So yeah, it’s 23 years in the future and Aliona’s son Michael is a bit of a washed up drunk. He had a fucked up childhood though; that’s a lot to put on someone and a lot to ask a kid to grow up in the midst of. Don’t worry; blanks will be filled in along the way. When I originally conceived this story the whole thing was about Michael; a displaced and disenfranchised youth born in the parking lot of a hotel in very bizarre circumstances. The more I thought about it the more I realized it would be a far more interesting story if I wound back the clock and laid out the entire groundwork first. It turns out that I think I’m right and I’m glad I did it that way. Pyre is going to be the longest of the four parts, so those that don’t want the whole thing to end should be pleasantly pleased at its length. We’re talking 15 – 20 chapters as opposed to the usual 10.
What’s more, Tides of Fall was only intended originally to be the first wave of stories taking place in the same milieu. So those that like what I do for whatever reason don’t have to despair that when Pyre is over I’ll just disappear into the ether and never be heard from again. I can’t guarantee I’ll always post what I write on XNXX though, so if you’re one of those fans that needs to know what’s going on, what’s coming out, and what I’m currently working on I’d suggest going here and clicking the Like button: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Minus-Three/267964253233282
And then there’s this: http://soundcloud.com/smashgordondestroy/smash-your-fucking-face-vol-3
It Tried its Best, But the Coffee Wasn’t Strong Enough To Defend Itself…
“So how’s Bec?”
“She’s good, Michael,” Sam said as he poured sugar from the sticky dispenser on the sticky table. He got a sad look in his eyes and I felt a rare second of guilt for asking. “Real good.”
It wasn’t a matter of the place being a dive; it was just a matter of 5am and what it does to all night diners. Even the best server is going to get a bit lax between the afterhours rush and the breakfast rush. Looking around I could just barely hear it in the upper brain chatter of those around the place. Sitting at the counter, sitting in the booths, smoking out the back while trying to reconcile who they wanted to be with who they were; in a place like that at a time like this no one was really themselves. Last call cruisers and dead beat brawlers, people who had to get up way too early to go to jobs they hated way too much. It was a harsh painting of all that could go wrong if you let it. It was my kind of place.
“Good,” I said back to him. “She’s nice.”
“Yeah…” Samael said, looking out the window into the darkness.
“Sorry man,” I went on. “I know you don’t like talking about it.”
“It’s not that, Michael. You don’t have to be sorry. I just see her face in everything, yeah?” Sam explained. “I just miss Sara every day. It’s never gotten any easier.”
“So I never asked. I was too young I guess. Didn’t all the revenge make it better?”
He turned back to look at me, trying to smile and failing. The fluorescent tubes made everything wash out like an old water color painting, the diner an island of chemical brilliance in the predawn dark of the city. They made the lines around his eyes and the grey in his hair stand out and made him look suddenly older in my eyes. “No, Michael. It made it worse because I had to do it. I’d have given anything to have had no need.”
“Hm,” I grunted, forking a sausage to my mouth and biting it. “Sorry I brought it up.”
“Don’t be, friend,” he said as he added still more sugar, stirring slowly with the dull and scratched spoon. “There’s probably more that should have been explained to you.”
“Nah man,” I said to him, pushing my plate away. “It was all there for me to watch. I’ve seen every minute of Gavin’s footage. As soon as I was old enough to understand, Mark and Lisa made me watch it all so I’d know what I came from. My mother made sure I could ask anything I wanted. You were around, man. You know that I loved that shit when I was little.”
“You were a bit of a prat to other kids about it too, yeah? Do you remember that?”
“Oh man…I was a fuckin’ dickhead, wasn’t I?”
Samael cocked his left eyebrow at me. “‘Was?’ What do you call the way you act now?”
Until he’d started turning up everywhere I tried to run and hide I’d really liked Samael growing up. He was the ‘bad uncle’ in my mind. The one that was always burning and slaying and destroying shit in what passed for home videos in my family. I’d wanted nothing more than to take up a sword myself and go fight the good fight; but it was all over by the time I even knew about it. Right at that moment though, I wanted to knock him out. I didn’t need someone pointing out my flaws; I already knew about all of them. That’d probably get my teeth knocked in though; angel or not, Samael could bust some ass if he needed to. My uncle Christopher was no different. My whole family for that matter. No wonder I was such a wreck; how do you grow up around people like that, seeing and knowing what I had no choice but to see and know, without turning out a little fucked up?
