Saturday, November 6, 2010

Chapter 29 Don’t Look

My face still burns. Henri’s place is too stifling full of expectations and reminders of a life I don't fit into. So I climb up to the third floor away from Henri's place and away from Alex.

The third floor is completely empty and bare. It clearly hasn’t been lived in for a very long time, and obviously no one comes up farther than Henri’s floor. Though the heat trapped in the building accumulates up here with the stale air, there is something freeing about being on this floor.

The walls are white and bare lacking any of the trash, scribbles, or dirt from passing people like on the ground floor hallway. I'm completely alone for what feels like the first time since I got here.

I lean back against the wall of the hall with large windows open onto the street, rubbing my face with my hands as I try to ignore the stinging of my eyes. In the quiet of the blank hall standing completely by myself, it hits me. This is my life now, and in this new life, I'm not a kid.

But most importantly-- what I’ve mostly been trying to ignore, the part that hurts the most-- this new reality that has me suddenly needing to grow up now is lacking the one person that has always been there for me and taught me everything I know. She’s the one person who would know what to do. She’d probably be all for me and Alex, and she’d probably know exactly how to handle Henri and be best friends with Brandon and Jimmy if she doesn’t know them already.

But she's not here. I'm completely on my own, and worse than needing to grow up is the realization that she’ll probably never be here and I need to do it all on my own.

I stubbornly rub at my eyes in simple refusal and glance around for distraction. There are two doors leading into two different apartments before me. Henri did say we were the only ones here.

The first one I open on the right side is completely empty. The only sign of life are the cobwebs in the corners of the rooms that make me shudder at the sight of them. Dust clings to them, old and ancient, some of the webs droop. I don’t bother stepping in too far in case there are mutant spiders here too. Interestingly, through the old grimy windows, I can see the marquee of a tiny theater. Most of the letters have fallen off the yellowing sign, but it still manages to catch my attention. Henri’s apartment windows look out on the other side of the apartment building where an old brick building of some sort sits. It’s not nearly as interesting as this.

This had been a proper little town where people had lived and worked before the Revolution. The theater is just another sign of an old way of life. I step back into the hall and shut the door. Though I expect more of the same from the next apartment, I still open the door with the intent of just peeking in.

A soft, stale scent hits my nose before my eyes land on the furniture covered in dust. I inhale too quickly in surprise and the dust, having forgotten what it’s like to have a person breathing, shifts too quickly, burning down my throat and tickling my nose.

My throat scratches as I swallow and carefully step inside. This place was once lived in, but it hasn’t been touched in years. Something about it makes me uneasy. It’s almost like a shrine of some sort. In this place where everything is used and reused and nothing goes to waste to have a non-lived in apartment filled with furniture is a shock. Something definitely happened here.

To my left near the kitchen there is a small round table with three chairs. One chair is on its side as if someone jumped up too quickly. The chair next to it is flipped over completely. The last chair is still upright, pushed back from the table. That is the one that's most disturbing.

I step in further and look for more clues, but the apartment doesn’t have much else. There is a sofa, but no clues left in its dust covered cushions.

There are two doors leading to two rooms just like Henri's apartment. The master bedroom would most likely be the one on the left, and I get a creepy feeling from it crawling up my back between my shoulder blades, so instead I go to the room on the right.

A sound escapes from me at the sight of the toy and small clothes on the ground. There is a dirty mattress, but not much else in the room.

It was a child’s room. The small toy car on the ground makes me think it was a boy’s room. Would he even have known what to do with a toy car? This couldn’t be a room belonging to someone from before the Revolution. This had to be something more recent and even then, judging by the dust on everything, still not that recent.

The shirt on the ground is so small. I kneel near it not daring to touch it. Near-by is the dirty mattress with no sign of a blanket. That could mean anything, of course. It’s been years. Maybe there had been blankets and they’ve just gone missing. Still, the bareness of the room says something. The lone toy car is something obviously special. There weren’t any other signs of a child throughout the house.

I suddenly feel very uncomfortable. This is someone’s past, and I’m just traipsing around through it like it’s some form of entertainment for me.

Henri never mentioned this was here. Brandon never mentioned it either. Maybe that had less to do with a lack of consideration on their parts and more to do with this room being some sort of void for the both of them.

The small shirt on the ground draws my attention again. Brandon and Jimmy and even Henri at some point long ago were all small enough to fit in a shirt like that once. Such an obvious thought had somehow never occurred to me. It’s like when meeting someone, I just assume they are the way they’ve always been. But that’s not true for anyone, and that’s not even true for me.

