Sarah, Returned--Chapter 33 (A Steemit Original Novel)

in #fiction4 years ago (edited)

“Sarah, I’m worried about you,” Matt says, stubbornly continuing the conversation. “I’ve never seen you dream that way. I’ve never seen anyone dream that way. I understand why you went away and didn’t tell anyone, and it was largely my fault. I take the blame. I do. But, it also wasn’t like you to do something like that. You had to know I’d be searching heaven and earth for you. And, you went to a lot of trouble to make sure I didn’t find you. Now, you’re having intense emotional dreams. Maybe you should talk to someone.” 

There it is. That stupid mental illness stigma from Mom’s side of the family. When have I ever exhibited any sign of it? Never, that’s when, except in Karen’s carefully controlled stories designed to make me look bad. He knows that. But, deep in his subconscious, did she manage to plant a seed of doubt that stuck?  

It’s infuriating, not only because of what he’s implying, but because his insistence on having this conversation right now is keeping me from going back to Grandma’s room and finishing my search of the space under her floor boards. There might yet be something there, and I won’t know until I’ve searched the entire floor. 

“You’ve never talked to me like this, not until Karen came around and started putting doubts in your head about me,” I accuse, no small measure of bitterness seeping out into the words. “You know I’m not crazy, Matt. You know it. Why are you still letting her control your mind when it comes to me?” 

“I’m not!” He leans away from me, hand to his chest, shaking his head like he can’t believe I just accused him of such a scandalous thing. “I’m trying to understand you and help you. That's all.” 

“Just because mental illness was on my mom’s side of the family does not mean I have it,” I spit out the words, trying to blink back tears that have nothing to do with Joshua. “I’ve never, ever exhibited any sign of it. Mom did not have it. Grandma was never concerned I may have inherited it. And, neither were you, until Karen came along. What am I supposed to think, Matt?” 

“I just want to make sure you’re okay,” he whispers, upset. Good. I’m upset, too. 

“I’m fine,” I say with as much firmness as I can muster without shouting. I get up and walk away from the sofa, toward the kitchen, then turn back toward him when I’m halfway there. “Did it ever occur to you how much it crushed me that you always took Karen’s word over mine in every dispute I had with that woman? That you obeyed her every command, even when it was to my detriment? That you never once took me into consideration in any of this, or thought about how I must feel? God, Matt. No wonder I left. I couldn’t win with you when she was around. You both made me feel like maybe I was going crazy. But, it turns out she was gaslighting us both. And now, even though you know the truth, her voice is still in your head, continuing to turn you against me. You don’t even know you’re doing it.” 

Matt stands up and faces me. He’s not angry like I am. One glance let’s me know he's confused, and genuinely concerned. About me. Somehow, that just enrages me more. He has no right to be concerned about anything at this point. It’s all been explained in a way that makes sense. Karen is gone. I’m home. What more does he want? 

“Just tell me what you need, Sarah,” he says, softly, like he's trying to coax a skittish dog into trusting him. 

I take a deep breath, calming my inner rage, and remind myself this is my cousin who loves me, and who I love in return.  “What I need,” I say with great deliberateness, “is for you to stop asking questions.” 

“How can I, when I don’t know the whole story? When I see you sobbing in your sleep? Obviously, more happened while you were gone than you’re telling me. Did someone hurt you? Rape you? What’s the real story, Sarah? You’re leaving things out. I want to know the whole truth. We can’t move forward unless you’re completely straight with me. You know there’s nothing you can’t tell me, right? There’s absolutely nothing you could say that I wouldn’t understand.” 

Ha! If only that were true. “How come you believed everything I said yesterday, and not today?” I press, challenging him, and changing the subject. 

“That was before I saw you on the couch just moments ago. No one does that without some emotional scars. You didn’t have any that I’m aware of before you disappeared.” 