“Stop looking at me like that,” Sam said, setting down his spoon and casually raising his coffee cup to his lips, blowing before sipping. “I don’t need to read your thoughts to know you’re thinking about throwing a right cross to the side of my neck.”
“Oh yeah? What makes you say that?” I replied cockily, scratching at the thick stubble on my neck.
“It’s what I’d do,” he said, shrugging and then smiling. “Relax Michael. I’m not going to try to drag you back to your family this time. They need to know you’re okay though, so forgive me for turning up now and then to check in on you, yeah?”
“I wouldn’t go,” I said while poking at the remains of my toast, soggy with grease from the bacon and too much margarine. “So it doesn’t matter why you came.”
Sam leaned forward onto his forearms on the table across from me. “So tell me, I’ve never got it; why the chip on your shoulder, friend?”
“Think about it, man,” I said with an edge in my voice. “Would you want to grow up like I did? Everyone watching everything you do? Cameras and microphones following you around? That creepy douche Gavin doggin’ your every step?”
“That creepy douche Gavin did follow me around, for almost a year, and we were risking our lives so that you and everyone else could live free. So you could decide for yourself what to do and why,” his tone got harsher and he set the coffee cup down hard on the table drawing looks from those nearby. “Don’t ever, for even one single fucking second, forget that. Got it?”
I looked away. I couldn’t meet his intense gaze. His green eyes might not hide fire behind them anymore, but you don’t need divine power to make people see what you’ve seen when you’ve gone through what he’d gone through. “Fuck man, I’m sorry okay? But did any of you ever consider that I didn’t choose this? I never asked to be born, man.”
“Oh, bollocks,” Samael said with a look of disgust on his face. “You sound like every teenager to ever have a bad day, you know that yeah? No one asks to be born, Michael. It’s what you do after that that makes you a man or a bitchy little twat.”
“Fuck you, man. I don’t need your grief.” I started getting up to leave.
“Oi! Sit back down, you.” He snapped at me, pointing with his spoon. I did. He shook his head at me. “You might have watched it all, and you might have had your little hero fantasies when you were little, but I don’t think you actually get it, friend.”
“What’s not to get? There was some kind of tyranny, my mother and you and some others fought it off, and now the rest of us are free. If freedom’s so fucking important then why do you keep tracking me down? It’s my life, can’t you just let me live it? Can’t you just fuck off?”
“I’m going to chalk that up to you being drunk still, yeah?” Samael stated, sipping again at his coffee then adding still more sugar to it. “I’m not asking you to be indentured to some higher principle, I’m just asking you to call your mother. She’s your mother. For fuck’s sake Michael, pull your head out and look around.”
“Yeah, whatever,” I muttered.
“Oh, very nice.” He set the cup down and clenched his hands into fists on the table while looking out the window for a second and mumbling, “Fucking twat.”
“What then, man? What!?” I shouted at Sam.
He looked back at me, relaxing his hands. I could see where the laugh and smile lines around his mouth and would be if he weren’t so pissed off at me, instead his face was marked by the deep trenches of rage and anger across his forehead and at the corners of his eyes. “What? Really? You’re asking ‘what’?”
“Fuck dude, explain it to me then!” I snapped.
“You’re 23, yeah?” Samael asked me and I nodded. “When your mother was your age your kind was living in caves and chasing their meals right before they ate them. You’ve got a serious lack of perspective, but that doesn’t mean you should have a lack of respect.”
“‘My kind’? You mean your kind,” I said sarcastically. “You’re as human as anyone now; and I totally am not.”
“You know what I mean, Michael. You’re just being difficult now for the sake of it. No one knew what was going to happen when you were born. No one did this to you. It just is what it is. What happened that day happened for a reason, and no one can figure out what that reasons is but you. If she could take it all back your mother would die to let you have a normal life.”
“Yeah, well maybe she should have,” I spat out.
I was on the floor suddenly, Samael looking down at me from where he still sat. The pain in my head doubled and throbbed and I could feel my left eye swelling shut. The waitress was yelling at us to get out. I looked up at her and waved, winked, smiled; she calmed down and told us to just stay calm or she’d call the cops. I slowly crawled back into the booth across from Sam.
“You will keep a civil fucking tongue in that mouth of yours or I will take it out,” Sam seethed at me through his teeth, pointing with one finger like a lance. I thought about all the footage I’d been so enamored with as I grew up, all the things I’d seen him do to people before I was born and the war ended. “Show some fucking respect, because I would still kill or die for your mother without a single thought. I don’t care what you are or who you are, you will not speak that way about her.”
