Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chapter 80: Every Dark Corner


Eleanor is awakened by a hard kick to her thigh. Justin moans and growls as he writhes in his sleep.


She shakes his shoulders, trying to free him from the nightmare's grasp. "I'm sorry, Jen," he groans, still asleep, "He was hurting you. I'm sorry."

His words...she's heard them before. Not from Justin, she's never seen him have a nightmare like this. Normally, he sleeps as peaceful and solid as a stone. Where had she heard it from then, if not him? A moment's reflection recalls it, spoken by a character in a book she just started reading, Now Return and Weep for Me, by Jayne Rivers. How would Justin know that, she wonders, he doesn't read himself, and this book was released just this month, far too recently to be one of the many novels his sister condensed for him.



Justin snaps awake, startled and confused.

"You were having a nightmare," Eleanor says gently. Even if he had read that scene in her book, why would he have such a reaction to it? Of course, if he had lived that scene himself in his youth, if the author Jayne Rivers was actually his sister Jeanette..."You were talking in your sleep," Eleanor says, "You said 'I'm sorry, Jen He was hurting you.' What were you dreaming about?"


"Nothing," Justin grunts, getting out of bed.


Switching on a lamp, Eleanor follows him across the bed, grabbing him before he can escape.

"It wasn't nothing," she says, holding him tight across his chest, "Being questioned by the police triggered something, made you remember and gave you that nightmare," she guesses, "Whatever it was, it's eating at you, has been eating at you for years. You need to talk about it, tiger. Not to satisfy my curiosity, but for your own sake."

Justin remembers a story his sister once told him, about people who lived chained up in a cave they never left. All they saw of the world were shadows on the wall. Until one day one of them was released and saw reality for the first time...he's like that man, he thinks, living his life in darkness until she came and released him. He lives in her world now, but he still carries that cave within him, and he'll never be truly free until she swept through every dark corner and illuminated it.


"It's not pretty," Justin warns her as lays back into the bed beside her,  giving her a chance to back out before he gets into it, "Are you sure you want to know?"

"I wasn't expecting it to be pretty," she soothes, "I want you to share everything with me, even the dark, ugly parts. I can only love you if I know you." 


"It was prom night," he says, and Eleanor draws in a breath. Just that much and he's confirmed her suspicion, that the book she's reading tells his story. But she says nothing, allowing him to tell it in his own words, not knowing she's read his sister's account of it already. "Not for me, I didn't bother with that crap. Plus, I was a sophmore. Jeanette was a senior, it was her prom.  While the prom was going on, I was in the school parking lot. One of the seniors had a car I'd wanted to joy ride for a long time, and this was my opportunity. I used to do that, hot wire cars and take them for rides."


"While I was working on the lock, Jeanette and her date were outside, making out against the wall."


"Then, I see her pushing him away."


"I hear her telling him no, to get off her."


"And I step in because I'm not letting this jerk ass hurt my sister."


"I'd been in fights before. Hell, my whole school experience was just a series of fights. But this time was different, This time, I lost control. I'd beaten this kid to the ground, but I just couldn't stop myself. I kept going at it. Other kids had come out by then, they were all yelling at me to stop, and Jeanette was crying, begging me to get a hold of myself."


"But I couldn't get a hold of myself. I wanted to stop, I knew I had to stop...but I had no control over it. If the cops hadn't come and pulled me off him, I would have kept going until he was dead."


"While I was being cuffed, I saw my sister, crouched up against the wall, crying. I tried to tell her I was sorry, that I was just trying to protect her."


"Our home life was messed up, to say the least. Neither of us knew our fathers, and our mother was rarely around, and when she was there physically, she was somewhere else mentally, drunk or high. Jeanette and I, we were tight, we relied on each other, understood each other, were there for each other. She was the only thing I had, the only person I could talk to. And that night, I broke her. I ruined everything. I saw it in her face while I was on the ground, the cop's knee in my back. I lost her, forever."


"They put me in some hospital or something. I had doctors asking me questions, hooking me up to machines and looking at my brain. The kid's parents wanted me to be tried as an adult. The school wanted to see me locked up in the nut house. I really didn't give a shit about what was going on, all I cared about was that Jeanette wouldn't talk to me. She refused to visit, and when they'd let me call home, she wouldn't speak to me. I was alone, really alone. I was going to be alone forever. Once I accepted that, I made an escape plan, and got the hell out of there before they locked me away for good."


"You aren't alone anymore," Eleanor says, stroking his face, "I'm with you."

"I know," Justin answers, "Don't ever leave me."


Eleanor snuggles against him, laying her head against his chest. "It's been a long time, maybe Jeanette has forgiven you," she suggests gently, not sure if she should tell him about her book, that she'd read the story of the brutal prom night beating before he revealed it to her, "Maybe you should try to contact her."

"No," he says, "I let her go a long time ago. There's no going back."

Eleanor doesn't argue or insist, but she can't let the idea go that easily.

19 comments:

  1. It looks like Justin has some serious issues with his temper, if I remember correctly this wasn't the first time he beat someone to a pulp. Still I'm glad he opened up to Eleanor about his childhood, I think they both needed that talk. I just hope Eleanor doesn't try to fix things with his sister without him being okay with it.

