“Yeah, I decided that it may be time for you to go home when you suddenly seemed way too fascinated with the owner’s description of the air duct system,” Cotton told me. “He was telling us how he had to install some new vents and you were like ‘Wow! Are you kidding me?'”
“I don’t even remember anything about the air duct system,” I laughed. “No, I’ve just had a really stressful couple of weeks. See, after [April] and I broke up, I joined Tinder.”
Ash is a predator.
They go after systems and traumatized, mentally ill persons without a solid sense of self. They seek the under-aged or monster-like alters or “past-lives” for their own sexual gratification. They will synthesize a sense of belonging using religion and magic, and then turn the tides against you once you either learn to say ‘no’ or you start questioning too much.
It was probably in the middle of October when Ash, Arkady, and I went to visit Ithaca. (Was March even there on that trip? I don’t remember. My subconscious tends to automatically crop him out of happy memories and I’m honestly here for it.) I loved Ithaca– I still do. It was as if Rochester and Savannah had a love child.
“It’s an apology– kind of. Like the ones actors make when they realise there’s no way they’re not getting cancelled. You can read it now, if you want.”
I shook my head. “I can’t let her have the last word, Cotton. Otherwise, she’d win.” I’d meant that as a joke, but that was answered with another question about how much progress I’d made on finding a therapist.
I remember the four of us waiting around, partially hungover, and charged with pre-battle fire. March was accosted by Ash nearly immediately as he walked in the door. I’m pretty sure Pearl Harbour was less startled. “[March.] You lied to me?”
he more I think of it, the more our system represents that classic Divine Dichotomy. The Apollonian and the Dionysiac. The Failures and the Abominations, the Readers and the Stories, the Silver and the Gold, the Heart and the Mind.
Champagne would always taste like freedom, like the Tuesdays I spent without April. I opened my eyes and saw Kaspar beside my bed at Ethniu’s, pouring me a glass in a flute. It motioned for me to raise my glass, then it clinked it with his own. “I’ve heard tell that you’ve been liberated from monogamy at last! This calls for a celebration!”
Names of the fallen did flash on the telly. It was static, with that sensory hell of hissing that went along with it, warping as if text itself couldn’t handle the truth of it all. Everyone was gone. Everyone.
Ash fell silent for a moment. “Who– who else thinks this?” Their tone was accusatory, as if we were all having a laugh at their expense and not terrified they’d end up in a double suicide.
“It’d– uh, be a shorter list of those who don’t think it. And I think that’s limited to–… you and… Maybe, like, his cat.” I don’t try to be a smartass; my dickishness is au natural. “
I’m tired of being screamed at for things I never did. I’m tired of being told to ‘shut up’ while you tell me ‘what I really think.’ I’m sick of there being no right answer. I am sick of being told that I don’t feel love, that friends I love are invalid, being called names, being beaten on the street, and forced to spend one of my few days off watching you sleep in your house. I’m sick of being forced to beg not to lose you.