So I am in the midst of a story. Here is a short taste. I need help with a title. PLEASE LET ME KNOW YOUR OPINION. Good or bad, I need help.

 

Ch 6.

It has been a month since Ed died. Evie has been staying as far from the apartment as possible. The library and the parks have become more of a second home to her. The librarian even offered her a job as a circulation clerk, where she checks books in and out for the library patrons. Tom thought that this was a good step for her, but Evie thought he was partial since he loved the library. Evie knew that Tom had said something to the Library Manager to get her the job, but she didn’t say anything about it. Evie enjoyed working at the desk, she liked seeing other people enjoying their days. She liked pretending that all did was check in and out books at the library and that the rest of her life was non-existent.

“You look lovely behind that counter.” Tom’s voice sounded.

Evie had been reading all the books he has been suggesting to her, and had been that afternoon when Tom walked up to her counter.

“Hi, Tom.” Evie said, putting down her book. It was a book of poems from Anna Akhmatova, a russian poet. Evie had never really liked poetry until now.

“Would you like to come to dinner tonight?” He asked, leaning over the counter. He looked childlike with his hair curly and messy, and his ears sticking out. Whenever he asked her somewhere he always put on a silly grin and made his eyes wide. “My treat.” Evie tried to keep a straight face, tried not to give in so fast, but she looked at the only friend she had left in the world and couldn’t help herself from smiling at him.

“Where would we go?”

“There is a sushi place a few blocks away, Bamboo Sushi, I think, closer to the University. Then we can go for a wagon ride in the park. It will be nice tonight, with all the lights.”

“You will get me hot chocolate?” Evie asked,  knowing he would.

“Of course,” Tom was beaming. His smile along with his cold blushed face made him look even sillier to Evie than he had before. “Is it a date?” He asked. He knew what her answer would be.

“Not a date,” She started, watching the way he words made his face fall. “But I will go.” She ended with, trying to bring back his smile.

“Evie?” He asked, face still grim, “I…”

“It’s fine, Tom. I get off in a few hours. I’ll go home, change, then meet you back here?”

Tom just smiled and nodded.

“Evie?” Her mom’s voice sounded. “Are you going somewhere?”

Evie was sitting in the middle of the bedroom floor. She hadn’t been in her room for a while, she had been sleeping in Ed’s room. She was surrounded by all of her clothes, which were admittedly nothing really fancy and there were not many of them. Her head was in her hands and she was crying again. Her mom came into the room to see her daughter. Mrs. Delfan wasn’t surprised to see her daughter this way, she had felt the loss of Ed just as much as Evie had.

“If you need help picking something to wear, that is basically my job description honey.” Mrs. Delfan knelt next to her daughter, taking her face in her hands instead. “I am glad you are going out with Tom, you know. I wish you would let him over more, he is a very kind man.”

Mrs. Delfan had met Tom at the funeral. He had been Evie’s shadow, helping the family with everything that the two women asked or didn’t ask. Mrs. Delfan was sorry the Ed was never able to meet Tom, she thought they were much alike- especially since they both loved Evie. Mrs. Delfan could see it in the way he looked at her, the way Tom’s eyes lit up when she said his name. Mrs. Delfan also knew her daughter felt. Evie had never liked anyone before, and she didn’t now. Yes, Evie and Tom were friends, but nothing more on Evie’s part. In her heart, Mrs. Delfan wanted things for her daughter to work out but she knew something else about Evie, something she figured her daughter didn’t even know too much about herself. . .

“Here, how about this.” Mrs. Delfan said, grabbing an outfit and tossing in Evie’s lap. “I can do your hair for you when you get changed.” Evie had this way of listening to everything her mother said, even when she didn’t want to. Mrs. Delfan watched as her daughter moved mechanically, dressing in the clothes she was given. Mrs. Delfan gently braided her daughter’s hair, helping her finish getting ready.

“You know dear,” Mrs. Delfan said, as she tied a scarf around Evie’s neck, “You can tell Tom how you feel. I know he would understand, Darling.”

“Mom.” Evie tried, pulling away from her mother’s hand. “I don’t…”

“You know what I am talking about, Evie. Tom would understand. He cares about you, and he wouldn’t leave you if he knew. Maybe telling him would help you, too.”

