an outfit for a restaurant, but when we enter I see that’s not a fancy place.

“I was heading here when I hit you with the door. It’s where I come every evening.”

“Nice place.”

“What do you drink?”

“What do you want to drink?”

He smiles and waves at the waitress.

“Wine.”

“Wine it is”, I reply.

“That’s it with the coffee we talked about?” he laughs.

After an hour of daring jokes, the bottle of wine is empty, and we get along as if we knew each other for a lifetime. I don’t give any details about my life, but he tells me all his life. This is how I find out that he came here after a nasty breakup, and he has some money saved, but he is looking for a job. He wants to find a job at a travel agency. But without any help you can’t do a lot these days, so he doesn’t expect to find something soon.

“We think alike”, I say.

My eyes meet his when he puts his hand in my hair.

“You have something in your hair”, he excuses.

A strange silence suddenly falls on us, and I feel the tension making me nervous. The wine has something to do with it, and the image is getting foggy. He smiles a lot.

“Do you want to have more wine?”

I bite my lip and laugh.

“Yeah…”

He waves at the waitress and keeps smiling at me. He slowly gets up on the table, pushing the empty glasses away. I don’t move an inch back. It’s for the first time in my life when I want to take advantage of something. Tyler looks good, and he seems a mature guy, so I don’t push him away when he grabs my neck and comes with his lips closer to mine.

The waitress is waiting patiently near us, with the bottle of wine in her hands, for us to get off the table. A cough brings us back to reality.

“I think you can put this wine at taking away”, says Tyler.

“Good choice”, replies the waitress.

I scratch my neck, avoiding his eyes. I feel the pressure getting higher. Tyler leaves the money on the table and he opens the door for me. I feel dizzy, but I feel good. I cross the street with him, and he pushes me into the wall and kisses my neck. I’m about to do a stupid thing, and even if I don’t want it, I find myself in his apartment, pulling his pants.

Tyler lifts me up, touches my butt, then he puts me on the table from the kitchen, takes off my shirt, but he breaks two buttons in the process. The next moments, the tension between us releases, and we find ourselves in the middle of his bed. I can’t tell how fast the time passes because the room is spinning with me a couple of times, and I finally get off him breathing heavily. I feel some drops of sweat falling from my forehead, and I turn around, with my face to the ceiling. Tyler makes a pleasant sound.

“This was…”, he says.

“Unexpected”, I continue.

We both start laughing.

“Where’s the bathroom?”

“That black door”, he answers.

I rush to arrange myself a little, while he waits patiently for me in the room. I gather my things and look at him.

“Are you leaving?” he asks.

“I have to.”

“I want to see you again”, he says getting up.

I smile at him.

“You know where I work”, I reply still dizzy.

He opens the door for me, then I find myself walking zig-zag on the street in front of Raisa’s house. I look at myself in the window of a car and I realize that my shirt hangs on one shoulder in a weird way. I pull it as much as I can to cover the parts that were in sight. I was a mess, and I was also drunk as hell. That’s the moment when I try to wake up because I don’t want to embarrass myself.

All the lights are off, but when I walk the first steps on the path, the porch lights up. Raisa comes out at me.

“Cara! I’ve been worried for you. I went to the store…”

When she approaches, she stops and starts laughing hysterically.

“What’s up with you looking like this?”

“I had sort of a date…” I mumble.

“I see it turned out well.”

“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to”, I laugh.

“I need to get you a phone.”

“But I don’t want one. I feel good without.”

“And how am I supposed to get in touch with you? I thought that something happened to you.”

“I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself.”

Raisa makes a face, and then she wishes me good-night. I rush into the barn and I lean on the door. I had taken a shower at Tyler’s, so I throw directly into the bed. The clock is set to ring every morning at six, so I don’t have to worry about it anymore. The room is spinning with me, but I manage to fall asleep.

The alarm clock rings louder than ever, and I keep searching for it with my hand because my head is buzzing. I touch the clock, I lose my balance and I fall off the bed, while the alarm is still ringing. I try to get up, but the wire of the ringing box wraps around my hand and it falls on my head. I’m awake now. I turn it off and I pull my legs on my way to the bathroom.

I’m wearing the clothes from the other night, and my face looks like after the First World War. My makeup is ruined and stretched all over my face. I get into the shower and turn on the cold water to keep me awake. I throw the dirty clothes on the floor, I brush my hair, I wipe my skin and I get out from the bathroom, with my eyes almost closed and with a headache.

The bells inside my head make me ignore the knocking on the door, so it opens and Dylan enters unimpeded. I make a sharp noise, and I pull in front of me the first thing that comes into my hands, and that’s the tablecloth. The things on the table fall on the ground.

