"Are you ok?" A sweet, lilac voice whispered. Ellyn cautiously opened her eyes and stared into the eyes of the blonde woman from the bathroom. Big and brown they wondered over Ellyn's distraught expression. Her petite face tilted to the slide.
Ellyn shook her head, once again, biting back the tears that were so dangerously close to falling onto her rosy cheeks. The lady watched Ellyn closer than before, even finding it necessary to step closer to her than she already was.
"I know you. I mean, I've seen you before, but I can't seem to remember where." She tilted her head to the opposite side. Ellyn took a second to analyze the woman herself. They obviously were on the same page, but some memory hurdle was preventing them from seeing the others identity.
Suddenly, the woman's jaw fell onto the floor. "Y-You're Vaughn's...." She didn't even bother to finish her sentence. Ellyn's eyes widened in remorse and her chin fell onto her chest.
"Yeah..." Ellyn whispered. A few brief seconds of silence settled between the two. Ellyn kept her focal point on her neatly painted toe nails.
"I'm so-so sorry." Ellyn's head shot up. What could she possibly be sorry for?
"Sorry for what?"
"What you had to go through with Vaughn. I never knew...he was like this." He face fell to the floor as the fresh, warm tears dripped down her cheeks. Ellyn was still somewhat confused. Vaughn had made it a priority to keep the abuse behind closed doors. Unless someone had endured it first hand, no one would have ever guessed Vaughn was an evil, cold-heart snake. That was it then.
"He's using you to replace me." Ellyn breathed to herself. She looked up from the floor and stared at the weeping woman. "Isn't he?" She only gave a slight nod to Ellyn's question. At that moment, Ellyn had become speechless. The way it looked, Ellyn had caused this. Had she stayed, this poor innocent girl would not be suffering under the wrath of Vaughn. Ellyn couldn't help but feel sick to her stomach.
In middle of Ellyn's thoughts, the woman spoke up. "I think I should go. We were leaving anyway." Without looking up she walked toward the dining hall, her arms folded tightly across her chest.
"Hey!" Ellyn called. She hesitated before she stopped and turned to look at Ellyn. "What's your name?"
"Camille." She hardly mumbled before proceeding toward the exit of the restaurant.
She was still cautiously watching customers enter and exit the bar since they sat down in the booth Gabe had chosen. Every second the door would swing open, Ellyn's temperature would spike a few more degrees than before. She tried to take her mind off of the situation by creating small talk, but by the way things were looking, this night was going to be cut short. An unsettling silence had drifted upon the table after another failed attempt at a conversation. Taking the initiative, Gabriel decided to give it one last shot.
"Tell me about your family. What are your parents like?" The question had suddenly caught her off guard. Before she realized it, she blurted out the first sentence that trailed past her mind.
"They were murdered when I was eight." She finally caught herself and immediately turned her attention toward the damp glass in front of her. The door swung open again and her adrenaline pulsated.
She looked away from the door in order to focus on his question. When it finally sank it, she took a second to think about how she would respond. Vaughn finding her was one thing, but the government on her tail was something on a whole other. If she was going to do this, she had to be careful about what comes out of her mouth. "It was never solved. The case closed years ago." Ellyn didn't prolong it anymore than she had to. She felt she had already said too much.
"I'm so sorry to hear that." He paused, his face reflecting his deep thoughts. "So what did you do? How did you survive?"
"I lived with a...family friend. Once I was of age, I moved out and went out on my own and here I am." He gave an understanding nod. The twin eyed his beer, his face falling back into deep thought. Eventually, he took a sip of the liquid. After a few sips, he placed the drink back on the table, his eyes never leaving the glass. The waitress came and took their food orders and disappeared into the kitchen. Gabriel could see the awkward silence making its way back to the table.
"You know, I should probably tell you this, since we are getting to know each other." He signed. If Ellyn were a dog, her ears would have perked up and her nose would have starting twitching in interest. Her mind was no longer focused on the opening and closing of the front door. She waited patiently for him to continue, but he just stared at the falling condensation on his glass.
