My View From the Window Chapter 2
By Prism Angel
"Ughh..." My head was still aflame with a powerful burning sensation, and my body had turned limp from my lack of blood. "...I...I cant..." I replied softly to the coaxing voice. "...Im...Im so tired...just leave me alone..."
Open your eyes!! Look around you!!
"Nnggg...not so loud..." I choked. "My head...it hurts so much....just let me sleep..."
Youre alive!! Stand up!
"...Stop it..." I cried through gritted teeth, bracing myself from the flaming agony that spread through my bones. "Stop calling to me....I just want to rest....I want everything to go away..."
You didnt die! Get to your feet!
"............No...no, I cant do it....Not after that.....Just let me forget everything....."
You can stand! Do it!
Though my eyes remained sealed, I felt icy hands slip beneath my arms and begin to pull me up. Around me I could feel the frosty touch of what felt like water, and as I was drawn up out of it the pain in my body angrily burned and writhed. "...Let go of me...!" I ordered weakly, slumped tiredly in the unobserved person before me. "..I...I wont...! Let me be...leave me alone...!!"
Open your eyes!! See where you are!!
"Ahh--!!" I drew in a breathless gasp as my eyelids flew open and I sat straight upwards. Panting, I slowly directed my indistinct vision about me, then clutched a shaking hand against me. "....Oh my God..." I breathed unsteadily, my eyes wide. ".....Where...where am I...?"
The persuasive female voice that had beckoned me only a few seconds earlier had completely disappeared, and I emitted a frightened scream as a small cemetery gradually came into view below me. "Christ in heaven!! Im dead!! Im having one of those goddam out-of-body experiences!!"
My heart hammered mercilessly in my chest, and I forced myself to calm as I noticed my view into the graveyard was through a large window that I was now sprawled in front of. I was at least a story or two above the burial ground, which was maybe only ten or so feet wide situated in the space between the building I sat in and the one to the left and contained maybe twenty or so simple gravestones. I gazed down at it for several seconds in surprised noiselessness, then slowly shifted my sight to my surroundings.
I was laid on my back atop a scarlet-colored couch, worn and faded with age, facing out towards the large pane of glass before me overlooking the cemetery below. I soon realized why my sight had been so limited--my right eye was completely covered by a long bandage that had been wrapped around my head several times and ended across my forehead. I was covered by several layers of bedspreads, then drew in a gasp as I noticed I was refreshingly naked beneath the sheets. "Wh--" I gaped down at myself for several seconds, eyeing the crimson dagger wounds that were slashed randomly over my pale skin--most of which were also covered by bloodstained compressions--and then my eyes slowly dropped to my left wrist. It to had been wrapped with several layers of ensanguined gauze, most of which continued on almost down to my elbow. It still burned when I moved it, and I stared blankly down at it for a number of moments. I suddenly exhaled a sorrowful sigh and shut my eyes. "....I remember now...." I whispered softly, forcing myself to stifle the tears that threatened to escape my blurry eyes. "...I remember it all....everything that happened.....I was caught in the alleyway...that man drew out his knife...and....." I stopped and slowly opened my eyes again, keeping them stuck groggily on my bandaged wrist. ".......................I dont want to be alive........" I choked quietly. ".....Why arent I dead...? Why didnt I die...? Who in their right mind could ever have decided to save me...?" My wrist dropped limply back down to the sheets around me, and I gazed back over at the peaceful cemetery again.
Im not sure how much time elapsed, or how long I had been staring silently out at the graveyard at the base of the building I was in. My hands felt sickeningly cold against my exposed bosom, and my reeling mind struggled pointlessly to piece together how I had ended up in my position.
All at once I heard a door open behind me.
I emitted a alarmed scream and whirled about, immediately throwing and holding the layers of blankets against my naked chest. I covered my mouth with my free hand as I caught sight of the startled form of Vincent Valentine, standing towards the ajar door leading into the apartment and staring over at me in shock. He blinked several times, gaping at me, then slowly shut the door. "....Youre awake....?"
"...Guuh.....Guuuuuuhhhhhh..." I gawked over at him in absolute terror, then forced myself to leap to my feet and kept the sheets protectively wrapped around me. ".....Y....you...!!!!"
".......Yes, me," Vincent replied confidently, staring over at me through his frightful red eyes. "...Calm down, dont get so worked up. Its ok."
"Ok??!!" I screamed in panic, staggering several feet backwards. "And what part of this, exactly, can be classified as ok??! What are you doing here??! Why did you save me?! What do you want?! And why did you undress me, you pervert!!"
