“I– I don’t know–” Kieran choked. “That–… salve… Does– it happen to have coconut in it?”
Frowning, I fished out the tin. And then I saw it. “Oh, shit. Coconut oil. Is that related to–?” I was hesitant to reference it, as Kara was right there, but what I was thinking of was that the Methusilla vampires of ‘the other plane’ were allergic to chocolate. Nope, not garlic. Chocolate. Don’t ask, I don’t know why either.

Fine. Fine. Obviously, this entity– this fucker was targeting me and those around me. Probably because it thought I wasn’t supposed to exist. And god damn it, maybe it was right. Maybe my even outliving Neb was too much gall for the universe to handle. But Jay Gatsby was never supposed to outlive James Gatz, either. And there he was, using his ‘perfect imagination’ to carve himself into where he never belonged.

It was getting to the point where Ash and Arkady were objectively spending more time with Zara, from Syracuse, than me, who they lived with. I’d agreed to her coming over the first couple of times, but after, permission of the entire household was just assumed. I was told when I’d be having company in my house. She was over so often that, Ash, without prompting, made her a copy of a key.

In April’s eyes, Kara was defensive, arguing out her ass, and way too sensitive about foundation. She was, of course, correct. In Kara’s eyes, April was arrogant, always felt the need to feel superior to others, and was way too harsh with her surmising. She was also correct.
This devolved into a war wherein one’s friend group too close to the corner of another’s was seen as an all-out territorial dispute. They were both pressuring Neb take sides. This was officially the closest thing to a gang war that’s ever occurred in Marysville, Ohio.

Here’s how deep the delusion sank: See, this group was confronted with evidence, later on, that Sed was probably about as sick as they said they were. Did they say, ‘Shit, my bad’? Nope. Arkady was who piped up with the notion of “I bet the gods knew they were faking their illness, and decided to actually make their lie true. That’s what you get!”

Kieran had spun this story about how he had never expected to live beyond the age of eighteen. There will be other lies; we found out that Kieran was lying about being on testosterone, initially, due to a House of Cards reference. Next, you’ll hear about his coconut allergy, his racially charged mishaps within the shampoo aisles, and the fourth cone in his eye. Maybe this bullshit just ran in the family.

Visarden had been half vampire, half elf. Because of course he was. I remember when Arkady had first unveiled his appearance to me. He’d bought sclera lenses and a long black wig that he’d tinted with the slightest hint of violet. I’d opened Snapchat to see Visarden beaming at me, looking like Holly Black’s muse come to life. “Yeah, so… Here’s… Me.” The memory can still bring a flutter to this tired, mechanical heart.

After a brief yet tense discussion, Ash put forth the issue that March would have trouble moving to the smallest room of the house. “He can have my room. I can move to the smaller room.” It wasn’t ideal, but with the amount of time that I was spending with my family and in Arkady’s bed, being snuggled– I would honestly only be sleeping in my new, tiny room. If I had known it was to be my jail cell a mere five months later, it wouldn’t have been worth it.