“She’s my mother,” I said quietly.
“Then act like her fucking son,” Samael said, stretching his hand and rubbing his knuckles on the hand he’d hit me with.
“Yeah, whatever,” I mumbled again. It had become my chorus, my motto, my mantra. Samael sneered and shook his head in disgust at me again.
“Get over yourself. Do you have any idea what she went through to make sure you had a good world to be born into? What she went through just to make sure you had the chance to be born in the first place?”
“It’s all there, I watched it all,” I said, shrugging and slouching lower in the seat.
“You don’t know the half of it, friend,” Sam said, looking at me with something like pity in his eyes. “You saw what was filmed but you weren’t there like the rest of us were, yeah?”
“Yeah, you say that…but so what?”
“All you ever asked about were the battles when you were little, Michael. I don’t think you fully understand what was at stake, do you?” Samael asked me.
“Yeah, whatever. Maybe not. No. I only know what everyone else knows. I suppose I could have asked, but how do you expect a little kid to understand shit like that? Give me some fucking slack, man.”
“Fine. You want a second chance? You’ve got it then, yeah? You’ve got nowhere to go, do you? Get us some more coffee while I go to the bathroom and then I’ll tell you all about it.”
“Yeah, whatever.” I waved to the waitress as Sam walked away from the table and asked her how early they were allowed to serve beer. Not for about six hours…fuck. My hands were already starting to shake as last night’s buzz turned into that mornings hang over.
Come They Told Me, Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum…
It wasn’t easy for Aliona to leave after she found out she was pregnant, but we weren’t exactly flush with time. After the destruction of Vasaa, the Seraphim would be against us full force. The gloves were off and what had been a slow dance of destruction turned into a whirling chaos of all out war. Total war. The kind of war that you read about in history books but never think you’ll experience yourself. There had always been rebellion against the Council in the form of the Fallen, but never before had there been an organized force arrayed against them. We were that force, hinted at and foretold in almost every book held dear by almost every religion. Foretold, and now come to light.
At the time I’d been in the depths of a wrath the likes of which the world had never seen before. I was an unthinking wave of force. Finding out that Aliona was with child only gave me one more reason to raise Vasaa’s sword against our enemies. The stakes had suddenly gotten much higher. A handful of rebels turned into dozens. Dozens turned into hundreds and we ripped apart those that stood in our way. No one knew exactly what it meant for an angel to be pregnant but we all knew that it meant something; including the Council, who threw everything they had against us. Everywhere we went those still loyal to the old ways threw everything they had against us. I’d given up on trying to turn them to our side; if it wasn’t for Aliona’s even hand we wouldn’t have won out in the end. We would have been too outnumbered and no matter how full of rage I was at Serielle’s death we would have fallen before them.
We were in Saida, in Lebanon, where the city of Sidon once stood, when things started to get really bad. Since before the days of Canaan there had been a Phoenician temple there watched over by three angels; Melkart, Rameel, and Araqiel. All three were ancient Seraphim who had refused places on the Council so as to remain closer to the mortals and guide them through the ages. Aliona felt certain that if we could sway them to our side all their Cherubim and Elohim followers would swell our ranks and form a tipping point in our struggle. Speaking to them wasn’t the hard part, there were very few places that the Lamb couldn’t go and get an audience with whomever she wanted; convincing them to side with us was the hard part.
We knew what was coming for us in that place and so our mortal allies were sent away. There was no way that any would survive the conflict we knew was approaching had they remained. What followed was never broadcast, it was never made part of the new canon, because none but we of the Host as we had taken to calling ourselves were there to see it. Why the Host? The Fold was a cabal of bondage and servitude and that is why we fought. We could not replace them, we had to remove them and start anew.
Melkart, Rameel, and Araqiel had been content to watch and wait and see who came out victorious, deciding that the victor would be the true bearer of Truth. Aliona spent hour after hour after hour speaking to them to try and show them that might does not make right. I was content to stand and wait for the Council’s servants and their Nephilim to come and fight us; violence was the only language I understood at that point. She didn’t want to fight them though. The Lamb I remembered would have talked until it was time to fight, then taken up the Spear of Penance and laid waste to all those that tried to get between her and her goal. Instead, when Seraphim in service to the Council arrived from the sky with their Nephilim and the Cherubim still loyal to their cause, Aliona went down the temple steps to try and speak to them, to reason with them, to find a solution that didn’t involve the destruction of so many of our kind. Even after all the things we had seen and all the things we now knew about the Council, Aliona didn’t want to give birth to a child in freedom gained with the blood of those she considered her family. The child that would be Michael had done what armies and kings and angels that would be gods could not; he had tamed the Wrath of the Lamb.
