It's been so long since I have written, I missed it! So I will post this right now. Charcoal Pt. 10
Soul fixed his pants and took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry.” Scott shrugged
“It’s okay.” Soul frowned, Scott hadn’t sounded like it was okay.
“I just don’t know you that well. Just a few weeks ago you were the annoying guy with an easel next to mine. Now I am supposed to be ‘bonded’ to you. I don’t even know what that means. I know nothing about you, yet you seem to know everything about me, and you won’t even tell me that, or what is going on.” Soul had been planning to stay cool and collected, but he could feel the red of a frustrated blush seeping into his cheeks. He ran his hands through his hair and tried to calm down.
“Well, I’m not allowed to tell you-“
“Not allowed to? Really Scott that’s all you can say to me right now? You aren’t allowed to tell me anything. Well you also weren’t allowed to know me before taking me here. Why do you care anyway, it’s not like your family even likes you!” Soul was panting for breath, again he felt out of control of himself, but in a much worse way than when he was kissing Scott. He felt angry, hot. He wanted Scott to feel the confusion and turmoil he felt.
“Why would you even come back, you obviously left. You came back to the failure you left. You can’t even teach me anything and it’s not cause I can’t learn. I’m waiting here to do my part, even if it will ruin my life, my mother’s life and you can’t even-“
“Shut up.” Soul was ready to keep on yelling but Scott laid a gentle hand on his thigh. Soul stared at him, he couldn’t read the expression on Scott’s face, but it wasn’t a good one.
“You are right when you say you don’t know anything about me. You don’t know hard it was for me to grow up without you, knowing you were out there somewhere. That you didn’t need me like I needed you and never would. How difficult it was when I first meeting not to just- take you. You have no idea how hard it was to not tell you what you are the first time we met. You don’t know what it is like to grow up surrounded by Talent without it. You have no idea what it is like to have parents who think of you as their biggest embarrassment and failure. You were always supposed to be my chance at redemption, but here we are and all you have done is run away. And now I know I am just as useless as I was always told. You don’t have to tell me.” Soul continued to stare. Scott had no emotion in his voice.
Soul reached out to touch Scott’s cheek; Scott grabbed his hand before he could make contact.
“I don’t want your pity.”
“I’m not-” Soul stopped talking and settled back on the pillows, then sat up straight again. He felt horrible. He slid from the bed and went to the door and walked to the lavender room. He had planned on sitting and thinking, but he was too restless. He was exhausted, but couldn’t settle. He went to look around the house.
The furniture was all old and heavy, the hallways filled with art and decorations. Soul ran his hands down tapestries that were probably hundreds of years old. All of them told stories Soul couldn’t begin to guess at.
“My great grandfather did those. He had a Talent similar to yours.” Soul jumped, but it was Josie behind him. Her eyes were red rimmed and her hair looked limp and sad. She looked nothing like she had when they first met, or even as she had at dinner.
“Please don’t stare, I know I look horrible.” She looked away as Soul studied her face.
“You don’t have to lie, I know how terrible I look. I was wearing a lot of makeup. It is hard for me to sleep. I try to be excited about having a baby, but honestly- I’m not ready. I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to be a mother. But well, things happen.” Josie smiled a bit and stepped closer to Soul. “But you know that don’t you. Things have been happening for you too. Why are you here walking around?”
“I thought you could read minds.” Soul ran his fingers along the tapestry again. The fabric was rough against his fingers. It helped cement the dreamlike world of the moonlit hall.
“Only emotions. You feel lost, I can relate. But I don’t know why.” Soul studied Josie’s small form and sighed. He had to talk to someone.
“Everything is different than I thought. I can’t make up my mind about what I am supposed to do. Everything I am told makes me think I am on the wrong side, but I don’t even know why there are sides. I don’t know what to do about Scott. He’s too pushy, but he has reasons. Nothing is simple. Everything was simple until now. I used to draw when I felt lost, but now I can’t even do that.” Josie petted Scotts arm and sighed.
“I know how you feel.” She laughed then. “Of course I do.” Soul smiled at her. It seemed, as unlikely as it was, he had found a kindred spirit.
“I will tell you my story if you will share with me later?” Soul nodded.
“I have always been the baby in my family. The sweet one, the one that wooed all the adults. I never got in trouble. I was bonded on my 18th birthday. Everything I did was to please my family, then to please them and Nova- no don’t make that face, I love Nova. At least I think I do. Well then we got married and everything started happening. My Talent suddenly wasn’t enough. I couldn’t See so I was useless. No matter what I did it wasn’t good enough. Scott went away to school and I was left here. Everything I felt toward me was disappointment. From mom and dad, all the visitors we were having. Only Nova seemed to still like me. But then I started to feel resentment from him. I asked what it was about. He knows what I do of course. He comes from a small family, and well mine, dysfunctional as it is made him want a big family of his own. I wanted someone to love me; I wanted to be a success to someone. It sounds weak. But you have to remember until two years ago I was the perfect golden child.”
