Chapter 9 pt A
Time went on and my relationship with my wife didn’t heal. We could never be like we were. Still, it did get better. We shared experiences with one another again. Things in our world finally reassembled some normalcy in a sense of the word. We continued on with our lives as if the past two months hadn’t happened. Of course, then my father threw a wench into the mess. No really. Cersei was welcomed into the mess of our lives. Father explained that she was the daughter of a high priestess in the mountainous region and was therefore royalty. She now resides in our Fortress for her studies. During this time I continued to read the little blue journal that I hid in my nightstand along with the sheet of paper containing Genevieve’s prophecy. The words still unsettled me. And still, Brinley had no idea about either of the objects. I was content to keep it that way.
After the whole debacle with Elaine’s collapse, we decided to go back and discuss this with Miss Genevieve.
Well, more I did. Elaine tried to convince me that it was normal and that it was a waste of a trip. I had never experienced anything like that before so it freaked me out. I know she had gone through it before but I kept thinking that Miss Genevieve could have something to help her. Maybe even just take away some of the pain. Anything. I was desperate.
When Elaine became lucid once again, I talked to her about it. I really didn’t understand what was happening to her and she helped explain it. It was just a headache but a painful one. This thing in her head wasn’t messing around. It kind of terrified me. According to Elaine, it was genetic which exonerates me but not Lucian. I don’t know how I’ll be able to deal if my son is in such pain.
We spent nearly two days in the carriage on the way to Cadia. We didn’t speak much. Just quite pleasantries every once in a while. Elaine had given up on herself. She didn’t think we would get anything out of our visit. I knew it was logical. Elaine had been visiting Ms. Genevieve for months and she hadn’t given her anything. Not even painkillers. The doubt in my mind already existed. I was a fool to ignore it, but I was a hopeful fool.
Still, she was our last hope. I couldn’t continue to hear Elaine’s screams in my nightmares. Our silent two days stretched longer than it should have. It felt like we spent an eternity sitting in that carriage. Lucian wasn’t with us. We figured he shouldn’t be involved in this. Elaine thought we were disrespecting him by not letting him come with us. I thought we were protecting him from heartache. He wasn’t needed here. He didn’t need to know. So he wasn’t going to know. I don’t see how that was hard to understand.
Since we weren’t talking the entire journey, Elaine slept most of the time. I kept wondering about her. Was she sleeping out of utter boredom? Or did she really need this sleep? I don’t know. I’ve noticed that as the months have gone on. Elaine has become less and less energetic. She is like a cat. She now won’t move or get up unless she has to. She takes several naps during the day and still sleeps well at night.
She isn’t moving but she is getting thinner and thinner. She has requested to stop receiving visitors. She doesn’t want anyone to see her like this. I suppose she would rather go quietly than make a whole deal about this. I suppose I can understand where she is coming from. If I had the choice when I am on death’s bed, I’d rather go quickly and have the mourners come after my death than before I am even gone.
I do hope that when I go, I go quick. I don’t think I could bear all the waiting around. I still don’t know how she does it. Distracting herself. She doesn’t seem to move out of her bed. Even being able to move around while you know you are dying seems miserable. It seems worse to be on bed rest for the final days.
I look over at Elaine. I mean I really look at her. I began to see things I hadn’t before. Elaine’s hair was stringy and matted. She probably hadn’t brushed it out in a while. I guess it doesn’t seem like a necessity when you are dying. Her eyes were sunken. The bags under them were dark.
Her cheekbones stuck out.
This is the one thing that made it real. Elaine, when she was so full of life, had a round face. It made her look younger than she was. Just like me but in a better way. She still held respect for her youthful appearance. Me? I don’t hold respect. I look like I’m barely out of my teens. Still scrawny, like I hadn’t eaten much in my childhood. I was small. Constantly stumbling over words or my own feet. I was 33 and I still haven’t become more graceful. Brinley? She had a certain elegance about her.
Her cheekbones stuck out to me. I could see them and I wasn’t sure I wanted to. She looked so different than I remembered. Her new and different features seemed alien. Even with the sharper facial features she still didn’t seem like her face had grown into her body. In fact, it seemed the roles had reversed. The rest of her body seemed too young and unaged for her marred face. Especially with all the claw marks on her temple.
It just didn’t seem to fit right.
