The Dark

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Chapter 2; The Burden


I can see the moment that her mind closes off to the world–I can feel the moment. Ever since we met I have had a connection to her that I have been unable to recreate with any other living soul. The fact that recently our bond has been weakening more and more over time and use scares me to no end. This wonderful woman whose body is slowly sinking further and further into the old purple sofa, and whose mind is at peace with her soul only during the small hours of the night in which she can relax in her sleep, is the only friend I have been able to have in my long life as a True One (an interesting name, I might add, that was created by magic historians around the world. I also find it ironic, as I am about to explain). True Ones are only supposed to exist in the realm of spirits and pure magic, a magic that has no sway to the Dark side or the Light side, both of which are equally as important to the balance in nature. We are described by said historians and by our leader to be the keepers of such equilibrium. We are the sole creators of the Seers of the Light and the Visions of the Dark. The spirit of a human before they are born into this dimension, this beautiful world that over the past few days I have been falling in love with, determines if their strength is enough to withstand the difficult task of being the gatekeeper between the past, present, and future realities, and whether they will be of the Light and goodness in the world, or passengers of the Dark and anger. There is no Light without Dark, just as there can not be love without hate. There has never in any realm, on any earth, been a conflict within a human between the two–never, not until Victoria Cole.

I, myself, had been tasked with the honor of gifting Victoria with this tremendous power, this burden. Her soul was pure and strong. It gave the Council of Three (the Fate of the Past, the Fate of the Present, and the Fate of the Future) a very easy decision in naming the next gatekeeper. While their discussions are held in secret, shrouded in a magic that protected the three from prying ears and eyes, I could tell immediately, looking into Victoria’s spirit, that she would be the most powerful and influential magical being ever to grace us–humans and True Ones alike–with her extraordinary presence. The war raging inside her was one of beauty. Her aura (and yes, auras exist: they are the purest of descriptions of the person’s true intentions) was a chaotic, awesome swirl of Light and Dark forces. They had been fighting for so long it was difficult to identify one or the other. As I stared on in amazement, the became closer and closer to one single power, the likes of which has never before been achieved. I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that her future held a terrible decision that would sway the two balances of magical nature to either side that she chose. Of course, it would not come easily, that decision, but her strength and purity had me thinking that either way she would lead heroically.

The impact of that realization made me lose my footing on the edge of the barrier between this realm and the next, Earth. I felt myself being pulled towards her as a string twisted its way between our pasts, presents, and futures. As I fell into her life almost literally, I felt my body tear between my original form of energy and my Earth realm form. I was forever bound to the one woman who could destroy the world in an instant.

A soft sigh escapes Victoria’s lips as she rouses her body from the slumber that I had placed upon her mind (just a little trick I know). She twitches her hand, and I grasp in in my own to ground her to this world. Her brow wrinkles and her mouth stretches into an adorable yawn as I gaze down at her from my place on the chair in front of her. She reaches her hand up to her forehead and arches her back in a stretch, pointing her toes towards the shut window just beyond the arm of the sofa.

“V, it is ok to wake up now. I am right here sitting next to you. Open your tired eyes,” I whisper in her ear. I hear a deep breath, an exhausted inhale followed by an exasperated exhale, and I feel her mind awaken.

“H… hey, Achs, wh…what’s up?” I try to contain my chuckle in my throat, but the little smile at her morning self surfaces anyway. My mind catches for a moment on that little shortening of my name that she gave me (which, for the record, I love dearly), and decide that I really like it. Maybe I will tell her to call me that from now on. Achs. Sounds daring.

“You had a little accident, but you rested a little and you are all better now.”

“Little acc–what do you…” Her eyes widen and darken as the memories flood back to her.

“I passed out. I had this horrible headache. I just… lost myself. Achilles–”

“Actually, I like Achs. It’s a good nickname.”

“Whatever, Achs. What the hell happened to me?” I debate telling her the truth. After weighing the pros and cons of each option, I decide on telling her. She deserves to know, and I definitely do not want to deal with her wrath if she somehow discovers what I have been keeping from her.

