CHAPTER 10

Kris, Harsh Reality, and Doomed Arrivals

Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable,
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table.
No one can find the rewind button, boys,
So cradle your head in your hands,
And breathe... just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe

"Breathe" by Anna Nalick

Whoever dared to say that life was a bowl of cherries needs to shove those cherries up where the sun don't shine.

Honestly, what kind of a stupid line is that anyway? I think we take sayings for granted, and go 'Ooooh, they must be true' just because they're handed down to us by people with funny hair.

I mean, take a look at this one. "He doesn't suffer fools gladly."

Now...who does suffer fools gladly? Does anyone have an answer for that? Do we go, "Oh hello, there's a fool on the doorstep. Come on in, weird man with a pig stuck to his teeth. We just LOVE fools in this house. We suffer fools gladly, you see?"

There is exactly one saying I believe in, in all honestly. And coincidentally, it sums up the situation I was in perfectly.

Life is a bitch.

It kicks you when you're down, it hurts you when you least expect it, it doesn't respect you, even if all you've done is love everyone around you. It doesn't let you live.

I think my best friend put it in the simplest way.

"Life...is a goon."

Yeah...life definitely was a goon.

I was angry, upset and completely jumbled. Whatever Lex had told me, drew me somewhere deep within, searching inside my own head what could lead someone to hurt another human being like that.

It amazed, and alarmed me that I was thinking of all this, given that I was from India...I remembered the headlines of the newspapers...'Woman raped by Friend', "Child raped by Uncle'...or even, 'Children raped by Villagers'. There was never any follow up to the story unless the families of the victims made some kind of a hue and cry about it somehow...maybe through political connections...

Page three of the Times of India was dedicated to the rapes that took place within the city...and those were the ones that were reported... because only one out of every ten rape cases gets reported.

Everyday, there was a war in India...Kashmir, a state marked as 'disputed territory' was an Indian state...but the people in the neighboring country, Pakistan had their history attached to it as well. In a way, whilst we all argued that Kashmir was India as it had been defined that way when the British Raj left our country, deep down, we all knew that Pakistan had it's history attached to Kashmir just as much as we did.

Even so, what had been marked as ours, was ours...

And to keep what was ours we fought battles...created cold graveyards of men, every single day.

I guess...this was the way the world functioned.

And I, with my relatively charmed life, had, for the first time been touched by it. By the kind of psychotic killing that still took place in the world...who said we were out of the barbarian era?

With the way things looked...we had only accomplished a more intelligent form of barbarianism...and what could be more painful than that?

Lex turned slightly, and that brought me back to reality.

My thoughts flew away the moment I saw his strong, troubled face asleep in my arms.

Yes, I was still in his house. I had wanted to leave as soon as Lex told me about Tash being institutionalized but something just kept holding me back.

I don't know what it was...maybe it was the fact that I was so shocked at all the revelations, or maybe it was...oh fuck this.

I couldn't leave him.

Not like this.

I just couldn't. I didn't find it in my heart to leave him when he was so sad...so...unlike himself. I was used to the happy, fun, perverted Lex, who seemed to live only to engage in hedonistic activities.

Right now, that Lex was gone...and he had left this incredibly sad, vulnerable person who was currently asleep in my arms.

Yes, he was asleep in my arms.

And yes, I will punch you if you so much as dare to comment on it.

I looked down to see his head resting on my stomach, the lush hair that I repeatedly told him was messy and untidy, looking like a child's in a way, given his vulnerability at this point.

It was slowly become night time. I should have been terrified of what happened at home, but somehow, I wasn't. I don't know why.

He made me feel stronger.

You're like one of those silly horror movie babes who wanders down dark corridors just begging to be murdered.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

I mean what I said. The man is making you 'stronger'?

"Yes."

How? By crying in your arms? Are you some kind of a nut? Oh no, I'm sorry, you're falling IN love with a nut!

"The only man I am falling 'in love' with would be Jack Sparrow, sorry to disappoint you."

Ha-ha, you say that now!

"I did say it now, you dweeb, in fact- ARGH! Just shut up!"

Forgive her, she knows not what she does. Jai Shiva.

"Don't you dare bring my God into this, you...okay, that's it! Get me a brain surgeon NOW!"

