Her arm wouldn’t move. “Are you listening to me?” She stared at Seth. He seemed angry. “You never listen to me. I keep worrying about you and you don’t even care.” He continued.
“I do, I do care about you.” She said, trembling.
“Like hell you do, I can see how much you actually care about me. Now tell me, who is that guy?!” He screamed, showing her the text message she had gotten from Carter.
“He is just a friend.” She was scared, her mind was going numb from all the screaming and stress, she could barely feel both her arms now.
“Then why is he texting you so late?” he accused. She stared back at him, her mind had stopped responding.
He jerked her shoulders. Lily looked at him again and that was the last thing she remembered before everything went blank.
“Lily!” Seth started shaking her, but she wouldn’t budge.
After a while when she regained her consciousness, Seth held her with concern pouring from his expressions.
“Whats wrong with you! What happened?!” He seemed anxious.
“I’m fine…” If only he knew.
“Lily what happened? I’m sorry maybe I went a little overboard. But you know I worry about you, I want you to be, just mine.”
“I am yours.” She forced a smile. Again her heart had melted, seeing him worried, she thought maybe he wouldn’t cause it again. Just like every other time before this.
The next day in class, Carter approached her “You guys slept early yesterday? I wanted to know about the art festival.”
“Yeah, had a long day. And yes, I definitely think you should put up all the pieces you created this year.” She smiled at him. Carter was a really good person but he didn’t need to know about Seth. He never physically abused her but it was only his temper that would get out of hand at times. Lily had accepted this, he wasn’t a bad person, he was just slightly bad at accepting something when it didn’t go his way.
“What are you going to put up? Are you done with your piece?” Carter asked, interrupting her thoughts.
“Um, no actually, I am still working on a piece, although I don’t know if I’ll be able to complete it before the deadline.”
“Of course, you will. I have seen you working, you are a natural at sculpting. A little focus and you’ll be able to do it.” He said. She liked carter, he would always encourage her and push her to be better.
“Thanks, Carter.” It wasn’t just that moment that he was being thanked for.
During lunch break Seth stopped by the university, both Carter and Lily were still working.
Lily was surprised to see Seth, she knew he wouldn’t react well with Carter around.
“Hi.” She kissed him, over her shoulder Carter stood. “Oh, this is my friend Carter.”
“Nice to meet you, I’ve heard a lot about you.” Carter said.
“Nice to meet you too. Yeah, Lily told me about you too.” Seth asked in a monotonous voice.
“Ah yes, I am done with my piece for the festival, but Lily’s work is something else. I can’t wait to see it.” Carter smiled.
“Well she will finish it, she always does.” Seth turned towards Lily,”Can I talk to you for a moment?”
Lily uncomfortably smiled at Carter and followed Seth.
“Seth left?” Carter asked as she returned, but only after asking did he see her face clearly, she was almost in tears.
“Yes, he had a meeting.” She forced a smile and returned to her model. Carter didn’t say a word, he saw her arms were shaking, but it was clear to him it wasn’t his place to speak.
Seth kept coming over during lunch time every day after that, Lily would sit with him in the eating area. They invited carter to sit with them the first one or two times but after he refused they stopped asking.
Lily would act as if Carter didn’t exist and continue to smile at Seth as he would talk. But Carter, he could only look at Lily the entire time. She would always become quiet when Seth was around, almost as though she was afraid to speak.
On one late evening, when only Carter and Lily were left in the class, he asked, “Seth isn’t coming to pick you up today?”
Lily smiled her fake smile and said,”He’ll be here in a while I guess.”
“Why are you with him?” He asked.
She wasn’t expecting the question, she lost her composed expression.”Because I love him.”
“Lily, you always act so differently when you are with him. Almost as though you are about to cry.”
“Every relationship has problems, Carter.”
He didn’t say anything, he only stared at her for a while. “Lily, you deserve to be treated with care and love.”
She didn’t say anything. His words felt like a knife.
“My girlfriend, Irina, used to always scold me. She would always say ‘Men are so clueless, don’t you know women give their soul to you when they love you.’ ” He laughed a little.
“Used to? Why aren’t you guys together?” Lily asked. The two of them never spoke about anything so personal before.
“Irina passed away, a year ago. I can never seem to get that gorgeous face out of my head. The day I saw her corpse, she still seemed painfully beautiful.”
Lily didn’t know what to say. Carter was a good guy, he had always shown her support, always smiling but she never thought he was hiding such a great pain.
“Well forget that, but after Irina left, I have been following her words more than when she was here.” He chuckled again.
“Thanks, Carter. But I am fine, Seth is just a little short tempered. I love him and he is a good guy, trust me.” She smiled.
“He must be, don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against him. Maybe he just needs to remember to value what he has. Trust me, when you lose the person you love, only then do you generally realise how much you actually loved them.” He looked out the window. Lily wondered if his eyes were searching for Irina in the sky.
Seth and Lily continued to work their way through, but something was changing. Lily’s body was starting to give up. Her body would stop responding to her every time she couldn’t handle the stress, it was becoming more and more frequent. She knew she couldn’t let Seth know, he wouldn’t handle it well. So she decided to visit a psychiatrist instead.
