Lorcan opened his eyes. All he could feel was rage. He was mad at the world and every single person in it. He wanted to kick the wooden panel wall next him, or tear the painting on it and smash it.
The painting. The wood. Where was he again? For a moment, he struggled to remember. And then his mind finally started to wake up.
Granite Falls. The cabins by the lake. His yearly spring getaway.
What a pile of garbage, he thought. Rebirth? He could barely get up.
He stared at the ridiculous painting in front of him for a while. Ok. Just do it.
The angry punk in the mirror greeted him in the bathroom. Lorcan couldn’t even count the times he’d taken a swing at his own reflection in the past. These days, he was able to limit himself to a disdainful glare.
Come on, you’ve done this a million times, he reminded himself. Just calm down. It should be getting easier. Every morning is the same.
He closed his eyes, taking a few deep breaths. When he opened them, the view of the lake outside was the first thing he saw.
He slid the window open and stepped over the meditation stool.
He could smell the woods. Hear the birds. He was suddenly very aware of the life pumping through his veins. His anger was starting to subside.
Taking a step back, he carefully sat down onto the stool.
For a while, he would keep his eyes open. Taking in the world around him with all of his senses. Nothing else mattered, it was just the nature and him.
And then they were one. He closed his eyes, melting into the world around him. There was nothing separating him from the tree on his side, the beetle at his feet, the seagull in the sky… They were all connected through a ray of energy.
And the people in the world, the ones he hated just a moment ago… how could he go on hating them? They were all one and the same too. They all came from the same place, and would one day all return, merging into the single stream of energy they truly were.
Of course he’d been angry. He’d been ripped apart from the perfect stream. They were all angry in their way, because they could feel they weren’t whole. But now that he reminded himself he was still a part of it all, he was calm again.
He was finally ready to face the day. Grabbing a bowl of cereal, he headed outside to eat his breakfast on the deck overlooking the water.
“Morning, Lorcan!” The most beautiful voice he knew called out to him from the neighbouring cabin.
She waved at him from the distance.
“This place is amazing,” she said gleefully. “And the water’s so clear! Makes you want to jump right in…”
She tossed her robe aside with a playful giggle.
Sera. She was perfect. Inside and out.
If he hadn’t been there all along, it would be hard to believe her transformation. When he first met her, she seemed almost as broken as he was. It was hard to believe the same person would build a meditation centre to help others and become this radiant woman in front of him. But she did.
He’d never deserve her.
“Cannonball!” Sera leapt from the table she used as a platform, landing in the water with a massive splash.
She emerged on the surface, laughing uncontrollably. “That was awesome! I bet you do this all the time when you come here, Lorcan!”
“Not really,” he smiled. “I do swim of course. But I’ve usually gone for more… conventional access points.”
“What?” She swam towards him, looking surprised. “But the way the cabins are set up around the lake practically begs for you to dive right in… You’ve got to join me! It’s life-changing!”
Lorcan couldn’t help but laugh. “Well, if it’s life-changing I guess I can’t miss out.”
“Exactly! In the interest of the whole rebirth thing!”
He shook his head and dove in after Sera.
“Tell me you don’t feel like a whole new person now?” Sera swam towards him happily. She noticed him grow tense when she approached. “Are you ok?”
“Yeah. Of course,” Lorcan replied quickly. “New person.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to change your ritual.” Sera became more serious. “I know this is your thing, coming here in the spring. I… I hope I’m not ruining it.”
“It’s not like I have a decree saying all life in Granite Falls must stop because I’m here,” Lorcan joked. “Just because I do things a little differently when I come here on my own doesn’t mean this is a bad thing. I invited you along, remember?”
“True… but do you regret it yet? I wouldn’t want to be invading.” Sera hesitated.
“I’m glad you’re here.” Lorcan reassured her. “I mean it. Besides, I’d miss out on the life-changing dive, wouldn’t I?” He smiled softly.
“So, what would you typically do for the rest of the day?” Sera asked.
“It really isn’t as precise as you make it sound.” Lorcan insisted. “I do swim… hike, meditate, do yoga… basically, whatever feels right. Just like you. There are a few nice hiking trails that I usually try to hit, but there’s not really a method.”
“I guess that’s the plan for the day then,” Sera said brightly.
“If you’re up for it? You can show me one of your trails.”
“That sounds good,” Lorcan agreed.
Sera grinned conspicuously. “But first… prepare for a tsunami!” She started splashing around her wildly.
“Don’t you think I won’t retaliate!” Lorcan responded with launching his own splashing offensive.
Sera raced to the viewing platform, looking almost as if she wanted to hug the mountains surrounding her.
“Look at this view!” She exclaimed. “It really is perfect, isn’t it?”
Lorcan’s gaze didn’t leave Sera. “It really is.” He agreed.
“I definitely understand why you like to come here,” Sera continued enthusiastically. She turned around.
“Hey Lorcan, thanks again.”
“What for?” He was confused.
“For sharing it with me. It means a lot.”
Before he could say anything in response, Sera wrapped him in a hug.
“I… well, like I said earlier, I am glad you’re here.” Lorcan stumbled over his words.