Honestly, this was too much! How much was I supposed to take anyway? This was my own brain I was talking to! That wasn't even natural for crying out loud? You know what, I think that was about the time I should have stopped thinking.

Instead, I shut my mind down for a while.

People told me I thought too much...which was probably why my own brain was conversing with me at this point, and that too in a not entirely healthy way. You see, the moment my brain decided to bring Hindu Gods into the whole madness that surrounded me, I would want to slap it.

No one used my God's name in vain and at random!

Then, I heard the front door open and swing shut downstairs.

Um...eep?!

Hopefully the person downstairs would not come upstairs.

"Lex! Hey! LEX!"

Okay, so I was wrong again.

"Lex, you were supposed to fix my bike, you bastard!"

I could hear feet clambering up the stairs at full speed at these words. And I was also beginning to pray for Lex...

"Lex!!! Answer god damn it, because I KNOW you're in there!" All I knew was that this voice had to be female.

Finally the bedroom door was flung open and I saw the angriest girl I could ever lay my eyes on. Although she was short about five feet four inches, she had the body of a dancer, long limbed, with beautiful almond shaped, dark brown eyes. Even in anger, she had grace that most would kill for, with her dark brown hair falling over her face just slightly.

I jumped up when she walked in, sending Lex flying off the bed, which, ofcourse, meant that he hit his head on the floor. Eeps. Not cool.

"OWWW!!!" he howled, glaring at me through bleary eyes in anguish, his eyes watering from the impact of the floor against his head.

All men are babies, I swear.

Crash, in all the excitement came skidding into the room from under girl-at-doorway's legs and stopped short at Lex's foot, lifted one leg and peed all over his nice white socks.

Well, that for one, got Lex off the floor.

"Crash! Bastard dog!" Lex swore furiously as he got to his feet and limped, trailing pee all over the floor as he chased after a howling Crash, who was by now probably half way to Mars.

What was it with that dog and the colour white anyway? First the white picket fence, then the white nikes, then the white socks...

The girl at the doorway, noticing the situation had been her doing locked eyes with me momentarily wondering, possibly what to do.

Without much ado, I burst out laughing. And she, although seemingly reluctant at first soon joined suit.

"I guess the peeing thing is done often around here...I only saw it happen once before." I finally voiced.

Girl-at-doorway grinned and nodded, cheerfully "Well, yeah, to a degree. Sorry I disturbed you." suddenly she was concerned, "I hope I didn't interrupt anything."

"Not at all. Lex's head was getting a wee bit heavy for my lap." I said, sardonically as I raised an eyebrow at Lex's rather colourful vocabulary as I heard him pounding around the drawing room, "I'm Rita, by the way."

"Kris." girl-at-doorway (hereby, rechristened Kris) announced as she walked over to me. She had a nice voice, slow and easy. She probably sang from what I could tell. Grabbing a random piece of paper off the desk, she covered the floor where the dog had peed. "And Lex's told me about you."

Oh he had, had he?

"You're his 'hotness' right?"

I promise you, that boy was only alive because it was illegal to kill people in this world.

"Actually, I prefer Rita." I grinned at her as I helped her wipe up the pee on the floor. "How do you know the lunatic anyway?"

She glanced up at me and smiled again, a softer smile appearing on her face now. Obviously she was fond of Lex. "Well, I used to be his mother's sort of intern."

I must have looked incredulous because she quickly elaborated, "Well, I always loved the idea of being a lawyer and even though I'm just a sophomore in High School, it would always be nice to get an early start on my college extra curricular activities."

I raised an eyebrow. Sophomore would mean, she was fifteen...academically inclined, much?

"It's all part of the schedule I follow anyway. Since Mrs. Stevenson left the firm, I come over here for advice-" she stopped, breaking off, almost hesitant. I don't think she knew that I already had the knowledge about Lex's mother leaving her job.

"It's all right, Kris, she already knows. Everything." said Lex's voice in the hallway, sort of gentle in its own way. Almost like he was talking to a kid sister. I looked over to him and noted the way he looked at me now. Something about Lex had changed, he appeared...more sensitive in my direction.

