Nishan PanwarRunning away from the problem only increases the distance from the solution.
Granite Falls Cameron Family Cabin
Vivien laid back flush onto the forest floor, enjoying the clouds forming interesting patterns far up high in the clear blue skies above her, watched the colorful autumn leaves dance in the light, warm breeze, before she closed her eyes, inhaling the musky, fresh, woodsy-scent of the forest around her.
Not a place she ever thought she’d run to hide. Preceding her coming here, was a bad decision after the final show of the long tour with her father Blaine, when the entire crew celebrated the successful conclusion like there was no tomorrow. Everyone was ecstatic, but Vivien suffered a terrible bout of depression, her breakup heartbreak and exhaustion got the best of her. Tired of feeling so bad and sad all the time, she snatched some crew member’s drugs, something he always called his ‘uppers’, claiming they made him happy and gave him energy for days, which she then washed down with booze, thinking it would enhance the effect. It didn’t. What it did was almost immediately land her in the emergency room to get her stomach pumped after a total collapse. No matter how she denied it, everyone seemed to think it was a suicide attempt, there were talks of rehab, so in an unattended moment Vivien ran from the hospital, sending a text to her parents telling them she loved them and not to worry, she just needed to get away to breathe and would be back home shortly. Just where to go? Where would nobody look for her?
Granite Falls came to mind, since it was a place Liam loved and he still dominated her every thought, so maybe here she could also feel close to him again in a way. The woods was also a place NOBODY would ever expect her to be.
Laying here in the fallen leaves on one of the warm, golden mid-autumn days, deep regret filled her that she had always declined Liam’s invitations to come here. Sure, it wasn’t the luxury she preferred, she hated the bugs, but especially now, while so vulnerable, it sure had it’s charms, it was very calming to her exhausted body, worked up soul and bleeding heart. For the first time in a long time Vivien could really breathe. The crisp forest air even made her tired enough to sleep through the nights without medication.
Her family owned a small cabin here, it belonged to all Camerons alike, once built by her late great-grandfather Brendan Cameron with the idea to have family get-togethers here. The recent Cameron generations had far outgrown the two bedroom cabin’s humble size, several family members had large homes with large backyards now, negating the need for such a remote place to meet at, plus the family was spread all across the country now, all with busy lives, unable to just all be in one spot at the same time, unless there was a wedding or a funeral to attend. This cabin sat empty and abandoned most of the time, unless one of the more outdoorsy family members used it. Sad really, but such is life.
A few days into her stay here, her relaxed, casual life hidden away in this quiet sanctity suddenly ended abruptly when she was awoken from the deepest slumber by unusual noises. Initially, she wasn’t sure it hadn’t just been part of a dream, but then she heard it again. No, something was definitely here!
There was nothing to steal here, but the park rangers had warned her about bears sometimes breaking into cabins if they suspected food. Sitting up in her bed, listening, her heart was racing, she regretted having gone dark. Not a single soul knew she was here, nobody would come looking for her when she was eaten by a hungry bear. Yikes! She reached for her cell phone and naturally, it had no bars, no reception. Vivien wasn’t anything if she wasn’t brave, so she jumped out of bed and headed out the door of her room, slowly and carefully listening. The noises came from the kitchen, she snuck around the corner and … froze. There were definitely people moving right there. She flipped on the light.
“L-Liam!” she muttered surprised, causing him and someone else to snap around and stare at her like literal deer in the headlights.
“WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK!?” he snarled, his shirt unbuttoned, his bare chest mesmerizing Vivien, as he pulled away from the girl he was about to get very physical with, while both of them still stared at Vivien. Wait, what?! A girl?!!!
“Oh my god! You use the Cameron cabin as your personal love shack?! Eew!” Vivien exclaimed in utter disbelief of what she was seeing. How could he!?
“What the fuck are you even doing here?!” Liam ranted.
“Straight back at you!” she retorted, hurt and upset.
“It’s my family’s cabin!”
