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It's been years. . . Yet even tonight the thoughts can't even escape from me. Another restless night, another vivid dream. Sometimes I wonder what I could have done that would have been different. Even slightly different. In the end nothing seemed to dawn on me as a difference in decision, the outcome would have been worse or the same - You shouldn't have done it. You had the time to run yet. . . - Nightly Musings of Derrick
July 20th, 2010 - United Kingdom
Derrick had found himself out on another night with Eleza, since the two had met at the beginning of the year they'd managed to travel a large breadth of the world with the help of magic. Even being a Veela of a well defined age she found a measure of fun in the ever so spontaneous human and the fact that they held an affinity towards the element of fire only seemed to be a puzzle perfect kind of a match. The moon stretched high in the sky in a quarter-crescent while the cool air breezed through the night, the two locked hand in hand together while Eleza's head leaned gently on Derrick's shoulder. "Oh come on, that's such a cheap thing to do! Skydiving? You have wings when you want to, what do I get?" The man grinned towards what seemed to be a platinum haired blonde who had quite the height on her, equaling Derrick's own. "You have a wand. That's good enough isn't it, Sparky? You don't expect a delicate angel like -myself- to carry you, do you?" Her eyes seemed to flutter a bit as if to suggest that it was a ludicrous idea. Derrick's hand lifted up and gently wagged at her in a playfully scolding manner. "I keep forgetting you have that edge on me, that's not cool. Using your wiles, all I have is my amazing good humor and the fact everyone just loves me. Uncontested fact." Their hands laced together and clutched as they continued their discussion on the next big thing that they had planned for their week in the UK. The UK had always been hectic and crazy and due to the high end of Pureblood heritages that seeped through some of the magic community it meant that both himself and Eleza were targets for the larger bigots and purists.
Yet, the woman had been confident that between the two of them things were well handled for the most part. "As if I would ever need to use my full charms with you. All I have to do is say fire~. . . Pyro~. . . And you go completely glossy-eyed for me." There had been a slight spark of a light up in his eyes as she mentioned the words and he playfully nudged his cheek against the top of her head. "Oh, think you know me that well? Just for that we're jumping over into some water. Let's see if you can swim~! That or we can settle with me just tossing a glob of oats in your face tomorrow morning. I haven't decided yet." He offered up a shrug as the both of them laughed lightly while shaking their head. This was a kind of blissful happiness neither of them had ever expected to gain, in Eleza's case, it had been quite a while since she found someone she could feel comfortable about all of her. Derrick, however, had never allowed himself to get so engrained into another person feeling obligated to take care of Janet. But, his sister had been older, she needed to fight and fend for herself which meant someone else needed his attention. "Just you wait, when we get back to Australia you're going to meet all the crazy crew. I think you'll really like Net and Addy. Cool people." Those were the major players in his life, not that he didn't keep in contact with Jezebel from time to time. But she had a life, even if they're friends now the last thing she needed was an old boyfriend around. "Ooo~? Meeting the 'people', You -are- taking this serious! You drag me half way across the world to different places and only now you decide we can visit your home? " There she went with that teasing that always managed to get to him.
As the two spoke, carelessly at that, they had passed by what seemed to be a group of Wizards that had been taking too much drink into their systems. The kind of wizards that were purebloods with a chip to pick at the changes to the laws that put their ideals on the side of being attacked. A simple signal was given with just a joust of their head as two of the four walked around through an alley as a shortcut and popped out just in front of Derrick and Eleza while the other two made a purposeful scuffle of their shoes behind the couple. "Oh, hey, can I help you gentlemen? If you're looking for the nearest store for some water. . . It's that way." He used a hand to point all the way towards the right of him self where it had mostly been an empty lot. Pretty much telling them to get lost. Eleza's positioning seemed to shift a bit to a more stern and readied stand while keeping to Derrick's side.
"Now that ain't anyway to speak to good tax paying folk." A man spoke up with a bit more authority while the others seemed to chuckle as if what had been said was funny. This was the clear ringleader of the group. He seemed to go on. "Done heard you had 'feathers', eh? Flying? What, ya' one of those Veela trashes? Shouldn't ya' be in some kind of mountain leaving humans away? Snaring another man away for your Siren's meal?" There had been a slight irritation in Derrick's mind just by the way the man spoke and the accusation and insults only seemed to make his eye twitch further. Eleza, however, had been stern and daring as stone - confidence in living long had grown such. "Ignorant and insufferable. . . You elitists always tend to get in way over your head that you aren't worth sweating." Her hand swept at her hair not the least be worried and more so trying to keep her angered contained from the petty insults.
