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–
I wasn’t well-versed in Tarot at the time, but we had fun chatting with the bartender. We told them we were a polycule out for Valentine’s Day, who was dating whom. I wish I could tell you what the other three drew. But goddamn if my ass didn’t draw the fucking Tower.
“When I end up being proven right about this, you owe me three crates of champagne!” I called down the stairs. I felt comforted by that. Finally, something coming out of my mouth that was more believably me.
Arkady was not amused. “That’s what I’m fucking talking about!” I heard him snap back from the kitchen.
There was a long pause at the other end of the line. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Asher asked.
Because there are cracks in my psyche so wide that I can’t understand how they can be mended. Because suicide has been used as a weapon on me so often that I feel like I’m being manipulative by even admitting that I have those thoughts. Because I didn’t want to ruin Thanksgiving for you just because it’s always been ruined for me. “The subject never came up,” I finally said, because I am an ass.
The guy was offering me shots when I was cleaning– I’d never really drank before but, damn, whiskey kept me Real warm. “Isn’t this against some child labor laws or something?” I joked, wiping the windows.
“Child labor laws?” The guy repeated, slouching down in his armchair. “Why, that’d be a swell idea, wouldn’t it?”
C H R I S T.
Aberle was also in agreement, but also quite drunk that night. “Widower…? Widow…? Widowex? What’s the gender-neutral form of–…” He murmured to himself in German for a few seconds before proudly declaring, “WINDEX. Wait. No, wait–” I collapsed into laughter. Aberle’s a gem.