“Well look at you.” Tom said. He was standing outside of the library, book in hand. He had been reading it as she approached, but looked up just as she stepped in front of him.

“Hi.” Evie said, Tom’s eyes making her smile without her control.

“Ready for dinner, love?” Again every consonant pushed against her. He was smiling and he tucked his book under his arm, holding out a hand. Evie refused and started walking.

“You hurt me so much sometimes.” Tom said, yet Evie could hear the smile in his voice. He picked up his pace so he could match hers and offered his arm to her. Evie looked at him, trying to roll her eyes to show him that she was not going to give in to him. Something about his smile- about his eyes- made her stop her eye rolling and take his arm. He look shocked when she slid her arm into his, Evie was shocked herself, but it felt like something a friend would do.

She hoped.

Tom didn’t say anything until they arrived at the restaurant and even when he spoke it was only to tell the hostess there were only two of them. When they went to sit, when their touch broke, he started up again, immediately going into the issues with the protagonist in the latest book he was reading.

After dinner the pair were walking to the park when Evie’s phone started to ring.

“Hello?”

“Hello, may I speak with Evelyn Delfan?” A woman’s voice sounded on the other end.

“Speaking.”

“Hi, Miss Delfan, I am calling from Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital. I need to inform you that your Mother, Lucy Delfan has been admitted to our emergency room at 8:45 this evening for…”

Evie didn’t make it through the last sentence before she started off in the direction of the hospital. She almost went to the curb to catch a cab, but decided that walking would be faster.

“Evie?” Tom was at her heels. “Who was that? What is going on?”

Evie didn’t really think she formed words as she attempted to tell Tom what was going on, but he followed her into the ER, into her Mom’s room, into another nightmare.

“That was quick.” Mrs. Delfan said as Evie flew into the room. She was sitting up in a hospital bed, her crazy blonde hair splayed out around her face. “You sure look nice, honey.”  Mrs. Delfan smiled.

“Mom, what happened?” Evie breathed out finally, falling into a chair next to her Mom’s bedside, happy to see that her mother was still breathing.

“You know, when you left I just didn’t feel right and then I started to get a headache. I went to go take something for it and I ended up coughing up a little blood and my chest started to hurt really badly, so I came over here.”

“Mom, why didn’t you call me.”

“I figured getting here first would be the best idea and then I could have the hospital call you.”

“Yeah, but they didn’t tell me what happened, just that you were in the emergency room. I was so scared.”

“The nurse did say you hung up before she could tell you not to worry.” Another smile. “Hello, Tom, it is nice to see you again.” Evie had almost forgot Tom was with her.

Almost.

She stood, feeling very relieved that her mother appeared to be okay, then immediately threw up on Tom who unknowingly thought it was safe to move closer to her.

“Nurse.” He called, surprisingly calm for just having almost digested sushi vomited on almost all of his clothing.

“Oh, Tom, I am so sorry,” Evie mumbled as she was bent over, ready for more to come up. Tom seemed to sense that was what was happening and grabbed a tiny trash can that was near the door to her mother’s room.

“It’s okay Evie,” He said, holding back her hair as she threw up some more sushi. Somewhere in between her throwing up and getting looked at by a nurse, the floor in her mom’s room was cleaned and Tom seemed to have gotten himself mostly clean. The nurse said that she was fine and it was probably some bad fish and Mrs. Delfan asked Tom if he would take Evie home and made sure she felt better.

“No, Mom, I should stay here with you.”

“Sweetie, I might be here overnight anyway, you should go get some rest. I am fine. They just have a few more tests to run. I will keep you updated. I promise.”

Tom promise Evie’s mother that he would make sure she was looked after and then took Evie home.

After a while of throwing up, Evie took a shower and had Tom wash his clothes that she …

She also had Tom shower and she let him borrow some of Ed’s old clothes, that were admittedly too small for him, while he waited on his clothes to finish drying. Evie was sitting on Ed’s bed, which she decided was now her new bed, in what she decided was now her new bedroom. She had been sleeping in there anyway, she might as well have it. Ed would want her too.

