Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Seventeen

A Chapter by Ocularfracture
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Miranda and Floyd enjoy the first half of their picnic as Floyd opens up to her about some things on his mind, as well as revealing the source of the flowers.

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The full moon shines through the gently swaying trees, glinting off my dashboard as I pull into the parking lot by the completely abandoned lake.

By completely abandoned, I of course mean other than Floyd’s microscopic car, which takes up only two thirds of a parking space.

I pull up next to him and park, grabbing the picnic bag as I step out into the cool night, locking the door behind me.

I knock on Floyd’s window, peering inside, but the car is empty, so I turn my gazes out to the desert wasteland that is the empty floor of Lake Boise. Through the darkness, I can see a small light in the distance, where I assume Floyd must already be waiting for me.

Floyd is always waiting, I think to myself as I make my way to the bottom of the lake.

Even when I’m on time, he’s always already there, waiting for me.

Why can’t I be the early one for once?

As I draw closer to the light, I begin to hear a feint sound, like distant voices. Looking around, I quicken my pace, but as I do, the sound gets louder, until I can clearly hear that the sound is music and it is coming from a small battery operated radio between a couple of candles�"the source of the light.

“What’s all this?” I call, as I move closer.

“It’s effin’ dark!” Floyd replies. “I thought we could use some light.”

“Could’ve built a fire,” I say, setting the picnic bag down on the fuzzy red blanket before plopping down, cross-legged next to it.

“No, a fire’s too conspicuous,” says Floyd, turning the radio down a smidge. “We’re probably not supposed to be here, so I prefer not to make a huge scene in case someone sees and we get in deep s**t.”

I nod, opening up the picnic bag.

“That’s probably wise,” I say, briefly.

“And flashlights run out of battery,” Floyd continues. “Candles take a long time to burn out. And if the wind blows them out, we can just relight. Luckily, the breeze seems pretty mild tonight. Anyway, how are you? What all did you bring?”

I smile, drawing out the sandwiches.

“I’m extremely hungry,” I tell him. “I haven’t eaten all day, yet again, so I’m fairly sure I could handle three sandwiches. I didn’t know how big your stomach is, so I just packed an even amount. There’s three for you, if you want ‘em.”

“Excellent. What else?”

I pull out the sack of chips and lay them down on the blanket.

“What’s a sandwich without chips?” I ask, reaching back into the tote bag. “I figured maybe we could eat some grapes, too. Otherwise, they’d just end up rotting in my fridge. I always seem to forget about fruit when I have it.”

“Grapes are nice,” says Floyd, his eyes shrink wrapped in hunger. “Is that everything?”

“Um…” I reach into the bag and pull out the apple juice. “There’s this,” I say. “But I’m a tremendous moron, and I forgot to bring cups.”

“Not to worry,” says Floyd reaching into a bag which I only just noticed was sitting beside him. “I brought these.”

Floyd pulls out two wine glasses and sets them upright atop the blanket.

“What the heck are those for?” I ask.

“For this, of course.” Floyd pulls out a long, dark bottle of wine from the bag.

“Wine?” I ask, suddenly feeling a bit uneasy. “What, um… What’s that all about?”

“It’s been a s****y week,” he says. “In my opinion, every s****y week should end with a nice drink to help calm things down. And I remembered you saying something about hard liquor upsetting your stomach, so I got wine, instead.”

I smile a bit.

“But we’re still going to need to drive home,” I say. “What will we do about that?”

“It’s only wine, Miranda. There’s enough in this bottle to get one person comfortably drunk. But there’re two of us, so I think we’ll be good to go. Here, have some.”

Floyd uncorks the bottle with his pocket knife and begins to pour.

Inside, my conflicting emotions battle it out in front of a live audience of millions of brain cells.

On one hand, I would really like to drink the wine and loosen up a bit. It has been a hard week and that wine is awfully tantalizing.

On the other hand, I can’t help but feel that the wine is probably dangerous. Hell, looking around, I realize that the candles also indicate more than just a friendly picnic.

I open my mouth to confront Floyd, to question his intentions. But then, I shut it again.

I am ugly. Especially lately, as I’ve been keeping up less with the hair and makeup routine. Why the hell would anyone be attracted to me, especially my best friend’s boyfriend?

Furthermore, how small and stupid would I feel if I said something as presumptuous as that to something completely innocent? How stupid would it make him feel?

I put myself in his shoes for a moment, pretending that I’m the one who has this great friend, who I have no romantic interest in. I imagine that I’m the one bringing the wine and the candles, simply for the same innocent reasons that Floyd has already stated.

And then, I imagine that person bugging out on me, trying to accuse me of coming onto them.

What I get is a mixture of amusement and shame. Amusement that the person would have the audacity to think that I would ever come onto them, and shame at myself for doing such stupid things as to lead the person on that way.

In general, the whole thing seems like a really bad way to end the night, and so when Floyd hands me that tall glass of red wine, I accept with a smile, and without a word.

“This place is really creepy,” he says, leaning back on his arm and taking a drink. “Isn’t it weird how the ground is all cracked like this? I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“It is,” I say, apprehensively taking a small swig of my own drink. “How long has it been like this?”

