Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for mature content.
Her voice is silent, trembling, sobs mixing with the words and making them barely audible. Her hair surrounds her head, spilling on the table like a pond of dark liquid. It's black, thick and shiny, like it always is. Curling slightly at its ends, it's surely so soft under his fingers, as he gently pushes it from the way of his hand, leaving her face uncovered. She's afraid, it's clear in her eyes. Blue as the sea, with long dark lashes around them. The ones under her eyes are wet of tears, and I wonder if they're salty as he takes a picture. That picture will be the only thing to capture those eyelashes, and I almost feel sorry about that. They went well with her eyes, made them look bigger, and I like the contrast - yet I don't look away as N takes the scalpel.
She does; she tries to turn her head away, shutting her eyes tightly, screaming and crying and pulling against the chains holding her on the table.
He doesn't get angry; he doesn't yell at her, like he never does, though they all behave the same. He waits for her to lose the breath for screaming, and sighs silently, and then turns her head back towards himself and attaches the straps to keep it in place. I know he doesn't like doing that, and I can see it in his eyes, and it makes me somewhat ashamed that this woman doesn't see it too. After all, she's here because of me.
It will hurt less if you stay calm, I want to tell her, but I know I can't. I don't speak like the rest of the people do, I never did. I don't have the voice to do so - it was taken from me back when I was a little child, and I don't remember if it was taken by some Fate or God, or by a person wanting silence.
N looks up for a moment, his gaze meeting mine, and I have to suppress a smile. His eyes seem dark today, shaded by his hair, deep and desperate, but there's a shine of passion in them, as always when he looks at them. I know he can see what I'm thinking about; I'm easy to read, much more so than himself, and he'd even told me so before. He can see I'm worried about him, and curious to see what he'd do, and burning with desire to see him letting me stay. I brought him this one. I did it for him, and I want to see what she will look like when he finishes - but he only shakes his head a bit, and I know that's all there is. Glancing once more towards her, I turn my back to them and leave the room, followed by the melody of screams.
I'm not mad at him as I enter my room. I'm never mad at him, and I can never be, no matter how many times he sends me away. He is an artist, a magician of his own kind, and I know I have no right to interfere. His art can't be rushed, and his inspiration and focus can't be interrupted; the time he spends with them is their time and their alone, and no one can expect to be allowed entering. I know he will let me look once it's over, and that's enough - it always is. I can see the empty canvas, for it's nothing more than that, and I can see the masterpiece - everything in between, every stroke of brush and every dark red line of blood, that belongs to no one but him.
I lie on my bed, closing my eyes, sighing a quiet sigh of relief. He was still pale, there in that room, still seeming sad and lonely, but so much better than in the morning. For past few days already, he's been strange. Distant, quieter, walking like a ghost and looking like a shadow, refusing both food and company. He shook his head when I offered to call his doctor, and took my notebook away as I asked him what's wrong. He wanted silence - even silence from the written instead of spoken words - and I respected that as I always did, but this time I didn't get to see that hint of a smile playing on his lips, smile which would tell me I made him happy regardless of my gender and appearance. He stayed calm and serious, sitting on his bed like a statue and staring at the dark wall as if he could see something there.
That morning, he didn't reply to my knocking, and I entered his room uninvited - he didn't even move, but I knew that he saw me. My notebook lay right next to him, on his pillow like a child or a favourite pet, but I didn't want to take it. If he wanted words, I knew, he would give it to me himself.
I put a tray with food by his side. He didn't touch it, didn't turn to look at it, and I couldn't force myself to leave.
Tell me what's wrong, I pleaded without words, staying still, not daring to come closer when I didn't know if he wanted me there. He turned to me, slowly, looking up at me but not parting his lips. There was something in his eyes which frightened me, something I haven't seen in there before. He was sad and he was disappointed, as he always was - because of the way they acted, the way they treated him, the way they were unable to understand - but there was more this time. His eyes desperate more than sad, lonely more than disappointed, met mine for only a couple of seconds before he turned his gaze back to the wall, sitting calmly as if he hadn't even noticed me standing there. I turned, and I left, but I knew I wouldn't be able to ignore it, even if he seemed to want me to; that silence of his was a cry for help, the kind of vulnerability I'd never seen there before, his way to reach out to someone he knew would listen, in the only way he knew.
