At first, Saya doesn't know how to react. Had he not been drinking as he told her the truth the other night, would he have been like this? But no, she thinks, he's been drinking today. What changed?
Location, she concludes, and starts to deal with it the only way she knows how, reaching out for his hand at his side.
Instead, Lan takes a full step back from her, the hand she intended to touch flying up to cover his mouth with a slap as he inhales with a deep hiss through his nose, shaking his head slightly, staring at her with tear-filled eyes.
He holds his other hand up palm-out to her, as if saying wait.
Don't think, don't look and don't think, you're not here. Don't look at the pictures look at the floor, the floor dammit. His gaze drops, staring down through blurred eyes at his feet, still holding his breath.
This is a vacation, this is a vacation for her, you're only here for a while. Everyone's glad you're here, everyone is excited for dinner. Don't breathe.
Lan's eyes shut, hard, the tears in his eyes dropping out as he seals it back in. The symptoms, the consequences of thinking of it all, burying it back as he always does.
He stands like that for a long while, cycling through images in his mind of Ota, the stores he shops at, television shows he watches, the bliss of sleep, mundane things that have nothing to do with this place or anyone specific.
Slowly, he pulls his hand away from his mouth, exhaling a slow, shaky breath as if any more than that would crack the shell of an egg were he too careless.
His eyes burn, but they weren't filled with tears anymore. He looks around the room, and in the study nook behind Saya, he walks over and plucks out three tissues from the box, rubbing his eyes before blowing his nose.
It takes him a moment as his breathing evens out, still cycling through mundane images of surfing the web, pictures of cats, dogs, comedians he loved to listen to and watch, videos, distractions.
When Lan gets ahold of himself enough to the point where he think it may not happen again, he turns back to Saya and breathes in, shaking his head clear as he stuffs the tissues in his pocket, using his free hand to push the hair back from his face.
“Sorry about that,” he almost laughs it out, waving a hand as if to dismiss it. “It's uh.. I don't come here often. Don't worry about it.”
He points out the sliding door as he starts towards them, “Don't you want to see the rest of the place? This is just old memories.”


  Saya stares at him while all of this happens, but makes no move to step towards him again, much less reach out to Lan. She watches as he steps past her to the corner of the room, wiping his face, blowing his nose.
She stays silent as he is until he turns around to face her again, his eyes still red, but dry. Saya recognizes burying feelings, but is still surprised as he puts on a smile with more


feeling behind it, more convincing, pointing out the door and mentioning the rest of the house as he starts to leave the room.
That was enough, though, as she moved to intercept him, grabbing his hand as he turns back to look at their hands, then her, confused. “What?” he asks.
“What do mean 'what'? What was that? What just happened, Lan?” she asks, returning his confused look.
“That.. what? Oh. The.. I have a few memories in this place that I don't always like to remember. So let's..” Lan starts to pull away from her and she grabs his hand with both of hers and pulls back on it, unsatisfied.
“No, wait. You did this when we talked. Almost. You stopped talking about..” her, she thinks, but decides against the word. “You stopped talking that night, before you got to the present.”
“It's not.. just this place.” She holds his hand, squeezing it tighter so he doesn't move as she looks back at the picture she picked up earlier.
“You don't talk about this, do you? With.. anyone. You don't talk about this with your therapist?”
Lan sighs, still facing away from her as he shakes his head. “No. I don't. I don't talk about.. that.. with anyone. I can't talk about it, I can't even look at pictures, I can't stay here because of the smell, the scent,” he admits, his hand going slack in hers, resigned for the moment.
“It's.. a.. probably the most explicit reason I drink. I get to stop thinking for a few hours each day. I get to feel.. normal.” Lan finally turns and looks down at her.
“And in the morning, the cycle starts all over again. Every day.” He glances above her, around the room he was trying to leave, pulling on her hand and nodding his head towards the rest of the house.
“So can we.. not.. be here anymore?” Lan asks.


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About the author


Bio: apologies for everything about me, it might get better.

updates will be once a day for the next seventy days since i am migrating from another platform and have those chapters - and more - ready to go. (from 8/9)

feel free to come hang out in the discord, if you like.

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