‘Come on Tresh, you can do it!’ Tresh thought to herself hard as she quivered nervously.
‘It’s just a silly little elevator, and they’re only up a couple of floors.’ She tried again, trying to steel herself into getting onto the modern-day transportation, and failed, again.
‘Well,’ she began, ‘at least I managed to calm my breathing.’ She thought, as she clenched her eyes shut. Desperately, she forced her gloved hands into fists in an effort to overcome her lifelong phobia.
‘You can’t go and support Mara or Vlad, until you get into one!’ She reminded herself for what seemed the umpteenth time! Somehow, she dug into the depths of her resolve, and managed to place one hoofed foot in front of the other!
Slowly, she laboriously moved herself forward, until at the last she felt one of her hoof tips ‘ding’ into the elevator lobby’s baseboard.
Involuntarily, she let out a small cry of alarm when the nearest elevator let out a loud ‘DING!’ to announce its arrival. She then she opened her eyes and froze in terror at the sight of what lay before her, the dreaded summoning buttons! Looking at the polished brass button plate that hung before her, Tresh could see the fear-filled face of another Satyros looking back. Her own mirror image.
Absentmindedly, she noted that during all that time she been hesitating and trying to summon up her courage; there’d been least a score of other dejected looking people, who had come and gone through the lobby. Yet not one of them had spared Tresh more than a passing glance.
“Miss?” came a voice suddenly, that rescued her from her self-absorption.
“Are you all right?” continued that voice, that she then noticed came from a young healthy looking human male who was dressed in fresh and clean hospital scrubs.
“I, uh, well,…” Tresh began, licking her lips nervously, utterly flummoxed, at the sight of the rather scrumptious male. Who was now looking down at her with concern in his eyes.
“No, actually I’m not.” She half-cried, letting her shoulders drop in despair.
“What’s wrong?” he asked earnestly, “I saw you standing her in front of this bank of elevators when I went on break fifteen minutes ago, and yet you’re still here now.”
“Well,” Tresh began, “my problem is rather embarrassing.” Tresh explained as she started to blush, making her cheeks turn the color of her eyes. She sighed. “I’ve got claustrophobia, and I’ve been that way all of my life.” She admitted, as she blinked away her tears of fright. She then looked up to meet his eyes with her own.
‘Oh! He’s got a lovely pair of Riesling-brown eyes.’ She admired involuntarily then. ‘Just like Vlad’s.’ she decided.
“I see.” Said her hospital hero, as he looked concernedly at her, not quite smiling. “I take it that you can’t handle the interior size of those elevators?” he asked politely, gesturing to them.
“No.” she replied, shaking her head just enough for her hair to bounce against her ram-horns. “They’re simply awful! They’re so tiny!” she whispered with a shudder. “I’m much more used to wide open places!”
“What about stairwells?” he asked, changing his inquiry.
“Even worse!” she cried, ‘They’re like caves!” she shuddered. The unnamed male looked both surprised and thoughtful about that revelation.
“I take it that you’re here to see someone,…?” He asked, leaving his question open.
“Yes”, she nodded hesitantly while looking at him questioningly. “I’m here to visit a friend. Her Mas,…excuse me.” Tresh smiled slightly and dropped her eyes momentarily.
“Her Husband, I meant.” She said as she raised a gloved hand to touch her lips, so as to cover her faux pas.
“Was in a car accident,” she continued, “and knowing Mara like I do, she must be worrying herself sick over him.” She finished.
“What are their names?” he asked.
“His name is Vladimir Lyadov, and her’s is Mara Cauchemar.” She replied automatically.
“Oh!” he exclaimed. “I know them! Mr. Lyadov is in one of the rooms that is part of my rounds. I’m a nurse here, hmmmm.” He explained as he stepped back and folded his arms. Tresh couldn’t help but admire just how deliciously sinewy those arms of his were.
“I might be able to help you out.” He stated as he uncrossed his arms. “But, I might get into a bit of trouble if I’m caught doing so.” He judged as he stared at her with a neutral expression. Tresh bit her lip nervously then. But then, he smiled.
“Do you think you could handle a service elevator?”
“I don’t know.” She stated, confused. “Is it any bigger?” He grinned.
“Yes they are,” he nodded, “they’re much bigger! Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Anatoly!” he smiled. Tresh found herself matching that smile of his, as she shook his proffered hand.
Her smile got even bigger, when she discovered just how much larger that ‘service elevator’ was. Even so, she still found herself rather out of sorts with its size. So much, that she involuntarily found herself gripping desperately at Nurse Anatoly. Not that he minded, one bit.
Soon, with Anatoly’s help, she found herself standing relievedly in front of her friend Mara’s husband’s Room. # 4101.
“Wait here.” Nurse Anatoly said, while gently shushing her. Tresh had noted that this section of the hospital was the Intensive Care Unit ward. She bit her lip nervously, when she’d realized where her old lover’s room lay.