He missed them, he needed them. I wanted to tell him I'd do it instead, to offer him anything to make him happy again, to put the knife in his hand and let him do whatever he wished, but I knew he'd never accept it. I wasn't the one he wanted, not anything alike them. I was the one he didn't feel the need to be strong with at all times, but never the one he could love. He searched for understanding in their eyes, but didn't see it in mine. He yearned to hear the silence instead of screams, but my silence was too loud.
I found the lady in the playground, where I'd seen her many times before as I'd visited the store across the street. She was alone this time - her boyfriend, or maybe brother, must have stayed at home, and the child which she always tried to hush was no where to be seen. Her hair was down, gently tugged at by the wind, and I just knew she was the one who'd make him happy again. I got closer and then slipped on the ice, letting myself fall and scratch my arm, glaring at the blood against my skin as she approached me to help. She seemed so nice, her eyes big and worried and in the perfect shade of blue, as I let tears fall down my cheeks. She was a masterpiece in the making, I could tell, her skin so white in the cold, almost as the snow beneath our feet. She was an empty canvas, the five lines waiting for the notes to dance over them, a stage not yet graced with the breathtaking performance. She was a story not yet written, and N was the writer she didn't even know she was waiting for.
He said he was my brother as she brought me home, and wiped away a frozen tear from my face as our eyes met. I had no way of telling him that she's his to take - but I knew he could see it from the look on my face, the way he could tell of my every thought even before I'd reach for the notebook to share it. He made us tea and coffee, and talked about art. She smiled and she laughed and her eyes sparkled, and she followed him as he offered to show her his gallery. Ashes and echoes of screams, it was all one could find there, but the atelier was what caught her attention. Behind those locked doors, always evoking imagination, always calling them closer. Even standing behind them, opening the doors and waiting for them to come in first, even as they lead the way and talked about all the various forms of art they thought they knew anything about, N was the one holding the strings. They were his dolls, from the moment they stepped into the house, and he was the puppeteer.
I open my eyes as I feel the coldness, and slowly get up. The sky I see through the window is dark now, and I get up to close it as the wind tosses snowflakes inside. One of them lands on my pillow, almost perfectly round, and then turns into a drop of water before my eyes. I hear his footsteps behind me, and the silent creaking of the wooden floor, but I don't turn around. He never knocks. When I come to him, I always do - but we're both aware that I would always let him in, and that there was nothing which could make me wish to forbid him to enter. I close my eyes, silently standing, waiting for him to speak. To tell me I've picked wrong, to tell me I made a mistake, to order me never to do it again.
I freeze as his arms wrap around me. Without a sound, without a word, as if his voice got taken from his as well, he just stands there with his chest against my back, again calm like a statue but seeming so much warmer than a stone. I don't make a move, keeping my eyes closed, breathing slowly. If I do anything, I fear, he will let go and leave, and I suddenly can't imagine what will happen if he does. I want to tell him that I did it for him, ask him how it went and if he'd show me his creation. I want to turn around and hug him back. I want to wrap my fingers around his wrists and keep his arms there in place forever.
I do none of that.
"You love me," he states, not even making it sound like a question. I can feel the heat rushing in my cheeks, and I want to tell him he’s wrong - or he's right, I'm not even sure what I'd say to him anymore. I lose the track of my thoughts as he speaks again, his lips right next to my ear, his breath brushing against my neck. "You shouldn't. That will bring you nothing good."
I can be what you want them to be, I tell him silently, but he gives me no answer. If he can read me like he always can, he decides to ignore it this time. But I know even without words, because silence is what I'm familiar with, what it is that he's telling me. I know that I'll never be like them, no matter what I did, and that he will never see me in the same way - but I also know that they will never know what his skin feels against their, never see that helplessness in his eyes. I know that his hug isn't a declaration of love, nor telling me that I could ever take their place - it's a thank you for the one I had brought to him, in the only way he knows how to say it. An unspoken apology for making me worried, not breaking the silence.
My silence, which he prefers over their screams.