Nocte (Page 38)

Nocte (The Nocte Trilogy #1)(38)
Author: Courtney Cole

Long scratches stretch the length of his forearm, deep enough to bleed, perhaps even deep enough to scar.  But not deep enough for stitches, or for permanent harm.

Thank you, God.

I look up frantically, and Finn stares down at me, his pale blue eyes so eerily calm.

“Why did you do this?” I ask, my voice shaking.  “Are you upset because I went with Dare?  Because you told me to do it.”

“I didn’t do it on purpose,” he says limply.  “I was out in the woods.  The branches….” His voice trails off and he would really have me believe that the branches cut his arms.

I stare at him in disbelief.

“I’m stressed,” he mumbles.  “Maybe it was an accident.”

I open my mouth, but he holds up a hand.

“Calla, I don’t want to fight.  And no, of course I’m not upset with you for going with Dare. I want you to go with Dare.  I want you to be independent.  Can’t you see that? I’m trying to show you.”

His face is pained now, but he’s still handsome and calm. He’s still my Finn.

“I don’t know what you want,” I admit softly.  “I don’t want to feel guilty when I do something without you but when I do, I’m afraid you’ll react like….this.”

I purposely don’t look at his arms, at the blood that drips on the sand, staining it crimson.

“What are we gonna do, Finn?” I ask quietly.  “We’ve got to get a handle on this.”

He smiles gracefully, his teeth perfectly white and straight.  “You say we like it’s your problem, Cal.  I guess that’s your problem. You’ve always assumed my issues like they’re your own.  They’re not.  We’re different in that way. You’re healthy, Cal.  Act like it.  It’s time.”

His voice is firm, an assertive tone that he rarely takes with me and I stand shocked, mesmerized by this new side of him. 

“I don’t understand,” I tell him softly. “What do you want?”

He smiles again, and it’s eerie now in the fading light.  Eerie with it’s calm, eerie with its knowingness.

“I want you to let go,” he says simply.  “Just a little.  You have to.”

I start to shake my head because a desperation wells up in my chest and threatens to overwhelm me.  He holds up a hand.

“Let’s not argue,” he suggests. “I’m going to go clean up.”

And so I trail behind him, back up the trail and into the house, where we clean him up and wrap his arms in bandages.  He doesn’t flinch when I spray him with first aid spray, even though I know it stings.  He doesn’t flinch when I tell him he has to be more careful.  He just remains calm.

It’s enough to terrify me.

Because one thing about my brother, he never remains calm.  That’s not his thing.

But today it is.

We curl up in my room and listen to music, to old albums that mom loved… the Beatles, the Cure, U2.   It starts to rain and it runs down the glass like rivers and finally, Finn turns to me.

“I didn’t do it on purpose.”

“Okay.”

“I’m tired, Cal.”

And he looks so very tired.  So pale, so skinny.  I suck a breath in because it’s like he’s deteriorating in front of my eyes. Dad is so lost in his grief about mom that he doesn’t even notice.

I’m the only one.

Like always.

“You’ve got to start eating better,” I tell him.

“I know.”

“Let’s take a nap, Finn,” I suggest.  He nods and climbs into my bed.  I cover him up with a quilt before I curl up beside him.  He falls asleep quickly, and he doesn’t stir.

Beneath him, between my mattresses, his journal rests.  I know I have to force myself to read more of it, no matter how much it scares me, because I have to uncover the truth.

Something is bothering him, something is eating at him, and little by little, it will drive him completely mad… if I don’t stop it first.

24

VIGINTI QUATUOR

Finn

I can’t sleep.  That’s the problem.  I seldom sleep now and the redness of my eyes is driving me to the brink.  They burn and burn, and still sleep won’t come.

Even now, I feel Calla watching me, waiting for me to be normal, waiting for me to sleep, so I feign it.  I pretend to dream.

But I’m a faker.

Instead of dreaming, I lie here listening to the f**king voices.

SheDoesn’tDeserveYouSheDoesn’tDoesn’tDoesn’t.  Don’tYouSee? Can’tYOU? Can’tYOU?  SheDoesn’tKnow Shedoesn’tknow.  She doesn’t.

They hiss and whisper and yell and scream and I fight the urge to flinch, to scratch, to shriek.  But through it all, I lie as still as a corpse, as quiet as a ghost.

Serva me, serva bo te.  Serva me.  Serva me.  Serva me.

Save me and I will save you.

I will save her. I will I will I will.

It’s my voice now, rising above the others, ringing out loud and clear and most important.  I can fend them off for a while, for long enough to do this. For long enough to save her.

My secret will come out. But before that, I will save her.

I will.

25

VIGINTI QUINQUE

Calla

I don’t wake until morning, and when I do, Finn is gone.  That’s the first thing I notice.

I open my eyes and my hand runs along the cool smooth sheets of the empty side of my bed.

The second thing I notice is the piano music.

Since I know there isn’t a funeral today, this is very odd.  My mother was the only one who knew how to play in our family.

I crawl out of bed and pad down the stairs, inching into the Chapel, not sure what I expect to see.  But nothing I expect prepares me for what it is.

Dare sits at the piano in the front, the sunshine pouring in from the windows above and reflecting off of his dark hair, like he’s been chosen by God Himself.  His eyes closed in concentration, he plays as if the music flows through him like blood or air, like he has to play to live.  

I lean against the door, watching his hands span the keys, urging the music from them, with all the grace of an accomplished pianist.  I don’t recognize the song, but it’s beautiful and haunting and sad.

It’s just right for this place.

And even though Dare is wearing dark jeans and a snug black shirt and that trendy silver ring on his middle finger, he’s right for this place too.