Even in my apartment, lately, there is no quiet, no peace. It’s not that the walls are thin though I have no worries about hearing couples busying themselves in bed since I live surrounded by old rumour spewing coots. My patience has been wearing thin and I just don’t know what to do about it. Never before in my life have things taken this kind of turn. I’ve always had more patience than I know what to do with, it came from growing up with my disability. From being constantly bullied and picked on.
I suppose there is a limit to how much you can bottle everything up. I’ve been doing that for years, I have no proper or real ‘outlet’ for all those emotions I bottle away since I don’t know what to do with them. I had just expected to keep on doing that forever and a day more, not to be faced with this. Now I just open my door to slowly head down to get my mail and all I hear it murmured chatter about how we’re going to hell because of the demons who own the building and how we’re all sinners and we’re all going to burn and I don’t know, it just gets to me in ways it hadn’t in recent months.
Nothing has really changed in my life, there’s no new stress, there’s no change at work, there’s nothing, so I don’t understand why I’m so sensitive to the crap these geezers are going on about. All I know about this all is that I have to get away for a while or I might just try to… I don’t know. There’s nothing for me to do. I’m not desperate and while I don’t love my life, I certainly don’t hate it and I don’t want to end it. I could plug in some headphones into my computer and listen to some music but I still would hear them once I took the headphones off again.
So instead, since this is a long weekend, I gathered some things in a backpack, I found my coat, my crutch and I headed out. It was still cool outside but the true cold was gone, it’s a bit warmer. Not warm enough to go anywhere without a good scarf and gloves though. I don’t honestly know where I’m going. Recently I offered myself one of these music players, the small portable kind that you can keep in your pocket. So I put on some small ear-buds, plug in the music and I walk.
I can’t walk very far very quickly, this is my fate and I’ve accepted that before. So instead of keeping to the busy streets where I get bumped into too often for my taste, I walk down to that warehouse they’re fixing up, I slowly walk along the fence until it clears and I head out into the slightly deeper land, into the bit of almost forest. Nothing is fenced in, I’m aware that this might just be private property but I just want to get away for an hour or five. I have nothing in my bag to warrant a stay overnight but still. I have a blanket, I might just settle somewhere and appreciate the nothing.
I walk for a few hours, the terrain is a bit hard to navigate so I know I’m not that far in. If I strain and crane my neck a bit I can still imagine I see the edge of the forest. It helps, I suppose, that I haven’t gone out in a straight line. I found a small almost pathway and I’ve been following that. It goes left and right and almost round about on itself. There are a lot of small obstacles however, so I suppose it’s why it’s taking me so long to get nowhere at all.
When I start to feel a little tired, I lean on a tree and I dig through my bag. I find my blanket and the mock little cushion I drag around for the comfort of my poor buttocks and I set it down on the side of a large fallen tree. Even if I wanted to I couldn’t go further. I can’t cross over this tree, not with my leg. I settle down on the cushion and I wrap myself in my blanket. I pull the ear-buds out of my ears, turn my music off and close my eyes.
This is what I was trying to get to. I can hear a bird or two chirping about but that’s just part of nature and nature is peaceful and usually quiet. I take in a deep breath and let it out. This is what I was really needing. I can feel the wound up spring of something or other that was really tightened to the point of destroying everything start to loosen. I sigh and my shoulders sag.
It’s still a little humid here in the woods but I don’t mind, the blanket keeps me nice and warm and the cushion mostly keeps me from feeling the temperature that would have been most uncomfortable if I’d sat directly own on the fallen tree.
I don’t know how long I spend there, when I open my eyes, I can see the sun drifting somewhat lower on the horizon and I realize I’ve been out for much longer than I had imagined I would. I ease up, fold my blanket and put both it and the cushion back into my bag. I put my arm back through my crutch and I start on the way back to my world, away from this peace I found. This peace I know won’t be mine ever again once this building is completed.
I come to a fork in the pathway and I have to blink, I don’t recall having crossed a fork on my way out. I suppose this is one of those reasons I don’t usually go much of anywhere, I get lost easily. I look left and right, I can’t see much of anything that might mean much of anything to me. I don’t know if I should take one fork over the other. I can’t even really see my footprints. I put a lot of weight on my crutch, I know I left prints on my way in but it’s like I never actually came this way before.
