The sun's shinning in my eyes again. I want to move, turn away from it, end the pain but I can't bring myself to. In some strange way I find it very safe to lie here, the sun hot on my face. It's a routine and I have found that routines are good.
Finally, I sigh and turn over expecting to see Doug there, propped up on his elbows, smiling sweetly at me. His smile is so sweet that sometimes it makes me ill. Doug with his eyes as blue as whatever passes for the sky these days and his hair, honey blond, hanging over his face. Doug, sweet Doug, my Doug...but I don't want him. I never have.
As my eyes clear, the last vestiges of sleep slipping from them, I can see the bed next to me.
It is empty. He is gone.
I am alone.
My bottom lips trembles and I sit up on the bed. I am now fully awake. Now I'm scared.
Doug never leaves me. Whenever I turn around, he is there, smiling, waving, talking to me. He became like the air to me, always there. A rock for me to lean my back against, something unmoving and strong. The one thing in the world that truly belonged to me.
Now he is gone. My rock, my support is gone.
I am alone.
My hands cover my mouth, and then they creep over my eyes. No, no, no. I will not cry. I have been through too much to cry now, to cry over him.
As I throw the covers off and start scanning the floor for my slippers, I see the note. It's just a sheet of plain, white, lined paper folded up and placed on the bedside table. My name is written on it in Doug's careless style.
Slowly, I wrap my fingers around one corner of the note and draw it to me. For a while I stare at the creases and the folds in the paper. He played with it some before he left. This paper has been folded, unfolded, and refolded a number of times. So many times that the creases have become soft and a pleasure to touch.
I unfold the note and begin to read.
I know that you have no love for me. I belong to you but you Can never be mine. There isn't anything else I can do, love, but leave you and search for myself.
See, I never told you, but I'm not sure that's it you I fell in love with. There's this glow around you, dear, this pure, white light that my power allows me to see. I think I fell for it because I don't know you, I don't know any part of you.
This may come as a shock at first, my heart, but you will learn to go on.
No, you won't have a problem with going on. You have Bobby to help you. Bobby loves you, darling. He loves you in the way I never could, in the way I should have. Don't be afraid to tell him how you feel. You are too wonderful to be put through any more pain.
It is I who will have trouble coping, for it was I who was so in love, who was blind to the world around me. I will go on, though, so don't worry for me. Just be happy because your happiness will set me free.
The tears pour down my face, dripping off my chin and drenching the note. I start to breathe again, not realizing that I had even stopped.
My rock is gone, he has left me. He wants me to be happy and that is why he gave me up. He loved me so much, enough...enough to release me so I could be happy.
"No one's ever been so good to me," I whisper into the silent air, afraid to break the spell around me, scared to crack the glass of spun dreams that hangs above my shoulders.
I close my eyes to get away from the world of this room, our room. The last thing I want to see are the pictures he took of me. All those damn pictures he snapped. I'm not smiling in any of them and he always said that was okay because he loved to look at me whether I was smiling or not.
This room is full of his presence. If I am quiet, I can hear him speaking softly, reciting poems to me. I see him walking around, trying to decide what to do next, organize the closet or work on the computer. The only thing I breathe in is his scent. That soothing, childish smell of the wind and carbon paper. I miss his arms wrapping themselves around me and his kiss so soft on my cheek. I miss him.
I never loved him and that is the saddest part of this.
Why did I go along with him, why did I say that we could make the relationship work? It could never work because I never wanted it to. I never wanted Doug. He was just there and he liked me so much. For the first time someone kind wanted me, someone gentle loved me and needed me so I gave in. I was so frightened of what could happen if I tried for what I wanted that I simply fell into a relationship that would never grow but would protect.
I always thought I was stronger than that.
It is my fault that my heart burns and my soul has been torn away. The blame for Doug's self exile also lays on my shoulders. I am the Darkchilde. I am three-fifths demon and I chased the angel away.
I am alone with my pain.
I am alone.
My sobs begin to grow in volume and my body is violently shaking. (For a man I never loved, Doug's sudden absence has caused a violent reaction in me.) I can no longer make out the different pieces of my body. Everything feels the same. My fingers ache as much as my heart, my mind is as dizzy as my soul. A sharp pain has enveloped me and will not flee.
I will ache forever.
I will yearn as Doug yearns.
The knock on the door pulls me from my tortured reprieve. The first thought in my clouded mind is that it's Doug, that is must be Doug, and I'm not sure if that makes me happy or sad.
"Illyana?" a voice calls through the door, Roberto's sad, musical voice. "Are you okay? Can I come in?"
Opening my eyes, I lower my feet to the floor and walk over to the door. The knob is cold and stable in my hand, like a piece of ice, but it turns easily. My eyes drift to the floor and I lean my weight up against the door frame because I don't want Bobby to see me like this, I don't want my pain to capture him as it caught Doug. I love Bobby too much to hurt him.
"What's wrong?" he asks as his fingers reach out and lift my chin up so he can look into my eyes. "Why are you crying, miena?"
Instantly I become lost in his deep brown eyes. There is so much buried in his eyes, pain, love, anger, so many emotions that he tries to keep hidden because he's afraid of what will happen if it gets out. I want to hug him. I want to throw my arms around his neck and twine my fingers through his curly black hair but I don't move. I can't move right now.
My voice comes out as a pained confession when I say, "He's gone, Bobby".
Confusion mixes with concern on his regal features as Bobby inquires, "Who's gone, Illyana?"
