“You know,” they said, addressing me, perhaps aware and not caring that Kirra had reappeared behind them. That’s what I’m saying, this fucker was immune to her. “I really do hope [UNIVERSITY REDACTED] likes her portfolio. Because history has taught us when someone like her that doesn’t get into art school, it never really ends well.”
Author: C.L. Zeitstück
The three of us, Rowan, Jane, and I were crossing paths in the dining room when Jane, out of seemingly nowhere, addressed Rowan with, “Hey, Rowan! [Arkady] and I were talking and discussing my dreams and we’re both pretty sure that I was part of the Seelie court, and that I was banished–”
I couldn’t hear the rest of Jane’s sentence, for the expression on Rowan’s face had its own goddamned volume.
“Yeah, no. She got down here and started complaining about you being different from who she knew in high school. Pretentious, thinking you were British, pretty much emotionally barren in comparison. She doesn’t know, but I think she figured it out when she moved down here for Neb and kind of got a demented, soulless clockwork bird thing.”
He went on. “It’s manipulative. It’s all just manipulation. It’s like when Rowan told me that you basically planned to fuck off to Europe if I didn’t get back together with you. And what, just find a nice, historic city as an aesthetic backdrop to drink yourself to death in?”
“[Arkady,]” I said in a rough voice. “What the fuck did you think I was in the process of doing when I met you?”
“You don’t get to decide that! You don’t get to decide fuck-all, you controlling prick! In fact, I wouldn’t put it past you to even take over my own body without my permission!”
I laughed harshly. “I’m going to pretend you didn’t just say that.” Gods, it got so tempting to tell them. That I’ve been the thin barrier between them and ruin for nearly a decade. But then they coughed up an alarming glob of blood, and well, that was quite the effective conversation killer.
I didn’t know, at the time, that these were my life’s worst abusers, brought together by dubious circumstances. You’d think that amount of toxic coming that close to each other would actually cause a rift in the universe. Maybe it did.
March of 2020 will always be remembered as a time of uncertainty, devastation– a time wherein life stood entirely still and isolation was a way of life.
And on top of that, the pandemic happened.
“Xanthe, you’re making us all suicidal,” March said, having no issue kicking me while I was down. I mean, granted, I was having an audible breakdown about how I was too late to save us from having him in our lives, which may have been impolite. But damn, it was really like he was enjoying this. “They told me that you’re worse than I was last year.” Yep. Yep. This asshole was definitely fucking enjoying this.
“You and this Gaslamp shit!” It was Zara that was talking now, standing in the middle of the living room. “Everyone’s been uncomfortable around you! No one wants to be around you!”
There was a dull roaring in my ears. It sounded too much like my inworld. Or my first five or so friend groups. Or the body’s family.
And this household was never supposed to be like that.
I remember this starkly because when I first laid eyes on them in person, it was in that very room. The walls were painted startlingly crimson, there were Asian antiques all around. It reminded me a lot of– it reminded me a lot of–