"So, how are you feeling today? Is everything okay? "Asked Zeck, after a trip whose topic was the lightness of his sister.
He opened the trunk of the car and picked up the white canvases and paint cans. I helped him with some canvases. We had stopped by Zeck's gallery.
He needed to leave some material, even though it was closing time.
His gallery was in the commercial part of the city, on one of the streets that housed dozens of shops of various categories.
It was one of the busiest places in Lain during the day, such as the Government House and the business district. But these were in the rich part of the city, where I had never been.
There is no place for people like me, mere mortals without fortune, in such a place.
Only on television did I catch a glimpse of some of the government buildings, where large meetings take place, luxuriously and exquisitely decorated.
If that's where those people work, I can not even imagine where they live.
The gallery was not a strange place for me, lately I used to go there when I had some time available to help Zeck, escorting potential customers through the store,
presenting each work as if it were the most beautiful work of art, not that it took many words . The quality of Zeck's paintings spoke for themselves, and was enough to captivate buyers.
His works contemplated a number of different subjects: abstractionism, portraits, his predilection, and, presently, Zeck had also developed a fixation on ancient art and symbolic representation.
Luckily, there was no picture of me exposed. Already it is enough embarrassment the exposure while posing. Show a client a picture of me? It will definitely never happen.
Zeck was now arranging the material in the room he used to paint while I wandered through the gallery and enjoyed the same paintings once more.
"Yeah, it's okay ... I guess I just needed to get out of that party. I should not have gone. "
Nothing was fine, but today I wanted to be strong.
"But you've finally finished the course, you should celebrate, it's a good thing, Lara!"
"I know ... but I can not feel happy." Imagine my life without Ray is ... just an emptiness.
I felt that I never wanted to be happy again. It was exactly how I felt. I preferred to live in mourning and sadness, reminding my brother, to continue on.
I could never go on without forgetting him for a moment. But talking about his death ... made it more real.
And I tried to imagine every day that Ray was still with me, because if I stopped doing it, I did not know what would happen.
"Lara, you spent the last month practically closed at home, you need to go out, you know, see people, talk to people ... You have to continue living"
I did not feel at all with that will or intention. It was just too painful.
"I really tried ..."
I went to that party ... and that was a bad idea. Too many people, too much joy.
"I can hardly begin to understand what you're going through, but you have to be strong, for Ray ...
the last thing he would want was to see a beautiful girl like you, without her usual tough-guy look!"
"I do not look like a tough one, you idiot!" I turned to him, gaping. The look of satisfaction on his face was evident, which confused me, I had just insulted him.
"Oh there she is! Hello again! Is this the Lara who protested at the hospital until they were able to give Lain more medical supplies?
Or the one who called me all those crude names when she thought I was taking too long to paint her first portrait?
When she was supposed to try to make a good impression, you know, to get the job ... "
"Yeah, right. I could never do that. Even if I tried! "
I rolled my eyes. Arr! Sometimes Zeck manages to annoy me.
Yes, maybe I took some rather drastic measures and several unthinking decisions, my actions were sometimes questionable, but I was not tough ... let alone would I discuss this with Zeck.
First, this was not even a true topic and then we were not that close.
I had had a Catholic education, I was not allowed to be rude or impolite. But those times passed and life happened.
Although this education still rules my life greatly, using coarse vocabulary was a later introduction, I suppose.
And after all, how could someone pose for hours without grunting all the time? I would never understand people.
"Yes, it's definitely her. Welcome back"
"The Lara I was can not came back."
"Because she died. A little of that Lara died with Ray. "And then, the weight on my chest began to be felt again. Too intense, too heavy to bear.
It demands that I sink me, that I bow down with it to the point of gravity to exercise all its power. Holding myself up against such force, it tears my whole being.
I could never be the same again.
"I have to do this last thing for him, Zeck. The only thing that is still within my reach: to find out who killed him. Why? Why would anyone do that? "
The whole armor with which I forced myself to leave the house today shattered, the air found the wound in my chest and it burned impossibly more. The tears fell from my eyes.
Zeck put a soothing and affectionate hand on my bent back on the gallery counter, trying to ease a weight that only intensified. That was the kind of closeness I definitely avoided.
The look of helplessness on his face suggested he did not know what to say.
Why could anyone want to kill him? We were in Lain for such a short time. Ray had gotten a new job, exporting goods, in the rich part of the city. He was a businessman.
But he was above all a righteous man, just and sensible. I could not imagine him with enemies. Unlike me, Ray lived surrounded by friends and long-term relationships. He was not weird like me.
"I do not know, Lara. I did not know your brother, but the police will find out. They are investigating. "
"I just want justice done."
Now I recognized that something was wrong with Ray. I should have noticed the signs then. I had not seen my brother since we arrived in Lain.
I was too busy with my studies and trying to earn some money and he lived far away and was always at work.
"I should have suspected one month ago when he visited me."
It had been 5 months since we were in Lain and it was the second time I saw him. It had never been that long without seeing him.
"He was strange ... I do not know how to explain it. It was like he was in a hurry or did not want to be seen in Lain ..." As if he were running from someone.
At this moment, everything is clearer in my head, that whole episode acquires a new explanation. He was scared, I realized he was and should have done something ...
have insisted on knowing the reason even when he said that everything was fine. Now I'm sure something happened, but it's too late.
"... and then he gave me that necklace."
Ray only gave me gifts on the classic occasions. But it was like ... if he was saying goodbye.
"Maybe he knew it would be the last time we were going to see each other.” Tears run from my eyes. I should have noticed.
"It was a beautiful necklace." A fine sleek silver wire, as if it had just been conceived.
But it was when I saw the medallion that I held my breath and forgot the apprehension I was beginning to feel. The most beautiful jewel I had ever seen.
I saw it clearly even though it was now closed in my hand. A translucent stone with a discreet glow, but still capable of captivating the most insensitive look.
It sparkled in magical simplicity. It was supported by a pendant, a beautiful silver skeleton, which barely concealed it. The stone contrasted with the contemporaneity of the silver wire.
It was so peculiar that it seemed to refer to a time of kings and queens, where only I would be able to conceive such preciousness.
Was Ray rich then? I suspected not, but I did not ask, though. I was too fascinated by the gift I had just received.
I remember now that, even when he gave me the necklace, he seemed to be trying to hide his actions. He was acting strange and I ignored it, thinking it was just something in my head.
How stupid I was.
The meeting was brief. Ray quickly said goodbye, leaving me only a tender kiss and the most beautiful jewel I have ever seen.
"Keep it, Lara." And there was nothing else I could do. I would never dare lose such a relic. Now the only thing I have left of him. That I keep with my soul. The last thing Ray gave me.
I was now holding the necklace on the counter, it seemed more precious than ever, even watching it through my blurred vision with tears.
"Can I?" Zeck reached out and took the necklace.