"Easy, easy," he coaxed, holding a hand out towards me. "Youre in no condition to--"
"Dont touch me!!" I ordered sharply, immediately causing him to draw back.
"All right, all right, I wont touch you," he replied. "Just dont go insane. I wont hurt you. I saved you."
"Oh, yeah?! Why?!" I demanded angrily, backing up again. "What in hell could possibly have possessed you to--"
"I couldnt just leave you. Despite your first impression of me, I actually do have morals."
"I slit my damn wrist for a reason!!" I shouted. "Why didnt you just let me die??! I never did anything charitable towards you!"
"Calm yourself, please. Such anger might cause you to--"
"And where are my clothes, you lecher?!" I interrupted. "Damn you, youre no better than that lousy bastard who did this to me in the first place!! How am I supposed to know what you did to me while I was asleep??!"
"Your clothes were completely torn and bloody. Infection might have resulted if they werent removed."
"Why...why are you doing this...?" I stammered despondently, now completely against the wall. "I gave you back your stupid money.....Why are you....uuuuggghhhhh...." All of a sudden I swayed unsteadily on my feet, then dropped weakly to my knees. My breaths had become ragged, and my legs seemed incapable to support my weight any longer.
"...See, I told you." Vincent slowly approached my side and knelt down, then reached a hand out towards me.
I let out a shallow cough and glared over at him through my one eye. "....I....I dont need you...Im fine...."
"Youre still incredibly weak from your significant loss of blood," he told me. "You wont be able to do much anything for a while. Your physical wounds might be mostly healed, but your psychological scars might not amend quite as quickly..."
I stared over at him in silence for several seconds, then exhaled a weary breath and lowered my eyes to the floor. ".....I.....I said Im fine...."
".........Well, do what you want." He stood and walked back towards the direction from which he had come. "But as soon as you faint, Im putting you back on that couch."
I glanced up towards his back, then brushed aside several loose, knotted strands of my hair. "....Why...why are you doing this...?"
He didnt reply for several seconds and stood silently, then seemed to regain his senses and continued with what he was doing. ".......Id be a lower creature than I already am if I deserted a wounded, unconscious girl alone out in a snow storm....especially one that had just...been...." His voice gradually dissolved into silence.
I didnt reply. My eyesight slowly fell to the floor, then to the bandages about my wrist. I slowly closed my eyes in order to stifle the tears that threatened to escape and began to nervously fidget with a strand of my disheveled hair.
"....Here." A large white bathrobe suddenly fell across my lap, and Vincent turned and continued with his task at hand. "Youd better put that on before you catch a cold."
I watched after him as he casually exited the room, then cautiously shifted the sheets from around me and wrapped the robe over my shoulders, slipped my arms into the sleeves, and tied the belt about my waist. It was much to big on me; the sleeves fell several inches past my fingertips, and the bottom fringe hung down to my shins. I pulled my hair from the collar and slowly shifted to my feet, bracing myself against the powerful wave of nausea that washed over me. ".......Uggghhh....so dizzy...."
".....Are you thirsty...?"
I glanced up and met Vincents scarlet eyes, and then my vision gradually fell to the glass of steaming herbal tea he was now holding out towards me.
"....You must be at this point," he continued, slowly reaching forward, taking my wrist, gently placing the mug in my hand. "Youve been unconscious for almost a week. You lost a great deal of blood..."
I gazed nervously down into the cup, then back up at his face. "....And how do I know I can trust you? You couldve drugged this so Ill faint again and you can--"
"If thats what I wanted to do, why didnt I do it why you were unconscious in the first place?"
I stared over at him in silence for several seconds, then slowly lifted the glass to my lips and took a cautious sip. I hesitated for a number of moments afterward, tasting the drink, then took another sip. I immediately froze as I noticed his enigmatic eyes locked on my face. "...What?"
He didnt reply for a while, then exiled a sigh and cast his gaze aside. ".....Nothing. Why dont you sit down?"
I kept my eyes on his face but slowly shifted my body over to the couch I had awakened on and sank down into the cushion. "...Thanks. Now, what do you want from me?"
".......A name might be nice," he answered. "Its Eliza, correct? I heard that group of men calling you that before I found you."
I nodded, then hesitated and shook my head, exhaling a sigh. "......No, actually, its Allie. Elizas just my street name, if you will. I.....With the job that I have, I thought it would be better if no one knew my actual name. ..........Youre Vincent, right? Vincent Valentine?"
He whirled around to face me in shock. "How did you--"
"Relax. I read it off your ID." I let out another sigh, then gazed towards my wrist again. "....About that....did you search through my shawl?"
