My hairbrain attempts to be romantic and artsy fartsy at the same time. Not sure it worked. I'm leaning towards maybe not. But hey! It's here.

Only Touchless

by LoweFantasy

Ari first came upon her sitting in the waiting room. Her beauty startled him, and he nearly forgot his disgruntlement at being at the doctors for what had to be the uptenth millionth time. Such long, golden hair-straight as falling rain, and eyes the color of the sky. She didn't notice him, and nor did he expect her to, for even if she could such a beauty would never give the sickly pizza-faced-him any attention. But he enjoyed her presence nonetheless and listened as she talked to who could only be her mother until the doctor came to take him away to the world of needles and sterile walls. To distract himself, he thought of what she had said: 'Mother, the apple blossoms are so beautiful, I do hope he gives me a blossom. Just a blossom. That would be so fine.'

Apple blossoms? Why the heck apple blossoms? Was this girl really so sickeningly sentimental? Who was this man she spoke of anyways? Certainly he had to be all Ari could not be. The thought aggravated him enough into finding out, even if only to give him more reason to hate his life.

Sure enough, the man the apple blossom girl spoke of was the typical tall, dark, and handsome. Ari couldn't understand himself why he was so interested in this girl's doings. Surely there were better ways to spend his time than watching her love life play out. But instead he watched her clumsy attempts to be coy around the tall, healthy man through a window. He couldn't help but snicker. This was stupid. Didn't this girl know not all guys were as poetic as she hoped? Like his mother's attempts to prompt a romantic sonnet from his father's throat by wearing a long, silky red dress. Look how well that worked. And even as the apple blossom girl grew all flustered with the stone heart of this man who proclaimed to love her, Ari watched, stoically expectant. He also couldn't understand her stupid naivety. From what he learned, her past should have taught her better than to throw herself at the feet of this stone-like man. The more he lingered, the more he grew frustrated. Why was he still here?

And yet, the more he learned of her, the more he began to understand this strange innate interest of his. She had something akin to fire in the way she spoke and stood before people as though any moment ready to leave them in the dust, despite her fear of them doing the same to her. Any who came too close, she'd burn, just to see if there existed in them a hint of the disloyal shadow so common in humankind.

Yet why didn't she act so around her lover, the annoying epitome of manliness? Her inconsistent distrust was at times maddening to him-why did women have to be so sexist? But he couldn't refute it, having felt the same way himself towards people in general. While his logic screamed otherwise-that he was being a dramatic, emotional teenager who believed the worst just to be angsty-it didn't stop either of them from looking over their shoulder for the empty loneliness that threatened to swallow them whole. The same emptiness filled his bedroom, only broken by the occasional visit by his mother to give him his medicine and the company of his books. His father could barely stand to look at him and very nearly never appeared.

Slowly, it dawned on him why she tried so hard to cling to the tall man, even if it would in the end be to her own disaster when her fiery spirit proved too much for him. It was the same reason he kept her story at hand. But she was a stubborn girl. So Ari continued to humor his illogical interest.

Meanwhile, the long standing stillness dropped dead in his home. Crackles of broken glass and china echoed from downstairs. They were yelling. His parents, that is. Ari knew his sickness, with him since birth, didn't help any, but he refused to feel sorry for what was his parents fault in the first place. As he did his best to ignore them he watched the golden beauty's own world collapsed around her ears, and yet she didn't feel sorry either.

Instead, as the tall man who embodied everything Ari would never become walked away forever, her blue eyes shone like ice and she whirled on the sky itself to scream her painful indignation at the injustice of it all. The passion was so pure, so honest, so unlike the broken sobs of his mother, that he couldn't help but stare once more with alarm just as he had the first time he had seen her. She stood as raw and breathtaking as the stormy skies in all her fury. The sight and sound of her soul made the girl finally solid in his world, and for the first time he dared to whisper her name:


Now he watched with rapture through the glass as she fled all resemblance of her previous life, his own bitterness forgotten. Her legs were long and milky as they beat against the dark earth, and he longed to have the strength they showed. Her hair flowed like ribbons behind her and he dreamt of threading them through his fingers. The throbbing of the aching air of his family melted away in her wake.

For the first time in his life, Ari didn't notice his sickness.

Dangerous questions started to grow in his mind: did she know that he watched her? Did she know of his thoughts? And even stranger yet was the ache that grew in his heart. Didn't the man who left her know how he had broken her beyond repair? And just for the sake of understanding her, Ari took the effort to recall the name of the bastard, but didn't dare acknowledge it, even in the quiet of his mind. Instead he would press his tongue to the roof of his mouth and clench his teeth whenever he came up in her words.