“V, please hold your reaction until the end.” Her eyes harden with fire. I can see her body tense up with anger at me. I knew this was going to happen, I was just too selfish to deal with the effects of telling the truth after lying for so long.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean? Achs, what are you about to tell me.”

“There is a reason I kept it from you before, I swear–”

“Achs–” She is completely riled up at this point. She swings her legs down onto the carpeted floor and places her hands at the edge of the sofa cushions, ready to spring at me like a viper in a second. I subconsciously scoot my chair back an inch. The furious bull seated in front of me has her jaw clenched and her nostrils flaring, and I seem to be waving the red flag.

“Just… just listen, ok?” I try to use my large blue eyes in the way that she always caves. I bring my eyebrows up and together a little bit. Every time that I have made this face in the past she has given in in a second, sometimes less. It is clearly her weakness. I kind of love that I am one of her weaknesses. I am not going to think about that right now. Stay on track; it is time to potentially destroy her world. Great.

“Fine. Start talking. Now.” I can still see the smoke coming out of her ears, but her eyes are a little bit more understanding now, and her overall posture is more open.

“Ok… so, here goes,” I start. I tell her everything about her past and her nature, everything that I was thinking about before she opened her eyes when she woke up.

She stares at me blankly as I end her tale full of omens and fates. Her reaction is so unexpected and minimal that I start to fidget with the hem of my shirt, twisting it back and forth around my index finger. Finally, she breaks her hold on my eyes and looks down at her hands. This motion draws my attention down as well, and I notice for the first time that she has taken the pillow that her head had been on while she was sleeping and torn a hole in it. She had even gone as far as to pull half of the white, clouds (what she tells me is popularly called stuffing) out. Her dainty fingers retrieve the fluffs that fell onto the floor, the couch, and her lap, and she carefully and meticulously pushes every single piece back through the rip, and then she pinches together the frayed sides. Only then does she look up again, though it is not at me. Her eyes flit around the room, stopping at the kitchen table in the other room, the window beyond her feet, and various other scattered little objects that have been collecting dust over the past year.

She clears her throat with a soft cough. “I am just going to… um… go up to my room… for a second. I think I have some laundry that I left last night that I should probably get done. I will… uh… I will see you later,” she says as she pushes herself up from the sofa. The lack of emotion is definitely more concerning than if she had run around screaming, cursing, and throwing things at me. The soft creaks in the floor boards echo in my mind as I hear and feel her walk away from me and the chasm between us. With every step the unstable rocks on either side of the infinite abyss crack and tumble down, ever increasing the decline of the state of our friendship. I can not, under any circumstances, have her leave my life completely. She is my best friend, and the only person I can truly trust in this world. In fact, she is the only thing tying me down to this dimension. Without her, I have a heavy feeling that I would no longer have the strength to fight against my nature as a True One. This realization has me popping up to my feet and twisting towards her. I can still see her back leg at the top of the stairs, so I quickly call out.

“Victoria. Wait.” Her foot pauses for a second, and if I am not mistaken, I see a small shiver run through it. My heart drops. Is she crying? Although I understand that her showing her emotions is healthier than pushing them back, I have never been able to cope with her shedding tears, especially if I was the source of her pain. I take a step towards the foot of the stairs, my hand outstretched as if I could just reach out far enough and she would come back to me, grasp my hand, and forgive me.

“Achilles, just… I need some time, ok?–”

“I will give you as much time as you need. We will talk tomorrow, or maybe the next day. Whatever you want. Just, please do not shut me out.” I hear her sigh in resignation. While I admit that it would be better for her to forgive me of her own account, without any persuasion from me, my mood brightens the tiniest amount, and my hope blossoms a little bit more.

