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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Live, Love, Lose - 38. Chapter 38

The following night, he dreamt about the same thing again, exactly as he dreamt it the night before. Except for one thing. But this was something he hadn’t seen the first time.

Once the boy that looked like George had died in his arms, the boy that looked like him killed himself, stabbing his upper body with a bloody sword.

He found this really weird and disturbing. It couldn’t be just a coincidence if he had dreamt the same dream again, and with the boy’s death adding.

Should he try to talk about it to someone so he could have their opinion and advice?

Maybe he should wait for another night before getting really worried. Or even two.

Yes, he should really wait. They were just visions after all. It’s not as if what he had seen would happen in real life.

But it was still weird.

Was it like some kind of puzzle in which a missing piece would be added every night?

He would have to wait to know.

George hadn’t slept in the room with him. So where had he slept? Maybe he really should leave this time. No, Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins wouldn’t let that happen, and he wouldn’t upset Mrs. Hopkins another time.

So what should he do?

Keep your promise, that’s all that really matters, his brain reminded him.

Yes, that was true. There was no room for doubt and hesitation.

He found him in the kitchen with Paul, Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins. Paul and he seemed to be ignoring each other, which he found weird. But no one said anything about it.

“You know boys, I was thinking that we could spend another weekend in Brighton or perhaps more than a weekend. Why would we not stay there for a whole week? I think everyone needs it. Summer is so ideal a time for a long holiday,” Mrs. Hopkins suggested as she left the kitchen counter to approach the table. “And each of you could have their own room. It would be much better this way,” she added as she looked at Paul, George, and Karl.

Paul and George didn’t look that enthusiastic at the suggestion, neither did Mr. Hopkins for that matter. He just looked neutral.

“Yes, you are right. It can only be good for us,” her husband still agreed.

Mrs. Hopkins smiled at her husband. Then she looked at her son.

“And Paul, you can tell Emma that she can join us.”

Paul looked annoyed by her remark and especially the way she said it.

“Sorry Mum, but the war doesn’t take any holiday, unfortunately. I’d rather stay here in London with Emma if you don’t mind.”

His words put a damper on the room, and everyone was speechless.

“You sound like your father,” Mrs. Hopkins broke the eerie silence after a long while.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring back bad memories. But if we don’t want many more victims we have to work twice as much to be more efficient and win that war.”

His words were followed by silence, which Mrs. Hopkins was the one to break again after another while.

“I know….just do not overwork yourself too much.”

“Don’t worry, Mum. I can handle myself. I know what my limits are.”

She still looked concerned as she was staring at him.

“Well, it will be just the four of us then,” his father was the one to break the silence this time.

“Yes,” Mrs. Hopkins replied after a short while, seemingly not being able to find anything better to say.

Karl noticed the way Mr. Hopkins was staring at George who still hadn’t opened his mouth by that time.

“George, if you do not want to go, that is fine. We can stay here. Or you can stay with Paul if you wish. This is up to you,” he spoke after a few seconds.

The brown-haired teenager stared back at him, looking somewhat lost as if he were only there physically and too much lost in thought to pay attention to what was around him.

“No…I wanna come with you. I may not look happy about it as I should, but I really like it there.”

Mr. Hopkins offered him a warm smile.

Karl couldn’t help thinking about the day he found him on the floor in the living room. This mere thought broke his heart.

The little brother he had lost. He would never know what it felt like… But he still felt the pain as if he had. It was an awful feeling.

There was nothing he could do that could erase the pain that Mr. Hopkins felt. And it made his own pain even worse.

How life could be so mean to such nice, loving, and great people?

***

The following afternoon they arrived in Brighton and spent a calm and casual week there. Everything went well. George kept ignoring Karl, but as long as he didn’t slit his wrists again, it was alright. Karl didn’t even try to make a move, being well aware it would be pointless.

Everything went so well that Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins decided to extend their holiday for another week. And he could only approve of their decision. He really enjoyed staying so close to the sea.

One day in the middle of the week, since he was left alone with George he decided to practice his writing. Mrs. Hopkins had been starting to show him how to do it besides the speaking lessons. He found it difficult, but now that he had started, he didn’t want to give up. At least not so soon.

Of course, it was better when Mrs. Hopkins was there to help him, but just like with chess he found it good to practice on his own too. And no, he didn’t mind at all staying with them all the time, but they needed some privacy too, some time when it would be just the two of them.

