Over the next few weeks Lukas and Melony would meet up after work, almost daily. They would go to the park or back to Melony’s house, as she didn’t live with anyone, and let Gloopy and Gwendoline play with each other. They would explore the world around them, racing each other, climbing over each other to get to higher surfaces. There was always a look of innocent wonder on their faces as they found new things to investigate.
Lukas and Melony would watch them as they played something akin to hide and seek on her bookshelves, sliding and cramming themselves into the smallest possible gaps and jumping out as the other one slid past. Whenever it came to the time to say goodbye, Lukas always thought he could see sadness in Gloopy’s eyes. They didn’t shine quite as brightly.
“I think they’re sad to see each other go,” Lukas said one day while they were watching them go down the slide at the park.
They only ever visited the park when they were sure it was empty. It was a little one in the middle of a housing estate, and they’d only ever seen people there a couple of times. Mostly they would be free to sit on the bench and watch them play. Gloopy and Gwendoline would move up the steps to the slide, climbing on top of each other as they did, almost merging into one ball of mess, and then they would take it in turns to slide down. Each time their eyes would be glowing.
“What do you mean?” Melony asked.
“I think I can see that Gloopy is sad when I take it home.”
“I don’t like that Lukas. I don’t like to think that they have complex emotions like that. I like to think that Gwendy is happy all the time and doesn’t really have much room for anything else.”
“Isn’t that how we would like everything and everyone to live?”
“Sure, but I mean until I met you I never saw any sadness in Gwendy’s eyes, but I see it in them now, same as you, whenever you have to go home. It’s as clear as day. Pure sadness. It hurts every time, but within a few minutes that emotion is gone and Gwendy is back to normal.”
“It’s the same with Gloopy. It always seems to be back to normal by the time I get home.”
“When you wake up, do you ever find Gloopy near you?”
“What? I mean I made Gloopy a little bed on my desk and sometimes I find it sleeping on my pillow instead.”
“I mean, Gwendy has been sleeping on my arm a lot recently. Look at this.”
She pulled up her arm and rolled up her sleeve to her elbow, revealing a large nasty purple mark. It almost looked like a bruise, but there was a glow to it.
“That’s where Gwendy sleeps most nights. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s worrying. She only started doing it after we met you two. I think she’s lonely. Does Gloop not do that?”
“No, it doesn’t. Not at all. That’s really weird. Maybe you should go to a doctor about it?”
“I don’t know what I would say if I did. They would probably think I’m crazy.”
Melony covered her arm back up and held it against her chest. She didn’t speak of it again and Lukas quickly changed the subject to try and make the air a bit more comfortable. That night as they said goodbye, he thought that Melony sounded and looked very tired.
It wasn’t a surprise the next day when he received a message on his laptop that she wasn’t feeling great and didn’t want to meet up that evening. There were still a few messages swapped between them throughout the day, but once five o’clock rolled around she hadn’t changed her mind, and he logged out with nothing to do for the first time in a few weeks. He looked around at Gloopy, who was rolling about on a little train track that Lukas had found in the attic. It was made out of wood and made a small loop with a hill at one point. The wooden train stayed at the station most of the time, but every so often Gloopy would push it from behind until it got to the hill where it would get harder and then drop back down, rolling over Gloopy and derailing onto the floor.
Lukas sat and as he watched his little friend play around, he wondered if Gloopy would know that it wouldn’t be seeing Gwendoline later that day. Did it care or was it not even a passing thought. A knock at his bedroom door brought Lukas out of his trance.
“Hey, you not heading out tonight?” Tony asked.
“No, not tonight.”
“Ah okay. I was wondering, do you have any flu medicine left from when you were ill? I think I’ve caught it.”
“I’ll have a quick look, I’m sure I do. You alright?”
“Yeah, yeah. Just not feeling the greatest and want to try and kick this as soon as possible. Can’t afford time off work.”
Lukas got off his chair and moved to his bedside table, where he was sure there was a packet of tablets sitting in the top draw. He found them and passed them through the door to Tony.
“Don’t open it too far, you don’t want to catch it again. Thanks, though.”
“Hope you feel better soon. Let me know if you need anything. I’ll probably be going out tomorrow after work if you want something picking up.”
The next day Lukas turned on his laptop and found another message from Melony saying she wasn’t feeling very well. She thought she’d caught a cold again and decided it was best to stay at home for the next few days. Lukas agreed, gave her his best wishes, and tried not to worry too much.
To be continued…
Part Six will be available soon!