... fighting rages around me. A horse screams as an attacker cuts its hamstrings, crashing to its knees, dislodging the blonde-haired rider who spills into the attacking force. My horse screams in answer and we turn as one diving towards our fallen comrades. We’re too far away, my mount trampling orcs underfoot as I hack my sword down at our attackers, but there are too many, they’re too fast, and more and more hurl themselves into the clearing. The blonde warrior surfaces from the mass, and a jolt of hope runs through me, ripped away seconds later as an orc sword slices through him, my comrade, my friend, reaches for me, a bloody hand grasping at the air, his eyes wide and pleading, and I’m just not close enough to stop them taking him apart.
One word echoed round the silent house, my heart pounding as I shot awake sitting bolt upright, but either Dave could sleep through anything, or I hadn’t cried it out loud. I’m assuming the latter. It takes a while for my heart to slow. I know I didn’t just watch the warrior die, it’s just one of the regular themes, each nightmare different, but each time, I ... he can’t get to the blonde haired guy, and we’re forced to watch him die. Doesn’t mean it feels any less real, to either of us.
A ragged sigh escapes as I curl myself back up on the couch. I hadn’t even bothered to set the bed up last night, just crashed, and pulled the quilt over the top of me. The memory of Dave’s body against mine makes me crave the comfort I know I’d find in his arms, and all I want to do is walk up the stairs, slip under his quilt, and curl myself around him.
It doesn’t take long to realise there’s no getting back to sleep. After fumbling around under the couch to find my watch, I let out a groan as it tells me it’s only 6am. Ten minutes later, I’m dressed and heading out the door, grabbing the two lengths of broom handle I keep leaning against the shed, and walking through the trees to the clearing I found on my first walk round the place. Guess I could have done this on the porch, but I’m not ready to see Dave anytime soon. My boots get kicked off and the soft grass beneath my feet feels good. It’s so easy to slip back into the routine, moving slowly, deliberately, my whole body moving with precision, the concentration and steady breathing of Tai Chi helping to centre me as my hands move in front of me, weaving patterns in the air.
I’ve become complacent. Over the summer, as the dreams faded to almost a memory for the first time in 10 years, I let my guard down; let Sophie in, just a little. I guess it was easier to relax around her, because I knew there was a time limit on our relationship, and if I had needed to take off, ultimately, no-one would have been hurt. Now, here in Wellington, it’s becoming harder not to get tangled up in the lives of those I’ve come to know. Dave, Sam. I’ve watched life from the outside for so long; it scares me to think about being part of it again.
The Tai Chi helps to steady my thoughts, but it’s not what I need this morning. I pull off my t-shirt and pick up the shorter length of wood to use as a bokkan, a practice sword. It’s not ideal, but it’ll do. The eight point sword kata helps to centre me, to ground me, and I go through it again and again, letting it flow.
It would be easier if my Gran was still alive, if I could talk to her. She saw in me something no-one else could recognise, and helped me deal with it. I’d always been able to pick up on people’s feelings, and she taught me how to focus that ability to the point where it’s become part of me. Using it is as natural as using my other senses, and last night, I ignored everything it was telling me. I should have left Dave alone when we came in off the porch, as I fully intended to. Handed him his beer and retreated to the couch. I shouldn’t have sat down so close to him because after that, what happened was inevitable.
Sweat runs down my back, as the bokkan continues to move. North .... east .... south ....
Dave had no idea how much he was pulling me towards him, and pushing me away at the same time. He needs someone, someone to take away the loneliness of the past months, to open up to, understand what he’s going through, whatever the hell that is, and he’s so confused and vulnerable right now it would be so easy to be all that for him, and take the comfort I need, but I can’t. Not knowing it would just add to his pain when I leave, and that’s inevitable, no matter how much this place clings to me. I’ve come to value his friendship, even in the short time I’ve been back, couldn’t take advantage of him when I know how complicated his life is, even if I’ve got no idea what most of those complications are. And there’s a small part of me that doesn’t want to know. The part that thinks I’ve got enough demons of my own to handle without taking on someone else’s.
Yet at the same time, part of him is screaming at me to leave this place, get away, and never look back. Wellington? New Zealand? I have no clue. And as for why, he’s not going to tell me unless I let him get closer, and I can’t do that.
On the final north west stroke, I finish the session, and the bokkan becomes just another length of broom handle again. I’ve really had enough of thinking in circles for one morning, and need coffee and breakfast. Whatever is lurking in the fridge will do and maybe I’ll go out and get something decent for lunch, might even pick up a balanced bokkan while I’m there.
After pushing my feet back into my boots, I grab my t-shirt, leaving the makeshift “weapons” leaning against a tree, and head back down to the house. So, quick shower, quick breakfast, and get stuck into the hot tub support, which I should get finished today, maybe tomorrow, oh, and fit a quick apology somewhere in there, after all, I made the first move.
See if we can get back to where we were before the kiss. Apart from the foot rubs, of course, and the back rubs. No more hands on anything and the thought of that makes me sigh. Friends. Friends who had crossed a line, but friends who could put that aside, and move on. Hopefully.
And even though I’ll miss what I’ve found here in Dave, and in Sam, as soon as this project is finished, I’m outta here.