Soul shook his head.
“I know what you mean. Well not exactly, but you aren’t weak.” Josie shook her head and began to walk down the hall. She rubbed her hands firmly down her sides and sighed before continuing.
“I told Nova I wanted a baby. He knew I was lying. Or knew my motives, but he pretended not to, I pretended I didn’t know I knew. So here I am.” She petted her softly protruding stomach.
“It didn’t work. I still am not back in mom’s good graces. She thinks I should want more. She thinks I am not enthusiastic enough. She wants the baby now. I don’t know. Even Nova, he resents that I don’t really want a baby.” Josie sniffed and rubbed her eyes. “Sorry, I don’t usually have someone to talk to.” Soul wrapped his arms around himself. How could someone be so mean to a sweet person?
“I don’t want your pity.” Josie’s words brought Soul out of his thoughts.
“You know, that’s what Scott said right before I left. I don’t know what to do. He knows everything about me and I know nothing about him, but we don’t know each other. He says he knows all about me but we’ve never really talked.” Josie smirked at him; Soul felt a giggle coming on.
“Not like that. Really, I just ignored him for about a month. I have no idea what is even going on. People tiptoe around it, but I have always been out of the loop, I’ve never known anything. I can’t pull the pieces together.” Josie stopped walking and grimaced.
“I feel sick.” She whispered, then dry heaved. Soul jumped back from here. “This is why I can’t sleep. I do need to rest but this damn baby doesn’t seem to like it when I rest, or eat, or drink, or do anything that isn’t Lamaze or yoga.” Soul was at a loss.
“I don’t know-“
“Keep talking” Soul nodded than began again.
“Scott says he is supposed to be teaching me something. I am supposed to be drawing something important but I don’t want anyone to see it.” Soul felt his own bout of nausea when he considered telling Josie about his forest picture. “ I don’t know what to do, who to trust. Why I have to worry about any of it. I just want to go back to the way things were.”
Josie slid down a nearby wall and rubbed her stomach.
“I know how you feel. I wish I could help you more. I haven’t been kept in the loop either but I can tell you some things.”
“Why are you helping me so much? Can’t you get in trouble?” Soul knew her even less than he knew Scott and here she was offering to tell more than anyone had ever revealed.
“Don’t be so suspicious. I have nothing to lose. I am as lost as you, I just know a bit more.” Soul slid down beside her as Josie fell into a story about battles and angels, light and dark, shadows and fire.
“What do shadows have to do with my pictures?”
“Think about what you draw and I think the answers will come to you.” Josie was looking decidedly pale but she seemed calmer than Soul had seen her.
“Well what do the shadows have to do with anything else?”
“You need light to cast shadows. Have you ever read the Allegory of the Cave? It is a bit like that. Think of Scott as the light. Mom and dad have forgotten all about the story, I only remember pieces, but it’s like this. The problem is in the cave, or on earth, the shadows don’t tell the whole truth. The fire is deceptive. The only way to really know the truth is to travel into the light. But the light hurts, it burns and pushes you away.”
“But it doesn’t make sense. The angels-“
“Soul, I just told you, not all the story is true, and everything is a symbol. Some are easier to see than others. I’m just telling you the story as well as I remember it.”
“Where do you come in?” Soul asked but Josie wasn’t listening. Her focus was inward. Finally she spoke.
“I think something is wrong.” She pushed to her feet and looked down at her feet. She swayed dangerously. Soul stood to help her stand when with a soft gasp blood began to drip from between her legs and she began to scream.
Nova was the first to come onto the scene.
“What have you done to her?” He yelled and hit Soul in the head. Soul tasted blood then saw no more.
Pain woke Soul. He touched a finger to his jaw. It hurt.
“Oh, he’s awake.” The voice was unfamiliar. Soul opened his eyes. The room was softly lit, he smelled lavender. Soul turned his head slowly to see who had spoken. It was one of the women from the dinner table.
“Hello, I’m Melissa. I am Scott’s oldest sister.” Soul frowned how had he missed this introduction.
“Hi.” He whispered. Something had happened, something bad, but he couldn’t quite remember.
“Josie is going to be okay, don’t get up.” But he hadn’t even thought.
“Don’t worry, my Talent if precognition. You were going to get up and hurt your head. It would make my mom happy, this Talent, but it only works a few minutes in the future, Unless Michael helps me.” She smiled dreamily, Soul had trouble following her thoughts. He supposed being caught up in the future and past would be confusing, even if it were just a few minutes. “Don’t worry, it usually takes time to find the- technique- that will help you the most. Scott will figure it out sometime.” It was also disconcerting to have his questions answered before he thought them. It was like mind reading but worse.