He briefly gave in to the moment and just enjoyed her closeness. But he couldn’t allow it to last too long.
“So, I was thinking this would be a perfect spot for some yoga in the sunset?” He suggested as he drew away.
Why did he always do that when they got too close, Sera pondered. She was struggling to focus on the yoga routine. Meanwhile, Lorcan was executing every move with complete precision, of course.
Maybe that was it. Maybe he thought she’d ruin his perfect composure. But Sera knew she wasn’t crazy. She knew she wasn’t the only one that felt something…
Perhaps there was a time when she was content just being around him, but it seemed silly to continue ignoring it.
“That’s another reason I like it here,” Lorcan said, oblivious to Sera’s internal fight. “You can really see the stars here. It’s not hard to picture…”
“Ok, this is enough!”
She jumped up to her feet.
“What’s going on?” Lorcan followed in her footsteps, looking confused.
“How long are we going to keep going like this?” Sera asked.
Sera didn’t wait for his answer.
He didn’t push her away, perhaps because she didn’t give him a chance to. She only kissed him briefly, not allowing the exhilaration and the butterflies to get into her head too much. She forced herself to part her lips from his again.
“Now tell me that you didn’t feel anything!” She yelled at him angrily. “There’s been something there from the moment we met, I can feel it now and I’ve felt it every day I see you at the mediation resort. It’s been a year! A year we’ve been trying to pretend this isn’t real! Well, I’m tired of pretending. If I’m imagining things, if you really don’t want to be with me, then look at me and say it!”
“Sera…” Lorcan reached towards her arm, as if to try to console her. “You’re not imagining things. Let’s sit, ok?”
They walked over to the bench overlooking the lake in eerie silence.
“It’s not that I don’t want to be with you,” Lorcan explained. “Relationships, they bring out the worst in me. There’s a lot of anger inside me, always has been as long as I can remember. I’ve learned to control it as best as I can, but I can’t subject another person to it. Especially not you.”
Sera looked him up and down. “Anger? You? You’re the most composed person I know. I’m the one who was screaming just a second ago.”
“It’s an illusion,” Lorcan shrugged. “If I seem composed, it’s probably because I only allow myself to operate within really strict rules to hold it together. Every day I wake up and I see red. I’ve learned to control it, through a careful routine, but there’s got to be boundaries. Don’t get involved, don’t get too deep. Not for my sake. For yours.”
“Bullplum.” Sera hissed. “It sounds to me like you’re just making up obstacles in your own head.”
“It’s not in my head, Sera,” Lorcan replied. “I have had relationships, and they were disastrous. I don’t like the person I become…”
“My relationship record is pretty appalling too,” she shrugged. “Does that mean that should dictate what happens with us?”
“It’s not just about a poor relationship record!” Lorcan’s already deep voice suddenly became solemn.
Sera never heard him sound like that. “Do you know why I have those scars on my face, Sera? I got in a massive fight in a bar, and the guy threw me through a window.”
Lorcan, in a pub brawl? Sera couldn’t picture it.
“I’m sorry. I’m sure it wasn’t your fault.”
“It was, that’s exactly the point,” Lorcan shook his head. “I provoked him. I chewed him out, for no reason. I didn’t even know him. I was just angry at everyone, and couldn’t control it. I was asking for it. I’ve had a lot of moments like that Sera. When I lost control. Most of them didn’t leave a mark. But after this happened, when I was in the hospital… I realised I needed to change things. “
Lorcan paused, looking into the horizon.
“That’s when I came here. I spent a month here just on my own. Discovered yoga and meditation. And it dawned on me that if I really want to stay in control, I can’t let people in. That I could try to help other people at loose ends some clarity too, through meditation, but no relationships. No getting too close.”
Sera didn’t say anything. It was the story he’d told her at the cemetery that night, on the Day of the Dead, about finding himself in Granite Falls, except this time, she got the full version.
“And then the most amazing thing happened,” Lorcan continued. “I started to make a difference to other people’s lives. By being a distant mentor. They didn’t just learn to control themselves through meditation like I did, it changed them. They found happiness. And I found my calling. I’m not meant to get involved. I’m meant to help.”
“No!” Sera burst out. She was shaking.
“You’ve convinced yourself that you can’t be happy, and that you’re acting all noble! For others sake. For my sake. But it’s not true! I need you, and not as a flipping distant mentor! You think you’re restricting yourself, but you’re restricting me too. And you might think your rage is bad, but if you don’t change your stupid rules to give us a chance, you’ll have my rage to deal with!”
She did not expect him to smile in response.
“Sera, all of my rules already have gone out of the window with you.” He told her. “Spending all this time with you, becoming your friend, taking you here, heck, even telling you all the things I’ve just said… it’s the exact opposite of not letting people in.”
“So… what are you saying?”
Lorcan reached for her hand cautiously.
“I’m saying that I just want what’s best for you. And that that probably isn’t me. And that I’m terrified. But… none of that means that I’m not giving us a chance.”
Sera squeezed his hand, wrapping it in his.
“Then we won’t have a problem.” She smiled.
Note: The beautiful cabins Sera and Lorcan are staying in were built by Simproved.