For the past three weeks, Karen tried to have an one-on-one conversation with Chris but the latter appeared and disappeared unpredictably. Whenever she met him, he always seemed to be accompanied as if he knew she had questions. To quench her curiosity, she asked John, the only one that seemed to know the most. But the latter danced around each one of her queries. Thanksgiving was approaching and John invited everyone over to his place to celebrate a trending holidays amongst young adults: Friendsgiving. Karen seized the opportunity and focused her attention on Chris. She observed his attitude: under his blank expression, she could notice smiley eyes or confusion when he didn’t understand something. Boredom was the most predominant face he put on, half of the evening.
She suddenly lost sight of him as she came out of the bathroom. ‘He was too bored.’ John told her. She ran outside to catch him, hoping he would be on the sidewalk star gazing again. She looked around and found him at the end of the street about to take a left. She followed him, her heart pounding like crazy in her rib cage. Her breath materialized in front of her, blocking her view sporadically. She tailed him for a good hour: Chris just walked around town, without any goals or specific places to be. Some time to time, he stopped and stared at a window display for few seconds then went back on the road. The ephemeral fog became an inconvenient the moment he disappeared. She ran to where she last saw him and scanned the street. It was a huge crossroad where traffics tended to create themselves due to the amount of drivers that didn’t understand the concept of the orange light. To each green light, a massive part of the population gathered together on each side of the road and waited, partially patient, to cross and switch places. Toai City’s version of Shibuya, Karen thought. She lost herself in the crowd and decided to take her left based on an intuition. Once out of the herd, she found herself sighing loudly as if she just escaped death. When she caught her breath back, a piercing discomfort appeared: she felt eyes on her.
She turned around abruptly, her eyes wide open, scanning everybody. As seconds went by, the discomfort became stronger and closer. She tuned out cars noises, bits of conversations and ambiance music coming from shops around her, to focus on her sight. Her eyes traveled over the crowd again and again without noticing any distrubance. Her body and mind appeared to be in parallele universes, when a hand sharply pulled her aside of the stream of humans.
In a second, she found herself against a wall facing him. He was half a head taller than her, his perfum slightly noticeable. She stared at his lips as he brought his finger to them. Karen raised her eyes to his: they were soft and harmless. They stood still. It seemed like they were pulled away from the world running next to them. Sounds reduced to only two synchronized heart beat. Karen followed his quick glance to his left. As a strange man walked by them, Chris reached out for her cheek to make her face him. Time stopped.
A second later, Chris stepped back, put his hands back in jeans and looked over his shoulder. ‘Are you ok?’ Karen barely nodded. The silence broke to the hubbub of the city. ‘Stop following me from now on.’ Chris stared at her for a moment before throwing himself into the sea of body.
Karen stood still few minutes after he left, trying to process what just happened, then reconnected to the living world. She stepped on the main street, looked from left to right to situate herself and retraced her steps to home, all sorts of questions pounding her inner skull.
A couple meters away, Chris watched Karen coming out of the alley, then followed her to her home. Once she disappeared in her building, he made sure that no one else was stalking her before heading to his own house. Arrived at home, his father was sitting at the kitchen table, reading a newspaper: ‘Welcome back, son.’ He turned around to face him. A pause occured. His father stood up and made a few steps toward him. Usually, as soon as he passes the door, his son goes straight to his room, up the stairs. But something was different. Chris looked at him in the eyes, immobile. He could see that he was struggling to find the courage to say something.
After the Great Battle, Miles Turner hasn’t heard his son’s voice in three years. Aside from the screaming at night, the latter immured himself in a heavy silence and behind a thick wall that prevent any emotions to go through to him. It’s his way of coping, Miles thought. He waited patiently until Chris would be ready to share whatever was going on in his mind and heart. But as years passed and Miles started to believe that the teenager he watched grow up died along with his wife.
‘He found me.’ Chris said, his voice was trembling and uncertain.
His eyes wide open to photograph this moment, Miles froze in awe in the face of the effort his son just made: he removed the first stone from the wall he surrounded himself with. But the bliss of that precious moment was shadowed by the continuous threat they had to run away from.
‘Cal Garner found me.’ he repeated.
To be continued