It didn’t work. She had been the first to be attacked, swarmed under by a horde of Nephilim as she called out for them to stand down and listen to reason. She fought, at first with restraint and then with mounting rage as she realized that it wasn’t her they were trying to harm; it was the one that grew inside of her. Aghast that they would stoop so low the Wrath took her and with a soul splitting scream she destroyed the Nephilim in one blast of terrible energy. The fight was joined fully at that point and many fell on both sides, a great number of them beneath my own hand and the sword that had felled my love Serielle. The earth shook and split, the sky rained fire and steaming hot rains, the air was alive with unleashed power. It was not a battle, it was a cataclysm.
When it was over we stood in the dark on the temple steps, our wings drenched in the blood of the dead and destroyed. The Spark of those lost crackled and danced in the air and was slowly drawn into those of us that survived while Aliona knelt on the bottom stair and wept at what we had been forced to do. I myself was glad for it, glad for the vengeance and ready for more. Our eagerness to take the fight further and find the Council right that moment and finish it only made her sob harder and clutch her arms about her middle and shake with sorrow. The sight of her misery calmed even the most enraged of us, made us look at ourselves for what we had become; the broken army of a dying dream.
What good was a peace and freedom gained through hate and violence?
As Aliona stood, her eyes streaming hot green flames and her mouth twisted into a toothy grimace like a gash across her face, she screamed at us and admonished us our willingness to become like our enemies. She gnashed her teeth and tore at her clothes in anger at what we were turning into, crying out for us to look in the mirrors of our own souls and temper our rage with reason. Soaked in the blood of those destroyed, her hair plastered across her face and the winds tearing at her, we saw our greatest fears made real. As we calmed, she stood straight and spread her wings wide from her tiny body and screamed to us, “THIS WILL NOT BE THE WORLD MY SON IS BORN INTO! I WILL DESTROY ALL OF YOU BEFORE I LET THAT COME TO PASS! NO MORE!”
That’s how it came to pass that we were forbidden from taking the life or Spark of any other immortals in our fight against the Council. Only they would be allowed to be taken and destroyed and only then if they would not see the light of the new Truth. Melkart, Rameel, and Araqiel came then from the temple and chose. In her Mercy born of a desire for the world to not only be free, but be free of Wrath before the birth of her son, Aliona had shown them something that no amount of words could ever explain. Our Truth was not one enforced by the sword, but one born of hope.
After that, we had the Council on the run. The war wasn’t over, but a deciding battle had been waged and won. There were many amongst the Host that disagreed with the Lamb’s mercy; I was one of them at first, too enamored with the hot vengeance of Wrath. In time I saw what Aliona was trying to show us though. In time. Before it was over we would have to face those ones as well, but at that time we had some space, some breathing room, a chance to regroup.
Had it not been for the child growing inside of her, that child of impossibility and conceived beyond all reason, the rest of the war would have been a much darker and bloodier thing and much of the mortal world would have been destroyed with it. There was to be much blood still, before it was over, but in that instant the encroaching tide of a dismal future hit a wall and was turned back…
…because of Michael.
Stray Bullet From the Barrel of Love, The Illegitimate Son of God…
“…because of me?” I asked Samael.
“Yeah, because of you. Is that so hard to believe?” he asked me while finishing his ninth cup of coffee.
“Damn, man. I didn’t know,” I muttered quietly, scratching my neck. “There was so much bloodshed and all that shit…I guess it kind of covers the rest up. I mean, I’ve never actually read all the stuff written about it. I grew up with it, so I didn’t bother. I just watched all the videos and shit…”
“How could you? It wasn’t a moment any of us were proud of. We probably didn’t have any choice that day, but you can’t kill a hundred of your brothers and sisters and cousins and walk away from it wanting to talk about it? Kind of a downer in polite conversation, yeah?”
“You really look like shit, Michael,” Samael said, honest concern on his face. “I’m going to be in town a couple more days, friend. There’s more you need to know. Want to meet up later? Supper? Your place?”
“Yeah, whatever. I mean…yeah. Let’s do that. Not my place though, my place is a dump.”
“Here’s my number then. Want me to walk you home?” he asked as we stood from the booth and walked outside into the new morning.
