Considering it was the first night back at work, it could have been worse. Bastian was aware that people knew about what he did, but he wasn’t expecting feeling so observed and judged by every single person present at the pub. He was sure that partially it was just his perception, but that wasn’t helping.
“I’m sorry, but you had to see this coming, of course people stare at you”, a coworker told him at the end of the shift. “Everyone was talking about you yesterday.”
He wanted to reply that the only thing he expected, after attempting suicide, was to die, but he said nothing.
His first night back at work could have been worse, and it actually went worse. He lost the bus for going back home and stood next to the street in the rain. It often rained in Rainhill, but Bastian was the best at forgetting his umbrella, because any time he left home for going to work, it was never raining. He didn’t know what was more annoying, the cold rain drops or the violent wind in his hair.
He walked toward his apartment, across town. He put a hand in the pocket, finding out that he did, not only lost his bus and forgot the umbrella, but also left his cigarettes at home.
A voice sounded though the rain: “You need a ride?”
Two meters from him, a guy wearing dark clothes was looking at him, under a red umbrella and a street lamp. The stranger smiled at him, pushing his black curly hair behind the ear with his free hand.
“Have we met before?”, Bastian asked perplexed, turning to the guy.
“We had a conversation a while ago at the pub. Maybe I got you confused with someone else, are you Bastian?”
“Oh, yeah, I’m sorry. I didn’t recognize you at first.”
It wasn’t true, he didn’t remember him at all, but it sounded rude to say. It was pretty realistic that he forgot; he often had occasional talk with customers, and it was usual for him to have blackouts during his days.
He couldn’t know that the guy lied to him and they never spoke to each other before.
“So, you need a ride?”
“Oh, no, I can’t accept”, Bastian smiled embarrassed, shaking his head.
“Of course you can”, he reassured him and walked close, offering Bastian to join him under the umbrella. “Get under here, you’ll make yourself ill. Where do you live?”
“Near the library, in that area...”, Bastian replied, moving next to the guy, who raised the umbrella because of their height difference. He noticed only in that moment that he had two piercings under his lips and cheeks full of freckles. He actually had a familiar face, but Bastian couldn’t recall when he met him.
“It’s not very close to here, let me drive you here, I do it willingly, really.”
“It’s very nice of you, thank you so much. I… I don’t remember your name, I’m sorry.”
“Asa Raven, but call me Revie.”
Normally, I wouldn’t have accepted a ride, but the only idea of walking for at least fifteen minutes after working for hours was driving him mad. During those heavy days, a bit of kindness was comforting.
Asa’s car was parked at the end of the street and it looked expensive. The intern of it was clean and tidy, like it has been just cleaned. Revie turned the car on.
“Do you attend university?”, Bastian asked. “I think I might have seen you there, is that possible?
“Visual arts, first year. We could have met there, yeah.”
“Could be… I’m sorry if I’m repetitive, but thank you again, for real.”
“No problem”, Revie replied, focused on the driving. “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, but… I am aware that it’s not the best period of your life and I wanted to be kind to you.”
Bastian froze on the seat, slowly elaborating those words.
“Woah. So everyone knows for real”, he commented then, upset. He sighed, putting his hands on the knees. “You know what… I don’t need your pity. Can you please pull over?”
Revie didn’t stop driving, staying silent for a few seconds. He was about to ask him to pull over again, when Revie talked:
“I know what it means, when everyone looks at you with compassion, but no one has the courage of asking why you did it.”
He wasn’t expecting that reply, so blunt and yet so calm. He kept staring at Revie, who was looking at the street, illuminated by the lights of other cars.
“I’m sorry”, was the only thing he could say, after half a minute of silence.
“For what?” Revie had the calmest voice he could ever expect during a conversation about that kind of topic. There was something comforting about him.
“That you understand”, he said, “and for my tone.”
“Do you still want me to pull over? We’re almost at the library.”
“No.” He actually wanted to stay there.
“It must have been a heavy night”, Revie said. Insanely heavy.
“It will get better when I’ll be home.” He sighe and smiled. He didn’t really think that, but he didn’t want Revie to think he could have tried again. People wanted him to be positive, to feel better, to recover. No one wanted him to say that it was still hard to wake up in the morning and realise he was still alive.
“Do you live on your own?”
“Me too. And home is the place where I spend the most time alone with myself and I am the worst person I could be alone with. Especially during heavy days.”
Bastian wished those words weren’t so relatable.
“I have a dog. So, I’m actually never alone with myself.” He tried not to think about the night he closed himself in the bathroom.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have brought this up. I hope I didn’t hurt you, Bastian.”
“You didn’t, don’t worry. I’m just sorry you can relate. But it’s also...”
“Nice to feel understood?”
“Yeah. It is.”
In the following minutes, they didn’t talk about it anymore. Bastian showed Revie the way for his house and they filled the silence with some random questions. Since when you work there?
How are your studies going?
What’s your dog’s name?
He didn’t discover much about Revie, he haven’t had enough time. He was curious, he couldn’t deny it. Revie was the most interesting person he met in a while.
“Thank you for the ride, Asa”, he said, opening the car’s door.
“Wait”, Revie stopped him, touching his arm. “Take my umbrella with you, it’s still raining.”
“Oh, don’t worry, it’s just a bit of water.”
“If you borrow it, you’ll have to give it back to me, so you’ll have an excuse to talk to me again”, he smiled. He took the umbrella from the backseats, handing it to Bastian. “If you wish to.”
Bastian looked at the red umbrella, then back at Revie. He gently took it from his hand without saying a word.
“Good night, Bastian”, Revie said, looking at him leaving the car and opening the umbrella.