“Lily?” She heard a familiar voice call out her name. She turned and saw Carter standing behind her.
“So things really haven’t been going well, huh?”
She didn’t say anything. She was surprised at his presence there.
“Oh, you must be wondering why I’m here. According to my friend, I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Even though Irina died a year ago, dealing with it still causes me trouble.”
“I see.” After a little awkward silence, she said, “Can you not tell anyone about this? I just have a minor problem, it’s nothing serious.” She looked down as she said.
“Don’t worry. But I’m here for you okay? That’s what friends are for right?”
She looked up at him, his expressions showed that his words were true. ‘Friends’, something she had forgotten, always trying to keep up with Seth she had lost all of her close friends without even realising it.
“Thank you, Carter. I’m glad to have you.” She smiled.
Carter and Lily continued to bond, he started sharing his pain and Lily would patiently listen, glad to feel appreciated, but she didn’t let Seth know anything about their friendship, she knew he would misunderstand the situation. Lily was sure Carter had no bad intentions, and neither did she, she just liked the feeling of not feeling bad about herself. Carter would make her feel that it was okay and that everybody felt pain.
One day as she was taking a shower, he heard Seth banging on the door.
“I’ll be out in a minute baby.” She called out.
When she came out of the bathroom, she saw Seth sitting on the bed angrily.
“What is this?” He flashed the screen of her phone at her face. It was Carter’s message. It read; ‘Hi, so Conor told me your body is reacting well to his treatment. I’m glad you are better now. I’ll still be stuck here for a while I guess, I can’t seem to sleep still.’
He punched the wall on the side.
“You have been cheating on me? You are such a harlot!” He was furious. Lily started shaking.
“Baby let me explain. I’m not cheating on you. I swear. Conor is a doctor” Her voice was shaking as well, she couldn’t breathe.
“You are a liar. You are such a whore.”
“Seth. No!” She couldn’t speak anymore, she could hear Seth screaming, but her mind couldn’t understand a word he was uttering. She fainted and fell on the ground.
“Great now you are going to pretend.” Seth said, but she didn’t move. After a few second he knelt and shook her, he found no response. Her body was cold, even after splashing water did she not wake up.
He called for 911 and she was soon admitted to the hospital. The hospital asked for her medical history and Seth knew nothing. To him, Lily was perfectly fine until that instant. He paced back and forth, he decided on calling up Carter. He hated him with all his might but even if Lily was cheating on him, maybe Carter would prove to be helpful. He would deal with her unfaithfulness later.
“What happened? Is Lily going to be okay?” Carter asked as he came walking urgently towards Seth.
“You bastard. I swear if she wasn’t in such a condition at the moment, I would kill you right here and now.”
“Are you crazy? Tell me what happened to Lily. Did you do something?”
“Like hell, I’d do anything. I just found out my girlfriend has been cheating on me and I am the devil? Tell me, who is Connor?”
Carter’s expressions changed. “He is a psychologist.” , he said flatly.
“Don’t lie and tell me the truth.” Seth threatened him.
“I’m not. Dr. Cornor is a friend of mine. He deals with patients undergoing stress.”
“Why would lily know him?” Seth still didn’t believe him.
“Are you serious? You have no idea what Lily has been going through?” He laughed in disgust.
“Don’t laugh at me a bastard. Tell me everything right now otherwise, I will kill you.”
“I’ll tell you, but I think it would be best if Conor would tell you everything. Let me call him.”
“Don’t call that whoreson I will burn him to the ground.”
“I can clearly see how concerned you are about Lily. Why don’t you just leave her be? You have done enough.” Before Seth could reply Carter showed him his hand and started talking on the phone.
“Connor, it’s Lily. She’s in the ICU, at the hospital CIMS. Please come here as fast as you can.”
Carter looked at Seth and said, ”He’ll be here in ten minutes. Let’s go meet the doctors.”
“You stay here! I will go talk to them.” and Seth stormed off.
As Seth stood with Lily’s doctor, Dr. Brooks, in the hallway, he saw Carter walk up with a man.
“Dr. Connor. I didn’t know you were involved in this case.”
“Gentlemen.” He courteously nodded at them and then looked at Seth and said,” Mr.Black, could I talk to you in private?” He handed Dr. Brooks a file and walked away with Seth.
Seth could barely grasp a hold of everything, Conor told him everything about Lily’s body rejecting stress and how she was under treatment.
“Why…why didn’t she tell me?”
“Mr. Waters, I am not sure what is the answer you are expecting, but in the time that I have come to understand Lily, she loves you deeply, she did not want to worry or bother you. I asked her to let me speak with you but she refused. I am sorry that we only meet after such a thing happening.”
“Doctor, please help Lily. I will never be able to forgive after this.”
“I’m very sorry to say Mr. Waters, but I am afraid it would be better if you would keep your distance from her. She is not in the condition to take any more havoc. I assure you she will get better, she is a strong young girl, but it would be in her best interest to not be near you.” He said and walked away to where Carter and Dr. Brooks stood.