“We have 5 siblings. There is Scott, he is the second youngest. Josie is younger than him, just by a year. Yes, Scott took a gap year before college. Or more like he waited to mom and dad to loosen their claws around him. Then there is Marcus, he’s third then Thomas and May, they are twins. Then Cal, then me. Six all together.”
Soul nodded, he wondered where the others were. He even considered asking looking at Melissa expectantly.
“You haven’t decided to ask out loud, if you are wanting me to answer one of your questions.” Soul opened his mouth to speak- “They are busy working, well most of them, the others are here, you saw them at dinner... I would tell you what on but mom told me that you have to figure it out yourself… I don’t know why, you might have some sort of spy on you, or a block.” Soul thought of the voice that stopped him from telling about the forest picture. A spy? For who? How would he tell, who should he tell?
“We should probably check on Josie. She really is too young to have a baby if you ask me. Not that her body can’t handle it- it’s that her mind can’t and that girl is stubborn enough to make herself sick, I’m sure she could think her way out of having a baby.” Soul thought of the implications of such a phrase and gulped. He hoped she was okay.
Josie was sitting up in bed when Soul and Melissa arrived, propped on pillows and sipping slowly though a straw. Nova sat by her side and clutched her hand. Sylvia sat on the other side of the bed and glared at everything.
“You, what did you do to my daughter? She is supposed to go directly to bed after dinner, and you- I would have thought you would be with Scott. I understand that he can be useless and a boor, but you seemed friendly enough when you first got back from dinner.” Soul blushed, his whole body flushing. She had heard, she had known.
“You silly boy, it is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact you should be more ashamed you stopped. Everything would be so much easier if you just finished the bond.” Soul couldn’t answer that.
“Josie needs to rest, to be still and not fret. So you need to stay away from her.” This time Nova spoke. Josie raised her eyes to Soul’s but didn’t speak.
“Will someone help me understand what is going on?” Soul asked when the silence became too heavy to bear.
“You truly must be stupid boy.” Sylvia’s sickly sweet demeanor had completely disappeared. Soul could see how she was really on the bad side, but how could he switch teams this late in the game, when he didn’t know what was being played. “Everything is happening. Everything your cheating mother started. The cracks between things are opening. Nothing is black in white, the color is coming and we are still seeing in shades of grey. You are our chance to see in color and you are seeing nothing. Our painter is blind!” She ended screaming. Soul wanted nothing more than to cry, to run from this place and hide, he wanted to draw and lose himself in the smell of graphite and new paper. He didn’t know what to do about evil and seeing the future. He couldn’t and didn’t know where to start.
“Take this useless thing back to Scott.” Sylvia flicked her hand at the door and Melissa gently nudged him toward the door. When they arrived back at the French doors Melissa stopped Soul and leaned toward his ear.
“I can’t tell you what is going to happen, but I can tell you we aren’t on her side. We just aren’t strong enough to lead. I think you are. But only if you make yourself. Talent is just like a muscle. You have to find it to flex it, and flex to become stronger. Your mind is stronger than any muscle. Figure out how to use it.” She paused as if to say more then left.
“Goodnight little brother.” She called as she disappeared around a corner. Soul wondered why she called him that when he felt arms wrap around him.
“I’m sorry for yelling so much. I couldn’t bear for you to think of me as they do.” Soul frowned. Why did Scott have such mood swings? He seemed like he wanted to tell Soul everything he was, but then he acted like he hated everything, and Soul most of all, then claimed he was his greatest love, then refused to answer any questions.
“I don’t understand you.” Soul whispered as Scott pulled him into their rooms.
“You won’t until later.” Soul was about to ask when later was when Scott kissed him again. Softly this time, without any unnatural need. It was almost comforting and Soul leaned into him.
Gently Scott petted Soul’s bare skin, Soul slipped his hands under Scotts own shirt. He had changed into a soft charcoal grey pajama suit. Soul nuzzled his face into Scott’s chest when his lips were freed.
“Why can’t things be simple?” He asked in a soft voice. Scott shrugged.
“Because then they would be boring.” Soul chucked and sniffed. He wished for something boring.
“I am bound to you, and I still can’t comfort you. Do you know how much that hurts?” Soul shook his head. “Of course not, but you do know pain. I have lived all my life waiting for you, and now I am forbidden to tell you anything. It goes against everything I have, but I can’t.” Soul suddenly had an idea. Even if the sides had been drawn in ink he couldn’t see, Soul could make some boundaries of his own.
“Scott, if I told you something and you promised to not tell anyone, would you tell?”
“I wouldn’t be able to, even if I wanted- if I promised.” Scott sounded excited. Soul was as well. He had an idea.
“Scott, don’t tell anyone.” Soul waited to see if the voice would stop him from speaking, it was quiet. “But I think the important picture is the one of the forests of hands. I don’t know why it is, and I have no idea what it means. But it is important somehow.” Immediately a weight seemed to lift off Soul’s chest. He had made a good decision. In the depths of his heart he knew he had made the right decision.