My paper lady: part II


Accipiter G. Goshawk

This post concludes Edward’s story that began in My paper lady: part I.

If you want to know more about Edward and how he came to wonder the streets, check out The Bubble-mistress!

I hope you enjoy it 🙂

“Edward, come on, get up. Let’s go find some breakfast, I’m hungry.”

He shook away the night’s sleep and stood up stretching and blinking blearily.

“Sleep well?” came the same warm voice, and he felt the long-forgotten feeling of someone gently kissing his cheek. Suddenly he was afraid of opening his eyes. He had heard the stories of course; people that finally cracked and started hearing voices. He thought of his wish and tried to find reality. He pinched his arm and it hurt. He tried recalling the exact position of all his possessions on the rough cardboard on the ground. His memory seemed to work as well. Math? Still annoying but working. Logic? Also.

Slowly, he opened his eyes.

There she was, almost exactly as she had been the night before. Her blond curls were perfectly combed; even though she had slept on the ground, her clothes were spotless and without a single wrinkle. However, she was no longer flat and where before there had been a certain immobility to her figure and features, now there was an almost constant movement; a bustle of sorts.

“You know,” she said helping him to his feet, “I think I’m in the mood for pancakes. There is this lovely little shop on Third Street that makes an excellent brunch. Care to join me?”

Her smile was dazzling, and he found himself nodding, lost in confusion and the odd promise of a wish fulfilled. She walked briskly down the busy city streets, dragging Edward behind her. The smellier lower quarters soon gave way to banks and business companies. Sometimes, people would stop and stare at the beautiful woman and the homeless man accompanying her. But they soon moved on, succumbing to their morning routine of stress and work.

When they reached the clear windows of the bakery, Edward froze. He could smell pastries, coffee, and chocolate…all things he couldn’t afford. All things he didn’t deserve. He stopped short and made no move to enter.

“Come along Edward,” the beautiful woman said encouragingly, holding the door open for him.

He tried to resist.

“I-I don’t have any money…,” he mumbled ashamedly.

“That’s ok dear, I’ll pay for your breakfast,” she said soothingly, taking his hand in hers and leading him into the atmosphere of warmth and sugar.

Things blurred together after that.

He remembered the taste of Arabica on his tongue and the soft texture of pancakes on his teeth. Through it all, the paper lady smiled at him and chatted up a storm. She told him about her work, about life, dogs and her gaming hobby. Anything and everything. It gave him life, and time started to flow around him once more.

And with it, came the memories.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, seeing his face fall.

His shoulders sagged and for the first time in years, he let out a mournful sob.

“It’s my fault…I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I wasn’t careful enough…I didn’t pay attention. I was angry, and it happened so fast…”

Somehow she was holding his hand, and he looked up to see a gaze filled with love. The paper lady was gone, and in her place was the only person he had ever tried to forget, but couldn’t.

“Honey, it’s ok. It wasn’t your fault. These things happen. Trust me when I say that there was nothing you could have done. Nothing at all.”

He saw it all again: the rain, the moors, the wet slope…Tara trying to catch up with him after their fight. He didn’t even remember what it had been about. Then she slipped, and his world had ended. Since then everything had been dark, wet and uncomfortable. That’s how he wanted it to be. His penance for all of time.

“Edward, look at me.”

His eyes met hers and for a second she blurred, as tears filled his eyes.

“I forgive you, my love,” she said quietly. “I forgave you the second it happened. You need to accept that it was an accident. You aren’t responsible for gravity, or slippery boots.”

“I should’ve been with you,” he moaned piteously clutching a fork until his knuckles were white. “I shouldn’t have let you walk alone…I shouldn’t have been angry!”

“Love,” she said, squeezing his hand gently, “I was angry too. There was no fault. You have to forgive yourself. That’s why I came: to set you free from your own torture chamber. You need to start living again.”

“I don’t know if I can,” he whispered, letting the hot tears run down into his coffee.

“Yes you can,” she said in a tone that admitted no arguments. Her eyes -the same eyes he had fallen in love with many years ago- held him in the turn of the world, and in an instant, he let it all go.

He let go of the pain, of the guilt and the mindless wandering. He let go of his ideas of himself and of the dark looks people gave him on the street. He let go of the forgetting and found himself again.

And then he looked at her.

“Could you please stay?” he pleaded, “Just a little longer?”

She smiled.

“I can stay until sunset. Then I have to go back. And you have to get to work.” He smiled and for a while, he let himself be happy.-

5 thoughts on “My paper lady: part II

    1. Yup…Edward has had a tough few years. But I think that he really needed to find a way to move on. Guilt is a nasty business and he was going too far in his own self-punishment…At least that’s how I feel.
      Thank you for the comment! I’ll see if I can write something for the prompt this week 😉


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