Chapter 15:

Nemo Wars - Entry 9 - Recovery

Further Tales From The UnderCurrent (Short Story Prequel Series)

Entry 9; 15-01-Ta425

Really has been a while this time eh? I won't lie, I'm pretty ashamed of the last few 'entries' I wrote into this.

Not that I haven't heard people say it before, that you write something and two weeks--, no as little as two hours later you feel disappointed with it.

I kind of want to tear those pages out, to scrunch 'em up and then burn them whole - Start a new 'Entry 6'... But then maybe I've done enough burning for one lifetime....

Happy new Year by the way.
I would write about what the town did to celebrate but I weren't in any humour for festivities - That said even from my little place on the outskirts of town I could see some of the events, the fireworks specially made to not go higher then the dome's roof, the whole town lit up with lights for St. Aardig's day, festive stalls with half the town baking special festival foods - And so on, so on.

I'll level with you, I'm not really sure what came over me these last few months - Heck even my memory feels, I don't know, fuzzy?
That whole time my head felt more and more pent up, foggy and heavy - I mean I read over what I wrote here, words that don't change with time and they almost seem like someone else's - Like the hell's going on with that last one? It looks like some sort of girly poem!

The Doc' has all these crazy theories about my 'mental health' and PTSD bollocks - I don't really buy into any of that claptrap, that said talking to him was, beneficial, I guess.

By 'Doc' I just mean Doctor Smith, the guy who treated my injuries when I first arrived here.

I don't really remember how I ended up in his office? Perhaps I just walked in during a daze, I'm honestly not sure but one way or another I found myself sitting in his place a few weeks after I finished repair work on the Patchwork Nemo.

I hadn't told anyone it was done, I guess I didn't want them to know - But with each passing day it only felt worse, I was convinced people were watching me, checking up on my 'progress' - And in a sense they were!

They were looking because they were worried, obviously. From what I've been told I had spent literal weeks getting more and more 'shifty' looking, glaring people down, walking with hunched shoulders, looking like I hadn't slept in months, 'cause I hadn't!

They stopped by my house, not to check how the mecha was progressing but because they earnestly believed I was in trouble, it was like a community suicide watch or something.

Well, and again I'm not proud of this, but I told the Doc that was nonsense, started demanding to know why they had given me the Vijaik - But the doc just looked confused, said Scarface and some of the other retired soldiers had wanted me to have it for my 'well-being'.

Anyway to cut a long, far too long story short, he gave me some meds and instructed me to talk to people and step away from the Vijaik for a while.
Well I wasn't about to take some stupid sugar-pills but the doc's glare as I left his office convinced me to atleast humour him and so I'm still taking them now, though I doubt 'Depressive-Suppressors' actually do anything.

I won't lie (I mean this is my journal so who would I be lying to exactly?), just talking to the doc hardly did much - I still believed I was being watched, that everyone was just waiting for me to finish the mech, before sending me away in it - But I think it did help, just hearing the possibility that maybe they were watching me out of kindness not malice - Well even if I didn't believe it, it was good to consider.

I took his advice too, after all even if I was 'afraid' to tell people the mech was done, telling them I was talking a short break could do nothing but 'buy me time' right?

So that's what I did, slowed down for, a while.
Walked through the forest, just sat listening to the artificial river and the birds and leaves rustling - That sort of 'hippy-jazz'.

It took time, I did after all shout quite loudly at her, Very loudly..... But eventually Tamai and Scarface started coming to visit again - Now that was nice.
We sat for longer then her old visits, out on the house frontage, just looking quietly out at the town in the distance.

I know for these last few months I've failed to pay my way, heck I barely go into town much - Sometimes people come out to the house to deliver me supplies, free of charge.
I think that helped me alot, seeing people silently, anonymously trying to help by leaving food in baskets on my doorstep when they thought I wasn't looking, not caring if I wasn't pulling my share of the work as long as I took the time to - I suppose you would say, 'recover'.

But it was slow going, really slow going. And the mech, it kept lingering over me - Everyday I woke up, everyday it sat outside my window, its helmet still bent and bruised, it looked almost as though it was grinning eagerly in at me all the time, waiting for me to join it it, waitin--

So, just yesterday I finally built up the courage to come clean. Ridiculous I know, I'm a soldier and a grown-ass man, it should of been easy to ask months ago! But no point crying over spilled milk I guess.