I immediately recognized when we passed over into Cadia. Cadia is an industrial shire. They rape the land of its resources. The forest on their side of the border was nearly gone. If you had closed your eyes in Fyn, kept them closed for maybe 20 minutes while we were crossing the border, and opened them in Cadia, you would have been so confused. It was like a whole other world.
I promise you it wouldn’t make sense. That’s what happened to Elaine. She woke up very startled. Partly because I woke her up but it couldn’t have helped that the scenery changed drastically.
Every once in and while I will wake her up. Elaine scares me. Sometimes she will drift too far into her sleep and her breathing will get barely visible. I will wake her up for that. If she sleeps for over 4 hours I will wake her up. If she looks like she is having a nightmare I’ll wake her up. If she looks like she is in pain, I’ll definitely wake her up then.
I don’t want her to die just yet. I don’t know if I’ll be able to say goodbye to her just yet. It seems too horrible to take. It also seems unfair to Lucian that he won’t be able to say goodbye to her. When Elaine gets bad, I’ll tell him what is happening. I don’t want him to never get closure with his mother.
It just doesn’t seem fair. He likes Elaine better than me. I know that for a fact. If our positions were switched I know he could forgive Elaine if I died without him saying goodbye. Not because he didn’t want to say goodbye. I know my son loves me and would be sad to see me go but because it would be Elaine not letting him say goodbye. He could forgive her for anything. Honestly, everyone could. She just has that way about her.
I guess I’m kind of jealous of my wife. Everyone loves her. But at the same time, she is dying. I guess I’m not so jealous of my wife. I looked over at her as she was sleeping. I suddenly got an overwhelming feeling. I don’t know how to explain it but it was almost like anger or remorse or something. It could be described as one question, “Can I do this?” Elaine, she might die tonight. She could also die in 7 months. Every few weeks she would have a break down more intense than the last. Her screams would haunt me at all hours of the day. She would be in so much pain. At that point, is it even worth living? I don’t know how to stand around waiting. This trip is mainly for nothing. Ms. Genevieve most likely does not have the things to heal her. She probably doesn’t even have pain relievers. Would it be worth all the torment?
I could feel my knife grow heavy in its holster. She could feel a little bit of pain. I could be better in the long run.
This isn’t my decision. I don’t get to decide what Elaine does with her life. That’s not my position. Besides, it’s not morally ethical. Elaine gets to decide all those sorts of details about her life. I’m just here to support her.
I felt disgusted with myself. How could I think about those things? This wasn’t about me. This wasn’t for me. Elaine deserved nothing short of respect. I need to provide her or get out of her life.
We had crossed over the border a few hours ago and so I knew we were to be nearing the castle and the castle town soon. Elaine had been sleeping for a while so I knew I had to wake her up. I reached over and brushed a strand of hair out of her face. She looked so peaceful. I nearly didn’t want to wake her up. Her face was almost always creased in some sort of pain. It was nearly tormenting for me to pull her out of this odd and peaceful dream.
I shook her lightly and her eyes fluttered. That’s another thing that I noticed. Elaine sleeps a lot lighter than she did before. Before she got sick it would take the world ending for her to wake up. She can and routinely did sleep through everything. Now that doesn’t happen. If something in her atmosphere is off she will wake up.
I used to think I wouldn’t miss it. Her loud snores in the night, I mean. I used to think “If only she would just close her mouth. I could get to sleep quicker,”. That didn’t happen. Because she sleeps so lightly, she never gets to the point where she snores.
You would think “Well the room is quiet. He can sleep now.” You would think. Instead, I just sit in the darkness. Next to me would be an all too quiet Elaine, dozing, not sleeping. The room feels too still. It doesn’t seem right.
I remember years ago when I visited Cadia’s shore. I went on a trip with my father. According to him, we were there to discuss opportunities for peace with Cadia. I didn’t think like that. All I remember was how quiet the house was. Aside from the folks residing in the house, no one was around. In the night from my bedroom window, I heard no sounds. There was no hustle and bustle of the market below us. In fact, the only thing I heard was the sound of waves crashing against the shore.
It was a soothing sound, of course, but it just wasn’t home. It wasn’t the sound of people because it was the sound of nature, and it wasn’t something that I was familiar with. Sleeping in that house was an unpleasant task because it wasn’t what I was used to. I feel like that now. I know in my head that everything is in the right place but something just feels off.