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    1. Yes, Val, you remember correctly, Justin earlier told Eleanor about another fight where he lost control and beat a guy possibly to death. I think it will be good for him to have opened up to Eleanor. But you know her, she will want to fix things.

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  2. Oh, so good. So dramatic and traumatizing and revealing and Justin's thoughts of the cave and his own darkness and Eleanor being his light .... love it.

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    1. Thank you so much, Fae!
      Your comment pretty much sums up what I was going for. =D

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  3. Wow, Justin has a pretty messed up past. It would be cool to see his sister come into the story, but not before he's ready for it.

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    1. Yeah, he did have a messed up past, and he's done some pretty horrible things. He's never quite gotten over losing his sister, and it will be interesting to see what would happen if she came into his life again.

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  4. Wow, that was good and it's the only chapter of this I have read. He needs to confront his past so it won't destroy and torment him. I hope maybe he will find Eleanor's book and see what his sister has to say about the whole thing. I will have to read some prev. chapters for sure to see what I have missed out on. :)

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    1. Ha, whit, jumping right into the dark side of Justin's world. Confronting his past would be really good for him. He's spent his whole life running from it and trying to block it out.

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  5. wow well now we know why he is on the run. I wonder how the book ends. Does she miss her brother? Would she want to have contact with him after all these years? El isn't going to let this go and I have a sneaky feeling she's gonna try and contact her.

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    1. Elle is an avid reader, and now she has all the more motivation to finish this book. And what she reads will decide her next move. You are very right, she won't just let this go.

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  6. Justins home life as a child and teen somewhat explains the way he acts sometimes. Me thinks Eleanor may have a thing or two up her sleeve and maybe getting he and his sister back together may be one of them. Whatever it is she does I hope Justun can see that she is only trying to help him, she seems to love him a great deal already....edenz~

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    1. Thanks, edenz! Eleanor does love Justin, and she does want him to be happy and will do anything to make that happen.

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  7. Creat :). Amazing and beauty shoot.

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  8. Wow! That piece about Eleanor and the analogy of the cave was...wow! That was a superb piece of literature! I loved that! That one paragraph fully explained who and what Justin was all about and the heroine he's found in Eleanor...stunning!

    I am very happy he has opened up to her because this was pretty much what I was going to say. He wants her to "never leave" he has to be able to share himself with her to ensure she never does. People get tired of lies and secrets until it just pushes them away. He's proving to her how much he cares by finally opening up. And Eleanor is proving to be the best kind of future wife any man needs/deserves. She is loving, caring, sympathetic but most of all patient. She knew waiting that Justin would eventually open up to her and he has and now she got just a little bit more knowledge about the man no one really, truly knows.

    I love that he tried to protect his sister, she obviously needed it because that guy was being a serious jerk. She said no and pushed him away and he still tried. I am kind of hating Jeanette right now because of this though. It was obvious that Justin was only trying to defend her yet she completely wrote him off because of this? What kind of "tight" relationship is that when you can't forgive someone you "love" after one indiscretion? PLUS the fact that he was doing it for her! They were all each other had and she abandoned him because he punched her date (ok maybe a little more)? Seriously??? Wherever she is I hope she knows the kind of pain she's inflicting on him even to this day and is suffering for it. If there is more to this then ok...but as of right now, Jeanette has taken Mercedes (RIP) place at the top of my shit list.

    And now as understanding as Eleanor is being, I hope she doesn't take it upon herself to repair this for him. It's something Justin has to do alone but in my opinion Jeanette is the one that needs to make the first move! She's shown Justin she didn't want to be bothered by him so he's doing as she wants apparently. Eleanor would really place a strain on the trust he's just shown her though if she tries to contact his sister!

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    1. Holy crap wow...sorry about the book :( I didn't realize I'd typed so much.

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    2. I love reading your books! Seriously, it's great to see my writing get such a strong reaction. Thank you!
      One of the things I love about writing Justin is he's mostly uneducated and never reads, but he's absorbed and internalized so much literature and philosophy as told to him by his sister.
      For him, opening up to anyone is a hard thing to do. He lost the one person he cared about, his sister, and it wasn't easy for him trust again.

      In Jeanette's defense, she was 17 and Justin scared the piss out of her with the brutality of that beating, the way he kept at it even after her date was bleeding on the ground. Justin took off before she was able to come to terms with it. And he's changed his identity several times since he's left and stayed constantly on the move, so even if she went looking for him, finding him wouldn't be easy. But, I will get more into all that in later chapters, so I'll stop talking now.

      Thanks!

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  9. Well that sure explains quite a bit. See Justin, when you explain things to us, we understand you. Not that you would care if we understood you or not. But it's nice to have an inkling of what goes on inside your head.

    Eleanor ought to tread lightly if she's got any ideas of reconciliation. It would only be successful if he decided he wanted to do it and did it on his terms.

    Another excellent chapter, as usual. I just love how faceted your characters are.

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    1. LOL, you are right, Justin doesn't really care what we think. Eleanor will have to put some serious thought into how she proceeds. Springing a surprise reunion on Justin is probably not the best idea.

      Thank you so much, Hayley!

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