In a chorus of movements the four thugs pulled out their wands which were of various designs and lengths. Nothing too uniformed. Derrick groaned lightly as he shook his head and unlatched his own wand which was nine-inched and made of Spruce. "So. . . I guess it's kind of -too- late to suggest we all just walk awa-" He didn't get a chance to actually respond as one of the thugs lifted up their wand to fling Derrick towards the side near the street to separate him from Eleza. The man rolled along the paved ground with a grunt as his skin peeled at the hands from the impacting and rolling. "Ugh. . . So yes. . .?" His hand pressed against the ground to try and expedite his rise back onto both feet.
Meanwhile, Eleza had flung a quickly formed fireball at one of them which impacted and set the coat ablaze. The thug that had been aimed at flailed about screaming at the top of their lungs until they dropped to the ground rolling around on it to douse the flames. Eleza kissed the tips of her fingers as a sly smile grew on her lips. "Too hot to touch. " The Veela had only begun to get warmed up until the ring leader started to step up and flicked his wand in a much more trained motion as a single bladed knife had been conjured up and pierced into the woman's left arm. The first blood had been officially shed and a wrathful grunt escaped from her. "Ngh. . . You shouldn't have done that!" Her anger switch had been flipped and that meant it was only going to grow from there as she flung another orb of fire this time at the ring leader and then grasped at the knife in her arm and tossed it the thug that had rolled to the ground to try and douse the flames. The other two that remained just behind her had started to wind up their own wands finally until a stream of fire coursed right in front of them to gather their attention towards the street. "I'm hurt, really hurt, that you forgot about me. Don't worry I like to make an intense introduction!"
Derrick flicked his wand once more this time to send a pulse that disarmed the two he had managed to distract before giving another quick succession flick to pulse out a stream of water that would impact against their bodies and knock them down onto the ground with a heavy thud that knocked the wind out of them. Their heads smacked against the pavement to at least daze them for quite sometime. "Two biggots down! It reminds me of our time back in the States!" He had started to turn around to see how well Eleza was doing and it seemed only the ring leader had been left to deal with at least until he had noticed he was staring down the end of a wand. Well, that looked like a semi-checkmate but it had been leveled to two against one, what more could this man do had been a passing thought for Derrick.
"Even if I get taken out here I'll make sure this Veela trash gets all the blame one way or another!" As the thug leader's wand whipped through the air it was a motion that Derrick recognized as cursed under his breath at his slowness. Even as he tried to lift up his arm a wave of arrows ejected from the tip of the wand and their piercing points aimed to take every vital opening possible - that was until a raging scream enveloped through the air and the sense of fire expelled out to burn only the first half of the arrows, Eleza needed time to be bought as she sprouted wings from her arms, and a beak seemed to elongate from her very face with talons growing into a razor sharp point.
One wing extended out as a shield with a painful screech that followed afterwards while using the rest of her body to cover Derrick's from any form of damage. Arrows littered through the shoulder, a few within her spine and lower back. "Eleza-?!" A single arm wrapped around the falling woman while his hand gripped his wand tightly. He made a quick tracing motion and then aimed his wand's point right towards the offending thug. "Expulso!" A pressure expelled out and impacted into the Thug with a massive boom and propelled him right into the wall with a harsh collision. Enough that his wand had dropped and his body slumped over onto the sidewalk. "Hey. . . Hey! Come on! Eleza, we need to get you to a hospital or something - somewhere!" The woman's head shook defiantly as she raised a hand to gently cup at Derrick's cheek. "You need to go. . . Sparky. . . You can't be. . . Implicated in this. I'd just drag you down so go. . .!" Her hand pressed along his shoulder to push him aside with what remaining physical strength had been within. Then finally her hand reached out to place an objected into his pocket and to weave a presence of magic around Derrick to forcibly apparate him towards another part of the world that the two had been, purposefully smacking his wand away in the process to make it more difficult for him to return to the area.
"Wa-!?" He tried to call out to stop her and yet already felt the presence of his entire body being condensed and pushed away with this new force of magic. Disarmed, he'd have a much more difficult time even gathering up a pinpointed way back to that particular spot. Everything had moved so fast he didn't have time to consider where the surroundings had been either way. When his senses had come back he had glanced around to find himself in an entirely new part of the United Kingdom rolled out on some form of grass. "Crap. . . CRAP! Eleza!" Derrick tried to remember, where, when, how. But performing apparition wandless was a tricky bit and not even within his talent to get done without taking an extremely major hit. He closed his eyes to think of landmarks and from there he started to travel by a form of tram.
