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Ice, Fire, Family

Guest emmasi

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Type of story: Oneshot

Rating: G

Main Characters: Lucas

Genre: Angst

Warnings: Kind of depressing... deals with death

Is Story being proof read: No

Summary: Lucas reflects on the day he was told that Beth died, and the breakdown of his family.

Ice, Fire, Family

He told me over the phone. I could hear the shiver in his voice, the sharp intake of breath that shuddered into an at-a-loss sigh, and I knew that something terrible had happened. But how bad could it really be? Surely he’d have come and told me personally if it was something like that…

“Luc,” he told me. His tone suggested that we were standing face to face, man to man, even though we were a thousand miles apart and I couldn’t see him at all. “There’s been an accident.” Jack, I thought of my brother, and my heart stopped for an unbearably painful bar. It can‘t be. He‘d have come. He‘d have come for me right away… “It’s Beth.”

Beth… I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what I was supposed to say, if I was supposed to say anything. Maybe I wasn’t meant to care. Maybe it was only the loss he wanted to tell me, like a news reader reporting the holiday road toll. She’d never really been my mother, after all.

I’d be better off here, writing pointless poems and stories that would do nothing more for anyone than feed or cripple my ego, depending on how the other amateurs read them. At any rate, he assured me, I could stay away from him if I wanted. I suppose I did, if it was what he wanted.

I knew then that there was really no place for me. It took me so much longer than that to admit it, but I knew. The child I once was, the son he once loved, was long gone. I was a man now, even if my age hadn’t caught up with me. While a distant family of strangers gathered around each other in blinded sorrow, I stood alone, away, and talking about dreams and people that such a short life could never fulfill.

Naomi was a university student, learning to ponder existence as well. When she asked me who I was, I couldn’t tell her. There was no truth anymore, just the impressions of a past that no longer seemed relevant to me. I gave her a name, and even that seemed unreal, like I’d been borrowing it all my life from a person happier than me, and they had suddenly come to claim it back. She repeated the name, “Lucas Holden,” to remember it I suppose, and I nodded, smiling because she hadn’t yet realized that it was a lie.

I parroted her own life back to her and let her believe it was mine: over 18 and studiously attending university lectures that I loved to hate. It was amazing, really, her willingness to accept that she was sleeping with a mirror image. Was she that vain? Did she want to fall into her own reflection like Narcissus into the river? She fell into me, whatever her true wish, and left me so cold that it burned.

Dry ice that somehow melted into a coal fire, she came to my town - to my father’s town - and seduced him away from his memories too. It was pleasant enough when she had done it to me. It was what I needed, what I wanted, to cling to black ash and embers, refusing to rise again, preferring to smolder in a fruitless affair that could destroy us both if we let it. No one needed to remember me before I burned black to charcoal and crumbled away. They were all so content to forget I ever existed, and so was I. But when she captured Tony Holden in her flames, grieving quazi-widower, respected member of the community and generally nice guy, she crossed a line, and so did he. He let himself become consumed by her, let her twist up inside him like an old dead tree. Oh, if he thought he was hollow before…

She doesn’t burn in me like that anymore, hot, cold or otherwise. I’ve only the shadows of smoke resting in my lungs. Dad still wants her though, in whatever form she takes. Naomi, Jazz… a dozen women who’s names I don’t think even he knows… Beth, my mother…

Smoke and ash and a shimmering lick of flame in the middle of a blackened field. That’s all they are, all they were, and all they ever will be, to him as well as me. I can count on one hand the women I’ve loved, and who have presumably loved me back, and I can fold my fingers up again as easily as stretching them out, for none of them remain, not one. I had hoped the men, my father and brother at least, would not fold so easily, but here I am, staring at my fingers and wondering if they should even now be counted. They have no room for me, no family that I belong to. I live in my father’s house - Beth’s house - and my brother lives next door. Neither one speaks to me except to tell me that they don’t want to talk. They have no time for me, and the time I make isn’t good enough. I wish we could go back sometimes, the three of us, to when we were all together and none of us would stray from what we knew to be good and right. We knew we were a family, and we knew we belonged together. Now… we have nothing. I have nothing. We've lost ourselves for good.



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