“Nah man, I gotta think. I’m cool, Sam. Thanks though.”
“Stay out of the bottle, yeah?” he said to me, shaking my hand.
“Yeah. Maybe. We’ll see,” I muttered, turning and leaving. I looked back half a block away and Samael was still standing by the diner watching me.
My head was filled with conflicting thoughts and emotions as I walked home. I’d never really paid much attention to all the stuff behind the fighting I knew had taken place. Growing up it had all seemed so exciting and dangerous, and realizing it was all over before I even got here was a bit of a letdown. I didn’t know why so much attention was put on me and I’d come to resent it since I couldn’t really take part. Why would everyone in the world be so interested in me? I wasn’t really anybody from my point of view; just a guy born too late to do anything important. All the action was over, all the battles were won, all that was left seemed to be this hollow fake bullshit heaped on me from every angle. I’d turned my childhood excitement and hero worship into resentment and bitter irony.
I’d never known that the only reason everything turned out for the best was because of me. My mother had never told me. Then again, I’d never asked. She always said I was just like my father, but Mark wasn’t really my father. He was a nice enough guy, I’d liked him, but he wasn’t my biological dad. No one was. I’d become too caught up hating the fact that I didn’t have a dad to teach me how to be a man to just look around and see that all around me were perfect role models and examples I could have been learning from. I’d set them up to have to live up to the people they had been forced to become to see them for who they really were and understand why they had done the things they had done.
It made me want to drink, so I stopped at the convenience store a block away from my grungy apartment building and bought a bottle of cheap wine. Wine never seemed like drinking to me, so whenever I was really feeling sorry for myself but knew that drinking wasn’t the answer I went straight for the wine instead of whiskey.
Crouched in the doorway of my building was a small shivering form. She had somewhat unkempt brown hair that looked like she cut it herself that hung down below her shoulders and was hacked crookedly across above her eyes. Her beat up leather jacket and worn out jeans were perfect urban camouflage, and her shoes looked more like a representation of shoes than actual useful footwear. She looked young, 17 at the most. She was the kind of person you walked past and tried not to make eye contact with so you didn’t have to feel bad that you had somewhere warm to go and lie down, but she was right in front of the door and I didn’t have a choice.
“Hey,” I said to get her attention. She looked up at me and I went on, “‘Scuse me, I gotta get through.”
“Sorry,” she said. She had the soft and quiet haunted voice of someone that is used to being ignored and only speaks symbolically; a reasonable hand drawn facsimile of genuine communication. She started shuffling to side out of my way, wincing as she moved her right leg to join the rest of her huddled form.
“You okay?” I asked in a rare moment of humanity.
“I mean are you hurt?” I asked her.
“It’s nothing,” she said, starting to get up to walk away. “Sorry. I’ll go.”
I held out a hand to help her up as she struggled to put her weight on her right foot, and she looked nervously at it like it might turn into a snake and bite her. Slowly she took it in hers, shaky, while she looked up at me from under her bangs curiously.
“What happened to your foot?” I asked as she hopped off the step and onto the sidewalk.
“It’s nothing,” she repeated, limping slowly away. It was far from nothing, she could barely put any weight on it.
“Doesn’t look like nothing. What happened?” I asked, taking a step towards her. She flinched back at my approach. People, especially girls, usually flinched towards me, not away.
“Really, I’m fine. It’s been like this for days.”
I put my hand on her shoulder to steady her and she flinched again at my touch. “It’s cool. Sit down and let me take a look at it…”
“No, I gotta go,” she said fearfully. “I’ll be fine.”
“You wanna…you wanna come inside and sit down?” I stammered.
“Uh…well…really?” she asked, sounding doubtful that I actually wanted to help her.
“Yeah, it’s cool. I’m not a creep or anything…” I was afraid that I actually was, but it was nice to meet someone that didn’t want to leap into my arms right away. I found myself actually wanting to help someone and it felt weird but I decided to run with it.
“Well…okay. If you’re sure it’s okay.”
“Yeah, for real. Come on up.”
I helped her walk up the stairs and helped her sit on my beat up couch. I held up the bottle in the brown paper bag. “Want a drink?”
“Um…yeah, maybe…” she said, looking around still with that nervous look on her face. I don’t ever do it on purpose, but I could hear the very outer surface of her thoughts. She was amazed, surprised, scared, but thankful. “You don’t meet many people these days that want to help a stranger out. Most people try not to look at you when you’re down on your luck.”
