Marcus is sitting on the bed staring at the glass in his hands as if riddled with shrapnel. Blood runs from his palms and drips from his fingertips. He watches the deep red pool begin to form on the carpet. Marcus glances up. His eyes meet hers. His burn with pain and anger while hers flood with sorrow and longing. He goes back to his hands and picks the glass out. Each pang of pain acts as fuel to the fire in his eyes.
Stephanie starts toward him “Oh babe, let me ... ” Marcus’s eyes shoot up , and she stops in her tracks.
“You should’ve listened to Chloe.” With the last of the bits out, he looks down to the whiskey bottle next to him and reaches for it.
Stephanie panics “Oh babe, not after all you ’ r e hard ... ”
Marcus responds angered but hushed through clenched teeth “You think after putting myself through a year of AA I’m gonna relapse over this bull shit ! ” His eyes burn through her skull. She takes a few steps back.
He opens the bottle and pours the liquid on his hands hissing at the sting. “Are there still people here?” His voice is calm.
“Yeah . ” S he says looking at the shadows of feet as they rustle around in the other room.
“Send them home.”
“But babe they ... ”
“I said send them home . ” H e interrupts. His voice becomes stern and raspy yet still calm . “Besides I’m not in much of a partying mood right now as you can see.”
Marcus walks past her, however, Stephanie felt like if he could, he would have walked right through her . “Can I at least help you with ...? ”
“Yeah, cuz I really want more of your help right now,” Marcus says sarcastically. He shuts the door to the bathroom firmly.
Stephanie takes a deep breath and opens the door to the living room, dreading the faces of the rest of the party and their reactions to being sent home. Marcus’s attitude set her off a bit. Much to her surprise when she enters the room, most of the partygoers ha d already gone. All that’s left is Mandy as she talk s to the last person to leave at the doorway and Chloe as they pick up the mess leftover.
“Thanks, you two. You’re lifesavers. Chloe, I’m. .. ”
Chloe cuts her off. “Don’t worry about it. Me and Mandy will crash at my place tonight. You know, since it’s closer and if the two of you need anything we can. .. ”
“Finally, someone makes a smart decision. You come up with that one by yourself or did the three of you fucks have a pow - wow . ” Marcus chime d in from the doorway of the room . His hands are crudely bandaged with poorly wrapped gauze and what looks like masking tape holding it in place.
“Yeah fuck you too Marcus!” Mandy shoots back. She and Chloe hug Stephanie and head out.
As soon as the door shuts, it feels as if the air has left the room. The sound of silence screams loud as it echoes throughout the flat with no escape. The tension throbs in the walls like asthmatic lungs gasping for breath. Stephanie looks over to Marcus still steeping in his anger and tending to his wounds like a lion licking the thorn in his paw. He finally looks up at her. Their gazes seem to speak to each other in foreign languages with neither of them ready to respond. Stephanie looks away as the pangs of pain thump in her chest and wallows in the pit of her stomach. She grabs her bag and heads for the door. Unable to bear the apprehension held above his head in taut silence, he calls to her.
“Stephanie.” He finally speaks. She turns from the doorway as he walks toward her. He stops in the middle of the room where she catches his remorse-filled eyes. “I’m … ”
“I know . ” S he says softly with the hint of tears still in her voice. She goes to him and grabs his hand. “You don’t have to say it.”
The room finally eases to calm. Stephanie wraps around Marcus’s arm , and Marcus plants a gentle kiss on her forehead as they walk to the bedroom and shut the door behind them.
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