“Same here!” Vivien countered, while wondering who even cared about cabin use when he was right there about to sleep with another girl! What?!
“You don’t do cabins! Or woods. Let alone cabins in the woods!” Liam evaluated rudely.
“Ahem …. what’s going on here? Who is that, Liam?” wondered the girl he was with.
“Nobody, don’t worry about her! Let’s take this to a room. Which one are you in, Vivien?” Liam growled.
“The one with the plaid cover.” she said, hurt, humiliated, upset, …
“Goddamn city girl, there are exactly two fucking bedrooms and both have plaid covers – because this is a cabin, not the Ritz Carlton! You know what, my mood’s gone anyway. Come on, Sybil, let’s get out of here. This is ridiculous!” shaking his head he grabbed the girl’s hand and roughly pulled her along, to the outside, leaving behind a very confused Vivien. What just happened? she wondered.
The next morning, much to her surprise, she found Liam at the coffeemaker, shirtless, only in some gym shorts, his appearance taking her breath away, despite his moronic behavior. She thought he had left, but here he was in all his half-dressed glory. Vivien had to double-check to make sure she wasn’t drooling. Damn him!
“Can I have some coffee, too?” she said, purposely casual.
“I don’t care. You know how to operate a carafe, just lift and pour. Cups are right there.” he gestured, but didn’t pour her any, like he usually would have. Instead he walked off. Ouch.
“Yes, I can see that!” she said sharply. His cold, rude tone and behavior hurt. He used to be so sweet to her, attentive … oh, so romantic and such a gentleman. Not anymore though …
Vivien poured her coffee, took a sip, but realized she didn’t want that. She wanted to talk to Liam. So she when out back to find him.
“Where is your company?” she initiated the conversation when he just stood there, ignoring her.
“Went back to town.” he said between two sips without ever looking at her.
“You let her take your precious car?” Vivien wondered surprised.
“Nope. We came here in two cars. Felt that was better for both, in case she was a shitty lay or just generally insufferable, I didn’t want her to have to walk the 87 miles back to town. So, having her follow me in her own car seemed like the humane thing to do.” Liam said, then shrugged.
“Oh jeeze. What a douchey thing to say. I just am gonna assume you are trying to be funny. I took an Uber out here, since I wasn’t sure about parking and such. Didn’t realize there would be no cell phone coverage, so leaving will be a bit complicated, but I think the rangers have radios and such. Or maybe I can just climb up on some higher ground and it works then. I haven’t explored too much. Are you planning on going on a hike?” Vivien rambled on, trying to involve him in a real conversation.
His reply was but a grunt, he just finished his coffee without another word, then just left and disappeared in his room. Evidently her attempt at small talk wasn’t his thing either.
Vivien kept wondering why he was even here in the first place. It was the weekend, so maybe he just needed to get away from the city and from work, all she could do was guess, since he either didn’t speak at all or was rude. Mostly, he avoided her, whenever their paths happened to cross he remained cold and distant, which hurt, but Vivien was just too happy to see him, wanting to be near him, that she endured it, hoping he would see the light, somehow suddenly realize he still loved her, needed her, missed her. Kill him with kindness. Easier said than done, whenever he wasn’t hiding in his room, he was out jogging like a madman. There wasn’t much chance to kill him with anything, including kindness.
The next evening, Sunday, she heard strange noises from the bathroom, knocked, but when she only heard someone throwing up, she just entered.
“Out!” he labored out between two episodes.
“Are you sick?!”
“No, I am giving oral to the toilet! What do you think!?” he snapped at her, before throwing up again.
“I’ll get you water! I think I still have some of the medicine from when I was sick. I’ll check.” Vivien suggested.
“I don’t want water or your medical leftovers! Just get the fuck out and close the door!” he barked at her.
“I can’t leave you like this. You look terrible! Just let me help, and …”
“NO!” Vivien was getting angry too. As if she would leave him now.
After a few more bouts of sickness he seemed to be empty, dragged himself up by the wall, washed up, then dragged himself back to his room, followed by Vivien, who kept trying to assist him, but he pushed her hands off him each time.
