Fiction: After the Attack (665 words)

24 May

Harlowe blew in like storm winds, and headed straight towards Conlyn. “Take me to her. Now.”

Conlyn lead her upstairs but let her go into the room first.  He watched her walk towards the couch where the doctors had set up Hana, and take her in slowly.  Conlyn hung back, not wanting to stomach looking at Hana face on again.  Not like this.

Harlowe came to a halting stop halfway through the room, clearly unable to approach her sister.  After a moment, she turned to wheel back to Conlyn.  For a second he thought she might hit him.  And for a second he wanted her to.  He wanted her to beat him down, and he wouldn’t even have tried to stop her. He wanted someone to punish him for what he’d let happen to Hana.  He wanted someone to lay physical and proper blame on him so that he could stop blaming himself inside his own head.

But Harlowe didn’t take a swing.  She covered her mouth with both of her hands, blinking back tears.  She took two shaky breaths before slowly lowering her arms to her sides again.  “This wasn’t supposed to be her, Con.  She’s not a fighter.  She never should have had to fight.  I should have been there to protect her.”

“I’m so sorry, Harlowe.”  Conlyn was impressed with how steady his voice was. He felt like he was going to explode, but his voice was still steady.  “I was there, I should have never left her side.  I shouldn’t have let her get so close to this.  I’m so sorry. So, so sorry.”

Harlowe stepped forward and pulled him into a hug.  The way she placed her hands on his back, and rested her head against his collarbone remind him of the way Hana had hugged him.  Taller, but the same movements, the same attempt at comfort. He sniffed hard and was determined to not let a single tear fall. Not when her sister wasn’t crying.

“It’s not your fault, Conlyn,” Harlowe said in a strong voice, “This was bad people taking advantage of a good person, and even if you had been right next to her side something bad would have happened to you both.”  Harlowe stepped back so that she could look him straight in the eye. “In fact, Conlyn, it’s good you weren’t there when she got hurt.  Had you both been hurt, you couldn’t have brought her back to me.”

“I’m so sorry,” Conlyn said again.

“I don’t blame you.  I’m sure Hana doesn’t blame you.  She will get better.  She’s tough, and she will get past this. Okay. Don’t you dare underestimate my sister.”  Harlowe went for a weak smile, and then Conlyn felt guilty for the fact that Harlowe was trying to cheer him up when her sister was laying bruised and battered only a few feet behind her.

“I should go–let you have some family time.'” Conlyn went to step back, but Harlowe’s fingers tightened on his shoulders.

“Don’t you dare, Conlyn. Hana needs you here. I need you here. Whether you like it or not, you’re part of the family now.”

“Okay. Okay.  But I need a glass of water.  I’ll be right back. Do you want me to bring you anything?”

“A water would be great,” Harlowe answered, but she’d already turned away, slowly approaching Hana again.  He watched her kneel at the couch side and hold Hana’s hand in hers gently before he turned and headed down towards the kitchen.  Only there did he allow himself a moment to cry.  The cooks ignored him in a way that could only be considered a kindness in their own way. He ignored them too as he regained his composure and tried to put his own weak smile back on before he headed up again, a glass of water in each hand.  He sat down next to Harlowe, and together they kept a bedside vigil through the night.  No one dared suggest they move.

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Posted by on May 24, 2017 in Stories


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