“Did it ever occur to you that maybe it’s none of your business?” Oh. I said that much more harshly than I meant to, and my voice came out all screechy. Great. And there’s the instant guilt as his face falls into stunned silence. Perfect.  I roll my eyes. Could this be going any worse? 

“We never used to keep secrets from one another,” he murmurs, looking at the floor. 

“Yeah, well we also used to put each other first. Things change.” 

“Karen had me fooled. I apologized to you. I thought you forgave me.” 

“I did. I do. But, it’s hard to think you’ve really moved past her programming when you keep asking me all these questions about my dream and intimating I may need to talk to a professional. Come on, Matt. Tell me, what am I supposed to think?” 

“That I love you.” 

“I know you do.” 

“Then, tell me the whole story. Don’t leave anything out. Let me know what really happened to you. Because, something clearly did, and I want to know. You’re right. You’re not a kid anymore, and it’s not my business. But maybe I can help you.” 

“How can you help me?” I ask, my voice shaking, lip trembling again. If he would just shut up, just let me go continue my search in peace…. 

“By giving you a sympathetic ear to talk to. Just me. It doesn’t have to be a professional. Just open up to me, and whatever happened, we can work out what to do about it together.” 

“Don’t you think we have more pressing things to be concerned about right now?” I point upstairs, indicating the broken glass still sitting on my bedroom floor from last night’s attempted abduction and/or murder. 

“Right now, we’re safe. So, why not discuss it? We don't have anything else to do today, besides the restraining order.” 

He’s got his teeth in this like a dog that doesn’t want to give up his favorite chew toy. We’re both stubborn. Grandma always said we were two peas in a pod that way. If we want something badly enough, we don’t give up until we get it. He’s not giving up. Neither am I. 

I take a deep, steadying breath, and look him straight in the eyes. “Matt,” I say with as much patience as I can muster, wanting to be sure he has no doubt about my intentions, “I don’t want to talk about it right now. Later. I will tell you all about it later, I promise. Just leave it for now. I need time to process everything before I can talk about it. I mean, geez, are you telling me you can't relate to that at all? All I want right now is to do what I can to feel like things are getting back to normal. I want to go upstairs and shower, change clothes, have some breakfast, and relax before I have to go down to file that restraining order against Karen. Can we do that, Matt? Just give me some normalcy before things get crazy again? Whoever tried to hurt me is still out there, and we’re going to have to deal with that. I just got home. Give me one completely normal day before we dive back into the crazy pool. Please. Can you?” 

Matt considers it for a moment, and nods. He even gives me a hint of a smile. “Yes.” 

“Thank you,” I smile back, and start to head up the stairs. “I’m going to shower.”  

Of course, I’m not going to shower, although I probably should take one more before I return forever to where they don’t have any. Unfortunately, there’s no time. If I don’t do it now, it might be days before I get another chance, and I can’t leave my family alone that long. I’m certainly past my toleration point of being without them. Knowing we’re separated by more than three hundred years is more painful than I could ever explain. With any luck, and a giant heaping of justice from the universe, I will be back with them in a day or two at most. All I need is one portal-opener and to find that mysterious professor. How hard could it be? 

“I’ll make you some breakfast,” Matt offers as I go. “Blueberry pancakes, hashbrowns, and coffee?” 

“That would be heavenly,” I say, turning back to give him a thumbs up. The clock in the stairwell says it’s 11 am. No wonder I still feel so tired. I couldn’t have gotten more than four, five hours of sleep at the most, and I definitely needed more. Not only that, but Sgt. Baker is picking me up in an hour to go to the police station. I’ve got to hurry if I’m going to finish searching Grandma's room before he gets here, and I'll have to spend the rest of the day tracking down Professor Johnson. I’ll catch up on sleep once I’m home. 

As my feet hit the landing on the second floor, Matt calls to me again. “Sarah?”

“Yes?” I don't turn around, assuming it's some breakfast-related question. 

When he doesn't answer, I do turn, and he's standing there with both hands on the granite kitchen counter. “No,” he says.