Kris looked over at Lex and stood up from her crouching position. Lex glanced sideways at me and grinned as he walked up to her and ruffled her hair in an exaggerated older brother motion that I was only too familiar with.

Kris's reaction, however was not one I was too familiar with.

"Holy MOTHER OF GOD!!!"

I glanced down to see Lex in a half nelson on the floor, his fist beating the ground, begging for mercy. Kris was looming over him, her petite frame seeming frighteningly large for such a small thing. "Where is my project you jackass?! What did you do with it!!!"

Okay...so this was what Buttercup the Powerpuff Girl would look like if she ever became life sized.

"I don't know!!" roared Lex, "let me up, you...you...God, just let me UP!!!" Wow, was Lex in pain or what? She had driven him curseless!

Looking at Kris-Buttercup, I smiled leaning against the doorjamb with a smile drawn across my lips, "I like you already, Kris."

Ignoring the screaming lug beneath her, Kris looked at me and smiled back. "I like you too." glancing down at Lex, she shrugged, "I had Karate as part of my schedule too, just so you know."

Schedule? All I ever had was the TV guide!


"Are you sure about this?"

"You ask me that one more time and I will shoot you in the balls."

Silence.

"Yes and all to that, but really, are you-"

"Did you fucking hear me?!"

I liked Lex, I did, but that question was the very worst one to ask someone who was definitely not sure of what she was doing at that moment. I wanted to slap the fuck out of him because he had asked me that question not once, not twice, not thrice but...

Thirty times!

Thirty fucking, painful, doubtful, times!

I swallowed for a moment as he and I began to walk from our stand still position in front of the huge medical vicinity which was one of the few mental asylums in the county.

There was only one reason why I was afraid to go in there.

They would not let me out.

No, I'm serious.

Stop laughing.

I converse with my brain too much to be healthy.

So we were fighting again. I know it was wrong to still be fighting with the boy but really, I was losing my mind slowly...along with my patience. He and his silly motorcycle could go and hang themselves somewhere. I didn't care. Humph.

I pouted with him as I walked along his side, then realised, that once again, the reason that I was here was not because of me (for the last time, Rita darling, the universe does not revolve around you.), but to meet Tash.

Lex's voice had been minimal, as had his behavior during the whole trip here... and as much as I hate to say this, I was hating this. The whole silence that hung around us was so unnerving... I wasn't used to so much silence from Lex. And I doubt he had any energy to be the Lex I knew at this very moment.

His stride was dragging, his sea god eyes looked bruised and sad...

And I really hated the way he just looked up at the gentleman who greeted us at the reception, just glanced at him for a second then asked for his sister. His voice sounded as hollow as his eyes looked at that moment...and, he was too much of a man, to let me so much as begin to understand the amount of pain inside him, as he glanced around at the clinical white walls.

I somehow understood what he was going through...his fists clenched as he walked behind the man, afraid almost to enter the place where he believed his sister, the beautiful girl, the popular girl...the one everyone seemed to have me pegged as the second coming of her in their lives was kept trapped...

As tortured as he was within himself, he kept himself closed to me, pretended nothing was wrong...and God, I had been less than sympathetic about his own tortured soul, ploughing on as if I had been forced here.

I looked around myself to see the saddened state that these people were in...each in his own way, crying out for help as the doctors and nurses, calmly but firmly led them to their rooms...some of them were unable to stop repeating certain sentences, some went kicking and screaming, insisting they were sane, some cried out to be saved from some hidden monster no one could see...

After all...weren't we all dying in the end? Weren't we all soon or later reduced to shambles by the reality around us?

The walk went on forever...and just as I was about to shut my eyes to what I knew was the truth of mental agony, I saw Lex's ramrod straight back stiffen to the point of pain as we stopped short. The attendant before us opened a room with a singular circular window that allowed one to view the patient...

Not unlike an animal.

My shoulders stooped as I saw Lex go in. I...somehow didn't know if I had the backbone to face Tash...

Tash, the girl who was the darling of the town...

Tash, the girl who met the worst for being so loved...

Tash...Tash who was apparently a lot like...me.

Inside, the walls were white.

The bed was as white, clinically matteressed, held up on heartless steel racks one could surmise as a bed.

And on it, lay a girl.

