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Ethin eases down on the pedal of his car, his toes curling slightly from their joints, pearlescent blue orbs flitting to Sam, a brother not by blood and a mere year younger than himself, in the passenger with a small arch in the corner of his lips. The sight is brilliantly sarcastic with underlying eagerness; it’s always in the eyes. Those similarly blue - blue as cornflower, deep and vivid - eyes, peering over the dashboard, and locked onto a van in front of them.
There’s a warmth in seeing this particular expression in those curious and endeavourous eyes. The sarcastic wit is almost always resting mutually beneath the clear peel of transparency; it’s the apt flash of keen enthusiasm that catches Ethin’s attention, the cause of kindled and old-aged wine to thaw his blood and soothe his muscles.
“German shepherd!” Sam emits, quick with a higher note and with a little bounce in his skeleton.
Ethin’s gaze easily slides off Sam, settling on the white van in front of them as they pull into a restaurant's parking lot.
It’s not particularly large nor small, with pitch black tires (and magnified) spotted with dirt and clumps from the grass that once breathed the sun. Printed on the side of the ashen white paint is a photograph of a german shepard. A long, pink tongue lolls out of it’s mouth and over his canines, with murky dark eyes and a golden brown coat tainted black.
Sam’s favorite breed of dog. He has very few and very select passions, which Ethin supposes is why whenever those eyes light up with that glint of liveliness, his eyes don’t have enough time to adjust to the light.
It’s not the same as standing outside in broad daylight where thin, delicate eyelids flutter, once, twice, and the core of his pupils shrink and expand against the sun’s rays; and from the time it rises to the moon, the light is simply expected to remain throughout the day.
This is a striking, sudden bolt of lightening that makes the stars cuccumb beneath its presence. It’s alive and loud and electric. It’s that flash of light illuminating the sky, striking the ground beneath your nose, and vanishing, leaving you with dilated white eyes and a grin.
Ethin absently scans the words written on the van as he drives toward an open parking space.
“It’s for dog training,” Sam remarks, and that bitter derision always waiting to snap up and bite, as a snake would rattle its tail before corrupting flesh with fangs and sinking venom, he adds, “Really? Their logo is sit dog sit?”
The pressure already tugging on Ethin’s mouth widens, harmlessly amused. Just as he begins turning the wheel, eyes flickering away long enough to steer the car into the empty parking spot, his foot mindlessly easing against the break, he replies, “They sound pro.”
There’s a beat, only long enough for one’s heart to pump and deflate, and Ethin is uncertain if Sam heard him.
Having appropriately directed the car into the space, passively knowing metal wouldn’t breech against metal, and Sam is saying something else while Ethin cants his head to the side, turning to make eye contact, expecting the clash of blue and blue, just a brief exchange of acknowledge before the car came to a complete and utter stop, and they exfoliated themselves from gray leather seats.
However, he doesn’t see Sam at all when he goes to look; he has been disconnected from Earth.
His entire body has been vaporized by the blinding whiteness presented in front of him, burning and tearing away the layers of his skin, grabbing at the bones and muscles and blood pulps that float away as the barrier holding it all inside deteriorates.
Within the center of this overwrought white, hot light, is a royal blue Honda Pilot with black steel bars in the front, inches from the hood of Ethin’s car. The inflation of panic is so strong, so powerful, it’s as though needles lit with thirsty flames stab into his chest and stomach and bleeds and curls arounds his arms and into his fingertips.
Eyelids are thrown up and wide with the realization how fast he’s driving passing eighty, eighty-one...
The picturesque is livid; a beastly vehicle driving full throttle at him, a bull tainted blue from rage in its face and the bruises from the whips and cages and white hot iron pokers. The unforgiving black steel bars are entrapped over its mouth, muzzled with the ironic derision it’s safer; cautious to give a bull a weapon only bent by the will of flames.
And the silence - hah - that’s the worst of all. In retrospect. The silence that people fear when their body is clammy and soulless with chapped, ashen lips. When memories are forgotten; when their existence, each footprint squelched against mud, is forgotten. A silence heard at a funeral; to foolishly hope for something so unretrievable, like touching mourning ghost of beauty and air.
He’s going to collide with the bull. He’s going to die, and die a blind and deaf man.
Ethin’s foot comes slamming down on the break on raw instinct, and it’s too late.
As one’s spine would snap up in bed from a horrific nightmare, soaked and vision blurred, Ethin is connected back to reality. Except his skin is neither chilled with perspiration nor are his eyes brimming with fatal, warm tears, but peering openly at Sam. Eyes so open, brittle, little matchsticks must be propping them open, as the world outside the car is a streaking flash of silver.
White knuckles clutch around the wheel with a palpitation in his chest, and with only the recognition they’re still moving, he demands, clear and panicked and somehow not so manically fast his words slur together, “Are we still rolling?”
Infringing on reality, but still caught in the web of his own head. His gaze is strictly on Sam, desperately caught on him. Using him as his anchor, afraid to be dragged back under, yet somehow another fear triumphing even that. Despite the small breakthrough, able to see through a narrow crevice of the delusion, and unidentifiable colors fighting a bloody battle out each wielding of glass, what scared him most was the authenticity.
Because regardless that Sam immediately answered a confused, “No,” that brilliant lining of silver was a gray car pulling in and the very real and solid blue monster was still seated in front of his car.
Without knowing it, or meaning to, Sam had rooted him. No. They aren’t rolling. They aren’t moving.
It’s not real.
Ethin holds onto that, he grips it tightly and clutches, and he’s not sure if he means to either, before the car’s wheels finally stop rolling. The world is still. Outside the window, the car, his mind, Sam, the bull. Still.
Blue orbs flicker back and forth quickly in bewilderment and seeping, leftover alarm, in-taking his surroundings. Eyes already peeled on Sam, he monitors that lost look on his brother’s face; mouth slightly agape with quirked eyebrows, lifted in askance.
He hears the inquire, loud and clear, but first feels the blood rush back through his body, the restraints vetoed from his muscles and bones, permitting him control again. His ankle bends, stepping extremely hard down on the break, until it’s grating against the rug dirtied with crumbs from past drives. Fingers don’t shake as they slide off the wheel, and perhaps a little too abruptly and urgently, move to shift the car’s gears into park.
The thrumming sound of the engine, whirring against black-washed walls seems to dig right into the back of Ethin's teeth as he becomes aware of the Coffee beans from earlier that morning mixed with the aroma of his own fear, curling nauseatingly up his nostrils as he grimaces at the taste that's washing down his tongue.
A soft tongue curls out and licks his lips, gaze falling back onto Sam, and in spite of it all, a shadow of a grin lights his lips. It’s unforced and genuine, and it grows as soon as they make eye contact; delirious in relief.
Sam finally quips, “What?”
With too much vigor and too much enthusiasm, Ethin assures, “Nothing,” on reflex and then continues to pull away his gaze, giving his head a dismissing shake, and exclaiming with a laugh, “I think I just went on an LSD trip!”
Without anymore pretext, and no room for Sam to further question, the keys are yanked out of the ignition, and they walk past the blue bull and toward the restaurant to have more coffee.