Posted By: Harbringer352<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 1 April 2011, 4:23 am
He picked her up at four in the afternoon. Thirty minutes before the appointment. It took five minutes to get to the psychiatrist's office, but she'd called last night and asked for him to get her early. She wanted to go on a drive, she said, to calm her thoughts before she stepped into the distressing confines of the stark examination room. He hadn't argued with her; he knew her well enough to understand.
A gust of wind drove the rain harder. Fat droplets bombarded the windows as he peered through the sleet, watching the tall pines gracing her property bend and wave in the squall. From around the bend of the garage came Elise, her head tucked to her chest, her long, honey-gold hair twisted and teased in the wind.
She sprinted to the passenger side of the Jeep, opening the door and leaping inside. Harvey watched as she attempted (unsuccessfully) to fit her gawky form into the tiny space. She was soaked with rain; her clothes were wet and darkened in a way that complimented her wretched aura. As usual, Elise's mannerisms suggested she was lost in a way she didn't want anyone else to acknowledge. Aware that he was watching, Elise made sure to straighten her blouse, pat her hair down, and flatten the creases in her jeans. Just to make sure he knew that she was perfectly fine.
When she had become situated, and the rushing hot air from the car's heater had overcome the shuffle of wet, loose clothing, Harvey broached the subject that had weighed on both their minds, but his mind in particular.
"I'm sure we can talk about getting you a license again," he said carefully. The last time they'd had this conversation, Elise had screamed at him and ordered him out of the house. Harvey was none too eager to repeat that ordeal. As if to egg him on, another gust of wind rocked the small Jeep.
"Dr. Michaels said the best thing to do is keep coming to his sessions. It'll help you get better."
Elise shot him a look that would have poisoned wine. Harvey missed the anger and disgust in the look, however; he was lost in the child-like beauty of Elise's features. Porcelain skin, cornflower blue eyes, lips as pink as dawn. He supposed that's what got him in trouble the first time around; women didn't particularly like it when you concentrated on their looks, and not the fact they were trying to burn you alive.
Thankfully she didn't realize that her rage was lost on him. "'Get better'," she echoed mockingly, with a petulant rolling of her eyes. She huffed and strapped in the seat belt, settling for giving him the silent treatment. "There's no getting better when millions get worse," Elise said bitterly.
Harvey sighed deeply. He shifted into Reverse, backed out of her driveway, and drove away from Elise's suburban home. He briefly reflected on how he had picked this neighborhood under the impression that the calm environment would speed up his fiance's healing process. But PTSD was fickle.
"She's acting like a child!" shouted the nurse.
"Wait, no, tell me! Tell me what's happening to Elise Westerfield!"
Harvey was moments away from grabbing the frantic woman by the shoulders and shaking some sense into her. Dozens of other staff rushed past him, hurrying down the hall to the last office: Don Michael's examination room. Forgetting immediately about the nurse, Harvey sprinted after the crowd. As soon as he reached the door, however, a shapeless blob of neutral color pushed him away.
Shouts for him to remain outside pummeled his senses, but Harvey knew his fiancé was in that room, possibly hurt. And these strangers weren't letting him in.
As they left the greater suburban area behind them, the rain let up slightly, treating them to a fairly plain, gloomy afternoon. Gone was the rain and vehement winds, and here were the overcast skies, scattered sunlight, and crisp beauty associated with the passing of a storm. The road took them through a corn field, and then a dense forest, and finally a stretch of flooded rice fields that reflected the conflictions of the sky in their murky waters.
Harvey knew that Elise loved this drive, this back road that skirted the edges of Sacramento and offered up sights that not many city folk had a chance to see. When Elise had her license before she tried to hit that tremendous oak in the park with her car she used to take this road to get anywhere. Harvey knew this was her serenity, her place of refuge.
Harvey coasted past a mileage sign and glanced away from the road to shoot a questioning look at Elise. "Huh?"
"That field." The figure hunched under his fleece jacket shifted, extending a seemingly grotesque and pallid arm to gesture at the freshly green fields to the right of the freeway.
He humored her and looked in the direction she was pointing, but he didn't see flowers of any sort. "It isn't the season, I don't think," he said. "Too cold for the little things."
Elise shifted upright, away from her slouched position against the cold window. "There aren't any flowers out there?" she said, a faint trace of shock edging her voice.
Harvey shrugged. "Nope."
The figure deflated under the fleece again, assuming position, leaning against the door for support. "Oh."
Harvey frowned, noticing her distress, even though she'd tried to hide it. He pictured her dancing in the fields amongst the bobbing yellow daffodils, a unending blue sky above her. Those were days gone past. Those were days before the Covenant had come into their world, and torn them apart.
"Get away from me!" Elise screamed, thrusting a letter opener at the man who'd attempted to come near her. The man jumped out of her reach with a gasp of surprise.
Behind her, Dr. Michaels nursed a bleeding wound in his arm. He stayed still, hoping she wouldn't notice him. But Elise was too busy trying to find her fiancé.
"Elise! Elise!" called Harvey, as he himself attempted to push through the wall of shifting bodies. But no one was listening, everyone wanted him out
She wanted to be strong. As strong as those bobbing white flowers in the field. As strong as the trees in the wind. But she was scared. She was scared out of her mind.
Around her, men screamed as plasma burned through their useless armor and sizzled against their exposed skin. Grenades exploded, almost always accompanied with screams of agony, and enemy aircraft screamed overhead, launching gobs of bright green plasma bombs at anything that moved.
There was a gap in the screaming and the explosions, in which Elise struggled to get up from her hiding spot and get to better cover. In her hurry, she forgot her assault rifle in the mud where she'd huddled. But she didn't know that. She didn't hear anything except for the tribal beat that pushed her tired legs to take her away from the danger. In this moment of paralyzing terror, Elise could only think of the dirt under her boots and the fear that something was chasing her.
A scream as the Banshee came around for another pass.
Harvey had dropped her off at the doctor's office and was now heading to the coffee shop around the corner for a nice, soothing environment. He didn't want the scent of failure in his head anymore. He wanted the striking scent of coffee beans in his lungs, and he wanted to be surrounded by calm people.
He picked a corner that was furthest from the three other people in the café. Harvey took a few sips of coffee, then set the white ceramic cup on his table. His phone began to vibrate. He checked the caller I.D. and was answering it as he left the "soothing environment".
As he got the news, he couldn't help notice the white daffodils nodding at him from their bed along the café's window sill.