The wind swept through the trees, dragging salt and sand from the sea with it. Fern watched the tree tops whipping around. She could hear heavy breathing and two hearts racing, though it took her a few moments to realise that it was her breaths echoing in her ears. She put her hands to the railing and curled her fingers around the cold metal. Desperately, she wanted to look at Brook, but she couldn’t bring herself to face him.
Without a word, she felt him turn and go inside. She looked over her shoulder and watched him pacing the living room. He ran his hands through his hair and around his face a few times. His hands balled into fists then released again and slapped his sides. His breathing was ragged, loud and almost coming out in gasps. He spun at the hallway wall and walked back towards her.
Fern noticed there was mud on his boots and jeans, whilst there were traces of blood on his hoodie. As he got closer, she carefully sniffed and smelt blood, soil and some unknown sweet scent lingering around him. It reminded her of spice apple pie.
And me, what do I smell of? She thought. She put her nose to her shoulder and took a deep breath. The woods, the sea, the fisherman, Dacian…. She turned and looked back out across the woodland and the distance tops of the village houses. What have I done?
‘Brook…’ she spun around.
‘No!’ he roared, ‘don’t you dare! I can’t even think straight now!’
Fern ran inside, nearly trapping over the door frame and threw herself at him. Brook didn’t catch her and she dropped to the floor at his feet.
‘I’m sorry! I’m sorry!’
Brook shoved her away with both hands and stepped backwards.
Fern, kneeling, pressed her head to the carpet and broke down. Huge sobs racked through her and she started struggling to breath. Pain soared in her chest and she had to pull up to gulp down big takes of air. She wiped her wet face and tried to gain control. Through her tear coated eyes, she looked up at Brook.
He was pressed against the wall, head thrown back and left hand to his forehead. His eyes were shut and he too seemed to be battling to stay in control of his emotions. His fingers grabbed the fringe of his red hair and tugged at it. A growl escaped him. He pulled harder at his hair then opened his eyes, fixing them on Fern.
‘I got lost,’ she breathed and swallowed.
Brook looked at her, unimpressed and waited.
‘Dacian found me,’ Fern continued, ‘he brought me home. I didn’t know what else to do…’
Another growl escaped from Brook’s tightly pressed together lips.
‘Where did you go? I waited for you….but I got so hungry and scared. I thought you had left me and I… Just didn’t know what to do!’
‘You should have stayed put,’ Brook hissed.
Fern shook her head, ‘I couldn’t. I fed. He helped me…’
‘Oh? And he just happened to be hanging around…This Daican?’ Brook sneered.
Fern balled her hands into her lap and settled back on her heels. She took another deep breath and felt herself calming enough to go on, ‘he’s from the arcade. He spoke to me when I went to the bathroom. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I’m sorry.’
Brook shook his head, ‘I knew it…Fuck! If it wasn’t for worrying about you!’
‘I’m sorry,’ she mumbled.
Brook took a few steps towards her, hands tightening into fists as he did so. Fern’s eyes dropped to watch then rose to his face again. She felt a fresh wave of tears pricking her eyes, but tried to hold them back.
‘Do you like him?’ Brook snarled.
Fern pressed her lips together and moved her head quickly, ‘no. Of course not.’
‘You swapped blood.’
‘I was injured…’
‘Tried, I meant. Sorry, I was weak and I could resist him!’ Fern shouted and slapped her hands on her knees.
‘I don’t believe you,’ Brook argued back.
‘What else do you want me to say?’ she cried as the tears dripped on to her cheeks.
‘You can’t,’ Brook spoke in a low voice, ‘your actions have been too loud.’
Fern bite her lip and made to get to her feet. Brook fast moved over to her and pressed his hand to her shoulder. Fern cried out at the sudden heavy weight and nearly toppled over. She saved herself by putting her hands onto the carpet. With quickened breathing, she looked up at Brook.
‘I regret making you. You are completely unworthy,’ he said coldly.
Fern chocked, ‘no! Take it back. It’s not true. I made the mistake!’
‘No. It’s all my fault.’
Fern felt Brook move his hand up to her neck. She brought her arms up in defence, but it was too late, his fingers were already pressing against her throat. She felt him squeeze down and pressure building in her windpipe. She wrapped her hands around his lower arm and tried to pull him away.
‘Brook! Please, let go! I’m sorry!’ she screamed then kept on repeating those words.
Brook turned his head away, fixing his eyes across the kitchen and onto the fridge. His fingers pressed down tighter.
Fern gasped then couldn’t take another breath. Darkness and bright pins of light danced before her. She tried to think, but nothing other than her sudden inability to breath came to her. I’m so going to die!
Everything seemed to slow down almost to a stop. Fern heard her heartbeat dropping down, her mind went completely black. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. The word stretched out as if a singer was saying it and holding the note of an impossible length of time. Dead. Dead. Dead…..dying, dying, dying. Breathe? Dying, dying, dying. Breathe, breathe.
Fern felt herself floating, swimming on a black river. She wanted to open her eyes and see if she was still alive, but she could not feel or sense any part of her. Death? She wondered before losing everything as she drowned in the black waters.