"You should. In...inside it....theres 75 gil. I...I never gave it back. I didnt think youd notice." I closed my eyes, then took another sip of the tea. "...Im....Im sorry.....about that. Selling flowers isnt exactly the best paying job in the world. The only way I could afford to survive was to steal money from potential customers. I...I really do feel bad about it, and...and Im sorry. And....and thank you...for saving my life..."
He stared at me in silence for probably close to a minute and a half, then said, "....Allie, could you do something for me...?"
"Huh...?" I blinked. "Wh..what...?"
"...Your hair....pull it back into a ponytail for a second."
"Please. Just let me see."
".....Umm..." I slowly lifted my hands, took my hair, and held it behind my head in a disarrayed clump. "..There. Now what--"
He gazed at me expressionlessly for several moments, then slowly lifted his frightening metallic claw to his face. Numerous more seconds of silence elapsed, and then I could see his sharp, sorrowful eyes staring out at me from between his fingers. ".....................No........why wont you let me be......why wont you leave me alone...?"
"...Wh..what??" I gaped over at him in surprise, then pressed myself back against the couch, dropping my hair and seemingly awakening Vincent from some sort of preoccupation. "....No...Youre insane...What...what the--"
"........Thank you," he finally said, ignoring my terrified babbling and dropping his hand from his face. "Im sorry, that must have seemed like a rather unusual request..."
"Damn straight that was a--"
"..........Its impossible..." he murmured to himself, standing and walking unsteadily towards the kitchen. His voice was quiet and barely audible, but I could feel it burning in my ears. "I must be going insane........there is no way that--...yes, thats it......I simply see her face and hear her voice everywhere...there is nothing different about this..."
"....W...wait a second, you!" I cried, shifting myself forward. "What are you talking about? Who? What? Whats the matter with you??"
"....Its nothing..." he repeated, brushing aside several loose strands of hair that dropped into his face from his scarlet headband. "Just dont worry about it...."
Ask about Lucrecia.
"Who??" I snapped nastily, causing Vincent to turn and face me again. "Ask about who??"
He gaped at me in silence. ".....I....I didnt say anything...."
"...What...?" I blinked several times, then heard the voice inside my skull a second time. I recognized it this time--it was the same female voice that had beckoned me in unconsciousness. I covered my ears, trying to listen to the voice. "What...? Am....am I flipping out...?"
"Lucrecia??" I asked the voice. "Ask about Lucrecia? Who in the world is--"
I was silenced as a loud shattering noise came from behind me, and all at once I drew in a startled gasp and whirled about. Immediately I noticed Vincent, standing maybe three or four feet from me, staring straight through me with terrified crimson eyes and his mouth half open. He had dropped a mug of tea to the floor, sending numerous shards of glass splintering to the carpet. I gazed back at him for several seconds, then slowly lifted a hand to my chest. "....Wh...what--"
"Who are you?" he interrupted me quietly, continuing to gape at me. "What do you want? Who sent you?"
"...Wh...what the hell are you babbling about?" I questioned frightfully, slinking back a foot or two. "Have you flipped or something? What in the world--"
"How did you know that name?" he snapped rather nastily. "Are you purposely attempting to drive me insane?? Its bad enough that you already look almost..............No, no, enough, Vincent, youve said enough....Allie, how do you know Lucrecia?"
"Who...?" I blinked several times, still withdrawing slowly. "How do I know--"
"Lucrecia!! The name you just said, dammit!!" His sudden fit of rage sapped away as spontaneously as it had come, and he exhaled a weary breath and leaned weakly back against the bookcase behind him. "......Forgive me......How do you know that name...?"
"...I--" I gradually lifted one hand to my ear again and blinked. "...I...I dont know....I...I think Im going crazy....Im hearing voices...." I slowly lifted my vision to his face. "........Who is--"
"...........No one," he replied immediately, turning his back and raising a hand to his sweating face. "No one at all........Dont ask me again...."
I watched after him in shock as he slowly managed to saunter away into the kitchen, and then my body fell to a sitting position onto the couch behind me.
He never emerged.
"....Ugghhh...." I stirred, then gradually fluttered my eyelids open. With an incoherent moan I managed to push myself up onto my elbows and gaze around me, then recognized the form of Vincent Valentines living room about me. Everything had turned dark and silent with unexpected nightfall, and after counting the number of chimes that sounded from the grandfather clock in the hallway I could tell it was well after midnight.
I was sprawled on the couch I had awakened on beforehand, and I had most likely collapsed from exhaustion judging by the fact that I had been sleeping atop the crumpled sheets and blankets. Everything was unusually still and dismal, and no signs of any sort of life were evident; it seemed as if Vincent had disappeared completely when he had entered the kitchen.
