Cybil sat on the tiny bed and stared at the other one that lined the other side of the plain room. There was nothing homely about it. Just clean linen on both beds, a simple nightstand stood sentry next to the heads with a plain lampshade each. The window, narrow and barred was plastered exact centre of the wall. The only decoration was a simple oil painting of a tree in some vague garden. She supposed it was meant to envoke tranquility, but the room did no such thing for Cybil. In fact, she was even more nervous than she had ever been. Neil had dropped her off over an hour ago. He was probably quarter way back home already. As she stared at the empty bed across from her, her heart leapt to her throat. She wish she’d kept her phone on her. If only she could call Neil back. She couldn’t imagine being able to sleep in the room alone.
She left her bag on the bed and walked out to the common area. She headed straight for the phone that hung on the wall on the far side of the large room. She passed several residents on her way, some who smiled at her, others who frowned. One face looked familiar as his hand went up and waved her way. Awkwardly, Cybil waved back as she reached the phone. It was a mistake coming here today and she just wanted to correct her mistake. She picked up the receiver and dialed the number off by heart. The quiet before the beep tone had given her all the hope in the world, which only popped when it went straight to his voicemail. ‘I don’t have much battery left, Cil.’ She remembered him having said, and with a heavy heart, hung up without leaving a message.
Neil was heading interstate on a gig with his band and wouldn’t be back for an entire week. Meaning, for the entire week, she was going to be stuck in a room more frightening than her own, staring at the empty bed across from her.
‘So you’re back again!’ Someone was saying to her as she’d begun to walk, not knowing where she wanted to go. She felt a hand on her arm grab her gently and turned robotically to see it was the guy who had waved at her earlier. ‘Hi,’ he said with a wide grin on his somewhat handsome face. If only it didn’t have hallow cheeks and sunken eyes, nor if the skin had much health left in it.
‘Graham,’ she chocked out.
Graham looked her up and down and his grin went ever wider. ‘You look great, Cil.’ He mumbled and for some reason, hearing Cil from him sent a pang through her and she missed Neil dearly.
‘Thanks,’ she managed, turning to walk away just as tears threatened her eyes. ‘When did you come back?’ She headed for the outdoors and Graham walked beside her. There was a slight limp to the way he walked. How long had it been since she’d last seen Graham, a year, two years? An image flashed in her mind – the two of them, a janitor’s closet and a whole lot of sloppy kisses from Graham. She could almost feel it now and felt disgusted with her self, involuntarily shaking her head at the thought. ‘It’s been a while.’
Graham laughed, familiarly taking Cybil by her shoulders and walking out into the yard. The gesture felt unwelcome and Cybil pretended to try and pull her hood over her head as a way to slip away from his touch. She rushed to the bench and brushed snow off its edge and precariously sat down on the cold seat.
Graham gave her a simple smile, and followed her example. ‘So what brings you back here then?’
The young woman smiled in her mind, mocking Cybil as usual. ‘Oh you know, drugs and stuff…’ she trailed off.
‘Stuff,’ Graham stated the word so heavily as if he were prying out its secrets. ‘Stuff like boys?’
Cybil thought for a moment that Graham seemed hurt. She decided to play along. No one would believe her real reason anyway. ‘Yeah, something like that.’
‘The one that dropped you this morning?’
Cybil hadn’t realized anyone had seen Neil at all, or that they gave off boyfriend-girlfriend vibe. Neil was many things, but a boyfriend he was not. Thought the thought caught like wild fire, Why not? ‘It’s complicated.’
Why so complicated? The eerie voice rang in her head. Why not just tell him I scare you?
Cybil shot off the seat as if she’d been shocked. She brushed off the snow from her jacket and headed back inside before he could she the terror on her face. ‘It’s too cold outside.’