“I’m not most people. ‘Down on your luck’ is my soundtrack. What’s your name? I’m Michael,” I said to her her as I poured some wine into two mismatched water glasses from my dusty cupboard.
“Magda,” she answered, still looking around like a stray cat brought into a strange home. “But my friends call me Mary. Aw, who am I bullshitting. I don’t have any friends, I just like that name.”
“Is that Russian?” I asked her as she took the glass in her shaky hand.
“I dunno, I guess. Something like that,” Magda replied softly.
She took off her shoe when I asked her to and put her foot on my scratched and stained coffee table. It was swollen and bruised and when I gently squeezed the arch of her foot she pulled away and let out a pained moan. “I think this is broken, Magda. You should go to a hospital.”
“Yeah, right,” she laughed incredulously. “Like I have coverage for a hospital.”
“You can’t walk around on this anymore,” I said, setting my wine down and grabbing my coat, which was really more like three heavy shirts worn together long enough they’d become one piece of clothing.. “I’m going to go get some painkillers from the store on the corner. Stay here and make yourself at home.”
“You’re not worried I’m going to rob your place then bail while you’re gone?” she asked, genuinely surprised I’d leave her there alone.
I looked around, then back to her. “I don’t have shit worth stealing. Put your foot up, I’ll be right back.”
I went to the store, got the pills, and when I came back she wasn’t in my living room. I could hear the shower going so I looked around for a clean towel and opened the bathroom door a crack to toss it on the counter. I went into my bedroom and sat down on the unmade bed, wishing I had some clean clothes I could offer her to put on, or some food to offer her. I wasn’t really a humanitarian, but I found myself worrying about her. That foot looked bad. Really bad. Most people I knew wouldn’t have looked twice and just stepped over her; then again, I didn’t really like most of the people I knew. I didn’t really like myself for that matter.
At some point I must have leaned back and fallen asleep. Unless you counted the few minutes I’d snatched last night passed out in an alley I hadn’t slept since the night before. I awoke to feel someone moving next to me. Wrapped only in the small towel Magda had pulled the single sheet over the both of us and was pressed up against me. She was thin and warm, damp and soft.
“Thanks,” she said quietly.
“Yeah, no problem,” I said. “What are you…?”
She had her hand on my groin, rubbing it slowly against my cock. “Nothing’s free, right? I think I owe you…”
“Nah,” I said, moving away from her to press my back against the wall next to my bed, taking her hand and holding it in mine. “It’s not like that.”
“You can fuck me if you want,” she said. There was a tone of resignation in her voice. An acceptance of the rules of barter and trade. “I’m tired but I really don’t mind.”
“Yeah, no,” I said, squeezing her hand. “It ain’t like that. That’s not why I said you could come up.”
“Okay,” Magda said, pulling away from me with a sad look on her face. “Want me to go, then?”
“No, but you don’t have to sleep with me…”
“Okay,” she said again, snuggling up next to me and putting her head on my shoulder and closing her eyes. “Thanks, Michael. It’s nice to just be with someone. Another person, you know?”
“Yeah,” I said, finding myself putting my arms around her and holding her. She let out a contented sigh and gave me a little squeeze. “It is, isn’t it?”
I put my hand on the back of her head and stroked her wet hair as we fell asleep, wishing I could do something about her broken foot. We drifted off in each other’s arms. Two weary combatants in the daily grind, exhausted after the trenches full of shit and the constant barrage and shelling that is walking in the world with nothing to hide behind but your own lies. Hours must have passed because the sun had come out from behind the clouds and was shining through my dingy orange curtains when I was awoken by a little shriek. I sat up with a start to see Magda sitting on the edge of the bed with her ankle on her knee, massaging her foot with a look of shock on her face.
“Yo, what?” I asked groggily, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. “What is it?”
“Look at my foot, man!” she said, louder than I’d heard her voice since I met her.
The bruising was gone. The swelling was gone.
“How the fuck…?” she asked with a blank look in her eyes.
“I don’t know,” I said, shaking my head. “I don’t know.”
I said that, but I was terrified that I actually did know.
“Ah fuck,” I whispered, not meaning to say it out loud. I slowly got off my bed and put my face in my hands and walked into my living room. I had to get out of here. My instinct to run kicked in and I grabbed my jacket and walked to the door.
“What?” she asked me. “What’s wrong?”
“I gotta go,” I said dumbly, my mind reeling and flailing and trying to make sense of this and failing.
“Hey!” Magda called from my doorway as I reached the stairs and started going down them in a daze. “Michael!”