Panic usually is slow to set in and it’s slow to set in now. I’m starting to realize, however, that I might have wandered off the absolutely wrong way and that I may as well be stuck in this forest until I die. It might be an overstatement but I have no food, no water beyond a small bottle I keep on hand and there is no one waiting for me. I have no family here in Dunkerque and anyone else who might wonder as to my whereabouts only ever call once or twice a year.
I look around to see if I can’t spot anything at all that my jog my memory of my walk in but there is nothing. I fall quiet and I just listen. I hear something crunching slightly in the distance and I freeze. It could be something wild but I have to tell myself that this is unlikely in these parts of the woods. I breathing in, out and I close my eyes.
“Is there anyone here?” I breathing in, out and try to focus. I might as well call out, dying out here on my own is a poor way to go. “I’m lost!”
Not usually a good thing to call out. I fall quiet again and I little a little harder, still the soft, steady crunching of what I’m sure are steps. “Anyone?”
Still silence though after a few minutes I swear I can hear the steps turning slightly and coming towards me.
“Call out again so I know where you’re at!” My heart leaps. I really hadn’t expected anyone to be anywhere near me so this is wonderful, even if it might be a cold blooded killer. I have to stop reading so many horror books, or thrillers or… yeah.
“I’m right here!”
“Don’t move, I’m coming your way.” Yeah no, I’m not going anywhere so that’s not going to be an issue. I honestly feel a bit of a cramp starting in my leg and that’s just when I spend too much time motionless or mostly standing still. Walking isn’t too much of an issue.
It’s a few more minutes before I can see someone coming my way. They’re rather small from the distance at first bu they’re slowly coming closer. They spot me and I take the non-spoken and non-visual hint to slowly start my way towards them. My breath catches slightly when I can see my saviour from a bit closer. Tall, almost as tall as the building owner, his eyes are startling and his hair has a strange little streak of colour to it, it’s different but it looks good on him. He looks good. I flush lightly at the thought drifting through my mind and I shake my head.
“You must be Armin.” I have to blink at him, now I’m baffled and a little uncomfortable. He takes one look at my face and laughs softly, sheepishly. “Sorry, I’m Eoghan, I’m the manager for your apartment building. Lex, the owner, saw you wandering off this way while he was looking through the warehouse to see if things were coming along well and he said he was a little worried that you might get lost, it’s easy to get lost in these woods. We try to know who our tenants are, at least a little, it makes it easier to work with them.”
I still have to catch my breath. He’s handsome, I feel my heart beating a mile a minute. When he looks at me there’s no disgust, there’s no discomfort, just open warmth. He rests his hand on my shoulder and his eyes crease a little, he’s looking concerned now and I realize I still haven’t uttered a single thing. I blush deeply and drop my head though it’s hard to ignore the warmth of his hand on my shoulder.
“I apologize, I’m just startled. I also apologize, I know this is private property but I had to get some quiet and I could get none in the building.” I don’t know why I’m telling him all this. He just smiles at me and settles his hand on my back. We slowly start on the way back out. He keeps pace with me and doesn’t seem to mind, I’m still feeling the heat of his touch and it reminds me of when I still had my lover with me before he was taken away.
“Most of the older tenants are full of rumours and I know they’ve been going on and on about us, about Lex and me. I don’t mind. If they want to imagine us some sort of monsters, that’s up to them. I don’t tend to listen much. We’re in the process of handing the building back down to someone we trust as is.” His voice is calm and smooth, as if he’s talking to a trusted friend. I haven’t felt this kind of friendly warmth in years.
“And it’s alright on the wandering through the woods, I was more worried about you being lost than you being on the property. You don’t strike me as the type who might go out of his way to damage anything.”
When we get out of the woods, I breath a soft sigh of relief and I apologize again. I assume he’ll just go on his way and let me walk back to the building on my own but he stays at my side, keeping his hands to himself this time and I feel some regret for the lack of touch. It’s silly of me, I’m aware, I can’t help it. I’m only human and humans do need some interaction to survive properly.
We walk all the way back into the building and he actually walks me to my door, just to make sure I make it okay, he says. He smiles at me, that warm, inviting smile and I just feel my breath catch slightly. It’s so strange to meet with such people. They’re so rare in this place. They’re just owner and manager of the building, he could have left me to rot out there and it would have been a clean, if book-filled apartment to rent out again, likely for a somewhat higher price.
I’m just glad I’m back. I’m glad I’m alive and I’m glad I met someone in this world who still has some goodness in his heart. If he’s a demon of sorts, it sure as hell didn’t show.