“Hell! What the hell are you doing?” I shout.

“Raisa sent me to check up on you, to see if you’re awake”, he says staring without any shame.

“Turn around so I can put on some clothes!”

He makes a pirouette and I rush to the closet to find some clothes.

“Ready?” he asks kicking.

“Almost! Just a second!”

It takes me another minute to cover all my body parts, then I let him know that he can turn around.

“I liked it better before”, he jokes. “Raisa told me that you had quite a night”, he continues seriously.

I don’t answer, and I pass by him to open the door. I see him biting his cheek.

“Shall we go?” I ask.

He follows me. When we reach the doorstep, I remember I had forgotten the water running in the shower.

“Oh, hell. The water! Be right back!” I jump and run back.

Of course, I was right. I stop the water and head back. But on my way to the kitchen, I hear Raisa screaming angrily at Dylan. I step carefully, think if I should interrupt their fight. Something makes me keep walking.

“Are you insane? How could you keep this from me?”

“I wanted to tell you…”

“This is why you were so upset! Oh, God! Dylan! What are your colleagues saying? Dominic?”

“I didn’t remain to hear their opinion! It’s my business! I’ll find something…”

Without wanting to, I find myself on the doorstep, staring at them.

“I don’t want to hear anything! You didn’t even want to tell me! If this envelope hasn’t arrived, you wouldn’t have told me!” she shouts angrily and slams the door.

I hear her engine running, and she leaves angrily, breaking down the dumpsters in front of the house.

“What’s happening?” I ask Dylan.

“Gibson fired me yesterday”, he replies taking a sip of coffee.

I feel something weird in my stomach.

“What? Why? Dylan, I’m so sorry. So when you came back home…”

“Yeah. He told me that I stick my nose into his business too much and that we can’t work like that. He has something to hide.”

“Dylan, I can’t believe this! I told you to stop looking because you will get yourself in trouble! This is my fault… What a mess…”

“It’s not your fault. You warned me. I still have two questions.”

“What?”

“What has Gibson to hide?”

“And the other one?”

“Why have you insisted so badly for me not to get involved?”

I feel my body trembling. I can’t tell him the truth.

“I can’t.”

“I think you should try harder.”

“Dylan, just understand that what you don’t know won’t hurt you!”

He looks surprised at me.

“It’s about what’s happening in your life, isn’t it? Dalia? Or should I say, Daria?”

“What?”

“I wouldn’t have imagined that I would ever talk with the daughter of the State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice.”

I can’t control my reaction and I feel my mouth wide open.

“Yes, I’ve read your book. Not just the part you gave to Raisa, but the other half too.”

“But you had no right!”

“Why? You’ve written it to sit there and get dusty?”

I throw him a mean look.

“I don’t like the name Dan. You should change it. On the other hand, I like your opinion about my abs.”

“Shut up!”

“Cara, seriously now. You should have told me the truth. I could have helped you.”

I put my hands on my head and I realize that he knows everything. I want to make him stop searching. Sooner or later, he will find out that Stan’s still alive. He will connect the dots, even if I hadn’t written anything about my little trip to the press conference. I have to stop him from finding out the truth, and the only way to do this is to make him hate me and not be interested in me.

“You had no right!” I shout angrily.

“Cara, listen to me…”

“No! I won’t listen to you! I’m tired of it! You just keep showing into my life every second I move on to another chapter! Stop getting involved in my problems because I don’t give a damn about yours! I really don’t!”, I accentuate it.

He looks at me as if I hurt his ego again.

“If I’m thinking better about it, it’s not my fault that you got fired! I’ve warned you! You brought this on yourself! Now, hear this loud and clear. Leave me alone! I will save some money and I will be out of here in no time because I don’t want to hear things! You will get rid of me soon, so stop wasting your time!”

I scream the last words, while I take my purse and slam the door. I head angrily to the store, trying to keep my tears inside. I feel so bad that I have to humiliate and upset him again, but I have to keep him away from everything.

I arrive late at the store, so I rush to open. I start arranging the stuff on the shelves, but a terrible headache makes me want to sit down. My hands are shaking without control. Gibson knew something or he was somehow involved in this story. He was the one who was cleaning up the mess after them. This is the reason he fired Dylan. I’m thinking terrified that he might know a lot more than the leaves on sight. I put my hand between my palms, but I wake up quickly when I hear the doorbell. The customers start showing up, and I have to pretend I’m able to give them the correct change.

The next hours pass extremely hard, and maybe the hangover was to blame too. I start cleaning the shelves to kill the time when I hear again the doorbell. I don’t feel the shelf under my hand and a can of tomato juice falls on the floor. Now I’m dappled with tomato juice, and finally awake.

