“Sorry to put a dent in our vacation thingy,” Daniel said as we were riding in the car.
I shook my head and held his hand. “Your mother needs you so don’t even worry about it.”
Daniel sighed, shakily. A bundle of nerves. He was scrunching up a wad of his jeans in his palm, then when he eventually got distracted and let go, it would still be crinkled. More crinkle than jeans could get, and that was saying something. I’ve seen Daniel worry, be nervous, be anxious, be exhausted; but never I have I seen all those feelings of his directed at the health of his mother.
Since the news that something was wrong a pit in my stomach had formed. If that how I alone was feeling, I knew Daniel was feeling way worse.
“It’s probably nothing, right?” Daniel smiled. “I mean, we had a scare before. It could just be another scare.” I nodded and rubbed his arm. “Fuck, I can’t even convince myself. I just know this time is different. It feels really wrong. Fuck.”
“Hey, just breathe,” I said, “lean forward and breathe. Just cup your face in your hands and lean forward.”
Daniel did as I said without question. I began massaging the nape of his neck, hoping that this would calm him down. As I kept going though, I was feeling like all of his worries were starting to infect me. I gulped hugely (and loudly, unfortunately), and don’t even remember the last time I blinked. My eyebrows were definitely high, creating lines upon my forehead. If for anything the massage wasn’t relaxing Daniel, then I was at least glad that he couldn’t see me now.
“I’ll take care of our bags. You go on through,” I said when we reached the glorious house, now seemingly frail after I had seen and felt the history before.
“You sure?” Daniel asked, even though he was already side-stepping towards the entrance.
I nodded. “Just go.”
The driver helped me as much as he could, and eventually we got our luggage up and into the house. After the workout, I left the luggage and started searching for Daniel. It didn’t take long because I heard voices in the living room. I gravitated towards the mumblings and finally found Daniel holding his mother’s hand, and his mother explaining something.
“Oh, dear,” his mother said when she saw me coming in, “you nearly gave me a heart attack.”
“I’m so sorry,” I said.
“Oh it’s quite alright, do you remember me honey?”
I nodded and smiled. “Of course, Jade. How could I forget? You were my most favourite person when I came here.”
“Am I still number one?” she winked.
I laughed, though not too boisterously. “Indeed.”
The entire time Jade and I exchanged words it looked like Daniel was straining to smile but couldn’t. He couldn’t even stop looking at his mother. I wanted to comfort him so badly, grab a magic wand and fix whatever was hurting him but, I didn’t know how.
“Could you give us a minute?” Daniel said.
I nodded. “Sure.”
“Honey, you know where your room is,” Jade smiled.
I blushed. My room. My room. God, she is so sweet. How Richard nabbed her I will never know. I took only my luggage, because I knew there was no way I could carry both, and settled onto the bed. I sat on the edge, wondering, waiting anxiously for some good news. I was hoping for only good news. Oh, who am I kidding? I just hope Daniel will be okay, and I hope that I can be there for him as much as he’d want me.
I hadn’t even realise that I was in the same position for quite some time until the room started getting darker. The sun made a harsh orange glow around the room as it was setting, so I decided that if I was going to be up here for a while, then I may as well do something useful and take a shower to prepare myself for Daniel.
Once I got out of the shower I started hearing doors slamming. Not loudly, not in anger, and not in the house. I walked to the window and peeked outside and found Richard and…Tanya!? What the fuck? Is Richard for real? Maybe I’m just creating some sort of mirage based around all the people mentioning her name. I hope to God that was it! I was watching the two outside, talking. Richard was waving his hands this way and that, Tanya was nodding obediently, and I? I was close to chucking 2West! I almost wished for exorcist-style chucking so I could open the window and aim for Richard! That’s just how insanely pissed I was.
Eventually they parted ways. Tanya walked around the house (I guessed to get through the kitchen), and Richard went for the front door. Richard went out of my view first, but when I looked back to find Tanya, I couldn’t so, stupidly, to get a better look I extended my neck and leaned my head out further, but just as I did, I banged my forehead straight into the window and it trembled. This weekend was clearly not doing anything for my coordination skills. Or lack thereof really.
In the middle of finishing up brushing my hair, I heard footsteps run up the stairs, and then coming down the hallway. I crossed my fingers in the hopes that it wasn’t Richard nor Tanya.
When the door opened and it was Daniel, I abruptly shot up and came to his side. “Hey,” I smiled, trying to keep him calm.
Daniel ignored me and started stripping. He entered the shower as if I wasn’t even there, and I didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Should I approach him, or wait for him? So I just decided to wait. I was about to go check on him when it started almost feeling like Daniel used up all the water on this side of the village, but then the tap switched off. Then I realised, I should have gotten his bag up so he had some clean clothes. Shit. Daniel didn’t seem to notice his bag wasn’t here though. He came out with only a towel around his waist, and climbed onto the bed.
He looked at me for the first time since I’ve been in this room, and waved me over. I went on the bed as quickly as I could, and sat up against the bed head. Daniel then moved himself onto my bare legs, the water from his hair still trickled down and met my skin. He hugged my thigh like a pillow, and we barely said a word.
I didn’t know what to do in these type of situations. I certainly didn’t want to be the first one to say anything because I wanted him to speak when he felt ready; and so I thought that to speak when you were ready was to listen when you were ready.
“My mother is really sick,” Daniel said.
His face was becoming light red, hot against my skin, and I heard him sniff. At this point, I didn’t know which water droplets were from his hair, and which were from his eyes.