It took him until morning and there had already been a gathering of people and a team of Auror's on site. His cheek had been bitten into a bit until he noticed out of the corner of his eye that they had managed to miss something - His wand. Derrick walked a few bits away from scene and traced in the air 'Accio Wand'. Calling back what had rightfully belonged to him, coated in blood at that. Her blood. His teeth bit even tighter against his lower lip and began a strategic retreat to avoid anyone noticing him fully as someone that had been there. The necklace that Eleza had stuffed into his pocket just before she sent him away had been clutched within his palms enough to cut the skin.
He had lost a piece of himself, something that could have been prevented and all from him not being prepared enough - getting himself into a position where someone had to take a deadly blow for his life to go one.
I awaken every night with this pain, this knowledge, that maybe. . .Just maybe. .. It could have been slightly different. Nearly eight years later and I still can't move on.
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February 25th, 2018 - Previous Day
Alexander had been straightening up his room in the dormitory and laying out the various materials that he'd need to go over through the week. Just because he was a Spencer didn't mean he had to be some kind of sloppy student. Especially considering he knew he had to work just a bit harder in order to make it over the hump within certain classes. He shook his head in frustration as he leaned against his desk with his head inclined to stare at the ceiling. Cass wasn't around tonight which was probably for the best as he had to rework his mind to dealing with how the family dinner had started. "A step at a time. . . Del will see that she can be trusted and is a good person. " So far it had been one surprise after another that day. Yet, he didn't regret it, not one bit considering he still managed to connect with a side of him that he never had the opportunity to meet before. Just as he was about to prepare himself for bed and get some rest for the school day his phone suddenly rang as an eyebrow arched upwards - this late at night? He reached over to his desk to grab up the cellphone. "Yea, this is Alex - what's u-" His eyes squinted as the voice on the other end began to speak. "Yes, Mister Winfield? This is Doctor Harriman calling to let you know that your Father's condition has started to decline rapidly. Are you able to come in? I don't think he has much longer.'
A swelling feel swept within his throat and it took him a few minutes to find his voice while a cold sweat swept along his brow and entire body at such a rapid condensation that he could feel his clothing cling to his body. "I. . . Y-Yes. I mean, yea, I can get there. I'll be there in a few minutes!" His Father, Darryl, had been hospitalized since the end of January dealing with Cirrhosis of the liver. They hadn't caught it in time, not that the man would have even went to the hospital with the responsibilities that had been shuffled onto his plate. All Alexander left on his desk was a note, hastily scrawled and settled on his desk.
"At Hospital, Don't know when I'll be back."
Such a cryptic but it was the best he could do as he quickly grabbed Sapphire and sped out of the dorm room in a blaze not stopping for any voices or any shuffling, not even considering the rules of curfew at this point. He'll deal with the backlash if there was any when he returned.
February 26th, 2018 - Current Day
As if it weren't bad enough that he left such a horrible note his phone also had to be turned down entirely even vibrations meaning direct contact by line would be impossible. There he sat in a personal room where various machines had been propped up and cluttered around the bedframe as if they were the fans of a dying man. How morbid. . .His guitar, aptly named Sapphire, leaned against the wall slightly away from him while he leaned forward with both elbows settled against his knees and hands pressed together and leaned against his face. Across from Alex was an older man with hazed eyes and various tubes, wires, and electronics connected to his body to assist not only in monitoring the condition that he had been suffering with but as well as trying to keep what little life expectancy he had left up. His hair a dimming brown and thinning and a very scraggly beard to show he hadn't shaved in several weeks nor had it been kept up well at all. It was the kind of sight that Alexander had always hated to see his father in, a man who was prideful in how he looked and kept up his hygiene and grooming to the best of standards.
