Sometimes people are the last ones to see what’s right in from of them. Either from fear of the truth or from not believing it could quite be true. But these two are a case to be studied. I’d had a lot of men in my life, but God, they were no Fox Mulder.
I saw how he’d acted when Dana was dying, when hope was only a distant memory to him. I felt the darkness that emanated from him, and if my sister was trapped on a place between life and death, I bet this poor man was likely to be the thing holding her there.
So much to be said to each other. I know my sister more than her own shadow, and Dana was never the best at exposing her emotions to others, especially when they were deep.
“I knew there was a reason to live.” – She said, joking. It’s so good to see my sister smile, even if it’s still a week one. After all we’ve been through these last couple of days, it helps the tension in the room to dissipate a little.
He says his goodbye and touches her hand briefly, but it’s when their eyes meet that I have to hold my breath. There’s so much there: care, affection, hope. I suddenly feel like I’m intruding. It’s not exactly something private, some intimate demonstration of love, but their eye contact shares more than what’s there to be seen. It makes me feel like an outsider just to be around, like they were the only ones in the room and I just entered the wrong place at the wrong time. What was said between them is something I’ll probably never know, but I’m sure they do.
A minute passes by. I notice how Mulder looks nothing of what he looked before; his smile is warm, genuine now, and even Dana shares one or two when he’s around. That is certainly a meaningful exchange.
As soon as the door closes, her mother’s eyes meet hers. She’s noticed it too. If it bothers her, she doesn’t show. A mother always knows – I can almost hear her say. They will save this conversation for later, though: right now Dana is alive and back from the dead, and that’s all that matters after all.
When I hear the phone ring, I immediately know it’s her. What surprises me is that my sister accepted my invitation to stay with me for the week, after being released from the hospital. You see, she has always had this terrible habit of closing herself after a moment of vulnerability, even if it was just me there, trying to help. I know it started because of our father, when her rebellious side decided she had something to prove to him, to prove her strong. When you grow up in a house of navy men, you learn to be tough. But I guess I dealt with it the light way and she chose the hard one.
Maybe that’s changing too. – I smile to myself. My apartment isn’t exactly as big and cozy as hers, but the two of us have always found comfort in each other’s company. Besides, it will give me just the opportunity I need to have a heart-to-heart conversation with Dana.
As I expected, she doesn’t let me pick her up at the hospital. I’ll let it pass this time, since I’m more than happy with her presence.
Half an hour has passed by when the doorbell finally rings and I hear the thud of her bags on the other side of the door. I rise from my spot on the couch and go open it for her.
“Mel, I don’t know if you made plans for today, but I can’t stay long. I have to present myself to the FBI as soon as possible so they can evaluate me and decide when I’ll be able to return to work again.” – As if to make her point clear, Dana does that eyebrow thing of hers that really annoys me.
“I know, I know. I’ll not step on your toes, sis, as long as you let me make plans for tomorrow. I missed you. It’s not gonna hurt if you spend some time away from Fox and everything to have some fun with your sister, right? – When the word “Fox” reaches her ears I’m sure she took the bait.
“You know, it’s not like that. We’re just partners. If there’s a reason for my eagerness to go back to work it’s just that I want at least a resemblance of my previous, normal life, that’s all.” – Yeah, right, sweetie. She truly believes that, poor thing.
“And the fact that he’s extremely attractive and obviously crazy about you does nothing to change that point of yours, Dana?” – Her eyes dart away from me for a second, and she tries her hardest to fight back a smile surging in the corners of her mouth. Even if she was successful at that, I know her way too much not to notice her signs: she likes him. She just probably doesn’t know it yet.
I remember when we still lived with mom, back when I was nineteen and she had just turned seventeen. At the time, she was into this guy named Paul, who was one of her friends. Whenever I mentioned him she would smile like a kid in a Christmas shop. Old Dana may hide her smile better, but it’s all the same.
“He’s not…crazy about me, Melissa. He trusts me, and we’re friends. Considering what happened to me, he’s happy to see me well again, and probably relieved too. He has this bad tendency to think everything is his fault.”
“Dana, I had boyfriends who cared less for me than he does for you. Mom had to drive him out of the hospital and take him to a restaurant to be sure he would even eat.” – she rolls her eyes at my comment, like she usually does when she wants to avoid talking about something.
“Look, I’m not trying to fight here. I just found you two… intriguing.” – I pose the devilish smile I can get. She can’t help but smile after that.
We stop talking about her partner as Dana guides herself through my place, looking around. She takes her time and then comes back to the couch, where I languidly rest while I wait for her little tour to end.
The floor of the apartment was an old-fashioned parquet with a blend of deep homely browns that contrasted with creamy-colored walls, on which lots of photographs were hanged: there were ones of me, Dana, mom and dad, my brothers and the closest of my friends. On top of the fireplace, a delicate painting catches her attention – it was a landscape: the coastline jagged, covered by inlets where the water laid still. In the orange-kissed sky, the last vestiges of daylight contrasted with the growing black of cliffs, jagged and folded, shrinking into the distance. Bursting through the large windows made of glass, she saw shafts of light streaming through the gaps in the linen curtains.
It’s the first time Dana comes to visit me here. It’s been a long time since I stayed in a place for more than one or two months, and after a while, she stopped coming to me and I started going to her place instead. It felt easier for us to spend time together.
When Dana’s finished, she sits next to me on the couch and rests her head on my shoulder. We stay this way for some time, in a quiet, yet comfortable silence. Her hair mingles with mine, leaving a delicious orange sent that probably came from her shampoo.
“Hmm.” – I hear her sigh on my side.
“Dana, can I ask you another thing? And please promise you’ll be honest with me.”
“Fine.” – She complies, defeated. I feel her tiny hand resting on mine, and we interlace our fingers.
“What made you come back? I mean, from the coma?” – I say barely above a whisper, choosing the words carefully.
She takes her time to answer, the thin lines of her forehead contorted in concentration. Finally, she speaks.
“I don’t know. At least, not with certitude.” – I release my breath, and when I’m about to disentangle with her, she holds me where I am. – “The truth is, I’m having a hard time figuring out what was part of my imagination and what was real. The things I’ve heard and seen during my state of coma, it’s all messed up, Mel. When I listened to Mulder’s voice calling me back, I…” – she sighs and holds back whatever she was about to say.
“Dana, please… don’t. Don’t close yourself now. I’m with you, and I believe that, if you decided to come here, at least some part of you wants me to help you heal.” – I take a strand of her beautiful hair and put it behind her ear, making her look at me. – “We’re sisters and I almost lost you. Please just let us be like we used to, we used to tell each other everything.” – When she meets my gaze, her eyes finally give in, and all the emotions she’s sinking down finally subside into quiet tears.