What happens if the world is black?
Is it bleak?
Is it despair?
Is the black, rotten or evil?
Is there nothing good?
Michael didn’t know what else to do. Liz sobbed on the couch, refusing to talk to him, refusing to tell him what happened, what had hurt her so badly. He sat on the floor with his head between his hands. Defeated. Because he didn’t know how to help her. He couldn’t save her. Especially since it seemed like somehow he had been the one to break her.
He had no idea how long they formed this picture.
He was desperate. He had his arms gripped around himself so tightly it physically hurt. Her sobs tore at his soul. They tormented him. He wanted so badly to hold her. He wanted to provide shelter in this storm of fear and anger that assailed her. He wanted her to open herself up, to open her heart, and to tell him what was wrong. All he wanted was to make her world better. He wanted to make the world beautiful for her.
But her tears tore him apart. He couldn't hold himself apart without causing himself physical harm. He stopped struggling with his conscience. He pulled her into his arms.
She fought him at first. Her fists pound against his chest, flailed wildly against his body. She hit him wherever she could. He struggled to keep her close to him. He shushed her, promising her over and over that he wasn’t going to hurt her. That all he wanted to do was help. That she had to tell him what was wrong because he was so frightened for her.
If the world is blue, is it sad?
Or is it caught up in a dream?
Everything imbued with azure, cerulean, and indigo.
It’s like living under water, beneath your own tears.
It’s like living in a place that existed only in sleep.
She didn’t seem to hear him. Then suddenly, she grabbed his face, stared into it with her sightless gaze. Her abrupt calm startling him. Frightening him. The strangeness of her sightless eyes looking straight through him, into his soul. It unnerved him. He could only hope she found the good in him.
Then she kissed him.
Her warm mouth open on his. Her tongue sliding between his lips, between his teeth.
She tasted him.
She savored him.
She released him.
“Is that what you want from me?” she asked coldly.
Michael was stunned.
That kiss had floored him. He’d dreamed of kissing her. He’d imagined holding her and loving her and kissing her, but never had he imagined it to be so consuming. He was terrified. Confused. He wasn’t sure of what she was talking about. All he knew was that he never wanted to let her out of his embrace.
“Sex. Are you helping me cause I’m an easy fuck?”
Michael’s jaw went slack, he open his mouth several times before managing to reply, hurt and insulted beyond measure, “What the hell has gotten into you? Why would you even think that? Say that?”
“Max stopped by. He seems to think you like to sleep with his leftovers. Is that it, Michael? I knew that it was too good to be true, that you were to good to be true—“
“Hey, wait a second, what the hell are you talking about? Max was here? And he said what?” Michael interrupted.
“He was kind enough to inform me of your intentions Michael,” Liz tried to unsuccessfully pull away from Michael.
“Those aren’t my intentions. God. I don’t know what’s the matter with him. I don’t understand why he’d say those things to you. I mean I should have told him sooner you were staying here with me, but he had no right to insult you, insult me that way!” Michael was stunned. He barely recognized the words having come from his best friend. He didn’t understand how someone who had loved this woman could possibly want to hurt her. And Max had hurt her, one time too many in Michael’s opinion.
“You didn’t tell him?” she asked surprised.
“No. I was going to, today actually. And then I got tied up at that stupid meeting. I should have never gone.”
“So you don’t want to sleep with me?” Liz asked disappointed.
Michael didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at her question. Considering her initial anger and the depth of her hurt when she believed Max’s accusations to be true, he didn’t want to tell her that of course he wanted to sleep with her.
He couldn’t lie to her.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t…” at her indignant face he abruptly continued, “But that’s not why I asked you to live with me,” he said as he gently traced his fingers over her cheeks, drying the wet trails her tears had left on her smooth skin.
“Because you needed a haven. And I had one to offer you.”
“No hidden intentions? No expectations? You understand how hard that is to believe?”
“You have to understand how important you are to me.”
“Why? You barely know me!" she asked disbelievingly.