Ari kept track of her despite appointment after appointment with the white coats and needles. Stubborn and wild, she attempted to find a new version of herself and a new love, but fate failed her each time. He knew he was prying by knowing so much about her life and preying upon her psyche, but it drove him like an addiction to a pain-killing, endorphin-inducing drug. Not only did he feel the need to watch over her, but by focusing on her and her own insatiable rage at the world he could escape the prison-like hell that was his life and his own antagonism. If only he could run as she did. But his own legs were stick-like, weak, and shuddered to hold his weight. His lungs burned with the attempts to keep him alive. But watching her mad dashes across the fields, he could trick himself into thinking that the burning was out of a healthy, wonderful exertion rather than the genetic disease plaguing his muscles.

And yet she wept. The tears both fascinated and crippled him. At the end of the day she would crumple onto the floor, the strength rented by her anger run dry, and he would be left to watch, unable to even make himself known unto her.

He tried to speak. He often times did, forcing through his weak lungs, but still she did not hear him through the glass. He would reach out to her, though he knew he must never touch her, but he'd dare to see how close he could get, hoping somehow his own aching sympathy would melt over to her through the space separating them.

At the bottom of her sorrow, his own life came back to his awareness. His mother told him it wasn't his fault; his father and her would stay together and at least pretend to be in love, but he knew better. He knew his weak body was trying their patience. He knew they only agreed to stay together in some lame attempt to support him. He knew what the furrowing brows of the doctors meant. He knew what their tone revealed when they read off test results and prescribed bottle after useless bottle of faithless miracle pills. He knew better. He wasn't stupid.

And yet...Sonja was crying, clutching her pale arms till they turned purple and pink. Her long, golden hair sprawled out on the floor turned dull with dust. And like everything else, he couldn't stop it.

The glass felt so thin, now. His frantic panic at his helplessness caused him to reach out for her once more till barely a hair's space stood between his caresses and her skin. He would shower kisses on the thinest of gaps between her and his lips. Time and time again he murmured to her out loud every word he knew her and his mother wanted to hear from a lover. To her unaware ears he swore that he would never leave her as the dark bastards had. The cold air around her he embraced. He wept tears besides her own, hoping, praying, that somehow the emotions burning so hotly next to his failing lungs in his chest would reach her and ignite the raw, wild, and beautiful creature he once knew. Though he knew he must never touch her, despite the growing temptation-for it would break the paper-thin glass between her own reality and his.

Yet now Ari could no longer deceive himself about the aching of his lungs. He could no longer ignore the increased difficulty it took to stand up everyday. His drug, his relief, had lost her strength.

The day he could no longer walk or breathe on his own anymore the ghosts of the world he used to know carried him away to the sterile, quiet land for good. White coats and colorful scrubs now surrounded him completely and always. He almost missed the fragile peace of his home. For a while, trapped in the tubes and coarse blankets of his prison, he couldn't know of Sonja's doings and his heart ran crazed with worry for her. The blue-eyed beauty's lost smile haunted his hours while the machines wheezed and rumbled around him, breathing their own tasteless air into his body. His parents visited him often, making a point to come together despite the grimace they couldn't hide, but they were mere phantoms to him now. In a way, their transparency was a small relief. Yet the blurring of his conscious only served to increase his apprehension of the unknown ahead of him. As his limbs grew heavy, he'd dream of her milky, strong legs pounding and shooting her towards the horizon. As his eyes grew weak and breathing turned to fire, the heat would remind him of how her sky-blue eyes would alight with the flame of her determination like a sunset. And as his awareness blurred with his dreams he could almost make himself believe that he knew the feel of her ribbons of gold around his fingers.

One day, he'd whisper to himself behind the mask, one day we can run together.

Then, awakening one night to the empty, moonlit room of the hospital, he experienced a moment of clarity unlike any he had ever felt before. His mind still whirled dizzyingly with her image, but he could think clearly, see clearly, and more clearly than ever before she was there. Kneeling before the windows, with moonlight glinting off her shining hair, was Sonja, somehow more real to him now than anything else. He could just make out her scent of apple blossoms. His fragile heart thrummed loudly. So beautiful.

Treacherously, his fingers rose to her. He must never touch her...but maybe, at the edge of the magical oblivion known as death as he sat now, he could. Maybe now, at last, her eyes would finally notice him and her ears finally hear the words he knew she needed. Perhaps, then, the smile would be alight on her face at last. She'd be wanted. He would be wanted.

His weak arm trembled. He reached for her. His fingertips easily broke the thin glass between them and it shattered into non-existence.

The beeping of the monitors sounded out in the silence.

And his fingers pressed against the paper and printed words.

Sonja sat in the moonlight, it read, finally wondering if there was any hope for a place in the world that needed or wanted her.

Ari fell forward onto the book and wept.