I see Dylan standing there, looking at me. What was wrong with this man?

“I told you that I don’t want anything to do with you! To leave me alone! What the hell is your problem?”

He comes near me laughing.

“What the hell is so funny? What you should do when someone, a normal person, tells you offending things and asks you to leave him alone?”

“You’re not just someone or a normal person”, he says smiling.

“What? You’ve come here to offend me back? Don’t play with me!”

“Cara, I came here to tell you that I don’t believe a single word you’re saying.”

I google my eyes and open my mouth to say something.

“After what I’ve read the papers, I’m pretty sure you’re the one playing something. You don’t hate me like you say you do.”

“I haven’t said I hated you”, I mumble with half a mouth.

“Something tells me that you have a big problem. Stop pushing me away. Let me help you.”

“How can you tell how I feel? How do you know why I’m doing this?”

“You tell me.”

I remain blocked for a second. I don’t know what to answer. The lies started to fade away, and I felt like the mask I was wearing was melting down my face, leaving behind not an angry face, but a concerned one. I’m about to tell him the real reason why I don’t want him to get involved in my life because all the people around me end badly. But the doorbell rings and Dylan turns around.

“Cara!” says Tyler excited.

Crap. Bad timing, I add in my mind.

“Tyler”, I reply not so excited.

“How are you? Are you ok?”

“Yeah”, I say praying for him not to bring up the topic about last night.

“I’m a little dizzy, but I’m fine.”

No one asked him how he felt, but he insisted on letting me know anyway. He comes close and grabs my hand from the counter.

“I was passing by and I thought I could check up on you. I’m coming tonight to take you out to dinner. Oh, and this time we’ll drink water!” he laughs.

Dylan looks at me disappointed, then at Tyler’s hand touching mine. I want to drag it away, but it’s too late. Dylan walks out the door, without a single word. Tyler doesn’t notice the tension he created, and he smiles and walks out too.

My heart starts racing inside my chest, and I can’t understand why I have this feeling only when Dylan’s around. I feel something, but I’m not sure what, because I haven’t felt anything like this before. I want to run after Dylan, to tell him I’m sorry for what had happened, but also for my behavior, but I can’t leave the post. Why do I want to do this? I had asked what was wrong with him, but the truth is that something was terribly wrong with me.

I remain there, disappointed, feeling weird, full of tomatoes. I put my hand through my hair and bend under the counter. I pull out from my purse a T-shirt, which I had there in case of emergency. When I had put it inside, I hadn’t thought for a second about such a red emergency. I put my butt in the sink and I start washing the tomatoes off my pants, sighing long.

Raisa walks unexpectedly into the store.

“What are you doing?” she suddenly asks, making me slip.

“Oh, you scared me.”

“Sorry. I’m angry. Dylan was fired!”

“I know… I found out.”

“Cara, I don’t know what to do with him anymore. He’s acting strange! And now he’s fired too! Something isn’t right!”

I look at her sadly and I want to tell her that is all my fault.

“He was here. We had an argument when I left home and he came here.”

“That’s my brother. He always feels guilty.”

“He left when I was in the company of a customer and he seemed pretty upset. If you go home, you should check if he’s fine. And don’t fight with him anymore… Everything is going to work out.”

“Maybe you’re right. Thanks for the advice. He’s lucky to have a friend like you, who stands up for him.”

Her words fall hard on me, and when she leaves the store I feel desperately weird. Whatever I did, I ended up hurting the ones around me. I wasn’t anything Raisa said, but I wanted to be at least ten percent.

I remember about Tyler telling that he was going to pass by only the moment when he shows up at the door.

“Are you ready?”

“Now”, I say uncertainly.

I lock the store and I remain there for a moment.

“Are you ok?” he asks me.

As if you give a damn, you only know me for one day, I think.

“Yes”, I answer. “I’m not in the mood for the restaurant…”

“That’s exactly what I was going to tell you. I feel weird too. There’s something in the air.”

“You tell me?”

“Let’s go to my place. I’ll make some lemonade and we’ll talk.”

I believe he meant another thing, but it came out “talk”. I bite my cheek and followed him on the stairs, to his door. I couldn’t remember exactly where he lived because of the wine from the other night. What a nasty wine. When I walk inside I feel a strong vanilla smell. I didn’t feel it last night. I sit on the bed, which seems taller than the other night. Something is wrong.

When I look out the window I notice that we are higher than we were last night. Or is it just an illusion?

“Tyler?”

He turns around at me from the kitchen, with two lemons in his hands.

