“Can you stand?”
A voice asks from above. You look up and see who’s talking-a man in a suit and hat. He looks young; way too young for a voice to sound so soft yet beat.
Instead of getting up, you stay on the ground, wondering how you have fallen. It was not like you were a clumsy person, or there was anyone around. This part of Marley was your “getaway.” To just check out the ocean, breathe the sea salt. But that doesn’t matter now, he’s still looking at you, get up. The pressure on your right ankle is too much and you fall back down. The man’s hand reaches out to you. Again, with his gloomy voice he says, “here, I got you.”
You grab his hand and sigh. “Thank you...”
His right arm goes under your right as he steadies you. One step at a time, he guides you to the bench on the other side of the street. Quiet whimpers come out of your mouth each time the ankle hits the ground. The man’s grip tightens around you-not painfully, but essentially as a silent apology. Your eyes close. You know you can trust him.
When you open your eyes, a bench is in front of you. Carefully, he helps you get on it without putting more pressure on the injury. The man lifts your ankle and examines it.
“Looks like a sprain, nothing too serious,” his fingers graze over the swelling section of your calcaneus as he speaks. “Just make sure you rest it, ok?”
His eyes dart back to you, waiting for an answer.
“Yea, I got it. Hey w...” you trail off when he stands back up and dusts himself off. Maybe you should keep on talking. Just for a while, just to know about him more. It’s nagging at you. A few more words-
“I have to go,” you hear, dismissing the inner thoughts. He withdraws, and you can merely watch until he crosses your blind spot.
You see him the next day. Same street, same bench, same everything. But this time, however, you have a bandage, and he notes that when he approaches you.
“I thought I told you to rest.”
“I’m doing better now though, right? I mean, I can walk?”
His eyes tell more than what he says when he sits down next to you. Something is bothering him, you notice. Like he is gnawing on something he cannot swallow. “Why did you come here?” you ask ironically and catch his demeanor fall for a split-second.
“Work,” he replies straightforward.
“Oh, what’s your job?”
The man laughs and leans back, staring off into the distance. “You guys wouldn’t understand...”
The breeze hits you suddenly. Your arms grab onto your body as you look at a hat on the ground. Wait. It’s his hat. But he is still sitting there, not even trying to get it. “Um, sir,” your finger points toward his hat. Now he sees his hat and retrieves it.
“Thank you,” is all he says with a genuine voice, body turned to you once more. Again, with those full eyes, and then turns away and leaves.
The third (last) time you meet him, he looks like shit.
His face is sinking into itself as he forces to keep his head up. Those eyes are red-was he crying? Why would he be here, out of all places? The smell of alcohol reeks from him when he sits next to you.
This time it was you who started the conversation. “Work again?”
“Yea,” he confesses, letting his head hang now, “I don’t know what to do.”
Your hand moves to his knee and gives it a small squeeze. “You’re a good person, I know you will make the moral decision.” He looks down at your hand and briefly smiles.
“I hope so too.”
Ocean waves follow the silence you two share. For a while he muses to the wave’s groans, and it fascinates you. Never in your life, you have encountered someone this complex, and you do not want to lose him as he stands up. Whatever he must do though, you know you cannot put out the internal fire he possesses. You stay put on the bench, expecting him to just take off again. But he mentions one more thing:
“My names Eren.”
And so he leaves. The man with the hat that you already named in your head changes to Eren. And you never meet him again.
When you are sitting on the bench again for the last time, you wonder where Eren is. You wish he makes it out alive as the titans get closer to coast.