Not the girl I had seen in the picture. Oh no. This girl was different. Very different. This girl was pale as a sheet...her lively sea green eyes, now a dying moss green, her lips pale, colorless against her equally white skin. The hospital gown that covered her body was hanging on a wasting body...a body that no longer desired to live...to stay, to breathe...This girl had lost her every will to stay alive.

And she lay absolutely straight, hands clasped upon her body, staring up at something no one else could see...looking into a world no one else could be in.

Lex knelt next to the bed, taking one of the pale hands in his and murmured something gently in her ear.

There was no response. And it seemed Lex hadn't expected any...but the hope in his eyes that had gleamed when he had taken her hand hurt me...

Especially when it died.

Silence engulfed the three of us.

I didn't know what to say... I hesitantly stepped forward. Tentatively put my hand on his shoulder. He shook it off. His back had stiffened once more. I could tell he had locked me out again. I shut my eyes for a moment, then reopened them. Only to find his head resting on the hand he held so gently, so fragile that it might just break. I heard something that sounded like a sob escape his throat at that moment...so soft that he probably believed I didn't hear it.

I looked away.

Not in respect...but because I couldn't see my strong Lex so broken.


I wanted to find Alexander and bash his head against the wall repeatedly until he yelled for his mommy to save him.

I wanted to crush him like the little scum of the god damned earth he was.

I wanted to...

"Rita! Where the HELL have you been!!!??"

Oh boy...I had entirely forgotten about them.

Why was it so difficult to walk into my house without a foghorn announcing your arrival anyway?

And the funny thing was, I was walking towards my house when this was yelled to me. In the middle of the flower strewn path, I looked to my mom and smiled.

"Out, mom. I told you where I was going. Jenna's? If you had bothered to make a phone call, you would have found out."

Shit...that just fell out of my mouth didn't it?

I hooked my thumbs in my jeans and looked up to her, torn between apologetic and defiant. I was angry, because she hadn't even heard where I said I was going, I was upset because she obviously had no faith in me, and I was hurt because I hadn't done anything wrong.

Well, unless you count walking out of the house, almost getting molested, becoming a cheerleader and walking off to a random guys house something wrong...

Couldn't exactly say that could I?

"I was out, okay?"

"So, that's the extent of your explanation, is it?"

Ookay...bad idea.

"Um...no, I uh...spent the night at Jenna's...remember? I told you."

Got a better idea, got a better idea, got a better idea...

"So... well...um...yeah, mom. Sorry."

"Not good enough."

Crap, its the same idea, its the same idea, its the same idea.

"I don't wish to speak much to you, so your father can deal with you."

Wow...she was being really cold today. I was beginning to wonder if coming back had been such a great idea.

Don't you dare call me a coward!

I had to live with these people, you know?!

Ugh!

"Anyway, there is a visitor we had today." her voice was hard suddenly. Boy, I would hate to be that visitor. "Your father is inside, furious enough with you, and with him for actually showing up here."

My heart began to thud. Had Lex really been fool enough to show up here?

I was doomed.

"He's coming over for dinner later."

Shiat!

"I expect you to give a full explanation at the table Rita. Of everything."

Crap...could I join the troops in Kashmir?

''I must say, however...seeing your older brother here, on such short notice...after all these years has been..." her voice softened a bit, "wonderful for me."

My jaw dropped.

My eldest brother...my Sean...was HERE???

Fuck...I'm doomed.


Hi guys...please please please don't kill me? I'm SO awfully sorry about the extremely long gap. College has been awfully hectic and I have been in this extremely rocky relationship of recent that totally exhausted me to my bones. At least I have that settled and the block that it created for my writing is gone.

I was almost afraid I had lost interest in this story. Its just that I believed that this story needs to be severely edited after one of the reviews I got on it. Either that, or I need a good strong Beta...any volunteers? I am going to start editting soon enough though, so please, if anyone can help me it would be really awesome...

Thank you so much for sticking by the story...I promise, I already have an update in my head, and I have started typing it already. I am so so so sorry about the delay, I just hope this chapter gives an idea of what is to come...this is just one of the few surprises on the way.

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I applaud each and every one of you and cherish each and every review you have given me. Thank you so much for all your love and support. Please don't lose your faith in me is all I ask...Please?