“Well, long enough that we’re not getting sucked into the mire,” says Floyd, shrugging. “It’s been quite awhile. I don’t remember when they drained it, but it was sometime late last year. Huh. I wonder when they’ll fill it back up again.”

“In a way, I kind of like it like this,” I admit. “I mean… I like how it sort of just… like, deviates from the norm. It’s unusual and different. Don’t get me wrong, it was a gorgeous lake when it was full of water, but… I don’t know. It’s just unique and unusual, but in a good way. Eerie, yet good. You know?”

Floyd laughs, taking down some more wine.

“I know exactly what you mean,” he says. “That’s pretty much my exact thoughts on the matter. And there are plenty of other lakes around here if you need to satisfy your water desire. This is out of the ordinary, and that may be even cooler than just regular old everyday Boise.”

I nod vigorously, sucking back some more of my own wine.

“I think we should leave something here,” I say. “When we leave, I mean. Because we’re never going to see this place quite the same again once they fill it. So I think we should leave something, that way, there will always be a reminder of this night, when we sat on the bottom of the lake. And boats will pass over it. Fish will swim around it. And no one will ever know it exists but us.”

“That,” says Floyd, raising his nearly empty glass, “is a phenomenally awesome idea.”

We clink the tops of our thin glasses together, and gulp the last of our wine.

“I’m feeling better already,” he says. “But I could probably use another glass. What about you?”

I smile, dumbly as I nod, watching the dancing flame of the nearest candle as it licks the air.

This was actually a good idea. The first glass of wine has wiped every bad thing out of my mind and left me in a state of supreme contentment, without the spinning head or the blurred vision.

I am not drunk, but I am comfortable, and as I think about my previous stupidity in assuming the wrong things about the candles and wine, I laugh aloud.

“What’s so funny?” asks Floyd, handing me a second glass.

I groan, lying back on the blanket and up at the stars.

“Oh, nothing,” I say. “Just remembering something stupid.”

“Do tell,” Floyd urges. “I want to laugh, too.”

I smile, closing my eyes and sucking in a huge breath of the cool, misty air.

“I was being a dummy when I got here,” I mumble. “See… I’m not really in my right mind because of so much happening in quick succession without much time to rest… Whee, big words.”

“Stop cutting yourself off,” says Floyd. “Or I’ll take that wine away.”

“I’m not drunk!” I protest, sitting back up and taking a nice, long sip. “Anyway,” I continue, “When I saw the candles and the wine… I had a moment of stupidity. I actually thought�"and I know this is dumb, so don’t be afraid to laugh at me. I don’t mind. But I actually thought for, like, two seconds that you were trying to, you know… be all romantic with me!”

I throw my head back in gales of laughter so hard that my eyes water.

“But then�"“ I cut myself off with more laughter, breathing hard as I try to restrain myself.

“Woo,” I say, rubbing the tears from my eyes. “But then, I remembered how ugly I am and I realized how stupid I was being. I mean, come on! Hahaha!”

I get sucked back into another violent fit of laughter as I raise my glass for another drink, trying not to spill it.

But something seems strange about my laughter, and I realize that I’m the only one laughing.

I look over to Floyd, whose face is serious as a heart attack.

“Well don’t you think it’s funny?” I laugh. “I mean, it’s my stupid, not yours. I don’t want you to feel bad because of it. Just laugh! It’s funny!”

But Floyd doesn’t laugh, or even smile, and he doesn’t look at me.

“Floyd!” I whine. “Don’t be a stiff! Ugh, I never should’ve told you. Now you’re gonna get all weird about it and, like, never talk to me again.”

“You sound like you’re sixteen,” Floyd says at last. “I’m not getting weird. I just don’t understand why you’re so damn hard on yourself all the time. You act like you’re just this unholy dog-monster with a face that could kill kittens. But really, there is nothing wrong with how you look. You look like any normal person, and in fact, you probably look better than average. But I better not say that, or you’ll think I’m getting ‘weird’ again.”

The smile melts off my face as I sit up completely and gape at Floyd.

“Hey, sorry,” I say. “I… I didn’t mean anything by it. I just… well, you know. I grew up being the “Mexican chick.” I was, like, the only Hispanic person at my school, and all the little girls were these puny, blonde stick figures. They were scrawny little bimbos with no meat on their bones… Their knobby knees jutting out every time they took a step. And I was a girl with a mature figure. I was tall. I had curves. And because of that, it wasn’t just that I was mature or healthy, it was that I was fat. I was a big fatty. And because I looked different, I was ugly. So it’s just something I came to accept. I’m gross. And people like Alice, well… They’re perfect.”

“Let’s get one thing straight,” says Floyd, the candle light dancing across his eyes. “There is no such thing as perfect. And even if there were, I seriously doubt that perfect people would go batshit insane and commit themselves to a mental hospital. That’s not perfection. Sorry to disappoint.”

I frown, looking sadly at him.

