Chapter 8 - Lick It Up
Carol was Dylan’s first love.
The moment she entered the Kilner house holding David’s hand, Dylan began to understand the true meaning of the words ‘love at first sight’. He almost didn’t recognize David standing by her side courting her and seeking her affection, so distracted as he was by her presence.
Even though he knew that it was impossible to ask for Carol’s hand, she continued to occupy a larger place in his heart with each passing moment. Eventually, Dylan grew desperate for her love.
She would always act modestly, exuding calmness amidst a warm and friendly countenance. She looked transparent enough that one might fear she could disappear at any moment; it was almost as if, when reached for by hand, that hand would simply phase through her. Dylan believed his immoral thoughts would only taint such a lovely woman, so he could only watch her from afar.
The day after David and Carol’s wedding, Dylan had no confidence in his ability to withstand living with them in the same house. The knowledge that they were now a lawfully married couple hung hauntingly over him. He ran away and didn’t look back.
Three years have passed since.
After reading the entirety of a book he found in the library, Dylan returned to his room. ‘At this point, she should have left the mansion in tears already,’ he mused. Enough time had passed that the rain, which he had predicted would continue for the rest of the day, had come to a stop.
“You…” Dylan trailed off, astonished.
He was mistaken about the weather, but that wasn’t the only thing he got wrong. When he returned to his room, he found Anna still standing right where he left her, holding the remains of the broken pot’s contents above her head. She looked like she had been there the entire time he had been away.
His forehead creased in displeasure. The plant was in a slightly lower spot from where he had positioned it for her, but it was still right above her head. As if to prove that she didn’t cheat in any way, her forehead was dripping with sweat. She had bit down hard enough on her lower lip that it looked white as a sheet, the veins upon them made imperceptible simply by the force of it. Her entire body shook terribly, an obvious sign that she was reaching her limit.
Dylan couldn’t tell if she was being tenacious or stubborn. “Put it down and leave for now,” he eventually said.
No matter the motivation, however, her choice to endure simply looked foolish in Dylan’s eyes, as if she had accomplished no better than outright disrespecting him.
Anna lowered her shivering arms following his command. She grit her teeth and tried to walk forward slowly, but she ended up merely wobbling and slowly collapsing onto a sitting position upon the floor.
‘Carol must have spent an even longer time in pain than you have suffered here,’ Dylan thought, refusing to spare Anna even the slightest glance. Anna strove fervently to stand back up, only managing after a considerable amount of struggling. She eventually left the room.
Quite a while later, Samantha entered Dylan’s room to bring him tea. “Clean up that broken pot for me,” he told her, but she only gasped in surprise.
“I will, of course, but… have you injured yourself in any way?” she asked. “Why is there blood?”
Samantha pointed toward the spot Anna once stood. There, on the floor, was a prominent stain of Anna’s dried blood.
Dylan sliced a piece of meat and glanced at Anna. She was standing at the ready with a pitcher just in case anyone needed her to pour them a new glass.
She hadn’t been wearing any shoes, he had come to realize. He recalled the bloodstain she left behind on his floor and furrowed his brow. Her feet must certainly be in immense pain, yet her face remained impassive. Perhaps the wound wasn’t as deep as he thought.
Dylan shook his head. He needed to stop sympathizing with Anna. Although he felt a little bad for the fact that she had cut her foot on the shards of broken pottery, his determination to chase her out of the mansion before David and Carol came back couldn’t waver.