The Pocket Watch
This is for Fran, who requested that I write a drabble in which Ethan reveals a bit of his family troubles to Vanessa-prompted by his pocket watch. I invite you all to share with me prompts of your own!
And remember, feedback is love!
He could feel her eyes staring intently, provocatively at his back—her eyes could pierce his soul, touch his heart, be gentle like a caress and painful like a mother's scorn. Those blue eyes, huge and beautiful, cold and determined, taunted him, beckoned him in—but her body, heart and mind weren't always in agreement. She'd been standing there at his threshold for at least ten minutes. It seemed like eons.
Vanessa was curious, that much he could tell or she wouldn't be so insistent. He should have shut his bedroom door, blocked her out for his own protection.
"What are you five?" He finally asked her, as she couldn't help but shift into a more comfortable standing position. After an eternity of silence and avoiding a conversation with her.
He could imagine the sly smile on her face as she gracefully crossed her arms over her chest. He turned around to face her, fighting off a grin.
"You've been fondling that thing all day," She shrugged, feigning nonchalance. "and have been uncharacteristically quiet."
"You're uncharacteristically on a good mood." Vanessa smiled and he couldn't help but be warmed by it. She was the prettiest when she smiled.
She entered his bedroom uninvited, taking a seat next to him on the bed. She sat close. So much so that he could smell her perfume and feel the inebriating scent of her hair. Vanessa was a woman of contrast. He admired that about her, but it could also be infuriating. Either she was too close or too far, too warm or too cold, extremely loveable or the complete opposite. Sweet or bitter. Right now she was all things alluring, warm and charming—and this all could make for a disastrous encounter—yet another moment of passion ending with her rejection of him. He wanted to ask her what she was so afraid of. Him?
They sat there in silence for a few minutes, both staring at—but not quite paying attention—to the wall across from them. He could hear her irregular breaths and that was about it. He felt her hand softly, slowly and tentatively reaching for his. Her fingers snaking in between his. Her hand was slightly cold and he caressed it with his thumb, a barely there caress. He wanted to warm her. Hands, body, heart...
Ethan felt it as she breathed out. She'd been holding her breath for him.
"I thought I had lost it—the watch my father gave me." He placed it in her empty hand.
She inspected it, holding it against the light—wordlessly.
To Ethan, from your Father.
"It's the only thing I kept from that part of my life-" He shut his eyes as if in pain. "My father and I never had a strong relationship—no bond no nothin'." Vanessa nodded, squeezing his hand gently, comforting. "I had a brother—Robert-who was two years younger and my father's favorite. I was the closest to my mother, probably because she felt responsible—she thought it to be her fault that from the day I was born my father turned his head on me and from the time I could walk he would only yell, curse and abuse me."
"But he gave you this watch—it must mean something..." Ethan snickered, bitterly and shook his head in denial.
"No Ms. Ives, that watch was my brother's. When Robert was killed by the indians, during the wars, my father had no son left but me—no one else to inherit all of his land and all of his gold. So he thought he could make up for all the shit he caused me by all of a sudden treatin' me fair... I didn't believe him for a moment." Ethan sighed heavily and she couldn't help but notice all of the consternation in his eyes. "My brother and I, we were friends though and we became the closest when my mother passed. She was nearly fifty years old and giving birth, can you believe? Of course she would've died, her body couldn't take it!" Vanessa could feel the speed of his pulse, his blood practically boiling at the mere thought. "And he knew it, my father knew it, but he still went to her bed at night and there was no God damn thing anyone could do about it—And she always let him—that sick bastard."
"I'm sorry about your mother..." Ethan shook his head angrily and she continued to touch him, on the hand, on the arm, the nape of his neck, all to calm him. And she was damn good at it—her fingers were feather-like, her hands were soft and her touch made everything better, everything that hurt heal. So after a while, he continued—he hoped she wouldn't stop.
"In a way she was lucky, she got to escape that bastard of a husband she had. To be honest Ms. Ives—I was more relieved than sad or angry when my mother died. She wouldn't suffer anymore... But Robert, he was furious, he fled home to come join me and the troops. I should have sent him back—but I didn't—I wanted my father to suffer the loss of his son. Robert wasn't made for war, for weapons, for killing or for the wild west. He was made to sit in a fancy office and manage all of the family riches while others did the hard work. So obviously, he didn't last long."
"So you feel guilty for his death as well?" Ethan shrugged it off, but she knew better. She could feel the goosebumps beneath the tips of her fingers, as she she stroked the nape of his neck and her skin brushed on his hair. Vanessa tried to hide her little smile of satisfaction. She did it again and watched with the utmost pleasure, when he threw his head back ever so slightly and closed his eyes for a fraction of a minute.
"M-my father wants me back in America Ms. Ives—to look at my face every day with disgust and disappointment, blaming me as he's always done for all of his problems, blaming me for my mother, for Robert..." He paused and looked at her, messy curls falling over her face, her cheeks were rosy again—she was much better and he could feel how good she felt, touching him like that, knowing she had the power to make him go weak on the knees just like a little boy. "It reminds me not of my father, but of my brother."
"I see..." She was too close for her own good. "And I hope that you are aware of the fact that you shall not be returning, Mr. Chandler-" She had a small smile on her face. She knew it all. "We're far better than that." He shook his head and couldn't help but smile as well, all the anger pent up dissipating as she trapped him in her charms.