What? No to what? 

I must have misheard. He probably said, “Oh,” like he just realized something. “I’m sorry?” I rest an arm on the guardrail, waiting for his explanation. 

“No, I am,” Matt says, turning off the stove, where he’d begun preparing breakfast. He comes around the counter, past the bar, and stands at the foot of the stairs, looking up at me, his face a study in seriousness. “I’m sorry, but I can’t give you that normalcy you want. I thought about it, and I tried, though I know it doesn’t seem like it. Sarah, I’ve waited for too long to find out what happened to you, praying every night that you were still alive, crying on Karen’s shoulder, not knowing she didn’t care. And now, you’re back. You’re safe, with me. And…I need to know the whole story. I’m sorry, but I do. I wish I could give you that one day of normalcy you want, and I will, but not today. You can have it when all this is over. Right now, I need you to tell me everything. I can’t wait.” 

Oh, how dare he? What I requested was reasonable, damn it, and he couldn’t even give me that? What is his problem? Why this intense need to know everything right this second? It’s the mental illness stigma, it’s got to be. He wants to be reassured I’m not a threat to myself or others. Delusional, like Karen always said about me. After our reconciliation last night, he’s got a lot of nerve. 

I feel the blood rush to my face and my cheeks burn with fury. Mere steps away from Grandma’s room, only an hour to search before Sgt. Baker picks me up, and who knows when I’ll get to try it again, and he has to know the whole story right now? What gives that smug bastard the right to make such a demand of me? Isn’t it enough that I’m home, or what he considers home? Can’t he just appreciate it? 

Oh no. He has to push, because he’s too damn stubborn and impatient, and a spoiled brat who has to have his way. Grandma was too easy on him. Maybe she was too easy on both of us, but Matt’s shortcomings are not my concern right now.  

“You want the whole story?” I scream, finally snapping, and let the dam of anger I’ve been holding back since he woke me up pour through me. I stomp down the stairs, eyes glaring so hard I’m surprised they haven't turned into laser beams to wipe that serious furrow right off his face, and march right up to him, leaving only inches between us. With one mighty push to his shoulders, I knock him back a few feet, and he stumbles, putting a hand on the bar to steady himself. 

“Sarah….” he begins, maybe thinking better of making this demand after I just told him I needed time and he should back off. Well, he should have thought of that before he opened his mouth. He just had to be a monumental jerk about it.  

I’m too angry to even see him clearly. He’s kind of a blur through my rage-filled eyes, along with the rest of the room.  

“You think you want the whole story,” I shout, and I swear, I’ve never been this furious in my life. It’s making me reckless, and I know it. I should stop and take stock of the situation, take a moment and think before I speak. But I can’t. The words are flowing out of my mouth now, and I can’t stop them. 

“I’ll give you the whole freaking story, Matthew Morgan. The question is, can you handle it?” 

And, in what may be the longest run-on sentence in the history of the English language, I tell him. 

Everything.  

________________________________________________________________   

Catch up with the entire "Sarah, Returned" series here:   

Chapter One 

Chapter Two 

Chapter Three 

Chapter Four 

Chapter Five 

Chapter Six 

Chapter Seven 

Chapter Eight 

Chapter Nine 

Chapter Ten 

Chapter Eleven 

Chapter Twelve 

Chapter Thirteen 

Chapter Fourteen 

Chapter Fifteen 

Chapter Sixteen 

Chapter Seventeen 

Chapter Eighteen 

Chapter Nineteen 

Chapter Twenty 

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two 

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five 

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

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Right, I have only just seen this in my feed, and have decided to start from the beginning to see where it takes me. I'm liking what I have seen up to now....I will catch up very quickly as I'm a fast reader.
I couldn't upvote the first few chapters, so I will give you a 50% for the last week. 😀

Thank you. I appreciate it very much, and I hope you like the story. I think you will. :)

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