I shake Elaine again and her eyes open. They are glazed over like she was tired. They always are that same glazed look. It’s unsettling, to be honest. It almost seems like she is vacant. Only a shell of who she used to be. This thing, whatever it is, seems to be eating her away.
“Goodmorning,” She stretched.
I shook my head slightly so she didn’t see, “Elaine, the sun is going down soon.”
“It is? Oh. Wow. I really slept the day away, didn’t I?” Elaine laughed.
“I guess so,” I responded numbly.
I don’t feel like she is taking this seriously enough. Or if she is taking this seriously, she is making jokes about it. It doesn’t sit well with me. Elaine’s self-deprecating humor isn’t funny. Elaine reached over and touched my cheek.
It was so unexpected. I know you are thinking, “But wait, aren’t you married?”. My answer to that is, “Well yes but, to me, she seems so fragile. I’m afraid if I touch her I might break her.” Elaine cupped my cheek with her palm. I leaned into her hand. It was so warm and human. Sometimes I need to remind myself that Elaine is more than her illness. She is still my wife, she is still Lucian’s mother and she is still the Sor of the entirety of Fyn. Even though this thing is taking over her life she still has different facades. It may seem like it’s all she is now, but they can’t just take it away from her.
“Edmond, what’s wrong?”
Her voice. It’s so sweet and soft. It might go away soon. I had to close off that thought. My Elaine was here. She was here and in the flesh. She wasn’t dead. She wasn’t about to die. She is really here.
“I-” My voice broke, “I don’t want to lose you, Laine.”
“Lose me?” She laughed, “Where would I go?”
This was worse than I thought. Denial. She was completely rejecting all thoughts of her illness. It’s okay to cope with things like this but she isn’t coping with it. She isn’t even acknowledging it. She’s pretending it doesn’t exist.
“Please, don’t do that.” I shook my head.
I shook my head, “You are dying Elaine. You are leaving me. I know you can pretend it’s not happening but I can’t! I just can’t do that, Elaine.”
Elaine bit her lip. She doesn’t understand what I’m thinking. I don’t understand what she is thinking. When did this happen? When did we block each other out? How did this happen without either of us noticing?
Elaine smiled a little and ran her hand over my cheek. “Edmond, you always were a pessimist, weren’t you?”
“Elaine-” I warned her not to venture into this subject.
It was just too painful for me to think about. She was too busy denying everything to realize what was happening to her.
“You don’t know anything, love,” She smiled.
Her smile was bright and wide. It was almost as if this really wasn’t happening to us. I shook myself out of that trance. It wouldn’t do us any good if I bought into her delusions.
“Elaine please.” I stopped her.
“Edmond, you like knowing everything but you don’t. You aren’t a Doctor. You aren’t a Witch. You have no experience in this subject matter. You don’t get to tell me what to believe.” Elaine meant to have it sound reassuring but it did the opposite.
It made me even more worried about her. She was right. I wasn’t a Doctor. I didn’t have any experience with this. How was I supposed to know when she’d be gone? I didn’t. What if Elaine would just be in pain? What if I was enabling her delusions by not shutting them down? I was helpless. That much was sure.
“So, I’m going to live. You just have to believe, Edmond?” Elaine smiled such a sweet smile.
I knew as soon as it happened that I was crying. I could feel the tear drip down my face. I didn’t want to have Elaine see. I needed to be strong for her. Instead, it seemed like she was being strong for me. I quickly wiped the tear away from my eye and simply pretended it didn’t happen. However, they kept coming.
I turned my head away from Elaine and tried to stop but they wouldn’t.
“Ed, come here.” Elaine reached out to me.
She wrapped her arms around my shoulders. I wasn’t facing her.
“I know. I know this is a hard time for you. I’m sorry love. You are so strong,” Elaine whispered assuringly into my ears.
No. Elaine didn’t get it. She had to experience it but she didn’t know what it was like to witness the entirety of her attack. She fainted halfway into it. I could tell it wasn’t over yet. She didn’t know what it was like to not know what to expect. I didn’t know if she was going to live or die. I didn’t know anything, and that powerlessness was perhaps the worst thing I had ever experienced.
I turned into her arms. I may be a little angry at her but I wasn’t going to waste our time pushing her away. That isn’t what we need right now.
“I’m scared, Lainy. I’m terrified. I don’t want to lose you.” I let my head collapse into her shoulder.
