Knock knock knock.
“Hey, Hrida? It’s Derrick.”
Hrida rarely missed morning coffee. Tracey came in toting a stormcloud of energy with her. Vince got so lost in his tinkering he might as well have been on another planet. The clashing tempest of moods almost made Derrick dizzy. He’d gently picked the truth out of Tracey, bought her a coffee, then made straight for Hrida’s apartment. He’d stopped at a shop window on the way there to make sure he looked presentable, and now he was here, standing across from that door with sweaty hands stuck casually in his pockets.
“Come in,” the faint answer drifted out from inside. Derrick took a deep breath then opened the door. Immediately, he caught a pleasant whiff of some scented candle. The apartment was minimally furnished with found objects tastefully arranged on the shelves and mismatched thrift store furniture. Hrida had taken all the couch cushions and placed them in a loose square on the floor. She sat in the middle of her handmade island, hands wrapped around a mug of tea. Derrick kicked off his shoes at the door then shuffled across the floor in his socks. Hrida looked up at him and smiled softly as he sat down.
“We missed you at coffee this morning.” Derrick leaned back on his arms, smiling back at her.
“Yeah, sorry ‘bout that. I slept in a bit.” She took a sip of her tea.
“That’s okay.” The two of them sat in silence for a little bit before he could get his words together. “Um…Tracey told me about what happened, y’know, last night.”
Some of the color left Hrida’s face.
Derrick could feel her energy starting to shift, swirling itself into a hurricane. She gently tightened her grip on the mug and recrossed her legs.
“D’you wanna talk about it?”
Hrida set her cup down on the floor and pulled her knees up to her chest. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath in.
“I don’t know.” Her forehead scrunched up like she was wrestling with something in her head, and then she kept going. “Everything was fine until it just wasn’t. Tracey and I went out to dinner, and we were talking, laughing on the way home until the monster came out of nowhere. I wish I’d been able to do something, but my body froze. Locked up. I couldn’t have moved even if I wanted to. And Tracey,” Hrida laughed, shaking her head at the memory. “You should’ve seen that thing, but Tracey stood right up to it like it was only some bully. She told me to go hide, so I didn’t see much of the fight, but I heard it.” She hugged herself tighter. “I never want to hear anything like that ever again.”
Before Derrick knew what he was doing, he moved closer and put an arm around Hrida’s shoulders. He didn’t have anything to say, so he held her, his head resting on top of hers. He felt her tense up at the unexpected contact. Her energy still swirled, confused and conflicted, but after a moment, it calmed, morphing into one color.
Throughout his life, Derrick had learned which colors of energy matched up to which emotions. Yellow meant happiness, black meant anger, or red meant passion. For anything in between, the colors all swirled together, but Hrida’s energy was resolutely lavender, the color of peace.
She leaned into his side, shaking slightly, and he realized she was crying. He wrapped both arms around her, bowing his head to share in her pain.
“I’ve got you.”
So quickly he thought he’d imagined it, a sunburst of pink came to the surface, then vanished into the sea of purple. When Hrida finally spoke again, her voice shook.
“Thank you.” She gently pulled away. He let her sit up and wipe the tears from her face.
“Want another cup of tea? Yours has gone cold.”
“Please.” Even though she had leftover tears on her face, Derrick still thought she looked beautiful as she smiled. He smiled back at her, picking up her mug and heading to the kitchen.
A few minutes later, he returned, carefully balancing a tray with a kettle of hot water and several packets of tea.
“I didn’t know which one you wanted, so I grabbed a handful.” He placed the tray in front of Hrida, then sat down next to her again.
“This is perfect.” She looked down at the tray, then back at him. “Y’know, I can’t remember the last time someone’s done something like this for me.”
“Well,” Derrick shrugged. “If it makes you happy, I’m glad to do it.”
Afterward, he couldn’t remember how long the two of them sat there together, going back and forth between silence and making quiet conversation, but for once, everything felt a bit closer to okay.
Author Notes: Yay :D