Anatoly then carefully went into the room, then came back out after a few tension filled moments. He then waved a hand at Tresh, to get her to come over.
“I think it’ll be all right for you to go ahead and go in to visit. Just be careful, please.” He whispered into her ear, careful to avoid bonking himself on her horn.
“I think your friend, need’s your support right now. If there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate to ask me or someone else.” He reassured her. Tresh turned to enter, but stopped when she felt a touch on her shoulder. Turning she looked and saw that it’d been Anatoly who had done so. She lifted a shapely eyebrow at him.
“Uuhhm. I know that,…’ he began. Then stopped. “Never mind.” He said firmly while blushing ever so slightly. “I wish you the best of luck.” He stated instead, not meeting her eyes. She knew then what he’d been about to ask!
“Yes.” She stated with an indulgent smile, “Perhaps we could meet some other time for a drink.” She finished, with a small shake of her head. He looked simultaneously relieved and embarrassed.
“Thanks.” He said with a nod, then went on with his duties. Tresh took the time to admire his rather shapely buttocks, as he walked away with a light spring in his steps.
She then moved into the room, stepping lightly so as to not make too much noise with her hooves upon the shiny waxed floor.
Tresh gently clopped a couple of steps into the darkened room as the door shut itself behind her. Then, she blinked a few times to get her eyes used to the low light level. But, once she had, she took in Vlad’s still form on the bed, and gave out an involuntary gasping cry.
“Oh my! He looks so fragile!” she said forlornly, feeling an ache forming deep within her core, as she reached out a hand beseechingly to him, her mouth agape. She so desperately wanted to reach out and take him into her arms, and hold him close.
Instead, she forced her gaze to wander away from him. When she did, she beheld the figure of another. This was one who had fallen asleep with her head upon the edge of Vlad’s bed.
Even in the gloom there, Tresh instinctively could tell who it was. Mara the Kikimora, a steadfast friend of hers from the old days. Friends ever since the day they’d first met. Friends still as the two of them grew up together, neighbors in that suburb of Monster Girl City.
“Mara?” She called out quietly then. But Mara gave no sign then that she’d had heard her. So, Tresh then quietly clip-clopped her way closer to her friend and laid a hand on her shoulder.
She sighed out vexedly when she saw Mara’s condition. Her hair and arms feathers were in an entire disarray. Her clothing, normally immaculate, was ripped, dirtied, and shredded in spots. Leaning closer, Tresh saw the shiny tracks on her face, that indicated that Mara had been crying heavily. Only the fact that her chest was rising and falling, gave Tresh any indication that she was still alive, she’d been so still!
Carefully, so as to not disturb her. Tresh pulled up another chair in the room so as to stand vigil with her friend. When she had made herself slightly comfortable, she afforded herself the time to look around the room and take everything in. Her eyes flitted across each of the room’s furnishings with only a momentary pause, judging.
Eventually, Tresh finally allowed herself to look over at Vlad. She grimaced painfully when she managed it.
“Oh Vlad!” she cried out softly under her breath, “My love! What has happened to you?!” she demanded of no one silently. To Tresh, he looked so broken then. He seemed to be more machine than man, in that angst filled moment.
Swallowing, she noted all of the tubes coming in and going out, here and there. The only sign that he was actually alive was the sound of his oxygen reservoir filling and deflating. Which was matched by that infernal beeping mechanical monitor that implacably held him tentacle-like, in its grasp!
“I happened to him.” Said a familiar voice. Tresh dropped her head to see the source of that voice, and was shocked to realize that it was Mara! There, upon the side of Vlad’s bed, Mara was looking up at Tresh, with despair in her eyes.
Slowly, gently, Tresh lowered herself to Mara and began to draw her closer. Mara resisted feebly at first, but Tresh’s will wouldn’t be denied, and eventually Mara allowed herself to be enfolded in her friend’s arms.
“You can’t mean that!” Tresh stated softly into Mara’s feather covered ear, careful to not poke her with a horn tip.
“Oh yes, I do.” Mara stated morosely, refusing to meet Tresh’s gaze. “I am the cause of his condition.”
“What do you mean!?” Tresh demanded, agitated. “You weren’t driving that car!”
“No, I wasn’t.” Mara replied. “But, I should’ve been!” she whimpered.
“Explain.” Tresh demanded, holding her friend at arm’s length, while scrunching up her eyebrows. It took a while, but eventually Tresh was able to worm the truth out of her.
“Master had been away on his business trip, for what seemed like forever!” Mara explained, in between sniffles. Tresh produced a paper tissue, ready to dab away her endless tears, every time that Mara’s blubberings overwhelmed her.
“THEN FINALLY! He called to let me know he was coming home. I was so eager to meet him, that I drove his vehicle to the airport in preparation.”
“Instead of allowing him to take a taxi?” Tresh demanded. Mara nodded.
