As Violet pushed the doors to her home open, she felt her heart drop due to the sight before her. Seven metres in front, Crystal was seated in the pouring rain. Her head was down like a beaten dog. Her phone lay next to her just as exposed to the elements, and although Crystal was staring at the phone her eyes were blank. She was obviously lost somewhere far, far away as the heavy rain continued to pour over her shivering body.
"Crystal," Violet called out.
No response came back, or even any recognition of what had been said. Not even a flinch or a raise of her head had come in response.
In that instant anything sexual that Violet was feeling prior vanished. She had seen Crystal in a state like this before. Violet had expected things to be bad from the voice message but not this bad. This was something to be worried about. The last and only other time Violet had seen Crystal like this was when they were just ten years of age. The memory flooded back...
They were at school. It was warm and sunny. Lunchtime had started. They had both finished their food and together were in the playground playing chasey like the rest of the girls. Their teacher then came up to Crystal, saying something private. Violet hadn’t heard what it was. Crystal just left after that, walking away towards the front office. Violet went to follow wondering what her friend was going to do.
When she reached her, Crystal’s head was down. Her eyes also appeared to be lost somewhere else. This was no different to now. Crystal had looked sad, and she wasn’t smiling either. Violet wanted to know what was wrong with her friend. She asked curiously, worried. No response.
Crystal just kept walking, going faster. The gap between suddenly widening. Violet was both confused and hurt. This wasn’t the Crystal she knew, the Crystal who was her friend. She tried to catch up, calling her name. Again there was no response.
Before she could reach Crystal, she was stopped by a teacher. This was the same one who upset Crystal just before. The teacher informed her that Crystal, her friend, was to be left alone. Violet watched her friend, time passed. Crystal was eventually picked up, and Violet watched her go.
School continued like nothing was wrong. No one cared, except her. She cared; she worried. School finished, and she went home with Mum and Dad. They had dinner together and then she showered, before being read a bed time story.
The next day she went to school, came home going through the same process. There still was no word of Crystal, her best friend. Many days passed. Almost a week later she mustered the courage to ask what had happened. Mum said Crystal's dad had died. She also said that Crystal was sad and needed some time alone. The subject wasn’t to be mentioned again. That didn’t make sense, but Violet accepted it. Mum knows best; she was always right, right?
Time went on. Violet still worried though and wanted to help, but Mum said she couldn't. Crystal eventually came back to school. She was her best friend again, just the same as before that day. Violet never asked about it, and Crystal never offered to tell. Life went on. But one thing was going to be different. If she ever saw her best friend like that again, she wouldn’t be held back and do nothing.
No, she would be there by her friend's side and no matter what, she would try her best to help. Help her until she was happy again. Help her so that she could smile. Help her so her eyes weren’t lost. But most importantly she was going to help her to be her normal self again. Because after all that was what best friends did. If that were not possible, she would do whatever she could to achieve the closest thing to it.
Seven years had gone by since she had decided that. As those years passed, both Violet and Crystal had grown older and more mature. Even though they had drifted apart at times they always returned back to being friends. They both had their ups and downs.
Crystal was always her normal self and stayed strong through it all, the good times and bad. Crystal was even the one who coped better when things did go pear shaped, and for the majority of the time it was she who supported Violet, not the other way around. However now was different. Things had changed.
Violet had almost forgotten that other side of Crystal. However, now that this side to Crystal had re-emerged both the memory and her decision had also. It all must have been stored somewhere deep in the back of her mind but not forgotten. Now that promise she had made to herself had been dragged from the depths of her mind. So, too, had the decision along with it. It was all as clear as day.
Now that Crystal was that different person again, the one who stole her friend from her, the one who was lost, it was up to Violet to help fix it. It took Violet only a split second to decide what to do and how to act. She had to keep her self-promise. It was the right thing to do. It was instinct, the same kind as the one that made a mother look after its young. Violet acted right away.
"Crystal," Violet called out once more. Again there was no response. So she stepped out into to the rain and approached her. Walking up, she stood by Crystal's side. Still there was no recognition of her presence. Violet stood there, waiting, hoping Crystal would realize she was there. After a very long few minutes, she decided that was not to going to be the case.
Violet knelt down now so that she was at eye level with Crystal. Still nothing, so Violet hesitantly reached out a hand touching Crystal’s shoulder, softly. This got a response; shuddering and an instinctive flinch away.