“I don’t want you to call me crazy, but I feel like we’re higher”, I try to smile.

“Oh, yes. That’s normal. You’re not crazy. Have I forgotten to mention that I have two apartments? The other one is exactly under us. It was a mess in there from last night, so it seemed fine to bring you here”, he smiles forced too.

Cara the paranoiac slowly crawls on the surface, but I try to hide her when Tyler comes on the bed with the lemonade. I get up and grab the glass, but I put it down when he approaches me. He pulls me in front of the window and catches my head between his palms. I look him in the eyes and what I see are incertitude and sadness. He turns me around, and this time he is with the back at the window. What the hell was with that window?

He finally kisses me and I feel turned one more time to the window, only this time we’re face to face, with our left sides at the door. The details drive me crazy and I realize that I have to calm down, otherwise I will push everyone around me away again. But my fears come back to the surface when Tyler whispers with his forehead close to mine:

“I can’t…”

I open my eyes, but I don’t move and I don’t leave. The first thing that crosses my mind when I hear him is that: ‘What if he’s married?’, but I ask him in a whisper too.

“You can’t… what?”

I feel his heart beating fast, and he closes his eyes, then he pushes me away from the window. He moves a step back when the window breaks into a million of pieces. Everything happened too fast, and I realize that someone had tried to shoot me.

“Run! Damn it! Just go!” he shouts.

The tears flow on my cheeks and my body trembles. I get up desperately and I trip on the little table. I rush to get out, but when I reach the door I realize that someone is waiting for me downstairs, probably to kill me, so I start running up on the stairs. I reach the last floor, and breathing heavily, I hit with my fists the door that goes on the rooftop.

I think that only a sniper could have such a target, I all I can hope for is that he’s staying fixed on the exit downstairs, and I still have a chance. I get out running on the rooftop, and I reach the end of it. I bend down and I see the fire stairs. They have this thing on the blocks with four floors. It’s a couple of steps away from me, so I rush to get on it.

A loud noise and some brick falling down let me know that the sniper had found me. Hopefully, I had managed to get on the stairs before he could shoot me. When I look down, I feel my breath taken away. The distance was huge, and my legs were shaking. I felt my heart was about to jump off my chest and start running around, but I concentrated on my feet.

When I felt the ground under my feet, I started running between the blocks, right-left, trying to get away from that horrible place. Finally, I stopped behind some power plant, near Raisa’s house. I looked around. No one had followed me, but I wasn’t sure that I was doing the right thing by going back there. Then I think that if they had known I was living there, they would have found me already, so I run into the darkness of the night and I enter the barn, slamming the door.

My body is shaking, and I’m trying to put things and facts together, in the dark. I don’t want them to know that I’m back yet. I gulp. Tyler was their man. He had played his part very well and brought me exactly where they wanted me. Only there was this thing that made him change his mind at the last second. He had decided that my life was worth saving, but this didn’t make him grow in my eyes. He had used me and made fun of me.

I was thinking about what had happened to him after he had saved me, but it was his problem, because, after all, he was the one who had brought me there. I was thinking terrified that there was a possibility that Dylan and Raisa were working undercover for them too. I was sitting on the floor, in the dark, with my head between my knees. I don’t know when, but I fell asleep. At some point, I heard a sound, but I was too tired to open my eyes. I was woken up by a thick smoke. I try to open my eyes, but I’m too dizzy.

I hear voices screaming from outside. I open my eyes and I see big flames around me. I get up and I grab the pillow from the bed. I put it on me and I start calling for help from the top of my lungs. I run at the door, but it won’t open. It’s stuck. In front of the windows, I can see something black, as if something was put there to prevent me from getting out. I start walking desperately in the room.

I can hear my name and a lot of hits in the door, and the windows. I look over there, but the fire is getting bigger. The black thing in front of the windows won’t get off that easily. I run to the bathroom and I close the door. I turn on the water and throw the shower from the tub out. I don’t believe that it’s going to save me, but it’s something psychological. I climb on the bathtub, to reach the small window. I see disappointed that it’s covered with that black thing as well.

It starts getting hot inside, and the fire comes through the door quickly. I rush to the closet under the sink and I search for something to break the window. I hit it with my leg twice, and I pull the little door. I grab it and, with the pillow still on me, I go to the window. I hit it hard several times until I break it and I touch the black thing. I can’t tell what is it, but it’s hard to move even if I hit it. It’s made in a way that it is impossible to be broken from the outside. “Not on the inside”, I think and I continue hitting it until it seems to be breaking and falling.

Then I put my hands in it and I push strongly. I can feel pieces from the wall falling down, and that’s a sign that I’m going to break it. With a strong sound, I push it one last time, when I feel the flames on my back. I get up on the little window and I push myself out.