"I have leukemia." He finally signed. Ellyn noticed that Gabriel's hands weren't moving as fast as they usually do. After he signed his final word, his hands melted into his lap. The table grew silent. Gabriel studied Ellyn's reaction, but her face read nothing but general curiosity and sorrow.
"Really? I never would have guessed." He laughed his throaty laugh that was slowly growing on her. "How long have you had the disease?"
He shrugged. "Since I came out of the womb." Ellyn didn't understand how he could take this so lightly. "When you spend the first months of your life in such a close place, problems can arise. Unfortunately for my mother, I was the runt. I had a heap of other medical problems when I first arrived into this mad world. This one just seemed to stick by my side. I guess it's just God's way of reminding me that we all are on borrowed time."
"What were your other medical problems?"
Gabriel laughed and shook his head. "If I told you all of them, we would be here for a minute, and you would probably wonder how I am even still alive." Ellyn let out a soft giggle. "Your smile, I like it." He tilted his head to the side studying her once again.
She quickly changed the subject. "So, is that what caused your deafness?"
He nodded, but his face showed some uncertainty. "Well, not completely, but it was a factor." Ellyn took a drink from her glass, her eyes never leaving Gabriel. She didn't want to miss a thing. "Before I even came out of my mother, I was already giving her an immense amount of problems. Many of my organs didn't develop properly and even for a premature baby, I was extremely underweight. Shortly after me and my brother were born, I developed leukemia. When you have leukemia it weakens your immune system a great amount, and somehow over the first few months of my life, I got infected with bacterial meningitis. They caught it early, but the inflammation of the membrane surrounding my brain had severely damaged my ears."
"Oh my god."
"Yeah. My first years were a hound to get through. I have been medically dead about four times." Ellyn's eyes nearly fell from her skull. Gabriel let out a laugh. "I'm kidding. It was only twice." Ellyn tried to laugh with him, but it came out as shaky and nervous.
"What's it like being the different one in such a small town?" Ellyn asked.
"Being handicapped in a small town like this one is actually quite difficult, well to me anyway. I'm really the only one out of out small population that is different, aside from the culture and the skin tone. No one treats me any different than my brother or any other member of my family, but I still feel that drift people give me when I come around. Almost like they are scared to stand next to me." He looked down at his lap. "Look at me rambling." He chuckled between sips of his own drink.
Ellyn immediately shook her head. "Oh no, you're fine. I'm actually very interested." The food had suddenly arrived, putting the conversation on hold. The waitress sat the plates on their designated side and asked if they needed anything else. They denied, and the waitress disappeared into the kitchen. Ellyn grabbed her fork and began to dig into her meal. They both grew quiet as their mouths were suddenly filled with the meals they had selected. After the fifth bite, Ellyn glanced up from her plate. A question was burning on her tongue.
"Leukemia never really goes away. It just goes into remission, but it can pop up whenever it feels like it. When you have leukemia, you always run the risk of bleeding to death. Leukemia affects the bone marrow with high numbers of immature white blood cell; this results in a very low number of platelets. Without those, a very small cut can turn into a very big problem. And like I said before, I have a very weak immune system since the majority of my white blood cells are dysfunctional. Me being in this very restaurant is a risk to my health, but now, I really don't care anymore." He rested his hands on the table, almost like they were exhausted. "Everything was much worst when I was younger, but the isolation rooms and constant radiation paid off. Today, I am able to live an almost normal life." He gave a weak smile and picked up his fork.
Ellyn sat in her chair trying to find something to respond with. She found nothing. Removing her hands from her lap, she placed her hand on his, showing her sympathy. He looked at her warm hand and finally looked up at her. A smile formed once again, this time it was a smile that she believed.
Their hands never seemed to stop moving for the remainder of the night.