“I don’t know. You just are.”
Liz nodded and shrugged slightly. There was no way to argue against that. Pulling away slightly she changed the subject. “I have something to tell you,” she announced proudly.
“Okay,” Michael said expectantly. He wondered what more could she possibly spring on him. It had apparently been a momentous morning.
“Promise you won’t get mad...”
“I haven’t gotten mad yet, have I?” he replied sardonically.
“I went for a walk Michael. All by myself. I walked around the block, and I didn’t fall or get lost. I only tripped once and I caught myself.”
Michael tightened his hold on Liz. Closing his eyes, he breathed the scent of her in. The idea of Liz roaming around by herself terrified him. But he knew that if this arrangement were to work at all he had to give her freedom. And today she had flown, all on her own. And he was so proud. Proud and frightened.
What if the world were red?
Passionate and angry.
Ablaze in fire.
Garnet, brick, and blood.
It’s alive. Violent.
Michael was furious.
He’d stayed with Liz the rest of the afternoon. They’d had a celebratory dinner and he’d even read aloud to her afterwards. They’d talked for hours. And she was still so uneasy, so frightened.
He’d had to reassure her continually that he expected nothing of her.
He’d had to pretend he didn’t want her as badly as he did.
And he was literally going to rip Max Evan’s heart out. Best friend or not, what he’d done had gone way too far.
What he’d done to Liz, especially after already ruining her life the way he had, was unforgivable.
And Michael was sick of constantly being the one to offer absolution. Max's behavior bordered on the unforgivable.
He knocked on Max’s door.
He could hear the television blaring a basketball game in the background. He knew Max was there. Hiding like the coward he was. How dare he prey upon an innocent woman! If Max had a problem with Michael, he should have confronted him about it.
He shouldn’t have hurt Liz. He shouldn’t have even involved her in what was going on between them. Not that Michael understood what was going on between them. He knew he had angered Max when he had suddenly moved out. And he probably should have told Max about his involvement with Liz, but there was still nothing that justified what he had done to Liz.
He knocked again loudly. Then fished his keys out of his pocket. He’d forgotten he hadn’t returned the spare back to Max.
Michael forced his way into the apartment. Barely giving Max a chance to react before lunging at him with a left hook clear across the jaw.
It was an easy victory. Michael shook his fist and looked down at Max, lying on the floor.
It was only then that he noticed the state he was in.
The stench of alcohol was overpowering. And a slew of vodka and whisky bottles lay open and empty scattered across the floor.
Michael closed his eyes. He’d dealt with alcoholism before, his entire childhood actually. He should have recognized the signs.
The erratic behavior. The abusive, irrational rages. The wild swings. The extreme jocularity. The never-ending string of excuses. He'd heard them all before. How stupid had he been not to recognize them.
Max was trashed beyond recognition. Michael looked at the gaunt prostrate body of his friend and wondered how they had both denied it for so long.
He didn’t know how much Max had imbibed that evening, but he suspected it was way too much. With a sigh he called for an ambulance. He then called Liz and left her a message.
It would be a long night.
It’s the shades of gray that do us in.
They confuse us.
They confuse the world around us.
There are no extremes.
Sometimes you need them.
Michael sat in the waiting room in the busy emergency room. Max had a severe case of alcohol poisoning. The doctor’s had pumped his stomach and decided to admit him into the intensive care unit.
It had been a hellish night.
He’d give anything to be in bed.
Even more to be cuddling with Liz.
Ironically, Max’s provocation had probably saved his life. If Michael hadn’t found him when he had, if he hadn’t thought to beat the living daylights out of him, his best friend might be dead.
Michael’s thoughts strayed yet again to Liz.
He wanted to be with her so badly. He was tired of the waiting room. He wasn’t doing anything there.
He talked to a doctor. Sped up the paper work and left his contact information. He’d come by tomorrow.
He had a home to get back to.
Is a white world too bright?
Or is it merely full of possibility?