"Who would have thought. . . That the tables would turn this early on. You in a chair and -me- the bed." The older man gave a hoarse laughter that accompanied behind the raspy voice that spoke out before flowing into a fit of coughing. "That is a -horrible- joke and you know it." Alex seemed to retort trying to keep his cheery tone but even his own voice actually seemed to be struggling with keeping even, of cracking. Every so often controlled breaths slipped out of the young man to keep his emotions and most importantly his tears in check to avoid stressing out his Father in this moment. "Don't think I'm going to just suddenly start turning on TV's so you can say 'Aah. . . This gambling program always has the best cards'. " Weakly he smiled remembering his own time in the hospital when he'd watch his Niece perform on stage, an uplifting moment but this. . . Was massively different scenario. "I can be fine with that, Alex. Now stop that defensive mechanism crap, tell me about what was it. . .? That girlfriend you have now? And this family you went out and replaced me with?" Even when he was in a very bad situation to joke like that, Darryl always seemed to have such a terribly macabre timing for his matching humor.
Alex grimaced at the final comment which had been followed by a snorted scoff. "No one is replacing you, Old Goat. Merlin's Frilly dress. . ." He sighed and weaved a hand frustratingly through his hair. "Cass is. . . She's pretty amazing." A smooth nod formed as the weak smile seemed to brighten even slightly even with the dark situation before him on this road. Perhaps he should have took her with him. . . But she faced enough death in the face and this was his demon. Sometimes, somethings, people needed to face off alone to build their own strength. "She's pretty strong and energetic, she pushes me to my limits with a lot of things. Ya' know, challenges me to look passed the wall that I may see every so often in life. I think she's crazy, sticking around a dying boy." Okay, so maybe Alex got his horrible humor from -someone- in the room. "But she's in it for the long haul, that much I know. I can definitely say I am. . . In love with the ball of fire." There was no embarrassment from him saying it in front of his father, the man who had carried him along for the remaining years that his mother had left him.
"Oho? Love, are ya? Hahaha, The fact you said it with such a serious face says a lot, boy." Darryl shifted himself in the hospital bed to give a more smirked grin towards his son. "That's good, I haven't seen you so happy before. Before you used to put on that fake smile that you thought I didn't know about. But that, that is a genuine smile. I'm proud and happy for you, Alexander."
Why the hell did he have to go and say that? Alex started to sit back and cover his hand over his mouth tightly to stifle a whimper. "Don't say crap like that right now. . ." Not in this moment, he didn't need to hear it. Especially since he always knew his father had supported him, had been there for him - given his entire life, literally in this moment, to make sure that he could have a chance. Water welled up just below his eyeball and started to fill up the lower lid's crevasse. "As for the whole family bit it's. . . Rough. " With the hand lowering from his face he settled it right on the arm of the chair while he raised up his gaze to the ceiling. "I was a bit shocked to find someone actually related to Mom at that school. The Librarian, Adele, apparently my sister. Guarded lady can be -really- scary but she's pretty sweet in her own way. She also has a few kids making me their Uncle, lucky me, Caleb reminds me a lot of myself. Just you know. . . More severe, bright eyed. But he has that spark of youth, he's also the one that probably understands me more than anyone." That was strange to say about a boy early in life and yet. . . A truth if he had ever heard one. As much as the others try to help out they could never understand the true depth of the pain, the struggle - not like he and his Nephew.
"There is also Améa, she doesn't really like me too much. Don't blame her, do you see this mug?" He pointed towards his own face to try and pull off a serious 'I look like a criminal face'. That failed, Alex looked more like a puppy dog even with that face. Enough to make his father move into a series of chuckles followed by heavy coughing, so this was what it was like for others to watch himself cough, was it? Heart wrenching and there wasn't even any blood as of yet which the young man could only fathom would intensify that feeling. "Don't worry, she'll find that I'm not really a bad person. But get -this- that singer, Jezebel? She is my -niece-, can you freaking believe that, Old Goat?"
Darryl's eyebrow raised up that had only be accompanied by a look of disbelief at the coincidence of it. "You're serious? Ha! Merlin's dirty trousers, that's a pretty close coincidence." Then again, almost everything in his son's life had begun to be a little bit more than just that. It was as if someone, some kind of watchful being kept placing certain people in that path to guide him to a seeming answer. Though he wouldn't put it passed that to happen given how random the magical world could truly be once people started to break through the boundaries. "Yea~ I am beginning to believe that the idea of a coincidence is an utter lie. Anyways. . . Jez has a few kids and they're pretty awesome, makes me a Great Uncle so young that I feel old. The one that has taken a real shine to me so far is Lorelei. She's bit of a creepy girl but I adore her and the energy she has about her. "
His father smiled briefly as he gave a small nod towards Alexander. "Good, good. That means I won't have to worry about you after all. You managed to some how find the support system you need, don't pull away from it - You hear me, boy?" This wasn't him requesting it, that was his last fatherly order that he had given his son as a parting gift. A nugget of wisdom in the final moments to avoid the emotions overclouding and creating a large void in what had already started to be built in the young sorcerer's life.
