Leah: One Sided Conversations
Leah: One Sided Conversations Part 1
Leah navigated the downward incline carefully, grabbing ahold of trees with her left hand as she passed them to slow her momentum down the hill. In her right hand was a single light blue flower potted in a disposable container with some dirt. As she neared the bottom of the hill, she swept some of her blonde hair from her face and slowly began searching the area for recognizable landmarks.
She stepped over a fallen tree trunk, her heavy boots digging into the dirt as her eyes locked on a formation of trees that was instantly recognizable to her. Three trees growing in such close proximity that they had begun to weave in and out of one another. As she approached, her eyes lowered to the obvious mound of disturbed dirt near the base. It was her first time back since the incident and a part of her hoped it would just be... gone. A bad dream. A nightmare she had made up in her head. But she knew better. The feeling in her chest reminded her just how real it was.
The guilt was paralyzing. It felt like a bowling ball had lodged itself in her throat. But this was something she needed to do, so she swallowed back her pain and approached the mound.
"I'm probably the last person you were hoping would visit..." she sighed as she lowered herself to her knees beside the mound, unconcerned with the dirt staining her pants.
He couldn't hear her, sure. She knew it. It was just a stupid, childish coping mechanism. But it was all she had. She recalled back to when her mother had passed. It was so sudden. So much was left unsaid. You always think that you'll have more time. You'll be able to clean everything up. Tie up any loose ends. But then your life just gets sideswiped and turned on its head. She was a wreck when mom died. Her father even moreso. But even in his state, he was always there for Leah. She just missed her mom so much. At the very least, she just wanted to tell her mother she loved her one last time.
"Just say it." she recalled her father telling her, "Say it out loud. Get it off your chest."
And so she did. And then she told her mother about her day. And for a long time, this was her coping mechanism. Her stupid, childish coping mechanism. But a certain comfort came from it. From imagining what her mother would have said. Recalling her mother's voice. The way her mouth moved as she formed words. In some small way, it kept her mother alive.
Leah set the flower aside and began to separate a small patch of dirt on the mound. Not too much, just a few inches.
"But I told you I wouldn't forget you, so here I am." she said with a shrug of her shoulders, putting on her best smile as her eyes scanned over the mound of dirt, "I was picking some bread up from the market for my dad-... UGH. He's so picky it drives me nuts! I can get the same fucking bread from a place six blocks closer but he insists it doesn't taste the same. Same brand. Same type. He's insane! Anyway, I saw this and I just knew I needed to come out here."
She pulled the flower free from its temporary housing and began the process of getting it settled atop the mound. Cupping her hands together, she slowly pushed around the dirt to root the flower in place. Once finished, she shifted around and sat on her rear, crossing her legs on the ground as she looked over her handy work.
"There! Much better! These were my mom's favorite. But I doubt she could've even told you the name of them off the top of her head if you had asked her." she recalled with a slight chuckle, "Think she just liked them because they were blue. Was her favorite color."
Without realizing it, her hands gripped the lining of her light blue jacket, pulling it closed as she wrapped her arms around herself in a tight hug.
"We moved a lot, but no matter where we went, mom always had a whole field of these damn things in our yard." she recounted as she scooted across the ground and put her back against the tree. A sudden thought came over her, causing her to perk up visibly, "I should bring more! Pretty this place up a bit! They're called Blue Iris. Not that you'd give a shit." she sighed with a roll of her eyes.
She remained in silence for a short while as she struggled to get back into the swing of one-sided conversations. She was a bit rusty.
"I-... I told Halisi and the others that you ran off." she admitted, tearing her gaze away from the mound as she did, as if it may pass some sort of judgement on her, "I'm going to tell them the truth! I promise! I just need to take care of all-..." she lifted a finger to her face, tracing a circle around her eye, "...this. Once they've gotten whatever it is they want and I'm sure my dad is safe, I'll come clean. Contact your parents. I won't let you just become another son lost to the Terminus." she says with a nod and a sigh, "Regardless of what that means for me."
She pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them, looking over the spots of dirt now dotting her pants in various places.