Seth Didn’t say a word, he didn’t know what was happening. He went out in the waiting area and sat with his head down. He couldn’t believe he had turned into someone who could do so much of damage, he loved Lily and yet he had harmed her, letting his anger get the best of him.
“Lily, can you hear me?”
Lily slowly opened her eyes. “Seth?”
“Lily, I’m Dr. Brooks. You are at CIMS hospital. You had a mild attack but you are okay.”
“Where….where is Seth?” Conor and Carter exchanged glances.
“Lily, tell me, what date is it today?” She answered.
“Now please tell me where Seth is.” She tried to move a little, but her left hand wouldn’t move at all. “Dr. Conor I have to tell him that I’m not cheating on him.” she said to Conor
“Lily calm down, it will take some time. You need to relax. Everything is going to be okay, please don’t worry.” Said Dr. Brooks.
Carter left the room and started searching for Seth.
“Rascal, your girlfriend is worried about you and you are sitting here sulking!” Carter held his collar.
“She’s awake? Is she okay?” He started to walk but suddenly stopped,”I don’t have the right to see her. She must hate me right now.”
“You are so full of yourself, she is lying in a hospital bed, scared, worried about you, unable to move half of her body and you are here drowning in self-pity. Pathetic!”
“There is nothing I can do, I have destroyed everything.”
“Wake up already Seth. Lily loves you, she is still worried that you think that she has been cheating. She needs you right now, be a man and go.”
Seth just stared at Carter.
“You are a fool, the one you love is still here isn’t she? Sure you have to mend everything, you have to fix yourself as well as her, but don’t you realise how lucky you are to still have each other?”
Seth didn’t say anything, he didn’t know why Carter was pushing him so much, but whatever he said did make sense.
“Lily…” Seth said as he entered the room.
“Seth, this is Conor, he’s my therapist. I swear I -“ Before she could complete Seth hugged her.
Lily could see tears in his eyes. “Lily I am sorry. I never wanted to hurt you. I wish I could fix everything.”
“Baby, I’m sorry I kept all of this from you. But I swear I wasn’t cheating on you. Carter and Dr. Conor have just been trying to help me.”
“I know. I’m so sorry. It’s okay now. Everything is going to be okay.”
Lily tried to move her left hand but it still didn’t move, Seth looked at it and kissed it.
“Lily, it’ll be okay. You will need to go through physiotherapy but I’m positive you will make a full recovery.” said Dr. Brooks.
A few months later Lily returned to college, she stepped into the class as Seth held her hand.
“Lily!” Carter greeted her.
They shook hands. “Lily, are you sure you are ready to work?”
“Doctor Brooks said I still need to go easy on my legs but my hands are back to normal.”
“Ah the kiss of true love, even if it was given to the hand.” Carter teased them.
“You really are a bastard.” Seth smirked.
“I’m just glad you idiots are going steady.” Carter said.
“Now now you two, lets settle shall we.” Lily smiled, she was glad that Seth no longer had a problem with Carter.
“Carter lets step out for a bit shall we?”
Both of them slowly walked near the entrance.
“Lily told me everything about you. I want to apologise for everything.” Seth said in a calm voice.
“Seth, I won’t lie, but I still don’t trust you, but Lily truly loves you and I can just hope you treat her well. Life is too short to not value the ones we love.”
Seth didn’t say anything. The wind blew against them, breathing in fresh spring. “I have been visiting Doctor Conor myself, I need to get ahold of myself if I never want to lose Lily.”
“I see, I’m glad you both worked it out before life could cause you regret.” Carter looked ahead.
“I will always regret, but all I can do is repent. That day, I thought I lost Lily forever, I realised how much she meant to me, I just don’t know how the cycle of aggression started. I won’t say this ever again, but thank you.”
Carter looked at Seth with amusement and started to laugh.
Seth looked crossed,”But, you can never hit on my girl, I know she has this thing about her, but she is off limits.”
“Haha, Oh come on, she is nothing compared to my Irina.”
They smiled in truce.
“You both look happy. Are you secretly gay?” She teased Seth.
“No, but don’t doubt me further after I tell you that Cater is joining us for Dinner tonight.”
“Really?” Lily smiled.
“Are you going to cook Lily?” Carter asked.
“Lily? Cooking? Let me tell you something, if Lily tries to cook, the whole kitchen will burn down.” Seth joked.
“Hey! That’s mean!” Lily voiced and Seth kissed her.
“Guys, I think I’ll have to rethink the dinner.” Carter started laughing.
“I’ll see you later?”
“Okay. Lily smiled as Seth walked away.
“‘Oh, My boyfriend is so dreamy.’“ Carter mimicked Lily’s voice and they laughed. “You look happy.”
“So do you.” She looked at him with suspicion.
“I am happy for my friend” He smiled.
“You are such a softy.” She laughed, Lily knew Carter’s pain still remained, but he was trying and now she could support him the way he had.
“I’m gonna name this piece, gratification.” Lily said and Carter looked at her piece. It was a girl praying with her eyes closed, smiling to the unknown.
“I like it.”