Several Hours Later - 6:00PM
Alexander had drifted off to sleep in the chair with his back draped over the edge of the chair. The only thing to break through the weary exhaustion had been the sounds of bells and alerts that surrounded the environment in a panicking blare. The door swung open and smacked violently against the door forcing the young man to bound upwards in a sudden motion and his heart quickly sank. "W-What's going?!" Both hands pressed along the indentation of his eyes to wipe away the lingering sand from the corners. A team seemed to push into the room and started to go through a process of checking the pulse rate of his father, the readings were fading quickly and it meant that they didn't have much time left as Darryl's breathing started to hasten as if trying to catch up with the dimming vital signs that were raging across his body. "Organs are failing, Doctor! " Tried as they might in order to stabilize him the single baseline tone of the machine echoed out in an eerie noise. "Time of death, 6:25PM, February 26th.. ." This was something normal for the staff as almost on cue they began to pack up what they could and make their departure, a sign that they were going to give Alex a moment.
The entire scenario had happened so quickly in such a blur before his eyes that it didn't take until the final tone that rang in his eyes to snap his mind into the utter realization. Eyes widened as he found fear within himself to even approach the bed. Inch by inch his blue eyes took hold of his father's lifeless image while his mind curled around the shock, what the response should be and to the point that he could feel the slow tremble that started at the tips of his fingers and toes. "N-No, no! Dad?! You're not. . . Supposed to be the on that bed like that!" That moment grief shifted to rage as he found that he had been right at the edge of the bedside with his hands clutched tightly on the right arm of his Father's body. "This. . . Is some sick cruel joke of a life. . ." He slowly started to slink down as he pressed his forehead against the bicep of the arm while tears started to flow from his eyes and trail along his cheek without ceasing. There was no wailing, no large yell, a silent cry from a usually boisterous and upbeat individual. The cry of an individual trying to find whether they're broken or just in small pieces. "Drinking to beat me to death isn't fair. . . Not. .. Fair. .. " Alexander's hands clutched ever tightly onto his parent's limb, much like he was a small child again trying to cling from the pains in his body.
"Thank you for everything. . . " The tone of his voice had started to gradually crack, to shift and grow softer as much as he hated that it had been doing so he had no control. He wanted to be strong! To be able to stand up and break through the sheer severity of the gravity before himself! Yet he couldn't! There was only the willpower to not utterly crash and let it over take him, enough to keep his sanity, enough to not succumb to rage or anger. There was so much to be angry about too. . . About his father's recklessness in dealing with the stress, His own condition on being the burden and reason, Lillian for being such a heartless shrew and showing up just way too late. It was in this moment he realized his mistake in not contact Cassandra because everything now was so silent. . .
Everything seemed so much dead in the room without the sound of voices, with only this cold chill of the reaper's scythe hung within the room. He should have called someone, anyone! Cass, Adele, Jez, Gerry, Hell - Stuart or even Améa would have done - he was even desperate enough to call out his own Mother but reason and common sense kept that name out of his mouth. For all he had been through physically, the pains and constant trips to the hospital, nothing in his life prepared him for this portion of the cycle of living. Death. Facing it, seeing it, harboring the effects within ones mind and heart that invaded all senses of keeping a hold on ones emotions.
Slowly, his grip started to weaken and he found himself withdrawing towards the nearest wall where Sapphire had been. A hand reached out to clutch the neck of the guitar and bring it to balance vertically from the bass between his legs and he leaned a forehead firmly against the top of one of the set of pegs. Soft vocal sobs eased out of him as the tears that had drenched along his cheeks couldn't contain to only his face every so often the drops pushed off from his chin and landed on the edge of the guitar which soon trailed down until it plopped against the hospital room floor. Finger tips buried intensely into the strings and boards that lined along Sapphire's neck.
An ode of Tears, to the man who gave everything to raise an Ill-Boy.
Meanwhile. . .
The Hospital had placed a call towards the School's Staff - given the time of night and suddenness of a young man dressed up in Tallygarunga uniform wear it was clear no one probably had a heads up on the situation. "Excuse me, We have an. . . Alexander Winfield here, we're trying to reach a next of Kin for the Young man. His father has just passed away a few minutes ago. We would like to inform the family if they have any."