I stand and roll my shoulders again, that creeping feeling rolling under my skin up my back. Quickly, I step out and shut the door, giving it all my attention to close it as quietly as possible even though I’m the only one here. The master bedroom door is only feet away, but I want out now. Henri’s place is the spot I should be, not here.

“What are you doing here?”

I almost choke on the dust and the lump in my throat as I turn around. Jimmy stands in the door way, his normally cold eyes burning me from across the room. I try to speak, but the lump in my throat makes it hard to breathe even.

“Out.” His voice is deep and gruff. There isn’t a need for him to repeat himself. Quickly, I move across the room and squeeze past him and out the door into the bare hall. For a moment I contemplate running, but there is no point to it. I could only go to Henri’s, and it’s not like he wouldn’t know where I would be. Alex couldn’t protect me-- not from Jimmy.

So I turn to face him even as I freeze in the spot, my joints locked, my voice missing.

He steps out slowly, still looking pissed, and right then I know whose past I was traipsing through. It was his. Who else could be this upset but the person whose past had been violated?

His eyes are hard; they slice through me as effectively as any weapon. “What were you doing in there?”

I bite into my lip, looking for the strength to explain, and unable to come up with anything that doesn’t sound disrespectful. His entire body is tense, and I can’t help remembering that one day I saw him kill that man right in front of Brandon’s apartment in front of everyone. No words come out with that, nothing I can say will properly defend me or make him less pissed.

“Get out of here,” he finally says deeply, darkly. He turns his glare away from me, and I take the opportunity and leave quickly, almost running to the stairs and back to Henri’s apartment.

At Henri’s, I sit on the sofa with my legs pulled up to my chest listening for the sound of Jimmy’s footsteps. I expect that this isn’t over. It can’t be over that easy, especially where Jimmy is concerned. He doesn’t seem the type to easily let go of something like this.

I do feel guilty—like I’ve wronged him even though I didn’t know.

There’s a soft knock on the door that surprises me. It couldn’t be Jimmy, but I’m in no rush to answer it. The last time someone knocked it was creepy Aaron.

“It’s Alex,” the voice on the other side says. I hop up quickly and open the door, slightly concerned that he would make his way up here and wondering what that means.

He stands there looking concerned when I open the door but he doesn’t say anything. Right away, I have a feeling that he saw Jimmy and that he could tell something was wrong. Logically, it’d have to involve me in some way, but he doesn’t bother to say it. He doesn’t even bother to reach out the way he did this morning to comfort me.

I don’t say a word either, and the space between us almost seems to swell. For a moment, I think of stepping across the distance into his arms of my own free will. But then he says, “I am sorry.”


The last thing I can remember is looking into his bright, emerald eyes.

Intermission: In the Dark


What Brandon has said about his past
What Jimmy has said about his past

I wonder if this piece will be confusing, but I've read it a couple of times and it's exactly the way it was meant to be at this point in time. Also, I trust you all and know you'll ask questions if you have to. I also know you'll probably see things in this piece that I didn't see!

Also, just because I can see it coming up as a possible means of confusion and I can't see a way around it other than to just say-- this is not the apartment Brandon lived in as a kid. This was the pre-Brandon apartment.


  1. Jimmy's apartment, when he lived with his mother and father!

    He must have been very small indeed when he killed his father. The three chairs...I'm guessing his is the one that wasn't overturned...

    He exerted quite a bit of control not to rail at Paula. I wish she could have found something to say--she just wanted to be alone, and she didn't know she'd be stumbling into something like that.

    But Alex! What the hell? Is he taking her? He promised he wouldn't use his power on her, and it looks like he did! Is she part of his mission? Or is he taking her away to protect her from Jimmy's wrath? many questions! And to leave us hanging like that is just torture!

  2. Rachel, that's an interesting guess about the chairs. You see the scene as two people running from the chair that's still sitting up? Interesting. I wonder how others will see the scene?

    Yes, quite a bit of control. I think Jimmy is both about letting loose and about complete control. He's definitely always got that duality within him. It's probably best that Paula didn't bother to try and explain herself lest she just upset him more.

    That whole last part-- I know. It is mean. Especially considering what'll be coming up next.

  3. I'm thinking along the same lines as Rachel--Jimmy's first childhood home.

    Jimmy is a fascinating character. He's so deep, yet he doesn't seem to want people to know that. It's understandable, though. He wants his privacy. He wants to be left alone.

    Definitely wondering why Alex did what he did, but I'm guessing we'll find out soon? :)

  4. mmmm, had to read this a couple of times.

    I agree it's best that Paula was struck dumb, I don't think she could have said anything that wouldn't have made it worse.