“There’s nothing wrong with that! You said it yourself, he’d been gone away too long. I’d have done the same.” Mara shook her head.
“No, you don’t understand. Master wanted to drive his car home, instead. I shouldn’t have acquiesced!” Mara moaned.
“What?” Tresh asked uncomprehendingly.
“On the way home, Master suggested that he drive- ‘Stick’, as he calls it.”
“What’s that Mara? His car is an automatic, isn’t it?” Mara half-smiled indulgently then.
“Yes it is, Tresh.”
“Then how,…?” she started, but was stopped when Mara placed her hand over her mouth.
“It’s a code phrase that Master and I use. It means that he wanted me to perform Oral Sex on him while he drove home. It’s something that we’ve done on more than a few occasions.” Mara smiled wickedly for a moment, then she frowned.
“Mara! That’s an incredibly dangerous thing to do, not to mention foolish! Driving Distracted!” Tresh exclaimed. “I’d never do such a thing!” Tresh declared stiffly. Mara giggled in response.
“What?!” Tresh demanded, outraged at her friend’s unexpected mirth.
“You wouldn’t have been able to.” Mara smirked as she leaned back, while reaching up and tapping once on one of Tresh’s horn tips.
“Good point.” Tresh replied with a duckface. “I couldn’t have. My horns probably would have gotten caught in the steering wheel.” She admitted, wondering idly despite.
What Mara said next, shocked her to her core.
“Tresh. You should have had Vlad for a husband, not me!” Mara declared.
“What! That’s an incredibly silly thing to say, Mara! Where did you get such a stupid notion like that!” Tresh replied, just a little too forcefully.
“Oh come now Tresh, I overheard you when you came into this room. I saw the look on your face when you did! I know that you and he dated before he met me! You still love him don’t you?” Tresh opened her mouth to deny it.
“I don’t,…I mean,…I,…” she began. But, try as she might she found that she couldn’t.
“I knew it.” Mara replied, collapsing into herself. “If you had had him instead of me, then he wouldn’t be here like this, now.” She ended quietly.
“MARA!” Tresh cried aloud, loudly enough to wake the dead. “You listen to me and listen well! Vladimir and I’s marriage wouldn’t have worked out! You know how we Satyri are with our drinks and flutes! Vlad was, and probably still is a Teetotaler and prefers quiet evenings alone at home! My drinking and partying was just some of the things, that he and I could never find a common ground on. It’s that simple!” Tresh half-yelled.
“But you!” she continued, “You and he! I saw the way that you made him smile. He smiled in his relationship with you in ways that he never did with me! Do I still love him?” she demanded archly.
“Yes! I do! I admit that!” Tresh bored her eyes into Mara’s. “But I would never do anything to harm your and Vlad’s relationship! I love you Mara! So much so, that I’d never attempt to cause a split between you and he!” Tresh ended her speech by grasping Mara’s hand with her own.
“I promise you, that I only ever wanted to see the two of you happy together!” she cried.
“Never the less, Tresh!” Mara persisted, as she grasped at Tresh’s hand fiercely. “I would still feel better if you were part of our lives!”
“What do you mean?” Tresh asked, unsure of where the conversation was headed.
“Do not some Men have more than one Mamono-wife!?” Mara smiled. “I would feel better, much better, with things if you were one of his!” she explained.
“What?!” Tresh exclaimed, finding herself utterly surprised. She looked away. “I,…I,…” she began, trying to find the words to deny such an attractive notion. Mara interrupted her thoughts.
“I’ve loved you since we were children, Tresh.” Mara confessed then.
“I love you too, Mara.” Mara shook her head.
“No Tresh, you don’t understand. I LOVE you,…” Mara explained, leaving her hanging. “That way too.” She finished.
Tresh found herself utterly surprised at that revelation. She never even considered such a thing before! Sitting back, and letting her hands drop to her lap she began to think about all of her years together with her best friend.
‘The way we played ‘house’ together when we were children. She always insisted that I be her ‘Master’.’ Tresh remembered. Slowly, yet surely, many a puzzle piece began to fall together, leaving behind an inescapable pattern.
Tresh forced herself to meet Mara’s eyes, and said one word.
“What?” Mara demanded.
“Yes. Yes, I would happily marry you and Vlad.” Tresh confessed with assurance. “But the problem is, I doubt very much that Vlad would be amenable to such a notion.” Tresh stated sadly.
“Then let us work together on changing his mind together. Agreed?” Mara challenged, extending her hand out to her.
“Agreed.” Tresh said firmly, grasping at Mara’s hand tightly. They smiled in comradely satisfaction then.
But both were shocked into silence, when a third hand weakly reached out and gently covered both of their hands.
Both Mara and Tresh, silently turned their heads and beheld Vlad peering blearily out at them from his bed.
“Agreed.” He whispered hoarsely.