I wake up outside, after several minutes, surrounded by firemen. I wonder what the hell had they done until that moment, but I feel my skin burning on my back, and I probably don’t have hair on the back too, so I have bigger problems to think about. I feel the clothes falling off me, and I realize that they had burned along with the pillow. A fireman covers me with something and lifts me into his arms.

“Cara!” shouts Raisa running at me.

I can see Dylan behind her, but I don’t have the strength to talk. I let myself put into the ambulance, and it drives me to the hospital. I’m awake on the way there. A nurse helps me get rid of the burned clothes and gives me a dressing gown.

“Oh my God, girl! You have no idea how lucky you were!”

“I had a brain”, I mumble.

“You will be fine. Your hair is burned at the back, but this the least of your problems now. This is the only area where you need to be treated. But it’s not that bad. We will give you something, take a look at the wound, and then we will pan you. When we arrive at the hospital, of course. You were lucky you had that blanket, and that you got out in time.”

“Brain”, I mumble again.

When we arrive in front of the hospital, I prefer to go down on my own feet, refusing their help.

“I’m not dead yet!” I say, without noticing Dylan and Raisa, who got there at the same time.

“Are you ok? Oh, God! I can’t believe this!” I hear Raisa, who comes to give me a hug.

“Easy there!” says a nurse, and Raisa steps back quickly as burned.

What an irony. Dylan stares at me shocked behind her, and I can see the concern all over his face. He’s wearing slippers and shorts with a palm tree on them. Yeah, only that. He is shirtless, and I probably don’t think clear anymore because I’m analyzing his palm trees. Raisa’s wearing her pajamas with mice. The situation seems funny to me, and I barely keep myself from bursting into laughter.

I arrive in a room, walked by the nurses, where the doctors take me in quickly. “How nice”, I think. I remain naked and I feel something flowing down my back.

“It will hurt you. You can scream”, says the doctor.

But all I can do is to hit the bed hard with my fist, screaming on the inside. After he repeats the procedure about three times, while I’m praying to pass out not to feel the pain anymore, he puts a bandage on it.

“All done”, he says and gives me a strange jar. “You will use this every night for the next three weeks, and in three days you will come here to check on it.”

“That’s all?” I ask stupefied. “I’m not supposed to be kept in for observation or something?”

“You just have a little burn on your back. There’s nothing bad. Here’s a recipe with what you need to buy. You’ll live”, says the doctor.

I try to hide my shock about his indifference, and I get up and put on the white dressing gown. The doctor opens the door, and I see Dylan and Raisa standing there.

Raisa runs after him, asking a lot of stupid questions, while Dylan bursts into the salon. His face was telling me that he would rather kill me with his own hands as if it was my fault I almost died in their barn.

“You will tell me everything now!” he shouts.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’ll live, thanks for the question”, I say ironically.

He puts his hands on his head and comes near to me.

“I’m so sorry.”

“No problem. I will pay for the damage, don’t worry. I’ll work things out somehow.”

“Cara, this is not about paying anything! Listen to me!”

But he can’t finish what he has to say because Raisa walks in with some clothes in her hands.

“I’ve got you some clothes. Don’t ask me how. Are you ok?”

“Yeah”, I reply perplexed.

“Good! Get dressed!”, she says and pulls Dylan with her.

I want to get up, but the wheels from the old bed slip, and I lose my balance, leaning on the closet. Dylan turns around and helps me get back on the bed. I grab tight his palm trees shorts and I feel the car keys in his pocket. I take them out without him noticing because I’ve always been a good thief. I lean with my hands on the bed.

“Thanks”, I say.

“Can you handle this?” he asks me.

“You will do whatever it takes to see me naked again, won’t you?” I ask ironically.

He makes a face and closes the door. I put the clothes on me quickly, then I put my hood around my waist, and I head to the window. A couple of bugs run on the window sill when I push it to open. It seems like it wasn’t opened in years, so I pray not to make too much noise when it opens. We are on the ground floor, so I jump outside and I start running between the cars. I don’t have in mind coming back to them ever again. I don’t want to drag them into my problems, and I hope it’s not too late.

When I run around the corner, I hear a shout from the salon.

“Cara!”

But I start running faster. At least they can’t follow me with the car because I had taken their keys, so I had an advantage. I hadn’t had for one second the intention to steal it, cause I didn’t know how to drive. My feet bring me once again to the back of the train station. I can’t think of anything else but the mess I’ve caused, but I hope that my disappearance can make them a little good. I hope those bastards would leave them alone because neither of them deserves a faith so cruel as Ania or Michelle.

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