Handle With Care | Teen Ink

Handle With Care

January 16, 2014
By CassieK SILVER, Yorktown, Virginia
CassieK SILVER, Yorktown, Virginia
7 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future."

She is a mystery to him, a puzzle he has never been able to solve. And yet, as she lies on the couch, the worn blue fabric a bright contrast to her pale skin and oatmeal hair, she has never looked so simple. She is molded into the cushions, making her seem a part of the couch and the couch seem a part of her. Her eyes are closed and her red lips are parted slightly in a way that suggests that she is more beautiful in sleep than you could ever be awake. Her hair drapes over the arm of the furniture, cascading like a waterfall, almost to the wooden floor beneath it. She is an object of perfection that he is afraid to touch.
She shifts slightly and lets out a moan as she settles back into the comfort of her dreams. The light from the TV seems to brighten, bringing out the handprint across her cheek. He could see each individual finger, spread out across her flushed face, as if she were made of clay and someone had pressed their spread palm into her delicate features. He could see the bruises that wound around her neck and down to the bottom of her back and stomach. The purples and blues seem almost to glow on her skin, mocking him watching her, helpless.
His hands form fists and he reminds himself that she came to him tonight for rescue. He needs to be understanding. He is always the one who picks up the pieces. He turns off the TV and rises to make his way over to the opposite couch. His large t-shirt and pajama pants suddenly make him feel self-conscious. He wonders briefly what she sees in him. He is not much, standing at just over six- feet tall with shaggy black hair and gray eyes. She says sometimes that they remind her of fog, easy to lose herself in. But he knows that she is a symphony, a combination of all things beautiful, and he is a note, barely registering in your mind before it is gone. He will never be to her what she is to him. He leans over her, so close he can smell roses and a touch of men’s cologne. Placing a hand on her shoulder, he gently shakes her.
Her eyes open and meet his. Again, he is filled with rage that a man would be able to hurt such a celestial being. Her eyes are brown, but he cannot think of an accurate way to describe them. To him, her eyes have more of a taste than a color. They taste like salted caramels, melting in your mouth as your tongue swirls over them and mourns the moment they disappear. She starts slightly and he backs away, embarrassed.
“Um, sorry. I just wanted to see if you wanted to take the bed tonight. I’ll sleep on the couch.” He runs his fingers through his hair quickly to combat bedhead and points down the hall to his room. She shakes her head.
“I’m the one that called you, Steven. Let me sleep on the couch, I don’t mind.” She grimaces as she sits up and stretches her arms above her head. He nods and makes his way down the hall. Climbing into his bed, he thinks about the phone conversation they had earlier.
“Hi. I need you to come get me.”
“Caroline? Where are you?”
“I’m…I’m at Walmart.”
“Why are you at Walmart? What happened?”
“It’s a long story, but it’s really no big deal. We were just in Walmart and I dropped some eggs- it was my fault, Steven it really was. But they broke all over the floor and Graham, well, Graham left me here and I just really can’t go home right now Steven and I don’t have a car and-”
“I’ll be right there.” The dial tone rings loudly in his head.
His door opens softly, letting in a sliver of light from the hallway.
“Steven?” A voice cuts through the darkness.
“Yes?” He sits up in bed, surprised at the disruption.
“Can I sleep with you?” She asks, her voice sounding more like a child’s than an eighteen-year old girl’s.
“Sure,” He says, and throws back the comforter to reveal the empty spot next to him. She climbs in and he can feel her warmth spread through the bed. She leans her head on his chest and he sighs, breathing in the smell of her hair.
“Can I ask you something?” He asks her. She nods in the darkness.
“Why?” The question hangs in the room, weighing it down like an anchor. She shifts uncomfortably on his chest. She knows what he is asking, but she questions him anyways.
“Why what?”
“Why do you stay with him?” She pauses, as if his question has an answer that she just can’t seem to put her finger on. He can hear the sound of the ceiling fan creaking. Once, twice, three times it leisurely spins before she answers.
“It’s because he’s what I know, Steven. He’s a part of me. I can’t lose him. I’m not brave like you. I’m not strong enough.” Not once, but five times does the fan spin before he responds.
“You could be.”
“Tell me, Steven. About the life we’ll have together when I leave him.”
“Well, we’ll get married somewhere far away. Somewhere no one can find us no matter how hard they look. Somewhere it’s warm and where you can wear all the tank tops and sleeveless dress and shorts that you want…maybe some suburb somewhere. I think you’d like it there, Caroline, in the suburbs. No one can tell anyone else apart and everyone’s content. And I’ll build us a house. It’ll have big white windows and a yellow front door, just like you always wanted. I’ll add a wraparound front porch and we’ll sit on it in rocking chairs and watch our children go off to school.”
“That sounds perfect.” There is a pause. Whether it is a second or an hour, he does not know.
“I love you, Steven.” She whispers. His heart flutters but he knows that she does not mean it, not in the way that he longs for her to mean it, not in the way that he desperately needs her to mean it. He turns over in bed so that the tip of her nose is touching his. He whispers so that she can barely hear him.
“You’re not going to leave him, are you?”

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