------------- End of Memory -------------
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Sitting is an odd challenge when you have no physical body. In five years I've not got used to the fact that I don't actually have to support myself, I still feel the "phantom" limbs as if they were heavy and still grounding me to the world. Some days I wonder if that's my body that I can feel, lying still on a hospital bed, but I don't feel it when I am moved around. It's probably just the memory of having weight. Either way, trying to organise yourself into a natural sitting position without the aid of gravity is not easy.
First I floated a half-inch above the bench, and then sank right through it. I settled somewhere in the middle. It doesn't really matter.
My seagull friend came back. He's confused that I don't bring chips. Other visitors bring chips and shoo him away, but I sit here in my semi-transparent melancholy and enjoy his company. Sometimes he entertains himself by hopping through my form. I'm never sure how to feel about that.
She came to see me today, I tell him. My wife---beautiful even when she's breaking, sits for hours at a time and tells me about life outside the hospital. She cries. And I float helpless in a corner until she leaves, willing myself to return to that useless body, sit up, and wipe her tears away.
I was never a romantic man. I did everything I could to avoid it. I believed I was my father's son, that I would inflict on my own partners the same pain he inflicted on my mother.
It was Alan who convinced me to date at all. I think Alan was always a little disappointed that I wasn't as outgoing as he was, he had a tendency to drag me around and ensure I experienced all of the things a boy, and then man, my age should. I skulked around the edges of the parties he and Stuart organised, awkwardly shuffling away from anyone who tried to make contact.
And that was how I met Corrie, the both of us shuffling away from potential social contact--and into each other. She was sweet, she was pretty, and she understood all of the things that Alan could never get through his thick skull. We snuck out of the common room, ducked our way past patrolling professors and found a quiet place to sit outside and talk. We stayed out past dawn, doing just that---talking. When I dragged my weary self into the dorm, Alan was beside himself with excitement.
I never corrected him. Let Alan believe what he wanted.
We spent so much time together we decided we must be dating. After graduation we pooled our scant resources to rent a tiny, run-down flat in Koonyah. I took a job at The Drunken Roo. It didn't pay much, but it kept us both fed. We didn't bother with luxuries, we slept on a plain mattress on the floor. She said she didn't mind, all she wanted was me. Every time she said it, a pit grew in the bottom of my stomach---a fear I couldn't extinguish.
How could she know me so well, better than any of my closest friends, and still look at me the way she did? I was her hero, she said. For surviving my shitty childhood, I had somehow earned a badge of honour that I could not remove. Nothing I really did mattered, there was nothing I could do that would make her think less of me. Her pity clouded her ability to see me.
I did things that I knew would upset her, and hated myself for it. She didn't get upset. And then I hated her for it. Then I hated myself all the more for being so ridiculously angry at someone whose only crime was to love me unconditionally. I kept trying to find a limit, some point at which she would finally look past that wall of sympathy---but to her my damaged soul could commit no sins.
I did love her. I was terrified of what my life would be without her. I had Adam and the Burdetts and Blairs, but it was Corrie who kept me moving. It was Corrie who believed in me the hardest. I wanted to see myself the way that she saw me. I wanted her to see that I could fail.
Whatever I did, she simply accepted. In time I began to fear that there would be no behaviour so extreme that she recognised it as bad. I began to fear that through all this time, I had been treating her horribly and she could never say so. She could never see so. I became afraid of what I might do with such a freedom, such acceptance for who I was. The fear wore me down, made me angrier, and she accepted every harsh and terrible thing I said to her with her gentle smile.
I remember the day I snapped vividly. I don't remember what started it. I'd done something---something that would annoy the average person, but she shrugged it off. I asked her why and didn't let her answer, I cut across her words and told her we were breaking up. I didn't mean it then. I wanted the reaction. Her eyes filled with tears, she reached for my hands and said we could work it out. Why? How? How could she possibly want to work this out?
I flinched back from her touch, my hand rising above my shoulder---and I froze with dread. Corrie was crying, looking up at my open hand, still sobbing that everything could be fine if I calmed down. That it wasn't the end.
But it was.
I was my father's son, born with the same instincts and I had let Corrie stand in the line of fire for far too long. She deserved better. I needed to be better.
That day I resolved to never enter into a long-term relationship again. If that was what it took to keep Corrie safe, if that was how I could ensure that I never inflicted the suffering my father did, I was willing to pay that price.
And Corrie never forgave me for it.
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