“Why do you think you got so sick?” Tom asked. He walked into the room, towel drying his hair. He sat next to Evie on the bed. She looked at him for a while before answering. She noticed how Ed’s white shirt seemed so full of Tom. It wasn’t good to notice that she decided, standing up and walking to Ed’s closet to see if she could find a bigger shirt. She sat on the floor, cross legged, and pulled out a box of his old t-shirts that Ed never wore.

“It was probably food poisoning.” She said, finding one of her old track shirts that she had gotten extra large for sleeping in at the back of Ed’s closet. He would always steal her most comfortable clothing, her brother. It was a navy blue shirt, with their last name in white letters along the shoulders in the back. Evie threw it to Tom, who nodded in thanks. Before she could look away, Tom tore off the white shirt and threw it to Evie who was still sitting on the floor. She wanted to say something, but she was in a sort of shock at seeing his bare skin.

“What?” Tom said, pulling the neck of the shirt over his head. Evie stood and walked over to him before he could put his arms through the holes of the shirt. Evie reached out to touch his chest. She looked down at him, meeting his eyes and feeling very uncomfortable.

“Evie?” Tom asked and she pulled back her hand.

“I’m sorry.” She stayed where she was standing and Tom finished pulling  the shirt on. “I don’t know why I did that.”

“It’s okay, I don’t mind.” Tom smiled. He looked so happy and it made her heart hurt because she knew what she needed to tell him was going to make that smile go away. She wanted to wait, to pretend that she could do it for him, but she couldn’t. Her mom was right, she should just tell him.

“But I do mind.” She started, trying to think of the words that would help him understand what she meant. His smiled started to fade at these words, and Evie knew it wouldn’t get any easier. But she was strong, and she could tell him.

Tom would understand.

Her mom said he would understand.

“What do you mean?” Tom asked, reaching out as if to take her hands. Evie folded her arms across her shoulders so he couldn’t, but she didn’t step back. She was very close to him still, his knees touching her legs from where he sat on the edge of the bed.

“I don’t know if this will make sense to you Tom, but I don’t like people that way.” Evie said. Her voice sounded so foreign to her, suddenly saying the words out loud, but once they were there, hanging in front of her in the air, Evie felt as if she couldn’t stop. She wanted to tell Tom, to tell someone the words she had never said, had never really understood until that moment.

“I have never liked anyone that way, and I don’t think I can.” Evie continued, watching Tom’s face to see if there was understanding. He didn’t seem upset, and even though his smile was gone, he seemed to hear what she was saying. “I do like you Tom, but I don’t think I can ever feel the same way you feel about me.” Tom was silent for a little longer and then he asked,

“Can I touch you?” He paused and then added, “Hold your hands, I mean. There is something I have to tell you.” Evie’s heart felt as though it stopped and she dropped her hands into his. She hadn’t the faintest idea of what he would say, but she was afraid. The blood from her ears had drained and her breathing slowed to where she felt like she was holding it. Tom’s hands felt cool to the touch and he rubbed the back of her hands with his thumbs as he looked up at her with the most understanding eyes.

“Thank you for being so honest with me Evie, I know that wasn’t easy for you to say. I can’t say I fully understand what you mean but if you give me time, I hope to. I want you to know that as long as you want me here by your side, I will be here.” His words felt like the cool spray of the waves from the ocean as he spoke. Evie could feel her body allow itself to relax, and she fell closer to Tom, leaning in between his legs on the bed. She didn’t feel the tears on her cheeks until Tom reached to wipe them away.

“Can I hug you?” He asked. Evie nodded and threw her arms around his neck.

She had never felt a hug before, not that Evie hugged a very many people before Tom. The kids in her high school used to hug each other all the time, especially the girls. They would scream and run up to each other like they had been apart for years instead of an hour. Some people tried to hug her then and she avoided them like hugging was a disease. Evie didn’t like the way her body felt pressed up against another person like that and even the hugs she gave to her mother and Ed were short and had minimal touching, and she loved them.

This hug was different.

Tom had hugged Evie before, but she had never hugged him back. His body still felt weird against hers, but it was warm and comfortable like being wrapped in a blanket on a winter night. She held onto him tightly, worrying that this moment would be ruined. She felt so much better about who she was, though she knew that she would still have to explain herself to him, Tom seemed to accept what she was saying to him. His arms were tight around her and Evie could feel Tom’s breath on her neck. She could smell her shampoo and soap on him, and it was a calming sensation.