"Your folks are on Eden Prime." she says proudly, recounting their earlier conversation in which he disclosed where he was from, "See? I was listening. Suppose I sorta had a thing for you from the get-go and took some mental notes." She gave the mound of dirt a sheepish shrug and scrunched up her nose, "What? It's not creepy! It's not like I was stalking you or something. Get over yourself. Conceited."
She began plucking away at some grass at the base of the tree.
"I suppose that's it for today." she said softly as she tossed a few blades of grass off to her side, "But I will be back. That's a promise, not a threat!"
She pressed a hand against the tree truck and pushed herself back up to her feet. She took a few steps away from the mound before swiveling in place on her heels to face the dirt mound once more.
"And so help me, Damien Monroe, if I come back and catch you trying to charm the pants off of some big-shot doctor you will not be able to talk your way out of it this time. Got it?" she joked with a chuckle, "I will be very disappointed in you." Her face contorted into one of disgust, "...And pretty fucking grossed out, to be honest..."
She continued to stare at the mound for a few moments as time got away from her, chewing the inside of her cheek. She watched as a gentle breeze blew in, shaking the single blue flower that sat just a couple feet above one of the few friends she's ever known. Her big green eyes watered up and, for just a moment, her composure wavered as a few sobs escaped. She quickly sucked in a deep breath of air and forced down the emotions trying to claw their way out, as she had done so many times before. A practiced exercise that had become second nature by now. A large, if somewhat sad, smile crossed her lips.
"I'll see you later, dickbag." she said, giving her friend a short wave before beginning the long and lonely walk home.
Leah: One Sided Conversations Part 2
Litae hung high in the night sky as rain continued to beat down on the back of Leah's hood. It was nights like this that she wished the moon would just come crashing down and reset the score back to zero.
"Hey, dickbag." she said softly as she plopped down thoughtlessly into a patch of mud with her back to the interwoven trees. Beside her sat the lone blue flower indicating Damien's location.
Her jeans, stained with dirt and leaves from the surrounding forest, and her uncharacteristically disheveled look told the story of someone who was far too worn out to care about a little more mud.
"Sorry I haven't been around the past few days, there's been a lot going on." she began explaining aloud as her fingers traced lines in the mud beside her. "But I did it." she continued, giving a wary, agonized smile as she looked towards the flower, her tone devoid of any pride, "They can't control me anymore. I'm free."
She fell silent under the weight of saying it out loud. It didn't give her as much relief as she had thought it would. Was she really free? She had to leave her home. A crosshair was still painted firmly on her and her father's back. Damien was still dead. 'I'm free' didn't seem like a fitting phrase. Perhaps 'Out of the frying pan and into the fire' was more appropriate. She sighed and pushed a few strands of loose hair behind her ear.
"Your brother talked to me. Adam. He's worried about you." she admitted, "I wanted to tell him the truth. Just-... I don't know, blurt it all out and be done with it." With a deep sigh, Leah rested the back of her head against the tree and lifted her gaze upwards, closing her eyes as the rain pattered against her face. "Seems like you got all of the family charm." she added with a short, weak chuckle, "But it's obvious he cares about you. I'm going to tell him everything in a few hours." She nodded sternly, set in her decision as she passed another glance towards the flower, the proxy for her departed friend. "Your family deserves to know. And you deserve to go home. I owe you that much, Damien..."
Her finger continued to slowly carve random lines into the soft mud all around her as the rain began to calm, slowing to a steady drizzle. "Suppose this will be the last time I'll see you for a while.." she mused, "...But I give you my word that I'll come visit you wherever your brother takes you. It just might be a little while. I have a lot to take care of." With a bit of trouble, she dug the heels of her boots into the ground and sat up a bit, wrapping her arms around her knees. "Assuming your brother doesn't just shoot me right then and there when I tell him the news, of course... I need to get dad somewhere safe and then I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure what happened to me won't happen to someone else." Make 'em pay, Leah. That had been Damien's last words to her. A request that she made herself a promise to follow through on.
The one sided conversation fell quiet as exhaustion and the emotional drain of the night's events caught up with Leah. Seconds got lost in minutes as she just stared at the small blue flower. Her eyes drifted close and she remained there, in silence, until eventually a small smile crossed her lips.