The only snag was that he couldn’t find any pen in the house, much to his surprise. How are you supposed to write without a pen? He wondered. He should have asked Mrs. Hopkins before they went out. Of course, a pen was certainly not the first thing you would think about taking with you on a holiday.

He decided to go and ask George, willing to take the risk to be yelled at and shooed away from his room. That was something he could bear. He didn’t bother to knock on the door, but he stood frozen in his spot with that he saw when he opened it.

George had a blade in his hand, and he was about to do it again. He started shivering as his blood ran cold. He couldn’t let that happen again. He wouldn’t. He rushed towards George and attempted to take the blade from him. But George wouldn’t let him take it.

“What the hell?! Get out of my room!”

Of course, Karl wouldn’t listen to him; he wouldn’t let himself be seized with fear and panic.

He struggled to take it. George was aggressive and fierce like a wild beast. He was thankful Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins were not there to see this.

Except with his brother, he had never got into a fight, but this was for a good cause. He thought he had been getting better throughout the previous week. Guess he was wrong.

“Just stop it!!! Leave me alone!!!”

Their struggle seemed to drag on making it look like it would never end.

Anyway, at some point, Karl stopped all movement as he felt a sharp pain in his body. He noticed how George stopped as well, staring at him instead wide-eyed, his mouth slightly agape. He looked horrified. He dropped the blade that was still in his hand as he kept staring at Karl in a daze. They both remained motionless and speechless for a short while looking at each other before Karl looked down. He directed his hands towards the part of his body where it had hurt and touched it. He could feel something wet through his shirt. He froze as he removed his hand. His legs were starting to feel like jelly and he soon collapsed on the floor. George rushed by his side and helped him up, sitting him on the bed.

“Just remove your shirt,” Karl could hear the panic in his voice. He unbuttoned his shirt with trembling hands and sloppy movements.

Karl just watched him do it. Then he had him remove his shirt maybe a bit too aggressively, and next thing he knew he disappeared with it out of the bedroom.

He reappeared only a few moments later with something in his hands, but without the shirt. He put down what he had in his hands on the bed next to him and kneeled down before him. He took one of the things. It was a square of white cloth, and he applied pressure to the wound with it. He remained still in that position for a while, never meeting Karl’s gaze that was on him.

Karl could see how distressed and uneasy he looked, and he decided that he preferred to see him aggressive towards him rather than like this.

When he was done with that, he put away the square of cloth that was all bloody now. He started shivering again. Fortunately, he was sitting now, otherwise, his legs couldn’t have stood his weight any longer at the sight.

Then George took a small bottle. He opened it and poured some of the liquid on a cotton ball. Then he applied pressure to the wound, making Karl flinch. He clenched his jaw, and it took all of his will not to groan or shout in pain. He breathed loudly, wishing it could stop. It burnt and stung. It was absolutely awful.

“Just hold on. It won’t be that long,” George told him before he focused back on the wound.

He removed it only a few instants later after rubbing it against the wound carefully and took something else; a pad. He covered the wound with it, still carefully. Karl stared at it with impassive eyes once George removed his hands.

“You’ll be alright, the wound is only shallow,” he seemed to hesitate before he spoke again, “but I’ll need to change the dressing each day until it heals completely.”

Karl just stared at him in silence, but George still avoided eye contact with him. There was a long moment of awkward silence that followed his words, but neither of them moved.

George let out a shaky breath at some point.

“I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to hurt you. It was an accident.”

Karl didn’t care about his apology. He was kind of angry because he still couldn’t understand why he would do this. Willingly hurting himself.

“For your information, I didn’t mean to kill myself either,” he added.

Wait a minute…

He understood it all now. All his little game. He had been pretending everything was alright when it actually wasn’t so they wouldn’t suspect anything. And it had been working all too well.

Until Now.

He had been lucky to arrive before he could do anything this time.

The long silence dragged on, and Karl wanted to be the one to yell at him for once, but he was too upset to even do it.

He looked away, anywhere inside the room but at him.

“Please don’t tell Uncle Robb and Margaret about it,” George’s voice made him look back at him, still with impassive eyes.

He had just changed his position and was now sitting next to him on the bed, facing him.

Karl almost wanted to ignore him like he had ignored him so many times, but he wasn’t heartless. It was clear that George was still suffering.

