That’s what I can see in his face. Reluctance as well but primarily, pain. He doesn’t want to say it but he knows it’s too late for silence on the issue.
“It’s complicated,” he grimaces.
“I can follow Roman.”
He takes a deep breath and begins.
“You have to understand. I am a weasel and a scum bag. I’m everything you think of me-” I try to interject but Roman just shoots me a glare.
“I know you really hate me. If Isla had hated me, she might still be alive. When you first moved out, I lost a scavenging partner and someone I loved being around, even when you were being a stubborn bitch.
You know I was always close to Isla because, in some ways, we were the same. Both trying to earn acceptance, both trying to survive and protect the people we loved. We began to start hanging out together and going on runs and we got closer. I started forgetting my feelings towards you and my feelings for Isla were amplified. She was only seventeen but she was older than her years. Mature. I loved her, Elektra. She loved me. I never even imagined how it would change me, you know not having my love unrequited. Isla never judged me.
I did love her. We began to plan a life together, a typical life surviving everything together. We even contemplated having kids, Elektra. How could we do that? We had quite a...physical relationship. I didn’t force her, believe me when I say this. She was the one who wanted sex even though she knew what could happen. I knew what could happen. Yet we both shagged like rabbits on heat. John had no idea what was going on, he thought we were just friends, but I think if he did know, I would have lost my manhood by now. I thought so many times about telling him, he’d have to find out eventually but we were just living for the moment.
I wanted her. You would pop out every now and then and I begin to remember that you were still there. You seem detached as if you needed someone to be there for you. I would have come to you this week even if Annie hadn’t been hurt; I missed you and after Isla, I just needed some form of companionship. Isla was jealous. She thought that you meant more to me. I reassured her constantly but she was never convinced. I should have been with her every moment, not worrying about your detachment because let’s face it ,you have never really been right in the head. You were born for this world, Ellie.
I am a dickhead. I am a douche bag. I didn’t make her feel as if she was the only girl in my world but she wasn’t.
Isla had been getting sick. John had been getting worried about her but I guess she knew exactly what it was. Rita had stockpiled pregnancy tests so I stole one. I was scared but ecstatic; I was going to be a father. It would be difficult but I had never been so excited. John would probably have hung, drawn and quartered me. When she confirmed it, I was elated and I swore to protect her and the baby. She kept talking about sticking a coat hanger up there and scooping the little ball of cells out; we fought about it. Our last fight. I guess I wouldn’t have the same reluctance as she would, I wouldn’t have had to push a baby with a twelve-inch head out a one or two-inch hole.
I wish I’d just relented; whatever happened, the baby wasn’t supposed to be born. Maybe it would have been the kindest thing to let her abort the pregnancy but I was too stubborn and pig headed to see beyond my own desire. I have always wanted to be a dad. You think I look after the girls for extra credit with the powers that be but that is not close to the reason. I do it because I love the kids.
After our last fight, she went out on a run. I told her not to, that she could get hurt and that I should go with her but she wouldn’t have it. She told me to piss off and that if she wanted to put herself in danger that she would. I should have stopped her. I should have grabbed hold of her or at least, told her that I loved her. When she came back, she wouldn’t talk to me or even look at me.
I didn’t even know she was sick until Rita told me that Isla was close to death and that she was bleeding heavily. She was miscarrying and dying. Miscarrying and dying. Then, she was dead. She died thinking that I was a possessive dick. She died hating me. It was my fault, she went out to cool off after an argument with me. If I had just relented, she wouldn’t have gone out and probably would have miscarried naturally. I wouldn’t have lost yet another person I care about.
You wanted to know about what happened with Isla. Now you know Elektra. Now it’s time for you to talk. I’ve bared my soul, now it’s your turn.”
I am in shock. Isla was...pregnant? I cannot believe the both of them were so reckless and downright stupid. Ah! How could they be so stupid?
I should probably have responded with reassurance like I don’t hate you, you were right to be persistent because it was your child too. But I can’t respond like that. I can’t reassure him because whatever I say would never be enough. He talked about how I was responsible for some of the conflict with Isla because he wanted to be there for me. No, he didn’t. He wanted to be more than just ‘there for me’. One of his lamest excuses to date. In essence, he blames me partly for her death which is not fair. How was I supposed to know about the entirety of their bullshit brigade?
Oh and he wants me to talk now?
What the hell does he expect me to talk about? Does he just want me to spout off pathetic remarks of sympathy and empathy. I feel differently about him now but I am still repulsed by what he, what they, did.
I look up.
“What do you want me to say, Roman? You want sympathy or empathy? You know I’m not the one to go to for that crap. You get your leg up, she was baking a bun in her oven and then she got sick. Is there really any more to be said?”
He just looks at me as if I killed a puppy. I was asking a question. I’m guessing he wanted some melodramatic performance or an argument but why would I give him that? He can torture himself just fine, he doesn’t need my intervention.
“You really don’t care about it, do you?” he says dejectedly.
“I do care but it’s done. Nothing can be done to change it now: she’s dead and gone. You can’t take anything back which I see as punishment enough. Plus, I’m still quite mellow from the morphine but that will change soon. What did you want to know?”
“ I guess you’re right. You didn’t have to be such a bitch about it but you’re right. I want to know what you really think about me. Why you left me yesterday. Everything.”
“What do I really think? I think you are a self-righteous dick head with such a little understanding of the world that I’m surprised you’re not dead yet. But, I...I...I think you are a decent human being who doesn’t deserve the hand he’s been dealt and I don’t hate you. Far from it. If anything I respect you. That’s the truth about it. I left because I was bored and I didn’t want to wait for you to wake up.”
Bluntness is by far the best method of articulation. I think that’s shocked him into silence for a few minutes. It does take his little brain quite a long time to process things. Why did I tell him I respected him? He will never let me forget that I said that. I could never tell him I feel anything but respect for him otherwise I would never live that down. Then again, I shouldn’t want to live it down should I? If I have any stronger feelings then I should want to tell him but now is not the time, not by any means.
“God. Don’t hold back Elektra. You respect me? You. Respect. Me?”
“Oh don’t worry, I won’t and shut up.”
“So you don’t hate me? Well, I will admit you give mixed signals. You must be an amazing actress then, to keep me in ignorance for so long...”
“I may not be able to get up but I can still strangle you with my shoelaces if you don’t shut up.”
“Okay, whatever you so Lex”
“Wait, since when have you called me Lex? Nobody calls me Lex; I just about tolerate being called Ellie, but Lex?”
In truth, it might grow on me. Lex. A new nickname long overdue. Lex. Yeah, that might work for me. I will show disdain when he uses it but I actually quite like it. But why after all this time is he electing to call me a new name. Has he got bored of it or is it now too childish after nearly dying. I also used to find being called Ellie patronising because it seemed like such a youthful name, a name befitting a child who hasn’t witnessed bloodshed. I don’t really think it suits me anymore. I can’t be classified as innocent and I haven’t been innocent for a long time. Maybe Lex is the new me. Someone baptised in blood and fire. Someone who has faced death and fought against it. Yeah, Lex is the new me, a new beginning if you will. Uh, how melodramatic did that sound? Did those words genuinely come of out of my mouth?
I guess the saying becomes true; new me, new rules.
New me, new rules.