"It’s okay, Crys. It’s me Violet." Crystal's head rose slowly and turned towards her; she was expressionless, bar two wide deer-caught-in-a-headlight like eyes looking past her. Violet shuddered and for the most part it was not from the rain.
Continuing she softly asked, "Do you want to come out of the rain and inside to the warmth? I could even get you some dry clothes. Now wouldn't that be better?"
Although Crystal nodded in reply, she made no effort or even hint that she was going to move anytime soon.
"Well come on, Crys, get your butt up off the wet lawn and hurry inside with me. I’m freezing already, and I’ve been out barely five minutes. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling."
Hearing this, Crystal did make an attempt to do just that. However as soon as she did her face turned to a grimace. She then collapsed back into her original position, grabbing at her left ankle as she fell. Violet noticed this action, and her attention was brought to Crystal's right ankle. It appeared to be really puffy, swollen, red and sore.
"Is your leg hurting, Crys?"
This got a nod in reply.
"Is that why you were just sitting out on my lawn, in the rain, instead of huddling yourself on the porch by the door calling out for me?"
Another nod came in reply.
"Did Mat do this to you?"
No response came this time. Except, just for a split second, a flash of shame appeared on Crystal’s otherwise emotionless face. Although this brief flash of emotion was barely recognizable, Violet still picked it up. This forced her to wonder if Mat was to blame. She would have to find out. But later when not so serious things were at hand.
When she did though, and if this was his fault, he was going to have to deal with her big time. No one messed with her friends and got away with it free of charge. Especially not when it was to do with Crystal.
Returning back to current issues, Violet asked, "Do you need me to help you to get inside?"
All she got was yet another nod.
Violet was thankful for this. At least Crystal was responding now and hadn't completely shut her off from her own thoughts.
Violet then proceeded to lift Crystal ever so slowly. She treated her like a fragile China doll, being as careful as she could of Crystal’s clearly hurting ankle. She had no real clue what condition it was in, and so opted to endure the rain for a little longer in order to take things slow. What were an extra few minutes? It wasn't like she wasn't already drenched by now.
Once Violet got Crystal standing they hobbled inside together as one, heading to a couch. All the while, Crystal was supported by Violet.
Upon arriving at their destination, Violet carefully guided Crystal down onto the sofa.
''Now that we're out of the rain and you're seated, do you mind telling me what happened, Crys?'
No reply came.
"I know it may be hard but please, please, please can you manage even just a few words to give me at least an idea of what’s going on? All I got on the phone was sobs, and since then nothing but nods."
Ironically Crystal nodded yet again. That might have been even funny in another circumstance. After came dead silence.
Violet sat down next to her and patiently waited. She knew Crystal well enough to know that when she felt comfortable she would talk. A long time had gone by before this happened. So long that Violet was about to give up hope and try to ask later. That’s when Crystal finally spoke.
When she did, it was only a whisper, barely audible. Violet had to lean in close to catch her words.
"He dumped me." Her voice rose now almost to a yell. "He fucking dumped me." Her voice softened again, going all shaky as she continued, "You know what the worst thing is?" Her voice caught, yet she still managed to continue, "He said he never loved me."
Her voice caught again. When she continued, she sounded strained like it was such an effort just to say a word.
"He called me a frigid bitch." She was on the edge now. Violet could tell she was about to break. "Then he kicked me out screaming at me that all he ever wanted was a fuck."
Crystal was clearly ashamed, and obviously felt like it was her fault that this had happened, Violet hated Mat all the more because of it.
Once those last words past Crystal’s lips, her head dropped. and she slumped into Violet's arms.
Then she did break, and the floodgates burst open as tears began to stream down her face, a face that, at some point had been buried into Violet's shoulder.
Upon this action, Violet embraced Crystal, holding her tightly against her. She held her like this for a very long time.
Eventually, the last of the tears rolled down Crystal's cheeks, and the sobbing stopped.
Only at this point did Violet dare to speak. When she did it was only to suggest going upstairs to get a change of clothes and a warm shower for Crystal.
Crystal never responded, too drained to nod. Instead, she let herself slowly and carefully be guided away.
To be continued.
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<a href="https://www.lushstories.com/stories/love-stories/arduer-part-1-new-beginnings-ii.aspx">Arduer: Part 1: New Beginnings (II)</a>