“I know that you’re really upset,” I say softly, in what I hope is a comforting voice. “It’s alright to be angry. It’s just one of those stages we go through on the way to accepting what things have become. But you know that Alice is getting help, and you know that she’ll eventually be back to normal if we just leave her alone and let her rest. You just have to�"“

“It’s really not that,” Floyd interrupts. “You know, it’s… It’s been a long time. I’ve been putting up with her, and she… Alice just… She doesn’t seem to care one way or the other about me, or about how I’m doing. She never asks how my day was, she never does anything around the house… She doesn’t do the cooking. She doesn’t clean. I do those things, and she doesn’t help.

You know, I go to work all day and make money. She works four hours three days a week at the dry cleaners, and the rest of the week, she’s out doing volunteer work. I mean, sure, volunteer work is real noble and all, and it’s great for someone who is already taken care of with nothing else to worry about but…”

Floyd combs his hair with his fingertips, gazing furiously at the stars.

“But we both need to be making enough money,” he says. “Relationships are supposed to be a joint effort, and I’m the only one who seems to be working at it. Frankly, I’m tired of trying. I have been for a long time. The whole insanity thing is just the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’ve had it up to here. I can’t take it anymore with her.”

I vaguely realize that the remainder of my wine has disappeared in the time that it’s taken Floyd to say all this. Eyes wide, I open my mouth to speak, but Floyd continues.

“That’s what I was going to ask the other day, when I said I needed your opinion on something. I never got a chance to actually elaborate on that because she showed up right then. But you’re the best friend I have, and you know Alice better than anyone, so I wanted to ask you what you would think if I… If I left her.”

My stomach churns as I capture a huge breath, rubbing both my eyes with one hand.

“Whew,” I say. “Um… That’s a tough one. I would like to see you do whatever makes you happy,” I tell him. “I mean, it would be wrong of anyone to ask you to remain in a situation where you’re miserable. If Alice really treats you that bad, then you should get out of there.”

“Is that really what you think?” Floyd asks.

“Well… Yes, of course. I mean… I love Alice, dearly, and I hate to see her get hurt, but… when she’s the one causing the pain, it’s only fair, I suppose. To be honest, I’ve kind of felt the same way since you showed up… No offense…”

“None taken,” says Floyd, lying down on his side, with his head in his hand.

“She hardly ever calls. She never visits and she pretty much just started blowing me off as a friend. She’d call when she needed something, like when she needed help moving. But she never calls just to say hi, or catch up. So I can understand your feelings in a way, though probably not as deeply, since the two of you are supposed to be in love.”

“Love,” says Floyd, closing his eyes tightly. “It’s been a long time since I ever felt true love for Alice.”

I frown.

“Hey, Miranda?”

“Mhm?”

“Did you… Did you get those flowers?”

My head snaps upright, my neck making a dreadful cracking sound in the process.

“Flowers?” I ask. “What the�"what are you talking about, now?”

“Um…” Floyd turns over onto his stomach and plants his forehead into the palms of his hands. “Well, you know way back when? When Alice had her first episode and you dropped everything to come help?”

“Sure,” I tell him. “Of course I remember that. That’s what started this whole s**t storm.”

“Yeah, well… It’s just… Alice never did anything to thank you for your trouble. She never even so much as spoke the words.” Floyd shakes his head slightly, the candle inches from his hair.

Reaching over, I move it out of the way.

“She’s always so ungrateful,” he sighs. “But I wanted to show you some sort of appreciation for what you did for us that day, so I took your spare key and left some flowers in your… In your house…”

If possible, Floyd buries his face even deeper into his hands.

“You’ve gotta be kidding,” I say. “You’re the one who put the flowers on my table? The whole time, it was only you!?”

“Only me?” asks Floyd, revealing a small portion of one eye.

“Yes!” I cry. “Oh my gosh. This whole time, I was afraid that there was some sort of stalker following me. Especially because I keep seeing this white car everywhere I go… But damn! If you’re the one who put those flowers in my house, then… That’s actually a huge relief.”

“So… You’re not, like, super pissed at me for breaking in?” he asks.

“It wasn’t breaking in,” I tell him. “You had a key. I mean, sure, you didn’t have permission, but it was for a good cause. I did something for you, you did something for me! But you didn’t have to be so secretive about it, you know.”

Floyd smiles underneath his hands, which I can see by the rising of his ears.

I smile, too, looking out across the cracked, moonlit ground.

Finding out that those eerie yellow flowers were from Floyd really took a load off my shoulders. There is no stalker. I have just been paranoid, and finally, it’s over. Finally, I can breathe again, just knowing this one, simple fact that could have easily been revealed to me much, much sooner.

I am safe.

I am secure.



© 2012 Ocularfracture


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Added on April 10, 2012
Last Updated on April 10, 2012
Tags: psychological, trigger song, music, vision, premonition, friends, mental, crazy psychosis, therapist


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Ocularfracture
Ocularfracture

Bennington, NE



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I've been writing since I learned how. I'm not saying that 5-year-old work was any good. All's I'm sayin' is that the passion has been there as far back as I can remember. My mother always read me sto.. more..

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