"Doug," I say but I don't know if he heard because my voice seems to be swallowed up by the silence of the room.
Very slowly, as if he were afraid of being burned, Bobby's fingers reach out to wrap around mine. Then he's holding my hand, very gently, barely touching, but just enough to calm me. He always knows how to calm me. "I thought that was what you wanted. I thought you wanted to be free of him. You said that you were just waiting until you had the strength to leave him."
I pull my hand sharply away from him and step back. "Damnit Bobby," I snap, "Doug was my rock. If I left him then it would be different. He left me alone just like everyone always has."
"I will never leave you," he promises and steps closer to me.
"Doug said that too." I turn and walk back over to sit on the bed, my bed, our bed. It was under these sheets, on this mattress that we made love, that I used Doug for my release all the while pretending he was Bobby.
Bobby follows me in through the open door and watches as I sprawl out across the bed, my fingers tangling in my hair, the tears falling like streams down my cheeks. The sunlight catches and shines on his dark skin, it flows into every line on his face and plasters itself to his perfect lips. The sunlight wants him as I have always wanted him.
When he speaks again, his voice is husky with emotion. "When have I ever lied to you, Illyana?"
As I turn and crawl over the bed my fingers brush the note and I recoil. "Never," slips from my lips before I'm even aware of thinking it.
The bed squeaks slightly as he sits on the corner, dark eyes still lingering on me. Eventually, his attention is drawn to the note that my fingers play cat and mouse with. Before picking it up, he looks at me for permission but I can only sigh and bury my tear stained face in Doug's pillow.
I hear the bed squeak and feel the note taken gently from beneath my fingers. There is no sound as he reads it. No sound at all. It feels so lonely in this room, so bittersweet and sad that I don't want to be here anymore, I don't want to be here ever again.
Bobby's still reading as I slide off the bed and walk to my closet. The doors swing open easily and I am left staring at forlorn hangers and empty shoe boxes. Doug has completely gone. No trace of him is left. I'd cry if I had tears left.
My fingers are quick to pull the black jeans and the black and silver sweater from the closet. They take the nightdress off and adorn my shaking body with the new garments. I don't have to think, they just do their job. They lace the shoes, tuck in the undershirt, adjust the bra, and brush the hair. Routine is good. Routine is great.
The only thing I can feel is the weight of Bobby's eyes as he stares at me, note hanging limply from his fingers. He takes in a great breath of air before speaking. "Doug did it all for you. He knew you'd never be able to leave him, to take the step away from his arms to mine."
"Whoever said I wanted you?" I snap as the fingers pull the blond hair back, away from my sharp face and cold blue eyes, and tie it in a ponytail.
A snide laugh comes from the direction of the bed. "Doug seems to think so."
"Doug thought I loved him."
"No, no," his beautiful voice replies. "That's the last thing he thought." The bed squeaks as he stands up and starts to walk towards the door.
I can't stop myself from whirling to face him, sorrow crossing my face as I ask, "Are you leaving?"
Bobby laughs again but this time the laugh is soft, alluring, and walks over to stand before me. "I always thought you were so strong, so untouchable and aloof. It made you so beautiful back then. However, as the years went by, my sight changed because I wanted someone I could touch, something to hold and love. That was the kind of thing you weren't." He pauses to smile and run his finger along my lips, which makes me shudder.
"Bobby," I whisper as he quickly closes what distance is left between us.
"Shh. Listen, Illyana," his voice pleads with me before he goes on. "Then Doug got you, managed to catch you, hold you and I got jealous of him because I thought you were mine. The attraction was there between us, even in the beginning. I was so happy when you started knocking on my door in the middle of the night, sobbing, wanting compassion, needing me."
"I was happy that I finally had you, had some piece of you. Secretly, I was still jealous of Doug because he had you in ways I didn't and he had brought about the change in you. It was him that gave me the Illyana Rasputin I needed to see in order to fully fall for you." Then he leans in, his mouth pressing itself up against my ear. "It was because of Doug that I fell in love with you."
He steps away from me to get a good look at my eyes, to watch the surprise and joy flit across my face. I want to hug him, to wrap my arms tightly around him and then kiss him. Nevertheless, it is too soon. Doug has only just left my life and the wounds haven't fully healed.
I don't even realize that I'm moving until Bobby's standing outside the door, holding my hand, and watching my eyes. "Will you come with me, Illyana? Will you leave this room of misery and pain, this chamber of lies? I want to help you live, show you how to love," he tells me, eyes turning hazy with worry.
The breath catches in my throat and I find it hard to speak, to even think. This is my chance to step out, to live, to be...free and whole. I want what Bobby offers. I want his arms, his breath, his warmth but it's so soon, too soon.
"Bobby, it's so...Doug just left," I can barely hear my voice in the thick air. The door seems to stand there like a monument to everything that was and if I can just get past it then the future is in my hands.
A smile and another soft laugh meets me. "I'm not asking for any kind of commitment yet. It's too soon for that, I know. I just want...to help you take the step that ends this life and starts your own."
For the first time in a long time, I can feel a smile make its way across my skin. Can it be so easy? Can I just step out?
Yes. Yes, I can because Bobby is here to help me, to make sure I don't fail. I won't be alone in this journey. I will be my own rock. But Bobby? Bobby will be my reason.
I sigh only once as my feet move forward, walking out into the hall, tethered by the warmth of his hands. Self-committed to him. I close the door behind me and I don't look back.
They always tell you not to look back.