I slowly pushed myself to my feet, swayed for a second, then straightened the robe about me and pushed back my hair. Immediately I felt the presence of the bandage still encircling my right eye and tore it away, dropping it to the carpet beneath me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the gauze about my left wrist, slightly stained with dried blood, and a feeling of depressed nausea washed over me,
Im not sure how long I remained in that position beside the couch, but I eventually forced myself to stagger my way over to the large window and place a hand against the cold glass. Several streetlamps and other illuminations from surrounding buildings were still slightly visible through the continuous wall of falling snow, but no other movement stirred the silent street; it remained still and rigid, like a depressing oil painting. Below I could still faintly see the small cemetery, refreshingly melancholy and motionless, with its gravemarkers scattered randomly amongst the white soil. My mind fell to the wound on my wrist, pressed gently against the icy window, and my eyes fluttered shut with jumbled meditation. ....There....thats where I want to be buried......Its so quiet and peaceful, like heaven......Thats where I should be now.......I shouldnt be alive.... My soft breaths left a stain of mist on the glass.
I gradually turned from the window, then leaned back against it and gazed rearward into the dark room once again. It remained untouched, like I had seen it earlier, cloaked in a protective sheet of dense blackness. I glanced back and forth several times, then wrapped the robe around me tighter to my body and slowly walked forward, then down the small hallway to my right.
The clock sounded again, much closer now, and the floor creaked softly beneath my bare feet. Down the corridor I could see a partially ajar door leading into what looked like the master bedroom, and suddenly my thoughts fell to Vincent. What is he doing...? I thought sadly. Why is he letting me live? Why didnt he just let me bleed to death in the alleyway? And now hes letting me stay here.....? I know nothing about him, but he acts like hes known me all his life.... I stared towards the room for several seconds, listening to see if I could hear any sound of ragged breaths or any other proof of sleep, but none came.
I stopped as I noticed a small bathroom to my right, then slowly entered and only to some extent closed the door. I immediately spotted the dark, eerie form of my reflection in the circular mirror above the sink, frightfully unfamiliar in the murkiness about me. I exhaled a quiet laugh at my disheveled appearance, then leaned forward to get a better view. "Disgusting..." I muttered wearily, flicking a limp strand of my blond, knotted hair before my eyes. I stared at my image for several more minutes in silence, then slowly leaned over and twisted the knobs on the sink, spilling out lukewarm water. I exhaled a sigh and cupped my hands, then bent at the waist and lifted the water to my face. It was relievingly warm against my cold skin, and I could feel it slithering off my countenance in smooth droplets.
I had doused my face with at least half a dozen handfuls of water before I, still bent over the sink, reached forward and shut off the faucet then blindly groped to my left until my dripping fingers seized a soft towel hanging beside me and tore it off its rack. Sputtering softly, I lifted it to my face and wiped it dry, then pushed back my hair, stood, and opened my eyes. Instantly I emitted a terrified scream and leapt backwards as the dark, uncanny form of a young woman with long, tousled blond hair up in a disarrayed ponytail and unnaturally pale skin glared at me with sharp blue eyes behind a pair of wide-rimmed glasses from the mirror. Her ghastly complexion was littered with several droplets of blood, and the white lab coat and green dress she was wearing were spattered with scarlet blotches as well. Her pale azure eyes were frightfully unfocused and furious, hidden beneath several loose strands of loose blond hair that had fallen across her colorless countenance.
At my sudden, frightened movement the mirror fell from the wall and crashed to the floor, shattering and sending countless numbers of glass shards scattering about the white tile. Panting in terror, I stumbled backwards into the wall, staring down at the smashed mirror at my feet, then lifted a shaking hand to my mouth. I heard a thudding sound coming from down the hallway, and all of a sudden the door flew open and an icy hand seized my wrist. "Allie?!"
I instantly let out a terrified shriek and lashed out towards the figure, but my attack was caught by the forms other hand. "Whoa, whoa, whoa!!!" the silhouette exclaimed, holding both my hands firmly down next to me. "Calm down!! Its ok!! Its me, its me!! Cant you see me??"
My breaths refused to stop heaving and my heart wouldnt return to its normal pace, but slowly my vision decided to focus, revealing the startled face of Vincent staring down at me in the darkness. I felt icy tears dripping down my cheeks, and I lifted a hand to my pounding heart and the other to my face. "........Oh.....oh my God....." I whispered shakily, my voice cracking from suppressed wails. "...oh my God.....Oh Christ......I....I thought....oh my God...."
"What?" Vincent questioned speedily. "What is it? Whats the matter??"
