Life After Luke; The Reality of Reality
I remember watching the sunset. Alone, as usual. I twiddled my fingers nervously, feet pressing harder on the floor as I felt my eyes grow heavier and heavier. My back felt sore from sitting for so long – no, for doing absolutely nothing for so long- as I laid deeper into the Professor's chair at his desk. It was littered with papers and dust-coated artifacts that held no particular interest to me. Every time I inhaled, I caught a whiff of the dust. It certainly didn't taste good, but I didn't dare moving. This seat wasn't the most comfortable or lush on in the Professor's quaint office, but its feeling was warm and worn, and it smelled of the Professor. In fact, it reeked of him. And I loved it.
I felt my fingers clasp together under the chair. I sunk even deeper, watching the sunset, waiting. Perhaps the Professor had felt the need to ditch me again while he stumbled upon yet another mystery, claiming the situation was too dangerous and that I couldn't put myself at any risk whatsoever. The thought made me clench my fingers tighter, almost to the point of numbness, and I closed my eyes, relying only on the Professor's wonderful scent to soothe me. All, perhaps, that I wanted was to be in his embrace, to feel his gentle hands clutch my back and to bury my head deep into his collarbone. As I'd done so many times before with… Papa.
But Papa wasn't here anymore. No, barely anybody was here anymore. Luke, who left only hours ago, now felt like a distant memory in my mind- someone I had possibly known, but now couldn't begin to imagine. Clive, who I'd only known for a few days, wasn't here either. I was fully aware of the danger to his schemes, but I couldn't help but feel sorry for the gentleman who'd helped me on numerous occasions, and I felt especially so when I watched his tear-infused eyes be dragged away by the Scotland Yard, treating him like a pathetic, useless item rather than what he truly was. And the way Clive held my hand, whether he was kidnapping me at the Thames Arms or assisting me down the staircase by the river Thames itself, was always a familiar, firm grip that made me feel secure, made me feel like I was there. Like I meant something to him. And as he was rotting away in jail, I couldn't help but miss tat. The Professor claimed we'd visit him soon, but the weeks past and I still hadn't come face to face with the ridiculed man.
I parted my lips and felt a sigh escape them, its hotness warming my mouth and grazing its edges. It was things like these I'd grown used to noticing ever since Papa died, when he asked me to live alone in that tower for so long. One begins to recognize the little details in life like these.
I couldn't think of a word right now, to encompass everything I was feeling. Loneliness maybe? Not that word felt so weak and worthless at the moment, it had no power at all. I could feel the sun lower, the light growing dimmer and cooler, through my closed eyelids, and I felt my mind being too quiet. I let the aroma of the Professor envelope me as I turned on my side, shoving my face against the top part of the wooden chair and tightening my hands into fists next to my face. I felt my throat stiffen in pain as I held back tears. But as I sat there, waiting, I couldn't help but let a few stray drops escape.
I had only just begun whimpering when I heard a click.
My head whipped up and my hands clutched the tip of the chair. The Professor stood in the doorway, his hand still clinging to the doorknob after he stepped inside and it was shut behind him. I didn't look at his face – I didn't want to, so I watched his hand twitch nervously, then slowly fall off and reach his side. The only light now was a tiny, automatic one that gleamed yellow in the doorway just above his head, and it cast shadows on his rosy skin- a reddish brown mix that folded over the face of his hand. It was then that I dare to look up, across his chest and up at his expression. It was hidden in the shadow of his hat, which, in the light looked tattered and old. Looking at him in his hunched over position with his head held down, I felt sorry for him. He and Luke had been together for years and for him to completely move to another country must have been difficult for him to deal with. I couldn't help but notice how… broken, he looked.
He then slowly began to walk forward, In my direction. I still couldn't see his face, but I could certainly visualize what it probably looked like. The image was, to say the least, uncomfortable. And yet with each step he took towards me, my heart reached. I quickly sat up on my knees, letting go of the chair and letting my arms dangle free at my sides. The Professor now loomed over me – and though in any other situation this would have seemed strange, I was only concerned of the deep sorrow that probably burned his body at this instant. I looked up at his features, in which I could only still make out his lips, my eyes widened. He twitched in the slighted, stifling a sniff. He had been crying.
I watched him for a few moments, wishing all his sadness and misery would vanish and a smile would appear at his lips, but right now there was nothing I felt I could possibly do. The bond that the Professor and Luke shared was something much too immense for me to comprehend, though I couldn't always understand why.
I was then interrupted in mid-thought as I felt him hug me. Just as I had imagined him doing countless times before, he now held me firmly in his arms. They felt even more soothing than I had initially assumed them to be, and I felt them squeeze once they were around me fully. His head was nestled in the crook of my neck, and his breath was hot and rapid against my skin. He seemed to be choking back even more tears. I couldn't have visualized him crying if I tried, and now it was the real deal. It all came in a rush- a magical, breathtaking rush.
I gently folded my arms around his back. His overcoat felt soft, almost silky. He didn't flinch back at my touch.
"It's okay, Professor." I said, softly, twisting my head so that I was whispering into his ear. I almost felt the urge to tear up again as well. "You can cry in front of me. It's okay."
Another sniff. His nose buried deeper into my neck with the conclusion of my words. And then I felt them- delicate, coming slowly and falling down my arm and across my chest, staining my dress. We stayed like that for a moment – in each other's arms, letting our true feeling release. And then, all too soon it seemed, he pulled away slightly.
"Flora," he said his voice deeper than usual. "Thank you… Flora."