"Soooo... I was sixteen. Had just underwent my first round of biotic training." she began, eyes still closed, "I went to an Alliance school, but one look at my parents and everyone knew I wasn't an Alliance brat. My dad wouldn't even know how to hold a rifle." she continues with a chuckle. "So it didn't take long before rumors started. It was a different time back then-... not that it's much better now, but still. Back then, all it took was a rumor to make your life a whole lot more difficult. I wore my hair down to cover my implant as best as I could. Mom and dad were about as supportive as possible. Moreso, really. 'You were made to be just the person you are, and I wouldn't have it any other way!' dad would always say." Her smile widened as she failed miserably at deepening her voice to impersonate her father.
She let out a sigh and the smile faded slightly, "But they also didn't shy away from teaching me that people are afraid of things they don't understand. It's not always their fault, but it is what it is. So when rumors first started, I stayed out of it. I didn't have anything to prove one way or another. But it definitely made forging friendships a difficult endeavor because making friends with me usually meant you were probably going to be shunned, too. It was lonely. But I had my parents to remind me that there was nothing wrong with me, and that was enough."
She opened her eyes and sat up straight, back against the tree. She rubbed the mud from her hands onto the side of her pants as she continued to tell her story. "Buuuuuut everyone has a weakness, right? And for me and just about every other girl I went to school with, that weakness was David Wilson." she says, dragging the boys name out as if it should be followed by a horror movie musical cue. Dun dun dunnnn. "He was on just about every sports team, had the most gorgeous brown eyes, annnnnnd had his locker covered in cat stickers. Perfect, right? So, I'm like, mayyyybe half way through my first month in this new school before my datapad is filled with Leah Wilson, David Mercier, and any other ridiculous combo I could come up with." She reaches up and rubs her palm across her forehead as she gives a shake of her head, an embarassed giggle escaping her.
"You don't just carry a datapad around school all day with something like that going unnoticed. Sooo, word got out, much to my embarassment, and... he asked me out! We saw a movie, hung out a bit. It was great! For the first time I actually felt like a normal highschool teenager." She lowers her gaze back to the flower and nods a few times. "We hung out nearly everyday for about two weeks. We were inseparable. He was my first kiss. Never asked whether or not I was a biotic. We didn't talk about any of that. Not until he came over one day and we were doing some schoolwork together. 'Can I see it?' I remember him asking."
Leah went quiet and bit her bottom lip for a few moments before continuing. "So... I pulled up my hair and turned around. He looked at my implant, asked if he could touch it and had a few questions. I remember being soooo worried he would just run out of the room. Sure, most people at school assumed I was a biotic, but this was confirmation! But he didn't. He just said, 'cool' and we went right back to our homework like it was no big deal. Fine, right?" she tilts her head to the side, letting out a groan, "Not really... I came into school the next day, and my locker was covered in grafitti. Freak. Biotic bitch-..." she trailed off, her gaze becoming distant for a few moments before shrugging and returning to her story. "And there was David with his friends, watching as I read these horrible comments. Laughing. I heard one of them say 'I can't believe you had to kiss her!' and I lost it right in front of everyone. Just... a mess. So I ran, crying, down to the office and my dad picked me up. The Alliance moved me to another school and this became our routine. I made sure not to let myself get too close to people, but they always found out one way or another."
A deep sigh escaped the woman. "I'm not trying to be a downer. The point I'm trying to make is-..." she places her palm flat against the mound of dirt beside her, "...it took a lot for me to take you up to that roof and show you who I am. Sure, seeing me in the field when our lives are on the line is one thing. It's easy to accept my biotics as a weapon when we're in danger. Like a gun. But nobody wants to be around that gun when the fighting is over... You just put it away until it's needed again. But my biotics? They're a part of me. Something I can't just 'put away', you know? And you didn't bat an eyelash..." Her smile returns. Slightly saddened, but a smile nonetheless. "My dad would've liked you, Damien. And-... well, I'm lucky to have had a friend like you in my life. Thank you... I won't let you down."
She cleared her throat as a few tears began to well up in her big green eyes. "Dickbag."