"....Uhhhh...uhhh..." I stared perplexedly down at the glass on the floor, keeping one palm over my heart and attempting to calm myself. ".....There.....there was a woman....! In...inside the mirror!! I....I just got up to wash my face and....and all of a sudden there was this woman....glaring at me from the mirror...!"
Vincent watched my face in silence for several seconds, then slowly bent at the waist and lifted the broken frame from the floor, sending several remaining shards of glass tinkling to the tile. He raised it to his face, gazing at his dark reflection in the few lingering, triangular fragments of broken glass. "........I dont see anything."
"......Wh...what??" My head snapped up to face him, and immediately afterwards I leapt forward and brought his hands down so I could see my own reflected image. "................No!! She was there!! I swear to God!! I....I can still see her! She...she was so pale....and was covered in spots of blood...! And her hair...her blond hair was all ruffled and falling out of her ponytail.....and her blue eyes were--"
Vincent spontaneously drew back in alarm, dropping the mirror to the ground once more. I immediately whirled about to face him, and I could see his frightened scarlet eyes gaping at me in the darkness. I could faintly see his body quivering, and all at once I lifted a hand to my throat and gawked at him in absolute terror. ".....She.....she looked almost.....dead....."
No sooner had the words escaped my lips that Vincent was suddenly driven into a fit of rage. I emitted a terrified scream and leapt backwards as he unleashed a tortured shout and began to tear at his hair and hold his hands over his ears, staggering backwards and leaning weakly against the wall. "NO!!! NO!!!" he howled, squeezing his eyes shut. "No more!!! Anything but this!!!! Why wont you leave me alone!!!! Why wont you let me die??!!"
I remained huddled in the corner, both shaking hands pressed up against my heaving chest. I watched him continue to yell at some unseen torturer, begging for mercy and growing increasingly weaker as his agony continued. He finally collapsed to his knees, panting, sending numerous drops of sweat splattering to the tile. I couldnt speak, but I continued to watch him gasp pathetically for air until I slowly forced words from my lips. "......Who?" I choked quietly, barely audible. "....who was it, Vincent? Do you know who I saw...?"
"No one!!!!" he screamed, his face completely hidden by his long, sweaty black hair. "It was no one!!! I told you not to ask me again!!!!"
"..................................Lucrecia....?" I whispered in a sudden realization, backing up several more inches. "That woman in the mirror.........was that Lucrecia....?"
Vincents breaths turned advancingly more ragged, and he emitted another agonized shout, lifting his quivering hands to his face. "Why you??!" he snapped nastily. "Why do you torture me like this??!! Are you trying to kill me??!!"
It took several seconds for me to realize he was referring to me, and I could not stifle the resulting jolt that snapped through my body. "...........I........I dont know, Ive never heard of--"
"Why??......Why...????" His voice gradually grew less furious and more pleading, as if he were begging for mercy. "I cant get away from her....why should I try...?"
I stared at him in terrified silence, afraid to speak, afraid to leave. All I could hear were his ragged panting for at least five minutes more, and then suddenly with an exhausted, "....Ughh..." Vincent shoved back his hair and swayed falteringly to his feet. He lifted his head in order to locate my position in the corner, revealing his flushed, sweaty face. He gazed over at me in silence for several more seconds, slowly beginning to catch his breath, then exhaled a fatigued sigh and walked past me deeper into the bathroom. "......Im going to take a shower," he told me after an extended pause, starting to undo the buttons on his black shirt. "....I...I think I could really use one about now..." With that he turned his back, and after gaping at him for several more seconds I took it upon myself to shift to my feet and cautiously exit the bathroom. After I cleared the doorway I turned back around to face him, and I watched him gaze at me through his deep, crimson eyes for several moments, obviously deeply immersed in some sort of meditation, then exhaled another sigh, closed his eyes, and softly shut the door.
It had to be close to five in the morning when the loud flow of water coming from the bathroom finally stopped, and at least another twenty minutes or so had to elapse before Vincent, with damp hair and now wearing another black shirt and pair of pants, finally emerged, sending a large cloud of steam spilling out into the cold hallway after him. He wrapped the towel he was holding over his shoulders, then cast one glance around him, lowered his eyes to the floor, and let out a sigh, shaking his head. He slowly turned and walked towards the living room, then drew back with a startled jolt as he noticed my silhouette sitting in the middle of the carpet, bathed in the increasing pale sunlight from the large window and casting a long shadow across the floor. I didnt look up for a second and continued with the sewing of my torn dress and shawl in my hands, then slowly directed my vision up towards his face. We exchanged glances for several seconds before I suddenly whispered, "...........Thought I was going to leave, didnt you.....?"
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