|Posted by Mandy Baggot on July 28, 2015 at 2:00 AM|
I'm thrilled to be taking part in another Written Fireside story put together by the wonderful Lori Connelly!
This story is extra special because it's eventually going to be published with all the proceeds going to the great charity Pets for Vets.
Written Fireside: Can't You See?
Noah Hale is an author suffering from PTSD related insomnia, needing peace and sleep. All he wants is to be left alone. A certain little dog has other ideas.
Amanda Bell, a teacher, is grieving the loss of her sister, Rachel. Caring for her sister’s dog is comforting until a new neighbor moves in the other half of her duplex. Suddenly, the dog starts escaping her yard, running off to the man on the other side of the fence.
Read the first five parts here:-
Part One - Lori Connelly
Part Two - Elsa Winckler
Part Three - Angela Campbell
Part Four - Jane Hunt
Part Five - Charlotte Phillips
Can’t You See? – Part 6
The truth was Amanda knew exactly what Noah was going through. The difference between them was she was coming out the other side.
She’d opted to make cocoa instead of milk. As she made it, looking through into the lounge room where Noah had Gertie sprawled across those taut thighs, she saw the image of herself just after she’d lost Rachel.
He had all the hallmarks of someone living through a trauma and then some! Busy hands. She watched his strong fingers raking through Gertie’s fur, his eyes searching the mid-distance. Lack of mindfulness. Not being present in the moment, mind racing. She would bet anything, laying out on the ground out there in the yard he’d had palpitations, flashbacks, memories of all the things that scared him and had scarred him.
She swallowed, stirring a spoon into the brown liquid in two mugs on the counter top. She didn’t know if she was ready to confront this. Was she strong enough to be of any help to him?
As if hearing her thoughts Gertie let out a woof which drew Noah’s attention out of his thoughts and back to her. She smiled, lifting the mugs up and preparing to join him.
No matter how cute this woman was he shouldn’t be here. What was he doing here? The muscles in his legs tensed and Gertie raised her head, her soulful eyes meeting his. This damn dog. What was wrong with it? Right now they were both being owned by a freaking canine.
Noah watched Amanda stepping towards him with two steaming mugs. How good hot chocolate was going to mix with Red Bull he wasn’t sure but hell, what did he have to lose? Any dignity he’d been holding onto had evaporated the second his ass hit the ground in her yard. The way Amanda was looking at him now signalled she was about ready to host him the pity party of the year. He swallowed. He shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Forming opinions too quickly, linking them to feelings from his past was not how to move on. Mary’s words resonated hard.
Amanda offered a mug towards him and he accepted it, cradling it in his palms and guarding it from Gertie’s open jaws. ‘Thank you,’ he said.
He took a sip, letting the scalding liquid take the skin from his tongue while his eyes watched Amanda sit in the adjacent chair. She folded her lithe legs underneath herself, settling into the cushions. Comfort. He didn’t even know what that was.
‘Do you suffer from PTSD?’
The direct question made the cup jolt in his hands and chocolate dripped onto his pants, just missing Gertie.
‘I’m sorry,’ Noah said, shifting forward. The dog needed to get down now. This was a mistake. He needed to get out of here. Suddenly the room felt stifling. ‘I’ve just remember I really need to get back and…’
‘It’s OK,’ she cut him off. ‘You’re safe.’
Safe. Nothing can hurt you here. Amanda remembered those therapies like they were yesterday. She would never have thought she would be using what she’d picked up on someone else. Was that what she wanted to do? Help Noah? Heal him? Was she completely healed herself?
This time it was a slow build but she could still sense it, trying to escape the corners of her mind, growing bigger and stronger with every passing second. The lights of the oncoming traffic, the sounds of the engines, horns blasting, the radio playing a Blake Shelton number and Rachel singing along. Amanda could feel her heart speeding up like someone had given her a shot of adrenaline. She hadn’t even been in that car but she felt it like it was part of her. No. Her mind was firm. You will not go back to that time or that place. You will not let this loss control you.
Noah was watching her. This was important. She had to tell him. Not for him but for her.
She took a breath and tried to still. Busy hands. She clasped her fingers over her knees, hugging her limbs to her body. ‘I’ve been suffering from PTSD since my sister passed.’ She let the information sink in for a second. ‘I think I know a little of how you feel.’ She swallowed, looking to Gertie. ‘And this girl seems to know just about everything.’
Part 7 will be with Susan Horsnell next week!