“You are burning up! You have a temperature, Liam! I can feel it from here, you’re radiating like a space heater!”
“I am fine! I need to get dressed and head home. I have to work tomorrow. So get out, give me some privacy for crying out loud!” he vented, but then sat down on the edge of the bed, visibly worse for the wear.
“Work? Are you nuts!? You cannot drive 87 miles in your condition, let alone work tomorrow! Look Liam, you can hate me all you want, but please PLEASE let me take your temperature. I beg of you!” Vivien said gently, while placing her hand on his forehead. He was too exhausted to fight her this time.
After he let himself drop backward onto his bed, sliding himself up the headrest, groaning, while Vivien relentlessly tried to help him, he finally allowed her to take his temperature.
“104.5!!! Liam! That is a dangerous fever! Give me your car keys, I am taking you to a hospital! Now!”
“Like hell you will!”
“It can cause brain damage or be lethal if it gets higher! Come on now, I just recently ended up in the hospital myself because I was too stubborn to listen. We are going! And if I have to drag you all the way there! Either that, or I will find a way to call an ambulance and your parents!”
Granite Falls Hermit's Cove Country Clinic
After some testing, Liam was admitted to a temporary room, but stubbornly refused to take off his clothing or lay in the bed, when a doctor entered, all of his attention on Vivien. The man looked as you would imagine someone who went to college for about 6 years decades ago, only to end up in some remote small clinic that saw mostly camping accidents seasonally, the rest of the time they passed sitting around the reception waiting for something to happen. Middle-aged, greying, resigned. Bored.
“Hello folks! I am Dr. Geruse. Mr. Cameron, you are lucky your lovely girlfriend brought you in when she did. This is not something to take lightly. You have a viral and a bacterial infection jockeying for position inside of you and your body is working overtime here. It does look like you are responding to the cocktail of antibiotics and such we are giving you, the fever is already slowly trending down. You should really allow the drip, it would speed things up significantly.”
“I would if I needed one. Are those my dismissal papers?” Liam pointed to the stack of papers the doctor had brought in, then left on the desk.
“Oh no, not yet, we are still waiting for some more test results. Our equipment isn’t the latest and greatest here, takes a bit. If the downward trend of your fever continues, you may be discharged during the course of tomorrow, but I would really want to monitor you here tonight. You desperately need rest! I strongly urge you to just get in the bed, let the nurse set up the drip, and then rest up. We can have a cot brought in for your girlfriend, so you wouldn’t be alone.”
“Not my girlfriend and not happening. I am going home. It’s a long drive to San Myshuno and I have to work tomorrow. Just write a prescription and I promise to take it. I am NOT staying!” Liam growled.
“Well, I cannot make you stay, but really advice against leaving and you are most definitely in no condition for such a long drive, let alone to work the next day. You should take a few days off and do nothing but rest, in fact, some of the medications will make you very drowsy. I am sure your … ahem sister then? … would agree with me.” Dr. Geruse flashed a bright smile at Vivien.
“Fiancée!” Liam corrected in a grouchy tone.
“Ex-fiancée, and definitely not his sister, just a concerned old acquaintance.” Vivien corrected smiling, ignoring Liam’s angry glare, before he looked away to the ground.
“Oh, I see. Well Miss … “
“Vivien. Just Vivien is fine.”
Vivien smiled at the doctor, who smiled back, while next to her Liam groaned and huffed like an old engine.
“What a beautiful name for an even more beautiful woman … I am Gary. Has anyone ever told you that you look a little like that singer … oh, I can’t think of the name, but she’s got nothing on you … what a natural beauty … ” the doctor continued.
“I think I need to puke again! But this time not from the infection!” Liam piped up grumpily.
“Apologies, I got carried away. Long shift. Well, I’ll leave you both to it then, the results may take a bit longer, you may really be off better in the bed, Mr. Cameron. Vivien, would I be too forward if I were to ask to have dinner with you once Mr. Cameron is out of the woods.”
