Are You There

Art by: Lo

Story by: Lo and Federico Fontanella

Her feet touched the floor – cold, so cold against her skin. She should have shuddered; she didn’t. A soft breeze whispered against the curtains, and the moonlight called to her. It rested idly on the waves and reached her there, frozen at the windowsill, shining on the hopes she’d tried to hide.

She stood there as she did every night, gentle eyes lost in the distance, salt wetting her cheek. The sea heard her words: “Are you there? At the bottom of the sea? On the farthest wave? On an island nobody knows? Or in the air I breathe? Are you there, my love?”

A pained moan came from the other side of the room then, but her mind was far away and she paid it no heed. The eyes that were quietly watching her quickly disappeared behind the door as she made to turn around.

Two people stood in silence in the corridor, studying each other in the dim light. How many years between them? One man, confident and well-dressed, looked down on the other, his long blonde mane the perfect contrast to the other’s receding grizzled hair. This man, smaller by nature, was made even shorter by the curve of his back. The weight of the world had been on his shoulders. How many years between them? None.

They climbed down the stairs, stealing away from the dreaming woman, and sat at a small table, eyes still locked in their silent questioning. It was the blonde man who broke the silence, slamming his hand on the table.

“There must be a way to cure her!”

The other barely acknowledged his outburst. His gaze turned cold, but when he replied, he did so with words dripping sorrow. “I am a psychiatrist, Harold. I help people cure themselves, I don’t cure them.”

“Then help her! She doesn’t even recognize me!”

The doctor bowed his head and took off his glasses. The dying embers in the fireplace crackled feebly, and all else was silent. Finally, he raised his eyes to Harold’s once again.

“You were gone for twenty-eight years. You didn’t see her laugh and cry and suffer all this time; you didn’t see her mind decay faster every year. She’s been waiting for you so long, she cannot accept to stop waiting. Did you hear her, before? Are you there, she asked.”

Harold groaned.

“Harold Yudera,” the doctor insisted. His stomach churned, knowing his friend’s name was on her lips even now that she’d forgotten it. He watched as Harold buried his head in his hands. “She looks for you every night. I do not know whether she’ll recover, Harold, I only know it is up to her.”

Harold looked up at him, his beautiful hair stuck to his tears. “Stop…”

The doctor tried to keep his voice from trembling.

“This time, she’s the one who decides the right time to come back.”