Rain water spattered against the lower portion of her window sill, giving birth to a rhythmic cadence that allowed her dreams to dance. Filtered light of consciousness shone on the kaleidoscopic images that littered her slumber. Elyria saw his face as it appeared when they last said goodbye. She smiled as she wiped the sleep from her eyes.
Today was the day that all would be revealed. Elyria would tell her parents of their love, of the marriage proposal and her acceptance thereof. She had refused his previous urgings to tell, but the fertile soil of love allowed courage to blossom.
Elyria climbed out from beneath the warmth of her blankets and made her way through the small darkened apartment. She giggled uncontrollably upon hearing her father’s laboring snore escape from beyond their bedroom door. She pushed open the door and found them both asleep.
From somewhere above, a door slammed. This sound was followed by the patter of footsteps descending the stairway at a rapid pace. It was her sister, caretaker of the family, coming downstairs to foil her “telling” plan. Elyria ran to her bedroom and climbed beneath the blankets.
Lena crashed through the front door like an unrelenting storm, waking everyone in the place. She pulled food from the refrigerator and tossed it upon the kitchen counter. Lena reached into the cabinet, pulled out a heavy iron skillet and slammed it down upon the stove.
Elyria, from her bedroom, watched her sister at work. She watched Lena’s slender sinuous body leaning over the stove. The defined muscularity of Lena’s bare arms were brought to life by a thin film of sweat that reflected the gray light of overcast morning skies that had burst through the kitchen window and poured over all things.
“Good morning” Lena offered distractedly as she stared into the hills and valleys of scrambled eggs that cooked in the iron skillet.
“Morning, Lena. Thanks for starting breakfast. But what’s wrong Lena?”
“He’s washing up. He’ll be right out”
“Before he comes out, I will tell you. Elyria should not go out today. I do not trust that man”
Somewhere beyond the bedroom door, Elyria could be found beneath the warmth of her blankets, listening to the conversation that took place in the adjoining room. She lay in a fetal position with hands clasped over her ears, trying to escape that cruel harsh world that threatened to snatch away this newest sensation of love that had filled her heart.
Arras lay awake, contemplating the day that lay before him. He could not stop thinking of Elyria. Arras was once a member of a group he called the walking dead. Members of this group could be easily spotted as they maintained the routine banality of an uneventful life. Their most prominent feature was the look in their eyes, lifeless and void of meaning.
Elyria had brought life to him. He did not recognize nor recall it when it first appeared on the scene. It revealed itself at odd moments wherein he discovered himself counting minutes, yearning for days and longing for her presence.
Arras was afraid of living life for being one of the living dead was much easier. He was formerly content to simply scratch days from the stained and torn calendar that lay by his bedside. His life was once a life of simplicity, requiring little thought or effort. In former times, months and years would pass by within a blink of an eye. Now it took an eternity for minutes, for seconds to pass.
“Dad? Are you going to see her today?” his daughter popped her head into the room.
“Yes. I’m going to see Elyria today” he enjoyed the feel of her name upon his lips, “Elyria” he whispered to himself and smiled.
His children sensed his living presence, holding it in much greater esteem than the old lifeless father that haunted these rooms. They met Elyria and found her worthy of their father’s love. They loved the gift of life she had brought to their father. They did what they could to encourage him.
Arras climbed out of bed and began his morning routine. He prepared breakfast for his children before heading out for the day. His first stop would be Elyria’s home. He could not arrive quick enough to satiate his hungry heart.
Elyria’s Ukrainian home life was a mystery to him. Arras knew the dramatis personae of the home, yet did not know of them. He drew conclusions based on experience. Her mother’s ever-present scowl suggested that he was not well received in their home. The sister, Lena, ran hot and cold with her responses. Her father always wore smile and appeared to have a pleasant disposition. In the end, all issues fell on Lena’s shoulders for she was the only person fluent in English.
Do they know?
This question lingered within his thoughts. It multiplied and mutated like a bacterial infection, attaching itself to random thoughts, reflections and a sundry of assorted cognitive activities. Nothing escaped his consciousness without this attached question.
Tomorrow is Monday. Do they know?
I have an appointment on Wednesday. Do they know?
My name is Arras. Do they know?
This question loomed large in his brain. He urged Elyria to tell her family so their relationship could move forward.
“Not right now”
That was her only response. She would not offer further explanation, and would emit a heavy sigh if pressed further on the issue. Arras learned the issues he could or could not pursue. Elyria’s family was an issue that was completely unapproachable.
Arras pulled up in front of the apartment building and waited for Elyria. He hummed along with the music that played from the radio. Five minutes passed; there was no movement from within the apartment. He decided to make his approach.
Arras intentionally took small steps, allowing time for Elyria to emerge. She did not. He felt a knot begin to tie itself within his stomach, then serpentine around other vital organs and pull itself tight until all of his innards were tied. Arras bent over in discomfort. His altered stature and unusual gait gave him the appearance of a feeble and helpless aged man.
“She does not go today!”
Arras glanced up to find Lena standing in the doorway. She wore a woolen robe that was wrapped tightly around her frame. Lena wore a long braided ponytail that slung over her right shoulder. She had fire in her eyes.
“Is everything okay?”
“Yes. It is fine. Elyria will go to church today. No festival. Sorry”
“I could pick her up after…”
“No. She not go today”
Without saying another word, Lena turned and went back inside. Arras glanced up and, through the rain, could see Elyria’s face as she stared at him through the kitchen window. She mouthed the words “I’m sorry” just before Lena pulled the curtains closed.
Arras stood in the rain, bent and feeble, with that irrepressible question that coursed through his brain and, with its jagged edges, tore his flesh, “Do they know?”