The Rowan creature snarled at him. He had to talk them down until Rowan once again ‘fainted’ to the side. Looking back on it, I realised that was a very profound dynamic that played out. Rowan attacking me for no reason under the guise of magic, Arkady defending me, Rowan ending the situation dramatically.

Only in the end, Arkady would stop defending me.

“Whatever. I told my parents about how they’re treating the infestation and they said it’s not going to work. And my parents are always right when they say stuff won’t work out.” I’m not joking, this was their actual logic. That their life didn’t live up to their parents’ expectations and neither would exterminators. Whatever AJ’s therapist was being paid, it wasn’t enough.

AJ said one night, by way of greeting before I was even out of my hotel uniform. “All of these bugs? Just crawling on me? They just feel like tiny little rapists.”
“LITTLE DRAMATIC,” I thought, filling my wine glass as much as it could possibly go.
Somehow, Franzia was one of the healthier things I’d put my mouth on that year.

“Yeah! He thought I was a girl! Didn’t you hear it?” It’s hard to describe the look in their eyes, this sort of unhinged desperation. Almost as if my hearing this myself would make me go, ‘Oh my gods, AJ, you’re right, you’re the most tragically estrogen-laden person on the planet, clearly the only solution is to starve yourself and take chainsaw to your hip line, I can’t believe I’ve been so blind.’

“Oh, I’m sorry, AJ.” I said, muttering through an entirely hypothetical conversation as I hauled my things off the porch of a residence I no longer lived in. “I can’t afford to give you gas money to your job interview. As it turns out, the fucking UNSEELIE FAE KING was too busy cementing their ass indent in Arkady’s couch to drop off MY PROPERTY THEY TOOK to the middle of downtown so I had to pay for a BLOODY Saturday night Uber.”

After three hours, we arrived in Augusta at 10:30am. As it turned out, Augusta had an entire network full of medical buildings. See, it had two or three of the most prominent medical universities within one district. And when I followed the directions to the building my appointment was in–… Just like Heaven itself, the fuckers locked the door on me.

Rowan couldn’t even handle having their German Shepard live with them, now they want an entire infant human? I was surprised by the immediate black rage I felt building from Story. “Oh, so you’re kicking one kid out and the replacement’s already been lined up. Let’s just reenact Dear Zachary in real time, shall we?”

I both liked and disliked the way she talked. Her cadence was that of a gameshow host, with enviable precision of verbiage but an over-acted quality to it. She gave the vague impression that she was imitating a scene in a film. “After I was kicked out– me, who was the centre of every problem– how long did it take for the situation to collapse?”
I smiled. Or it might have been a grimace. “About a month and one week.”