“Evie…” His voice was soft on her ears, “you are choking me.”

“Sorry,” A giggle bubbled up from her chest and she pulled back from his embrace.

“Why are you crying Evie?” Tom asked.

Her hands flew to her cheeks. She hadn’t realized she was still crying, but her face was wet with tears.

“I have never told anyone that before.” She said, finding the truth. She wasn’t sad, she was happy.

“Still, I am not sure I understand, but I am glad you told me.” Tom said. He was smiling, He touched her face again and Evie felt herself pull back. “I…” Tom started.

“It’s fine,” Evie said, feeling her heart burrow further into her chest. “I just… I don’t like that kind of thing… I feel so awkward and it, I mean don’t take this the wrong way, it isn’t you, it just sort of feels gross to me. But it has always felt this way, I mean, I have never liked anyone or done anything with anyone like this.” Evie felt herself rambling on, her face getting red.

“Evie, it’s okay.” Tom said. “I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable.”

“It isn’t that, I just don’t feel the need to do those things.” She tried.

“Like I said, I will try to understand for you Evie.” Tom said. “But I do need to tell you that I love you Evie. I don’t know if you are telling me you can’t love me back, but I am okay with it if that is the case.”

Again Tom’s words washed over her. The consonants of the words “I love you” pushed against her. She felt the truth in that, she felt his hands make their way back into hers. She was confused with what she was feeling, but she knew she was only going to disappoint him.

“Tom, I can’t be that to you.” Evie whispered, “I want to be able to be that for you, I have never felt that way before, but I just can’t.” Evie could feel herself getting upset.

“Evie, I never want you to do something you don’t want to do. If I am asking you something that it too much, all you have to do is say so. It won’t hurt me.” Evie’s eyes were filling with more tears, but Tom’s eyes were steady on her. His hands gripped hers tighter. “I have something I need to tell you about myself, Evie, if you are willing to hear. Maybe it will help you understand that you are just what I need you to be?” Evie saw for a second in his eyes the fear that she was feeling, the nakedness of her baring her secret to him reflected in his eyes.

She nodded.

Tom sighed.

“Well, my admission is a little sad, and very embarrassing, so bare with me.” Tom started. He asked Evie to lay down with him, saying that he wasn’t sure he could look he in the eyes while he told his story. This intrigued Evie, but seeing how serious he was she obliged.

Tom and Evie laid back on Ed’s old bed and stared at the stars that Evie had painted on the ceiling. The only light in the room was coming from a string of white christmas lights that Evie had hung for Ed the week before he died. Evie felt every inch of her body laying next to Tom, her side pressed into his. He had wrapped one of his arms around her shoulders and she was using it as a pillow as he told his story to the ceiling and Evie happened to be listening in. It was a sad story, he had been right. He told her of a past lover that he had been sure he would marry. How this woman had gotten sick and became addicted to prescription drugs. When he realised what was happening, Tom tried to help her, but she wouldn’t have it. One day he was making them dinner, and she started yelling about how she needed her pills, how they helped her pain, and how he would never try to take them away if he knew how much pain he was in.

“When she said that to me, I saw something change in her eyes. Something flash, like a spark of realization. I should have known, because that spark scared me, but I still tried to talk her down. I moved closer to her, but she grabbed the pot off the stove and threw the water at me.” He paused, and Evie heard the pain in his voice when he said water. “I must have passed out, because I woke in the hospital.” Evie was crying again.

Water.

Boiling water.

“I left her when she agreed to go to rehab, because I wasn’t strong enough after that. I was so angry at what she had taken from me, I just couldn’t take care of her anymore.” Evie could tell Tom was crying to, but she didn’t want to look at him just yet. She didn’t know how to comfort him.  “I have forgiven her, I know what pain can do to a person.” He went on. “I don’t want you to think that I am weak Evie.” He sat up and looked down at her on the bed.

“I want to take care of you, I want you to be comfortable.” The tears were still rolling down his cheeks. “That is what you need to know about me, though. I can’t say I understand how you feel about me Evie, but don’t feel bad thinking you can’t give me everything I want because I can’t give those things to you either.”


That is it you guys, please let me know in the comments what you think!

Jess Gatsby

6/28/2018