Vivien had to giggle about the term, since they were currently literally staying in the woods, while Liam cursed.
“You serious, man?!” growled Liam, but Vivien jumped up and walked towards the door with the doctor, ignoring Liam.
“Oh, don’t mind him, he always gets cranky when sick. I’d love that, dinner with you sounds dreamy, Gary.”
The doctor wrote his number on a piece of paper and handed it to Vivien, who took it smiling, before the doctor disappeared and Vivien went back to Liam.
“‘Dinner with you sound dreamy, Gary. Why don’t you screw me right here in the empty bed, since Liam isn’t using it, Gary’. So glad me being sick can help you get laid by Trapper John, MD! Tell me you were just being polite and are tossing the digits!” ranted Liam aggravated.
“Why? Is that what you would do? Oh no, wait, you would take them to a remote cabin, then send them 87 miles back to town afterwards … alone, like a real douchebag.” Vivien couldn’t help the snarky tone.
“Don’t worry about what I do, worry about him, he’s a fucking tool! Hitting on a patient’s girlfriend! Doubt that’s hospital policy, if you can call this backwoods never-recover-clinic that. I am sure his wife and kids wouldn’t be too happy about him give you his number!”
“I am not your girlfriend, remember?! Or your fiancée. And this hospital is fine. It’s a hospital like every other, with doctors, who can help you NOT die, cos I really do not want to be stuck in the backwoods with your rotting corpse! So suck it up, quit being such a baby and do what they suggest. I really do not see why you couldn’t just put on the damn hospital gown and stay for a night! Just to be safe! I am sure they can manage one day without you at the law firm! As much as you may disagree, but the world won’t end if someone doesn’t get sued by you, Liam!” Vivien told him.
“Dr. Abuse didn’t know that we weren’t together when he started hitting on you! For all he knew we were married! That loser came in here thinking we were dating, he even said so himself, still got himself a chubby drooling over you and left with a full fledged hard-on, thanks to you and your ‘oh Gary, oh Gary’ bullshit!”
“His name is Geruse and you are disgusting, you ape! Don’t assume all men are like you! And I never said ‘oh Gary’, I was just being polite. You should try it sometimes!”
Liam recovered fairly quickly over the course of the next few hours, still far from 100%. It was early Monday morning now, but Vivien wasn’t comfortable letting him go on with his plan to drive back to San Myshuno right away, he couldn’t be swayed to stay, Vivien snatched his keys so he had to let her drive him in his car. The long car ride was quiet and uncomfortable, occasionally Vivien afforded side-glances at the man she still loved, but who seemed completely over her. One time he caught her looking.
“What?!” he barked.
“Sorry, can I now not even look at you anymore either?” she snapped back defensively.
“What for? After 20-some years you should know what I look like!”
“I have questions. We never talked again after …”
“STOP! Keep your eyes on the road and just quit talking! This is exactly why I didn’t want you to drive me!” Liam exploded at her.
“I just want to apologize and …” Vivien argued back, unimpressed.
“Why? To make yourself feel better? Or are you assuming your apology would mean anything to me? It doesn’t. Makes no difference!”
“It would make a difference if you only listened for a moment! I never got to say all I wanted to say … I …”
“Shut the fuck up, Vivien! I do not care. I don’t. I don’t care about what you say, I don’t care about if it makes a difference to you. I just do NOT care!”
“Liam, I …”
“Just blow it out of your ass, Vivien! Means about the same in the end anyway! Just hot air, bullshit and whatever suits YOU and only YOU!”
Vivien was now fuming, ripped the steering wheel around to barely make the next exit, then stopped at a gas station, where she jumped out of the car, leaving it running, car keys in the ignition. Liam sat there waiting for a long while, until a car arrived, he saw Vivien come out of the convenience store, get in the car and it drove off with her. That’s when his cell phone buzzed.
“Motherfucker! She’s doing it again! Running, always running! What a bitch!” he growled as he slid over to the driver seat, hitting the steering wheel hard with his fists several times.