Efren tried to decipher the expression Marc wore while he paced the room in front of him while waiting for him to get dressed. He knew something about that site had upset him, but he wasn’t sure how to address it. At one point he looked angry, then his eyes filled with sorrow, guilt, before going back to anger and despair.
Efren lowered his gaze, finishing in silence. He was crucifying himself over this and he hated it. He could tolerate a lot of things, but he didn’t want his pity! He didn’t raise his eyes again before he saw Marc grab hold of his arms and knelt before him.
“I’m so sorry!” He breathed out with a sigh. “If…”
If things were different, he would have never let this get this far out of control, have him move in with them as a friend, if that’s what they were at that point, even if he did have nothing more to offer aside their lousy couch and this entire thing would be one bad dream with the main nightmare pushed farther into the future.
That’s what he defined as pity. All that what Marc left unsaid, but he could hear clear as a day in his head. If only. You could go over a lot of decisions before reaching a wall with the If only.
Still, he couldn’t stop himself from asking. “If this is over, can I come and live with you?” He whispered those words out softly, his throat hoarse. “Please?”
“I’ll put up with that hippie sofa of yours!” Efren added.
“With all the cat hair?” Marc whispered softly and for a second Efren could believe that dream. He would have his cat back. And his blue eyed family.
“I will need space for my uniforms!” he snorted with half smile and felt Marc’s forehead touch his while kissed him gently on his hair. “And probably I’d be dressing up behind the front door.”
“We’ll toss out some of Pearl’s kindergarten dresses.” Marc promised against his hair.
“You still have them?”
“Some, not every one of them.”
There were plenty to choose from, he knew. Marc loved memory boxes, even if he didn’t call them so. After his wife left them, he had taken over that part of her life and since he never owned enough clothes to fill out all her section in the closet, he filled it up with Pearl’s old things. Toys she chewed on as a baby, the blankets she used, all patched up by Efren, some books read to shreds and dresses too small. If they’d take up cleaning the apartment from anything old, this was the only wardrobe he never touched. The forbidden kingdom of Narnia. It touched him deep how Marc was willing to make space for him in there.
“But I won’t put your boxes there.” He insisted with hitch in his voice, leaning closer to his ear. “You take them out, you hear? You put them on hangers!”
He nodded. Yeah, he’d do that. It was only What if, nothing more and for him, for Marc he could pretend.
The knock on the door broke them apart and Marc quickly dried his tears before sitting next to him on the bed, looking hesitantly at the door and at Steven, who burst in with his cast holding up handful of small bags. He stopped for a moment, taking in the acid scent.
“God, what happened?” he demanded, confused. Then his eyes fell on Efren and his new shirt and a a quiet oh ran from his lips. “I got your things. Come on now, check them over and we can get going.”
“Going? It’s not time yet.”
“How do you know?”
He shrugged. How do you explain the miracles of universe to a simple mortal?
The thought made him chuckle, very unwittingly in the whole situation and Marc pat him on his back to get his attention. “Mortal!” Efren snickered, pointing at Steven before the load from his brother’s arms fell next to him on the bed and Steven stepped back.
“He’s fine, for now.” He agreed. “Want some coffee?”
“No, Cedrick made us tea earlier.”
“But I need some.” He turned and went back, leaving them alone again.
Efren’s laughing had died out, as quickly as it had came, and he was serious again, not sure what to do. He hated waiting like that and he hated that he was holding Marc back from doing something too. Sitting on his bed like he didn’t have his legs anymore was annoying. Some of the drugs smelled a bit, mixing into very sterile, ionized kind of scent with hint of acid in it.
“Come on! Let’s go for a walk!” he prompted, getting up, and swooned back down when the room went rolling around him. “I don’t wanna…” his words died out as he realized the room stopped spinning. He shook his head once, and that seemed to help, so he tried again. Up, and this time the wardrobe and the window stayed on their places.
“Shouldn’t you be resting instead? I can see you’re having trouble with simply standing up!” Marc refused.
“At least in the back yard! I want out of this room!”
“You’re sounding like a very petulant kid!”
“Don’t patronize me! I’m a grownup and I want to take a walk.”
“Fine!” Marc followed his suit and went ahead to get the door.
But Efren didn’t follow. His stood still on his spot, assessing his legs as if they were not his own anymore. Like he was standing on top of a building and that building was not moving as he wanted. For he had to mentally kick them to get his right knee to jerk or eve to wobble his toe a little.
“I can’t control my legs.” Efren whispered with a audible tremble in his voice. “I need help.” He reached out his hand expectantly and waited for Marc to take it.