Gabriel doesn’t believe in love. With a dark past and a history of disastrous relationships he has promised himself ‘no more’. Then Laurie bursts into his life and just won’t let go. When the past catches up, with terrifying and almost fatal consequences, will their love survive? Will they survive?
Am I afraid to stop? Am I afraid to be normal—to be me? Am I afraid that if I strip away the anger and the fear and pain, peel myself like an onion, that under all the layers there’s nothing? That Gabriel doesn’t even exist anymore? Do I really want to die? Hell yes. Am I going to do anything about it? Hell no.
I’ve thought more than once that I have masochistic tendencies. I’m in an impossible situation and I want out. I want to die more than I ever have, but it’s like a rotten tooth. I can’t pull it out; I need to poke at it for a while. Maybe she can teach me. Maybe I can get away. Maybe I can make it… to what? Well, that’s too far away to think about. And what do I have to lose? If it doesn’t work out, there’ll always be razor blades, always be pills from somewhere… always a way.
Yes, maybe I’ll try for a while and see what happens. Right now, though, I’m too tired to do anything. I’m pretty sure that I can find my way back if I follow the bank of the lake and I’ll do it in a little while. Let her stew for a while. What about Laurie? He doesn’t deserve my anger. No, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about that right now and if I want to drive him away, I’ve got to stop these twinges of guilt every time I upset him. No, Laurie can wait too. Now, I’m going to rest here, maybe sleep for a while. And then… well, I can think about that, then.
I must’ve fallen asleep. It’s full night. It’s hard to get to my feet because I’m stiff as hell. There must have been a branch or something sticking into me because my back hurts.
Following the sound of water, I find the lake and it’s beautiful. I don’t really have much time to appreciate the beauty of the bright moon hanging like a lamp over the still water… yadda, yadda… because something else catches my attention. I do appreciate the stillness now as I stand and watch the light. It’s on the other side of the lake. A beacon in the darkness—for me. I wonder if they’ve waited up or just left the light on.
Do I want to go back? I don’t know. It would be easy to keep going, never go back. I won’t have to hurt Laurie… well, yeah, I’d hurt him but he’d get over it and I wouldn’t be there to see the hurt. But… oh Hell, who am I kidding? Of course I’m going to go back. I know that there’s only one thing waiting for me out here and maybe I’m not ready to die yet. Or am I?
Okay, so I made the decision to go back, but that was weighed against trying to go on, but what if it was weighed against stopping? The lake looks inviting for a different reason now. What if I just walk into the water and let it take me? The cool water would feel so good against my skin. It would cool the heat inside. I would be at peace. That’s all I want—peace. Why not? What do I really have to go back to?
I don’t know why I take my clothes off. Maybe just to leave something behind. Something of me. Maybe so that someone will find them and know. And it’s as easy as that—easy to stand naked on the edge of the water, curling my toes in the deep cold of the water’s margin. There’s a light breeze that raises the hairs on my body, making me shiver a little. The thought that it’ll soon be over lifts a huge weight from my shoulders and I feel light and free. It’s been a long time since I’ve been without fear… such a long time. I feel empty, but in a good way. At last, an end at last.
It’s been a long time since I felt happy but I’m close to it when I step into the lake. Suddenly I am overloaded—the cold water, the bright moon, the sounds of the night, but it doesn’t hurt. Nothing hurts any more. The Chair isn’t going to have me now; no one is. I laugh. It’s such a free laugh. The sound of it surprises, almost shocks me.
I walk on… and then there’s nothing beneath my feet. The shore simply falls away and so do I. I can tell I’m in deep water, very deep. I don’t resist as the water closes over my head. The peace is even deeper here. There’s no sound at all but the hammering of my blood in my ears. Now, all I have to do is take a breath—just one breath and it’s out of my hands.
An image of Laurie flashes through my mind and I fight to shake it. I open my mouth and water floods in. It’s not the dirty, muddy water I was expecting, but cool, clear water that, in other circumstances, would’ve been refreshing.
Damn, I’m coming up fast. I need to do it now. If I fill my lungs with water I’ll sink. Simple as… Simple as that. Simple. Laurie. No, don’t think of him. The water hits the back of my throat and the gag reflex kicks in. This is it. I’m choking. Stop choking and take a breath. Just one. Just one breath. Breathe, now!
Oh Hell, I’m out in the air. Can’t breathe. Choking. Stop. Breathe in, just one breath. Do it, Gabriel—do it now. Just one breath. One. I’m going under again. There’s water in my chest. I can feel it and it hurts like hell. I can’t stop choking, but at least it’ll be over soon.
Laurie. No… I… NO, stop fighting—stop. It’ll stop hurting soon. Laurie. It’ll stop soon. Laurie. Ah fuck.
With a powerful stroke, I break free and gulp a breath of fresh air. Before I can go down again, I fight for the shore and suddenly feel the side of the underwater ledge hit my chest. God, it’s hard to drag myself out. I’m coughing like hell and tears are streaming down my face, as if there isn’t enough water.
Does Gabriel go back?
Does he find a reason to go on?
Is his love for Laurie enough to save him?
Will it all be irrelevant when the past he is so frightened of catches up and sweeps him away?
What will happen when Gabriel sits in the Chair again?
Where to find Nephylim