    If we're assuming that it was Jimmy's family that sat around the table, then I see the upright chair as the one Jimmy's father sat in. I get the impression that he thought he was a big man (I don't necessarily mean physically), no need to be scared of a little brat.

    There's something else there though, but I just can't put my finger on it.

    And that last bit with Alex ... now I know why people complain about my cliffhangers *lol*

    I wonder if he's ever said sorry to someone before he's used his power on them before?

  5. I'm not going to assume it's Jimmy's room. Although people, even people like Jimmy, get attached to places they've been, usually that intense attachment is for places other people were. Shrines are rarely kept to remember yourself because, after all, you're there. Whoever lived there is not.

    I don't want to get too symbolic about the overturned chairs. The theatre outside the window, Henri's room on the other side where the marquee isn't visible. Something happened there in that room. Chairs overturned in an attempt to escape maybe? The child's shirt with 'littlest cowboy' on it broke my heart though.

    And as for Alex using his power on Paula. Well. Maybe. But there's more than one kind of power and I think he's got it. She needed him. He wanted to help. They are falling in love. That's enough power for anyone.

  6. I was also thinking that this must have been Jimmy's first childhood home but I don't know now. If it was Jimmy's first home, he would have to have left it while he was still young enough to be playing with toy cars. Was he really that young when he killed his father?

    Seeing we're talking about the chairs, what I imagined was this: three people were sitting around the table. Someone entered the room, the people who were sitting in the chairs that were knocked over were frightened or alarmed and got up quickly and the third person was expecting the visitor, or wasn't concerned about them, for whatever reason, and calmly stood up. As to who the people were, I'm not sure about that.

    And argh, I am DYING to know what's happening with Alex and Paula at the end there! I'm not even going to speculate on that but I might go back and read this again to take it all in.

  7. I love cliffhangers (which might explain why I end my chapters the way I do)

    Something tells me that it's not Jimmy's room, more like it was someone close to him. People are more likely to be protective of the memories of someone they love, rather than their own... or maybe I'm just speculating.

    Great chapter mate :)

  8. I'm actually wondering if it's the room of a younger brother of Jimmy? Or maybe a son? It was hinted at during Mary's story that he has fathered children. A stranger traipsing over the memory of a child would definitely get his blood boiling.

    Either way, I think the child in question is no longer around.

  9. Oops, you all. I do feel like I failed in some way, but it's the way the story was meant to be. It is slightly confusing, and will eventually be clarified I hope.

    Van, thank you. I definitely do get a sense that Jimmy is always holding back. There's a lot he doesn't want people to know about himself, and there could be so many reasons for it other than the obvious ones. I do think he definitely wants to be left alone. He's very much a loner. Even his sim has the "loner" trait, so he always gets a negative moodlet in scenes where it's more than three people around him.

    Also, you'll find out sooner or later. ;)

    Illandrya, oh that's a very interesting reading of the scene. As always, you pick up on the subconscious clues I think I'm sending out. Jimmy's father was indeed a big man, physically and status-wise and personality-wise too I'd imagine.

    Maybe the something else will become clear in time? There is a lot of confusion around exactly what happened and how much Jimmy actually remembers, even I don't know. I don't imagine him enjoying talking about it.

    Also, oh, good question about Alex. I can't really answer it, but that you're even asking at all-- well I do think it's a good question.

    Beth, oh that's an important point. Shrines are rarely kept by a single person to remember themselves, but sometimes I think shrines can be accidental. It's possible that this isn't a shrine of his own making...

    Your theory on the chairs is pretty dead on actually. An attempt to escape, yes, that's definitely what I see.

    We'll definitely get back to the whole Alex and Paula thing sooner or later.

    Carla, Brandon wasn't born yet when whatever happened to Jimmy's father happened, so yes. He was young. Jimmy's about seven years older than Brandon. You can imagine how disturbing that would be for everyone, even those not directly involved. And especially for someone like Henri, who would feel as if he was very directly involved.

    You're pretty close too. Interesting that you say another visitor... Definitely this is a story that will need to be told, and I'll have plenty of chances for it later on I think.

    Oh man, you all are going to love and hate me next week I think. Some more questions answered and some completely ignored, lol.

    poida, do you really? I usually hate them, lol. You've got some interesting speculations. In a way, I don't think you'd be incorrect in that actually.

    Thank you.

    Illandrya, huh, interesting. Yes, it was hinted at in Mary's story that he'd father a child. That is something I do intend on coming back to actually.

    But Jimmy is a very private person, so any traipsing around his past I think would get him upset unless he were already wanting to directly share.

    In a way, you are right though.

