“Andoni is the first man who ever looked at me without seeing my crutch, without seeing my disability. His parents never liked me and blamed me for his death when he was hit by a car that just kept on going. I wasn’t with him when it happened and the errand he was running had nothing to do with me. They never let me see him in the hospital and they wouldn’t let me come to the funeral.” I murmur the words, feeling my heart break a little all over again as I try not to relive the moments. I had told him I loved him right before he went out and I can feel a small bit of peace from that but that is the last time I ever saw him.
Eoghan offers the hint of a smile and reaches out to touch my hand lightly. I don’t pull back. I have a hard time wrapping my head around this new apartment. He said I would be safer here, it would be quieter but that he would be working with me on helping me gain control of whatever it is that lets the voices come in.
“I know this is painful to go through, Armin, but I need to know what big parts of your life were painful like this. Usually there’s always a trigger to this kind of thing. It will trigger the trouble into awareness. For some people, one trigger is all they need and their lives are ruined by those voices, in other cases, like yours I think there was one trigger to pull your gift, as it is a gift in a way though not so much until you can control it, to the surface though it was still mostly dormant and it took another trigger, me more than likely and I apologize for this, to get it going.”
He already explained to me that he has a gift, that it took him a long time to work on controlling it but he had no one to help him learn. That’s why he’s wanting to help me. It was a long, complicated explication but I think I managed to wrap my mind around it well enough. When I lost Andoni, my heart was absolutely broken, he was my first and only love, the only person who never looked at me with disgust. Something in me woke, he said it might have come from my grandparents or my great-grand parent, because if it had come from my parents I would have had this ‘gift’ from birth.
When he touched me, Eoghan that is, he said that similar gifts tend to call to one another, so when he walked me back to my apartment after I’d gotten lost in the woods, it woke me gift up from its dormant side. I suppose it makes sense in a really crazy way. Then again I’ve seen crazier things in my life before so it’s not all that out there. I’m just not about to go yelling on rooftops about this. Not that I could make it to many rooftops even if I wanted to.
“I think,” he starts again, pulling me slightly away from the daze of thinking about Andoni, “that we’ll manage to get you to control this well enough. I’m sorry I brought up what is most likely the most painful memory you have to date. It’s not right that they’ve kept you from seeing him during his last moments or at the funerals. You had every right. Though not everyone is as open as I am about this.”
He squeezes my hand again. Right this very moment, I’m just glad for his presence. I’ve gotten used to the murmurs in my mind it’s much better than the almost yelling that was going. With his touching me however, it’s pure, perfect silence, the way my head used to be before.
Do I blame him for what happened to me? Not really. It could have been just about anyone else touching me and starting up these voices in my head. At least with him I know that I can try to learn to control it. What I’m afraid of is that somehow this controlling thing will require more focus than I can absolutely share with my job and the rest of my life. I don’t want that. I want to keep on working at the library.
We spend some hours just talking, moving on from the painful memories of my past to my current, day to day life. We talk about my job, about what I like and what I don’t, the way I handle certain things and others not so well. I guess we’re essentially getting ‘me’ on the table and learning more about me. I’m not sure what that has to do with helping me control my gift but it feels nice to be able to talk to someone like this without feeling like he’s trying to get this done as soon as possible to be able to get away from me quickly.
“A lot of people seem to think that I might be contagious.” I laugh briefly, it’s a bitter sort of laugh, this is something that never changes, I can’t adapt to that trail of thought, it hurts to know that people are afraid I might somehow change them. “It’s in how they look at me, it’s how they act around me, avoid touching me at all costs. I guess that’s why I felt so lucky and cherished when I had Andoni with me. He treated me like a human being, like everyone else.”
He keeps on coming back to the subject but I feel no true pain from this discussion now. I’m just talking about the man I loved, still love to this day, about the man who, I believe, loved me with all his heart. I’m not talking about how I lost him so I’m more focused on the positive than the pain of the loss of him.
“Some people in this world, Armin, are gifted. There aren’t a lot of us, a lot of them. Some have gifts that are more dangerous than others. At times, some people, Andoni could have been one of them really, have gifts that allow them to see beyond the physical aspect of someone. Though most of the time that gift is merely what we’d call understanding and love. I can see how much you love him, in the way you talk about him, the way your eyes soften when you speak his name. He was special to you, I can see this very clearly.”
He pauses and I’m trying to understand where he’s going with this. I’m not sure I want him to go wherever it is he’s heading for.
“I think, though, that his death did wake your gift but I also think and please don’t misunderstand me, but I think that you are still hanging onto his ghost and it might be one of the reasons why your gift may be hard to control. I’m not saying you have to fling it all off into the past to forget about it all but I think you might have to finally move on.”
I pull my hand away from his and he sighs, he honestly looks a little sad. He shakes his head and reaches for my hand again, he curls his fingers securely about it and while I want to pull away I don’t. I feel my eyes grow wet at the idea of ‘moving on’ as he puts it.
“Armin, you are an absolutely amazing person. If I didn’t have Alexis with me until the end of my time, I might just be willing to tell you that we could have something. I think there is someone out there who will be more than willing to love you. You just have to let them. If you keep on clinging to your old life for Andoni, I think you’re closing a lot of doors and hanging onto demons. I can tell you’re still aching over the loss, still aching and mostly angry that his family didn’t let you see him. I think this is still eating away at you from the inside and it will keep you from controlling your gift. I’ve honestly been there, it isn’t pleasant.”
This isn’t something I really want to think about. This isn’t something I ever wanted to think about. His hand keeps all sounds out, all I hear is his voice, his words, what he’s talking about. It’s hard not to hear it all and focus on that. It’s like everything else out there just melted away to oblivion.
I hiccup once as I feel tears begin to threaten to come down and I squeeze my eyes shut. I don’t want to cry, not in front of him. I’ve done it before but it was for different reasons.
“It hurts. I don’t want it to hurt anymore. I don’t want to forget him, I don’t want to lose him. He’s all I ever had that was good in my life.”
He squeezes my hand again. “He’ll always be with you, Armin. You’ll never really forget it though you do need to close that door. Let the hurt out.”
I cried. I don’t know how long I spent crying. All I really recall is Eoghan who actually helped me undress just enough to be comfortable and who tucked me in. I cried myself to sleep, I recall that. Right now, my heart aches. I just want to forget the world as a whole, I want to stay in this bed for a while and I want to just take one step today, then another the following day. I’ll try to get better, to move on.