into the world of Christian.
With Christian pulling me, we ran until the stars were high in the sky. We were in the middle of thick woods, ones I didn’t remember from my early childhood. Finally I could take no more and collapsed on the ground. Christian stopped, still holding my hand in the air. Tre and Mike, who had been trailing just behind us, slowed and then stopped, looking at Christian, waiting for his word.
“Let’s take a break…” Christian said with defeat in his voice. But Tre and Mike were smiling. I didn’t have the energy to ask what they were smiling at. I simply tugged slightly at Christian’s hand. His gaze fell to me, then rose to Tre as he followed my gaze.
“Do you not know where we are, Billie Joe?” Tre asked, amused at Christian’s ignorance. I found that terribly rude, but was discovering Tre didn’t really care if he was rude or not. Christian shrugged slightly, wincing as well, before kneeling down next to me. I watched as he looked me over, I guess assessing if I was in pain, or just worn out. I don’t know what he decided, but he grabbed me by my wrists and slung me onto his back like a rag doll. I was grateful for this and snuggled my face into the back of his neck.
“It’s your back yard.” I’m not sure if that was really what he said, and I don’t remember what Christian said back because I was unconscious before I could hear anymore. When I work up I was laying on a couch, an honest to god couch, in an honest to god house. I attempted to stretch, but my body protested loudly. At first I thought I was dreaming, but knew I wouldn’t hurt this bad in a dream. Before I could think any more I heard a guitar playing soft, sweet music outside. Ignoring my body’s complaints I followed it.
Christian was sitting on a stone bench in an enclosed garden, playing a beautiful black acoustic guitar. As quietly as I could I leaned up against the door jam. As I stood there I listen as Christian sang a eulogy.
Dreaming, I am only dreaming of another place and time. Where my family's from.
After the first line I suddenly knew the song, from the deep recesses of my brain. Except it wasn’t Christian singing it. It was my mother. I took quick steps, my voice twisting with Christian’s.
Singing, I can hear them singing. When the rain had washed away all these scattered dreams.
Christian’s eyes connected with mine, sadness in every facet of green that dared to sparkle then. I knew I looked similar to that, completely defeated. But I didn’t feel that way, not entirely. With Christian there, I felt like I had walked away from there the victor of a very costly battle. And that was what I was. AMEU lost everyone there, and everyone I knew was dead. Everyone but me, and Christian.
Dying, everyone's reminded. Hearts are washed in misery, drenched in gasoline.
As I watched Christian lit knocked over a candle into a pile of loose paper. I looked down as the flames consumed each page there, all blank and now ash. I didn’t know where it came from, but I understood the symbolism there, the pages burning away, like the lives that had ended before our eyes.
Laughter, there is no more laughter. Songs of yesterday now live in the underground.
He then dumped water onto the ash, stopping the burning. Christian set his guitar to the side, resting his elbows on his knees. Crumpled over I instantly knew he was in pain. And that he hadn’t slept yet. I got up, rushing to his side just as he wavered. I sat down next to him, catching him and holding him up. With bleary eyes he looked up at me, smiling in a sad sort of way.
“Come on, Hero boy. Let’s get you into bed before you die from exhaustion and that whole rescue act was for nothing.” I smiled softly, helping Christian stand, and then bearing most of his weight as we stumbled into the house. We only made it to the closest couch, the one I had been sleeping on mere moments before. He fell onto it without any resemblance of grace. With my help he curled up, looking much more comfortable than when he fell. I covered him with the blanket I had been under when he reached out, grabbing my hand.
“Talk to me for a moment, Gloria. Before I fall asleep.” I nodded, sitting on the edge of the couch and holding his hand in mine. “I’m cursed, Gloria. Everyone calls me the son of Jesus, but I am starting to think that maybe I am really the son of Satan.” I laughed, shaking my head.
“You're not cursed, Christian, because you’ve been blessed. Sleep now. We can talk when you wake up.”
He nodded, his head falling fully into the pillow mid way through. I smiled, sitting there for a moment more. Christian looked so innocent then. Without the worry he always carried, he looked much younger. I still didn’t know how old he was, I knew he wasn’t much older than me, but he looked like a boy then. As I watched he even started to smile. His lips moved as he fell further into his dream. I got up, letting him get back to his sleeping. As I hit the door way I heard him call out.
“Gloria.” I spun around, wondering what had woken him. But as I looked back I saw he was still asleep, still smiling in his dream world. His dream world that involved me. My heart gave an involuntary squeeze as I spun on heal and rushed away from the room.
I headed away from Christian and as I did I began to hear voices. I could tell it was Tre and Mike and wanted to be around people. I found them sitting at a kitchen counter on bar stools. Between them were packs of cigarettes and a bottle of whiskey. Mike, who’s back was towards me, lifted the bottle and poured a shot for each of them.
“Better make that three, Mike.” Tre said, looking directly at me. “Gloria’s up.” I smiled, grabbing another bar stool and sitting on the other side of the counter from them. I lit a cigarette, taking along drag from it before picking up the shot.
“Where are we?” I asked before slamming the Jack Daniels.
“Lost.” Mike answered.
“So you don’t know where we are?”
“Like refugees, we have nowhere to go, and that makes us lost. But for the present, we are in Billie Joe’s old house.” Tre answered. I looked around as they poured another shot for each of us. They toasted to self control and we slammed another. I knew it wouldn’t be long until the bottle was empty, but I also knew we wouldn’t be stopping until it was.