Elaine shivered and then sighed, “I’m scared too. In fact, I’m petrified, Edmond. I don’t want to die. I can’t die. If I die, then who will be Lucian’s Mother? I just want the pain to go away. I just want it to all go away.”
This small moment that we shared was all I needed. Elaine and I. I would remember this moment for the rest of my years. If my Elaine dies, then I’ll keep this memory alive for her, if only in my memories.
I love her, there was no changing that. I know that. I’ve always known that I just lost sight of it for a while. I got distracted by my own selfish endeavors. Whatever she decides to do in the future, I will support her. I don’t care if I don’t agree. I don’t care. All I want to do is make her happy.
As I held her in my arms she winced. I immediately loosened my grip on her but then she shivered. I let go of her and she stumbled backward. I didn’t understand what was going on until I noticed that her face was now as white as snow. It happened again.
These “episodes” were increasing in numbers and intensities. One day I’m afraid she won’t wake up from one of them.
“Lainy? Are you alright?” I asked as I set her down on the carriage seat again.
“Yeah, I’m” she stopped talking to wait out a wave of pain, “fine.” She responded but instead it sounded ironic.
This wasn’t fine. Nothing about her situation was “fine”. I shook my head. I knew that wasn’t the truth. It was just what she thought I wanted to hear.
“Nope. You don’t have to lie to me. What’s going on?”
Elaine hiccuped and frowned. She was obviously in pain but I didn’t recognize it. It didn’t seem like her head was hurting or anything like that. I really didn’t know what was happening to her.
“My stomach.” She winced.
Her stomach? That was new. Last time it was just her head, I thought. I guess it wasn’t just limited to there.
“Do you need water or something to eat? Anything?” I pressed.
Elaine inhaled sharply and her hand flew to a spot on her lower abdomen. I felt bad.
“Are you too hot or cold? Anything?”
I just wanted to help. I don’t really know how to do that. It helps me feel like I have power over the situation.
“It’s kind of hot in here. Can you open the window?” She swallowed heavily.
I quickly did what she said because I didn’t know what else to do. I tried wrapping my arm around her but she quickly shoved away and towards the open window. She looked out and seemed to be relaxing but her lips were still pressed into a tight line. There was something so frantic about her movements. It was like she was desperately trying to get something done but she didn’t know what she had to complete. I rubbed her back and she leaned forwards a little.
“Do we need to stop?” I asked her gently.
Elaine didn’t respond. She just seemed to lean forward more. She recoiled a little and gasped.
“What was that?” I moved my hands in the off chance that I was the one hurting her rather than her hurting herself.
“My head,” She groaned.
Then the migraine kicked in. I had been wondering what I would do the entire journey to this point if this happened. I didn’t get very far. The farthest I got was just hoping that it wouldn’t happen. This thing that was happening to her wasn’t common knowledge among servants. I probably could count on my fingers the number of people that knew. How would we explain the Sor’s sudden collapse? And the more pressing matter, would she even survive another attack? I backed away from her for a second and tried to clear my mind and make coherent thoughts. Easier said than done. Elaine immediately collapsed to the floor when I backed away. It took all I had not to run back to her, but I need this moment to clear my head. If I ran back before I was ready I would overthink everything too much and that wouldn’t help anyone.
I closed my eyes and tried to steady my breathing. It did make sense, right? I wasn’t abandoning her? I pushed away that thought. I’ve always been an overthinker. My entire life. Sometimes it’s a great thing.
I was considered one of the smartest people in our lands. It probably wasn’t true but I always thought about every possibility at least twice. I made good decisions but when I was freaking out I could never be decisive. If I’m not decisive then I’m no help to anyone.
I tried to block out everything and focus on my breathing. I need to keep calm. For Elaine. I can help her if I keep calm.
My breathing steadied and I opened my eyes. Elaine had her hands digging into her forehead. I let out one short breath and moved. I could probably do what I did last time. It definitely helped her from hurting herself even more. What did I do first?
I thought back to that horrid night and searched through memories until I found it. First I took off the Corset. Elaine wasn’t wearing a Corset this time because we have been sitting in this Carriage for nearly two days. I should probably move her. It can’t be comfortable on the floor. Elaine let out a shriek of pain and her eyes rolled into the back of her head.
She whispered something but I couldn’t quite catch what she had said.
“What?” I asked as I was pulled out of my head.
“Stop the Carriage!” She yelled.