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datatime: 2022-10-05 17:25:00 Author:mefVdyUZ

He clutched the flashlight tighter. Why? And somehow I thought the question was about more than the oubliette and why I had to climb inside it.

I sighed. Less and less scares me, Richard. So when I find something that does bother me, I have to test it. I have to see if I can do it.

Why? Why do you need to know that? You've proven to me and everyone here that you're tough. You don't have anything left to prove to us.

I shook my head. I'm not competing with you, Richard, or anyone else. I don't give a shit who's better or faster or braver.

I sighed. Less and less scares me, Richard. So when I find something that does bother me, I have to test it. I have to see if I can do it.

What difference would it make if you couldn't climb down in that stinking hole? You'll never have to do it again, Anita. Just don't do it.

I held my hand out for the flashlight.

Why do you have to be the toughest, the bravest? Why can't you, just once, let me do something for you? Going down in the hole doesn't scare me. Let me do this for you. Please. His voice was still soft, and he was leaning into me enough so that I could smell the drying blood on him, the richness of fresh blood in his mouth, as if some small cut had not healed completely.

Why? He studied my face like he'd memorize it.

I held my hand out for the flashlight.

Give me the flashlight, Richard.

To me, Richard, I have something left to prove to me.

I shook my head. No. He's mine.

Just to see if I can.

I sighed. Less and less scares me, Richard. So when I find something that does bother me, I have to test it. I have to see if I can do it.

I shook my head. No. He's mine.

I sighed. Less and less scares me, Richard. So when I find something that does bother me, I have to test it. I have to see if I can do it.

I looked at him, at the puzzlement in his face, his eyes, which had bled back to their normal, perfect brown. I'd been trying to explain shit like this to Richard for a few years now. I finally realized that he would never understand and I was tired of trying to explain myself, not just to Richard, to everybody.

He shook his head. This isn't courage, Anita, this is stubbornness.

I stared back into the hole and let myself acknowledge just how afraid I was. So afraid that I could taste something flat and metallic on my tongue. So afraid that my pulse was hammering in my throat, like a trapped thing. My voice came out calm, normal. I was glad. It doesn't matter that I'm afraid. I touched the flashlight, tried to pull it from his hand, but he held on. And, short of playing tug of war -- which I would probably lose -- I wasn't getting it away from him.

I shrugged. Maybe, but I still have to do it.

Why do you have to be the toughest, the bravest? Why can't you, just once, let me do something for you? Going down in the hole doesn't scare me. Let me do this for you. Please. His voice was still soft, and he was leaning into me enough so that I could smell the drying blood on him, the richness of fresh blood in his mouth, as if some small cut had not healed completely.

He knelt beside me and spoke softly, I can smell your fear. I know you don't like close places.

Why? and his voice held the first hint of anger, like a slap of warmth.

Give me the flashlight, Richard.

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