He shifted his position slightly so he was now facing him, and stared straight into his upset eyes.

“Promise me you will keep this a secret,” he both sounded and looked desperate, afraid, and his chest started aching.

He just kept staring at him wordlessly.

“Please!” George insisted. But Karl still didn’t react. George let out a loud sigh after a few seconds as he broke eye contact.

He stood up from the bed, seemingly looking for something, and sat back in the same spot a few instants afterwards. He had the same blade in his hand and Karl started shivering once again. He feared the worst. But before he could do anything, he was interrupted by George.

“Look,” he said as he took again the small bottle and poured some of the liquid on another cotton ball. He wiped the blade with it with a slow movement. “We’re gonna mix our bloods. It’ll be a symbolical promise to keep quiet about it, an oath.”

Karl could feel his heart skip a beat as George brought the blade close to the palm of his hand. He mechanically reached for it, but George stopped him by grabbing his wrist firmly.

“Don’t freak out. It’s a symbolic gesture, meaning you have to keep your mouth shut about what happened.”

Karl just kept staring at him earnestly, trying hard to make sense of the situation.

“Just trust me,” he added, “okay? I promise I won’t hurt myself ever again or you either with this oath,” he said solemnly.

He let go of Karl’s wrist and cut his left palm in a small and neat line. Karl started feeling nauseous as blood came out of it.

George stared at it as if it was only something casual, and it unsettled Karl very much. He grabbed his wrist again and stared at the palm of his own hand intently. Then he looked up at him, his face impassive and grave. Karl had a strange feeling lingering in the pit of his stomach. It wasn’t quite fear, or disgust, or anything similar. But then he didn’t know what it was.

“And in return, you promise not to say anything about what you saw. It will be our secret.”

He made the same small and neat line and he looked away as he did. He could feel his legs hurt, not making things any easier.

Before he could even think about what he had just done, George brought their palms together and pressed them against one another, his fingers clenching the back of his hand. He couldn’t look away from their hands. It felt as if he were mesmerised by this.

He could feel his pulse. Their pulses, beating in unison under their skin.

Time seemed to have frozen at that moment. Nothing else seemed to matter any longer; neither the things surrounding them or the people they knew. Both his chest and stomach were overwhelmed with a weird sensation that he still couldn’t identify or control.

Their eyes met as he looked up. He froze.

George let go of his hand, and he took again that same bottle and repeated the same gesture he had already made twice earlier. He cleaned the blood on his hand and looked as if it didn’t hurt at all.

Then after using a new cotton ball, he did the same with Karl’s hand, except that it burnt and stung once again. He winced in pain, but George didn’t even seem to notice. Fortunately, it was quickly over.

George let go of his wrist once again, and their gazes were fixed on each other after a few seconds. It was silent for a short while. Karl didn’t know what to think anymore.

“We’re blood brothers now.”

Hey everyone :)

I hope you're all doing well! Do I see a bit of improvement hanging in the air...?  ;)

Well, now I've got to get ready to face the bitter cold!

Have a good day/night and take care ❤️

Copyright © 2021 LittleCherryBlossom26; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

Not intending to hurt yourself doesn’t normally require an exposed blade near your arm. Karl has amazing timing to keep interrupting George, but now through this accident, he can see that his actions can be resulting in other being/getting hurt. The irony of depression, I wanted to kill myself, but please don’t tell the Hopkins…

So yes, we may have a breakthrough in that George can start thinking beyond his own internalized depression. I think Karl is exactly what George needs; naivety that demands explanation, and explanation that requires thought and patience to communicate.  Yet Karl is vested enough to not run away from George’s scary actions and by giving blood to save “not a friend” from his own foolhardy death wish.

Whether Karl understands blood brother or not is kinda irrelevant as George is now talking more levelheaded and with a rational fear, without screaming; promising signs for moving towards a healthier perspective. 

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Well, this bloody accident could be the dramatic fulcrum point that terribly shocks and then eases George back to a healthy life. Time will tell. But can it be kept a secret ?

Karl acted bravely and has carried out his promise to JoJo to save George  He is bewildered but showed his inner decency and kindness. He is not a mean person. Once again, Karl gets the essence of what people are saying and wanting. 

George now sees Karl in a new light. I am interested to find out how they both react and interact.  Karl might find a new friend to teach him English and he could feel lots better about living with the Hopkins with a happier George.

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