Monday, 10 September 2012
I could feel the smoke invading my lungs with each strangled breath, burning its way up my nose and down my throat. Stinging my eyes and blurring my vision as the unbearable heat of the mounting fire surround me.
My face snapped up from the pillow, where it was buried, as I woke with a jolt. Turning over unto my back in the dark room, the lit candles already burnt out, a sound full of exhaustion and frustration escaped my lips. It felt like the allotted time for my eyes to be closed before the nightmares began was becoming shorter and shorter. Slowly rolling off the bed, tired and unable to sleep I began pacing the floor of the small room. Seemingly unable to stop myself, I eased the door open, cringing at every squeak and creak it made, I tiptoed over to the couch.
Standing in the soft glow of the fire that filled the small room, I looked across at both boys as they lay fast asleep. Daniel’s towering frame barely fit on the sofa as he lay on his back, his arms folded over his chest and his feet dangling off the end as Lucas rested comfortably in a dark sleeping bag, situated right in front the fireplace. Daniel was as still and soundless as a statue as he lay on the couch, if it wasn’t for the steady rise and fall of his dingy t-shirt covered chest, I would have thought him dead. In total contrast, Lucas had kicked off the top of his sleeping bag as he lay on his naked stomach, his arms tucked beneath his pillow. Snoring softly through barely parted lips, his tussled black hair covering his eyes as the flickering light of the dying fire, danced across the rich, olive toned skin of his back.
Leaning over the back of the sofa I lightly nudged Daniel’s shoulder and softly called his name as I tried to wake him from sleep. A couple seconds later, Daniel’s head tilted toward me as his eyelids slowly fluttered open and eyes the darkest shade of bitter chocolate met mine.
“Oh God.” he said with annoyance, looking up at me before closing back his eyes.
“Well good morning to you to sunshine.” I said dryly.
“What time is it?” He mumbled.
“I don’t know? Early.” I guessed.
Resting my chin in my hand, I balanced my elbow on the back of the couch and watched as Daniel ignored my vague answer and stuck his hand under the pillow his head rested on and pulled out his phone. Quickly glancing at the lit screen, “Its 2am. Leave me alone.” He grumbled before turning away from me and settling back into his sleep.
Looking over to Lucas and seeing him still sleeping, I crept over to the other side of the couch in front of Daniel, crouching down and leaning close.
“Daniel!” I impatiently whispered through clenched teeth.
“What!” he answered, matching my tone as he fully turned to face me.
“Did you mean it?” I said with a solemn tone.
“Mean what?” he asked with heavy eyelids.
“What you said earlier, about you helping me. Did you mean it or is it just a way for you to get what you want?” I clarified.
“And what is it that I want?” Daniel asked with a cocked brow, my question seemingly holding his attention.
“Answers.” I responded.
A lazy smile touched his lips as he sleepily drawled, “Yeah, I meant what I said. I’ll help you.”
“Daniel?” I said.
“Mmm….” He wearily sounded in answer.
“Please, don’t ask me anymore questions.” he didn’t respond but his face was blanketed by questioning and concern.
“I’m just not ready to talk about the fire or gramps or any of it right now, especially after finding out so much so fast-”
“I told Lucas to keep his mouth shut.” Daniel interrupted, glancing over at Lucas’ slumbering body.
“Just, stop pushing. Okay?” I finished.
“Okay.” He answered nodding in agreement, “Like I said its past 2, you planning on going back to bed anytime soon, so that I can.”
I looked back at the dark and empty room I just came from and answered, “I think I’ll just stay out here for a while, if it’s okay?”
“Yeah, sure.” he said before slinging his arm over his eyes and drifting off.
Walking over to the small pile of twigs and broken branches at the side of the fireplace and tossing a few into the red and orange fire, I watched as it slowly devoured the firewood and fed its flame. Quietly stepping over Lucas I settled in beside Daniel, sitting on the floor the sofa at my back, I pulled my knees to my chest. The deep breathing of both boys quickly lulling my eyes closed as I fell asleep to the pops of the crackling fire.