I served a pot of tea to Tamai and Scarface when they came over yesterday and once we had settled in I demanded an answer. I fear if I came across as angry or just desperate, it was hard to read Tamai's expression in the moment.
Anyway Scarface's response? He just laughed.

Well I took issue with that and when I pressed him on what was so funny he gave me this stern look that only a man with a massive facial scar and a missing arm can - He said what I had been thinking, fretting about for all those months, straight out.
He said under no uncertain terms would the town ever ask me to leave or to pilot the Patchwork Nemo in combat.

He explained the other veterans and him wanted me to have it to help me settle in, they had believed working on something from my previous occupation would help me adjust to civilian life and to feel useful, that the Nemo would be a symbol for me that it was ok to still be who I am, without the fighting part - Their only regret was how badly they believe it has backfired for me.

That the only purpose they would use the Nemo for was construction work, or carrying lumber and effecting repairs to the dome when needed - And only when I was ready and willing to do such jobs.
He pointed out that the original Vijaiks of Abhaile were just that, construction machines and nothing more before the First War broke out.

But then, as he explained all this, something else happened.
Tamai's face turned to one of horror, I guess she hadn't considered in her child's thoughts that that was why I had been acting strange.
Her little face got all scrunched up and next thing me or Scarface knew she was balling her eyes out crying! 
She hopped up from that silly old pilot's chair and rushed to my side, clung on to me burying her face into my stomach.

I'll tell you it flaming well hurt! I guess she didn't realise she might as well of been headbutting the massive scar I still have from 'The Fall'. And then all those tears, soaked my shirt through they did!

She refused to let go, kept saying things like 'How horrible' and going on about how she would never let something like that happen, how no one in the town would ever 'Send me back to fighting'.
I tell ya, for a little one she really can grip quite tightly, she sure didn't look very 'noble lady-like' in that moment, nah more like a child asking a parent not to leave for war I guess - I really didn't think she cared that much, I mean I've never done anything for her, we aren't family - Kids are strange though, don't 'they' say?

In the end she proposed an ultimatum in order for letting go of me - Said I'd have to come over and eat dinner with them and soon. Apparently the Elder and his wife already make enough for 4 between themselves, Tamai and Scarface, so laying an extra place for me at the table would be 'Of little consequence'.

Scarface, ever loyal to his charge, agreed that I should come. So with little choice I said I would think about it and with that they left.
And now here I am, thinking about it.

It's all so strange, looking back on these last few months - I really do sound paranoid don't I? Maybe there is some truth to this 'Mental-health' nonsense after all....

I can't help but wonder what might of changed if I had just talked more, not been so angry with everything, so confused - If I'd just, well just admitted I wasn't 'happy'.

How can simply talking to people and spending some time alone thinking of changed everything so much?
When you start looking at people not by the creed or politics or religion - Not as Abhailen and Bhailien but as fellow people.
It's like the world is a difference place, just like that!

They're not going to send me back to war, maybe 2 days ago I thought they would, certainly 3 months ago but after Tamai's tears, after seeing the people looking out for me and what the Doc' and Scarface said - What did I spend all that time worrying for eh? It's crazy, I mean I wonder if I could of just calmed down, took things a little slower, if maybe I'd of been more content as of late.
I can see so much more now, I feel like I can final start thinking about the guy living in this town, rather then thinking I'm some stupid pitiful stranded soldier.
I was looking at myself like some sort of victim, like I was the only one with fears and who's suffered the unfairness of life - And that's wrong, its unhealthy!

When we feel lost and sad and alone, why is it we grapple wildly for the first thing? Why did I instantly presume that 'fate' had it out to get me, that the town and its people were all a farce?
Why was my first instinct to presume the worst in everyone?

I guess I can only hope that next time, I'll be, well it sounds stupid to write down but, a little wiser 'ya' know?

And maybe I should take Tamai up on that offer of dinner, I'm sure the elder and his wife probably know some ancient Abhailen recipes lost to time - Yes maybe I will give it some real thought.
And then next year, perhaps I can see the lights of St. Aardig's day from a little closer, ha! Maybe even dress the Patchwork Nemo up in festive colours, now that would be a sight!