arcus Lucius lay on the bed, but his face wasn’t covered by the ribbon anymore. He gazed at her without saying a word. As she fell to the ground, he tried to sit up and even stand up from the bed, but she reacted faster than he thought:
-No, please, don’t come here. I’m feeling well. I just can’t stand here. – She whispered hastily, short-breathed as if she would have ran for miles.
-Don’t stay on the floor like a dog. Come here. – He answered without context. He sighed a bit, but he didn’t show how painful the attempt to stand up had been for him. He stretched out his hand to her. There were just a few meters distance between them. Julia didn’t react and kept laying there further pillowed by her arms.
-Look me in the eye. – He ordered. – Look me in the eye, girl.
She fought against her will, gazed at the wood over her. Finally, after Marcus Lucius repeated his words for the fourth or fifth time, she followed his order.
-Good. Now, focus.
She thought he had beautiful, brown eyes.
As she nodded, he ordered her to crawl towards him.
-Move slowly, there is no hurry.
She thought his voice was very pleasant and soothing. Not listening to single words, but only to the melody of his sentences, she could stay on the floor for ages. She tried to stay concentrated on such thoughts just to distract her mind from thinking about what could happen to the ship. She was afraid of getting wet or splashed with water unexpectedly. The ship could sink any moment. It already wiggled, wobbled, moved. It didn’t feel good. She wondered how others could rely on a piece of wood on a river. She was afraid of sinking with the ship. She used to avoid such activities as boating and swimming. If the ship sank, she would be helpless. She didn’t even have basic swimming skills. Her anxiety involved a level of fear that was far beyond her control. It made her totally uncomfortable. It was taking control over her and she wasn’t able to fight against it. Therefore, she tried as much as possible to keep focussing on Marcus Lucius’s voice.
-Look me in the eye. – He said and gazed at her. She wasn’t sure whether she liked it or not. It was so unconventional and constrained.
She started moving in his direction, even if her body felt heavier and heavier with every centimetre. The floor wobbled and moved regularly and she waited for the ship to fall apart or at least to break. Her fingers trembled, her legs were like lead and her head pulsated quickly. She was shaken internally and out of mind.
-Come closer. Come closer. – She heard Marcus Lucius’s voice and against the thoughts in her head, she followed it. As she managed to touch the edge of the bed, she was covered in sweat, her eyes weren’t focussed anymore. She was buggered; quite ready and simply dead beat. Indeed, her heart beat was dashing, speeding so fast that it would jump out of her chest, if she wouldn’t have had rips around it.
Marcus Lucius helped her to come into the bed and as her whole body trembled, he held her strongly by his side. He repeated “Hush, hush” as long as she needed to calm down. He stroke her hair and a part of her shoulder as long as she trembled. As she finally fell asleep after hours, he was totally tired. His movements became automatic, but he didn’t stop taking care of her.
He was aware that she was a strange girl, but she was the one who took care of him. Even if he wasn’t conscious for the entire time she was by his side, he saw her almost in every conscious moment during the last days. He couldn’t sleep when she was washing and cleaning him, because it was a soldier’s reflex to be prepared for an attack anytime. However, he pretended to be asleep, because he had no idea what to talk about to her. He couldn’t be bothered to talk about his past or motives or life’s goals. He ran out of steam about exchanging empty phrases or deeply meaningful sentences. He had too many topics he didn’t like to share, so it was easier to pretend being asleep. He kept his eyes closed and he didn’t make any polite or impolite grimaces. He simply patiently let her do her job. And she was there. She took care of him. Already for that reason, he had to protect and help her. However, he would help every person in need, because he was the kind of person acting that way. His mother didn’t like this behaviour, because it wasn’t “clever enough” as she often described it. She used to say with disgust that “you inherited it from your father”. In her opinion, help was only justified in case it brought advantages for both sides. Otherwise, it was just welcomed, when you were the party receiving it.