  10. Wow, so evocative. I felt I was there with Paula. The depiction of the dust was my favourite part, and the toy and the T-shirt were both sad and creepy. I wondered if it was a child of Jimmy's, but I am very willing to wait. This is taking so many exciting twists and turns lately, and I love it.

  11. For a first time, I didn't want to speculate who's it was. All I know is that it's an apartment that she shouldn't have been in.

    The things she should know but hasn't been told - it's a very hard life she's in now. And it looks like it's time to grow up.

    The last scene with Alex was Wow! It was clear to me that he was doing something under orders - not what he wanted to do. And something that while it wouldn't be harmful for Paula (I don't think Alex would be involved in actual damage to her) but definitely something that will be hard for her to bear and stressful. Very stressful.

  12. Yes I read this a couple of times myself, and I am confused, but I like that. There are so many layers, so many possibilities.
    These people seem incapable of your standard human relationships, yet it is obvious they feel very deeply.
    The room was almost like a shrine.
    But to who, or what? Can't wait to find out~

  13. Thank you, Rad. This was something of a tough chapter to get out from my head, so I'm glad it did work.

    There's more in store!

    Kiri, it's probably a good idea to take a back seat and let the answers come to you. They will in time with this, lol.

    Oooh, you are so perceptive too! We'll get back to all of that soon enough.

    Ugh, I do feel bad, like there's not much I can say, lol.

    Drew, sorry if it was confusing. I didn't mean it to be, but I couldn't make it clearer.

    These people aren't standard at all. They're all people pushed to their limits whatever those limits are. So I love that they come across one way, but there's always so much more under the surface.

  14. Guess I am not as perceptive as others, LOL! But hey, I am content to go along for the fascinating ride~

  15. No no! I wouldn't say that. There's a general air of confusion around this entry which means that, as the writer, I failed. I haven't even completely picked up what happened, but I'm running with it like I meant to do it, lol.

    I heartily thank you for your patience!

  16. Awww, Paula needs her mommy! :(

    What a very interesting find with that room! And one Jimmy was clearly not happy about her finding. I agree with the others that it's likely not his room, but someone he cared about.

    Oooh, Carla, good guess about the chairs!

    I actually didn't feel confused about this entry (maybe I should have been? I am kind of sick, lol!) The things we needed to understand (that she was somewhere she wasn't supposed to be - that Jimmy is angry - that Alex has taken her somewhere) were all clear. I trust that we'll find out the rest in time. The rest feels like a calculated withholding of information, so if it wasn't, then just pretend that it was ;)

    By coincidence of the timing, I'm going to assume that Alex using his power on her came by order of Jimmy, but that's just a guess.

    That ending!!! Oh my! Gave me the chills! And not in the good way Alex normally gives me the chills, lol! I hope he has good intentions with whatever he's doing with her!

    Oh, his "I'm sorry," was heartbreaking :(

  17. Suddenly I am thinking back to that image of the lightning and now I wonder if that was Jimmy's father...

    Knowing that he beat Jimmy and that Jimmy killed would make sense that the apartment would be off limits and that Jimmy wouldn't like anyone, especially Paula, going in there.

    At the end, Alex and Paula, there is a power between those two that is combustive. If the last thing Paula remembers is his eyes, and they have their own power...I wonder if things just progressed?

  18. Laura, oh I'm glad you weren't confused about the entry. I did want to convey those three things mostly, the rest is what I think got muddled, but it's okay. I am running with it, lol. Really, I couldn't make it clearer. I don't see Jimmy standing up and telling her directly what this is and why he's so angry, and she certainly was not going to ask right then. So it is something that we'll probably come back to.

    Gayl! Nice to see you. I hope you're doing okay.

    Oh very interesting reading of the events. Definitely you're remembering all the important things, so I don't completely feel like I failed, lol. Those are all very important clues.

    As for Paula and Alex, that will be very important coming up. I do think they have their own power between them, but does Paula trust it? Is she mature enough to handle it?

  19. Finally able to sit down for a bit and read the last few chapters I've missed. Lots has happened hasn't it? I was really surprised about what Paula found in the room and Jimmy's reaction to it. Also things are heating up between Alex and Paula. I wonder if Alex will take Kyrene's warning about Brandon if something should develop intimately between those two.

    And that ending. Makes me think she blacked out or Alex knocked her out. Intriguing!

  20. Oh yes! Lots after taking my time with it, I suddenly go and push you all off a cliff, lol.

    Ah, Alex-- heating up is definitely a way to put it! We'll be getting back to them soon. Also, that's assuming Kyrene's warning was at all serious. We'll probably find out. :D

    Thanks for commenting!