Last scene of previous:
They asked the Ferris Wheel operator to let them off the ride. They gave some eager kid the rest of their tickets and headed out of the bustling carnival back out onto the quiet street outside.
Echo was uneasy with herself. She didn’t know how to act around Vi. She was afraid of hurting her. She was afraid that her teasing, which, to her, had been survival mechanisms, would hurt Vi. Or that she’d take something wrong and get upset when Vi had meant nothing by it. She didn’t know what the proper way to act around a non-toxic person was. And she was scared of getting it wrong. She didn’t have to always be on high defenses, or keep alert. And this made her feel like the doom was just yet to come. She never had to worry of hurting the person in front of her or beside her. She never didn’t have a reason to be upset. She never hadn’t been hurt by someone. She didn’t have a default or survival setting for this; for peace. There was no instructions in her inner being on how to walk around a nice person or talk around one. Everything she did or said always relied on survival, but now it didn’t; now all those things wouldn’t be proper ways to act, and she didn’t know what would be proper. Vi hadn’t gotten mad when Echo fell quiet, she hadn’t gotten defensive and asked her what she’d done wrong to deserve it; she hadn’t told Echo to lighten up and quit it. She simply has walked beside her and said nothing, done nothing even aside of offering to help. Her eyes felt watery and her chest felt heavy. But she pushed it down. This was no time to get emotional or let any guards down. She doubted it, but Vi could just be waiting for them to get to the inn, or could be mulling over what to yell at her for.
“I just remembered, there was a pony ride, I meant to show it to you.” Vi quietly spoke and then tried to smile.
“I probably would have crushed a pony.” Echo said, and Vi stifled a laugh.
“What? I would have! I would feel bad.” Echo hoped she didn’t sound rude saying it.
Vi couldn’t hide a chuckle. “You might be right, but you’re not as heavy as you think… I think we both might have crushed a pony because we’re both tall,… and not 8.”
Echo laughed. “That’s true. We are a little bit older than eight-year-olds.” She pictures it and giggles at the thought of them both trying to sit on ponies. “Horses might be more proper for people of our age.” She finally says.
“Yes. Maybe they should have horses too, for all the poor adults who want pony rides.” Vi pooches her lip.
“Do you want to go back and try to get a pony ride?” Echo says, jokingly.
“No,” Vi pouts, “We don’t have any more tickets, anyways. I bet that kid had a good pony ride, though.” She said.
Echo laughs, “Probably.” and then, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay!” Vi looks at her and says gently. “It really is.” She looks back at her feet. Neither has looked at the other for the majority of the walk.
They come up to the Inn now and Vi opens the door for Echo.
“Oh, thank you.” Echo says and they walk past the front desk and take the elevator up to the 6th floor and then trot down to their room, 621.
“Do you want to use the bathroom first?” Vi asks as she sets Perthia on her bed.
“Could I?” Echo asks, making a face that she felt bad, “I really have to pee.”
“Go ahead. I’ll get dressed while you do.”
“Thank you.” Echo puts Sir Fish by her pillow and bounds off to the bathroom.
Vi puts on some pajamas and then remembers she still has to send the picture of them on the Ferris Wheel to Echo.
She searches for the number she honestly knows by heart and attaches the photo. She thinks of sending it with “Two bucket lists in one night! :)”, she hovers over send for a second and then just presses it. Echo’s phone dings across the room, so she knows she got it.
Echo finishes in the bathroom and then gets dressed while Vi completes her night routine, and then she rolls into bed and sighs. There were so many doubts in her mind, and now she was sharing them with Vi…and making her nervous. God, why am I like this? What am I so…scared of? She turned over, feeling uncomfortable with her thoughts. Vi came back from the bathroom then and pulled on some socks before sliding under her covers.
I should be in this. I said I would be and I don’t just give out. And what other choice do I have, anyways? Echo was nervous about all this. She sighed again and turned onto her back just hoping she’d fall asleep soon and that she’d feel differently tomorrow.
Vi stared out the window through the slit in the curtains for quite some time. She felt oddly alone, even knowing Echo was still here. The glow of the moon on the pale curtains didn’t help. There were a lot of thoughts in her mind, and no room to sort them, much less name them or describe them. So she let them stay a jumble and continued to dissociate instead.
She could tell that Echo felt a lot of different things too, as she heard her tossing and turning, along with the occasional sigh. She considered asking her what was wrong, but didn’t want to startle Echo if she thought she was asleep, or embarrass her if she didn’t mean for Vi to notice that she was bothered in her mind. So, instead, she closed her eyes and hoped for the best—that she would soon drift off to sleep.
I love you, baby. Goodnight.
The night was a quiet one. The trees rustled gently, the moon glowed softly, the crickets were singing low, the highway seemed to have fallen asleep and retired for the day, and the circus lights were turned off for a few hours.
The stars watched over the earth as she turned gently on her axis, hour after hour, slowly pulling on taught little strings one by one to bring this little quiet city back round to face the sun again. And thus, eight hours later, it was morning and the birds awoke and called the earth awake to go about her daily business once more.
But all this I say for naught, for neither Echo nor Vi watched the stars bring the earth around, for they both fell asleep after the first and early fitful hours of night.
Vi’s were the first eyes to open and her brain immediately resumed its work of mulling and worry. She wondered how they would go about today. What would Echo decide? She rolled over and saw that Echo was still fast asleep, so she took up her notebook and pencil and scooched the office chair over by the window and cracked the curtains open a tiny bit, looking to make sure it wasn’t waking Echo, and then sat down to sketch.
She’d draw the view outside of this little Inn that she’d probably never see again, she’d capture the highlights of the sunrise from this moment in time that would never come around again, a sunrise unalike any other that will ever come about henceforth. She’ll draw it, and at least she’ll have that to remember. She’ll look back on this that she made from this moment, a token of this little trip that she so romanticized with the girl she somehow still loved. But she frowned when she realized she wouldn’t be able to capture this cotton candy sky, because she had no colored pencils…only the grey lead of this mechanical No. 2. So she wrote the colors, describing the watercolor dance of the sun’s awakening the best that she could around the picture. She looked over at Echo then, who was awake now, and staring at her through sleepy eyes.
This little room. She didn’t draw that. She’d have to just take a mental picture of it to not forget it. She frowned invisibly. She looked at Echo again and saw that she was smiling at her. A soft smile. An adoring smile.
“You always did love ‘the splashes of color that the sun makes when it plays with the clouds’.” She said, reciting something that Vi used to tell her.
“…‘It’s the sun’s paintings which the birds admire in song’.” She finished it and then smiled a meek smile, cherishing the second she had with this exchange before impending decisions had to be made about where this adventure was going, and who would continue to be a part of it.
“How are you feeling today?” Vi asks, sensitively.
Echo frowns, “I’m just nervous…” she opens up, surprising her own self. The vulnerability instantly makes her catch herself, “But I’m okay. There’s just a lot to ponder on.”
“Tell me.” Vi gently offers her curiosity.
Echo sighs through a smile and, deciding that there’s no reason to hide this from Vi, starts, “I’m just not used to any of this. I’m not used to you. Not in…you’re not bad, it’s that,… I’m so used to Tess and how shitty she was that- that I just don’t know how to act around you.” She says it thoughtfully and steady.
Vi nods for a second and then replies, “That makes sense.” They’re quiet again for a few minutes.
“I really want some orange juice.” Echo says, breaking the silence after a long while.
“I bet they have some in the lobby, let’s go see.” Vi says, standing up from the office chair.