Glimpse ; Rough Night

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Glimpse ; Rough Night

Post by Saeyer on Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:55 pm

Time moves like an oil slick around her.

It's a feeling she doesn't even have a name for, watching the muted tv behind the bar as her phone buzzes. Bright, jewel-toned music cuts into the laughter from the booth to the side, people taking orders while faces she sees every day flash on the screen, hand frozen around her drink. The buzzing stops, starts again, creeps its way down her leg with a spreading numbness. The subtitles lag behind the picture, a disjointed story about gang violence at a halfway house: property damage, critical and stable condition, missing. Deceased.

Had someone sold them out, had Loyalists spotted the nightly traffic? Monsters and slave traders, she wants to say to the man next to her, just took my job, can you believe that? They killed people I made promises to. But he could be the wrong kind of anyone and she tucks cash beneath the edge of her plate, moving toward the exit like if she breathes everyone will know everything.

Why wasn't I there?

She left work when her hours were up, like she was supposed to. How unbearably naive to imagine anything else worked the same way, like they would only come while she was being paid—


a smear of light

fast movements

collisions



She is crushed between strangers in the dim neon light, moving like one huge beast. Feet grind into the floor and arms churn, legs, hips, backs, brushing other sweaty bodies in the easiest kind of accidental intimacy. People drift by, taking a closer look at the pretty androgynous... man, woman? Smacking a hand that went to feel instead of ask or mind their business, Sylvia wheels closer to the people she came in with, a handful of Freeholders she enticed with the promise of distraction, something sweet in spite of everything. One of them flounders, overwhelmed by the crowd, and she gently hip checks someone else out of the way, putting herself right before the anxious one with hands outstretched. She can't stand discontent in the euphoria, natural or otherwise, around her. A small, bright moment is all she's asking for. Something pure—


rain in the street


Sylvia feels the first flutter of joy like sunshine on her face, light reflecting off his small, shy gestures. The tiny box of the safehouse drives him crazy and she understands down to her bones, glad she is only passing through to leave supplies. Before, their conversations were simply about the easing of tension, lines around his mouth fading, voices hushed and halting as she drew him out. Now she gives him a lead and he follows it into a story, quietly recounting the plans he has to cultivate particular hedgefruits when this is all over, the people he wants to see, food he wants to make. Sometimes it lapses into anger, the wrong word kicking off a slide into melancholy, or the feeling simply turning bittersweet. But today, at least, she has it right, and the space seems transformed for a brief moment—


light like butter

sugar under nails



The burn of sugar in the back of her throat, bad coffee to wash it down. Lounging in the back of someone's soft-top they all take bites of doughnuts frosted in vivid, poisonous colors and laugh at something Sylvia says. The flashes of joy, amusement, pleasure, from the other bodies in the car reflect off of her, paying them back in kind and more. There are three unanswered invitations on her phone, places to be if this falls apart, but for the moment she feels like the center of a tiny universe. Eyes linger on her with admiration and the occasional jealous pang, these almost-strangers too timid to ask probing questions and instead fabricating what they imagined her life to be like, what it must be like to look so effortless, be so confident. Soaking in it like a hot bath, she reaches for another doughnut—


fragrant orange peels

old beer

momentum



The air thickens between them and everything slows to a creep; her blood, the sounds of cars passing the low window, the motions of their eyes sliding away from each other. Sliding toward something safe, a graceful way to escape the conversation and Sylvia can almost hear the other woman think, I thought this would be fun; I thought you were fun; why did you tell me that? She wishes she could stuff the words back into her mouth, pull back the misguided attempt to reach or connect or whatever her mildly inebriated mind had thought it was doing.

In a burst she springs from the bed and into her shoes, a hand barely missing the back of her jacket as she pulls it on and darts through the door—


Caught in a space between waking and sleeping, Sylvia let the jumble of memories play out with a lazy passivity she rarely achieved. The taste inside her mouth was atrocious and she had sweat through the back of her shirt, but she wasn’t in a rush to get up just yet. Nowhere to be for the moment, nothing she needed to do for another eight hours, tops. Though… it didn’t smell like her home, wherever she was. Cracking an eye, her heart jolted painfully at the unfamiliar furniture and she was up in a flash, only to sink back onto the couch as her stomach flipped, queasy but dry.

Her shoes had been removed, but she still had her wallet and the rest of her clothes. Her coat was over the end of the couch. Slowly she took inventory of herself and her possessions, trying to suss the situation when she realized someone else was in the room.

Chin in his palm, an imposing Ogre watched her from his seat at the table. Even in the dim light she recognized his wet grey-green skin and the wide, lipless mouth of a salamander. He watched her calmly, with maybe a hint of amusement. Or irritation? “You called me from a gutter on Third, puking into a storm drain,” Welt offered, a small gurgle in his voice. “Seemed like a bad idea to leave you there.”

Sylvia wanted to sink into the gap between the couch cushions but she simply nodded. Of course she had drunk-dialed the one person she shouldn’t have, her sort-of mentor, the only local member of the Order of the Hallowed Garden who would give her the time of day. The one person she had really been going out of her way to impress.

“You’re a saint,” she croaked, “A beautiful soul, an angel on this terrible earth. Please tell me I didn’t throw up in your car.”

Snorting at her praise, he shook his head. “Car’s fine, Sylv. Better than you, anyway. Drink your water.” A thick finger pointed to a glass on the floor by her feet. As she bent to retrieve it he went on. “You can stay if you want, or not. Up to you.”

It was one of the last places she wanted to be, in her current condition, but heading home wasn’t going to be a great option either. “I’d… like to just lay back down, if that’s ok. Can I turn your tv on?”

“Knock yourself out.” The remote hit the couch cushion next to her; he knew better than to expect her to catch it.

“I’ll keep the volume down.” Her assurance was somewhat muffled by the pillow under her face as she laid back, pulling her coat over her like a blanket. “Welt?”

He grunted.

“Sorry for putting you in this position. It was shitty of me.” The simple words made her whole body tense, the nausea rising as the silence stretched.

“Go to sleep,” was his only response, a blunt hand patting the pillow above her head, carefully not making contact.

Tension leaving her at a slow ebb, Sylvia settled in.
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Saeyer

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