“Look, Achilles, I know none of this is your fault,” that flower stretches its petals further towards the sun, Victoria, “but please respect my space. I really could not tell you if I will be ready in a day or a week or a month. I think it would be best this time if I thought this over on my own, ok?” The young blossom retracts back into its leaves as I realize that this is going to be a lot harder than I had originally thought. There was absolutely no way I was going to give up on her or our friendship though. Sure, I will give her time and space. I may or may not have some tricks up my sleeve to get her back on my side. Maybe I will cook her five star dinners, buy her chocolate, clean the house…

I slowly shut the door to my new room (I moved my minimal things down a floor and out of the attic because let us be real for a second: there was no possible way I would be able to make the trek up and down those stairs multiple times a day every day and not maintain the little amount of sanity I have left). My right hand stays holding onto the brass knob as a life support as I slide down the wood to the floor, my back pressing against the uncomfortable brown slab. My heart races and my head rushes to catch up with it, gaining ground as they compete for the fastest time in the race to form a reaction, any reaction, to the bomb that Achilles just dropped on my life. Realistically, I know that Achilles is not at fault–I mean, I have only really known him for a few days. I should not be mad at him for not having the right moment to tell me the truth about my past, and the duality of my nature. In fact, him telling me at all should show the good intentions and generally purity of his heart. I just… I can not get over what he said.

I feel really bad about shutting him out, I do, even though I suspect that he is working on finding a loophole at this very second, but he has to understand the enormity of the significance of what he told me. I just found out that I was a freak of nature. I cringe, imagining how pissed Achilles would be if I used that word in front of him. Freak. That is exactly what I am. I am history’s first and last abomination in the magical world, the very first being that could not make her damn mind up about whether she wanted her soul to be on the side of the Light or the side of the Dark. I want to blame Achilles, even though I know that his kind do not choose our nature, only report it to the… what did he call them? The Fates of the Past, Present, and Future? As I start to recount his story in my head, my mind keeps catching on the decision. That one choice that only I can make that will forever change the course of magical and human history. I am starting to weigh the pros and cons of each possible direction that I could lead the world (what happens if I side with the Light, the consequences of siding with the Dark, and if there was any way to stay neutral). Coming up blank for each category I come across, I suddenly realize that there is no possible way that I will even know when this decision has to be made, let along the circumstances that will be preceding them. I know I have to wait it out and gather information from the world first, but that does not in any way comfort me. My stress levels are still through the roof. Why did I send Achs away? And that nickname is really starting to grow on me. Achs is the only person that I can talk to now, and even though I know he is probably itching to talk to me because, after all, I am literally his only friend (and he absolutely does not have a bond on this dimension other than me), my ever-present pride will not allow me to back down. My entire body reaches out to him, aching for an embrace from my best friend, but the door in between us remains tightly shut.

The soft padding of sock-clad feet slowly, hesitantly make their way down the dark, musty hallway and stop just outside my door. I lean my head back against the door and shut my eyes, reveling in the nearness of him, and try to send him a message that reads: I know it is not your fault. I forgive you. My pride and my destiny are just in the way right now. Know that I really need a hug from you. Even though I know he is not capable of actually receiving this message, I hope with all my heart that his abilities are working right now, and he can feel what I am feeling right now. The floorboards creak just behind my head, but I do not hear a step. I imagine what he looks like right now–he is leaning forward, debating on whether or not he should pound on my door and demand that I let him into my room and my head. I really hope he knocks, but I know that is a tall order. He is too sympathetic, too respectable, too kind, to disobey my single request. As I expected, he finally shifts his weight onto his other foot as he continues to the end of the hall where his room is, but not before he expels air from his nose in frustration.

After he leaves, I sigh in defeat. My defeat. I know I am letting myself down along with him with my cowardice–with my utter disrespect for my emotional needs. I hate that I am this prideful in the time when I need to let someone in, anyone in, the most.

I give myself a pity party for the next hour (or two, if I am being honest with myself), and then I start getting angry at myself. Who am I to pity myself when it is my fault that I am in this situation? My pity at myself morphs into anger, and then quickly to exhaustion. I am seriously getting whiplash from my totally unreliable and really confusing emotions. Deciding it would probably be healthier if I gave into that last, basic feeling of exhaustion, I roll onto my knees and pull my body up into a weak standing position by clutching the smooth surface of the doorknob. I look longingly over to my slightly soft, slightly firm queen mattress that looks tantalizingly comfortable right about now. My right foot takes a little step forward towards the side of the bed. My left foot follows. I slowly but surely repeat the process until my knees hit the edge of the mattress where I let the top half of my body flop rather unceremoniously onto the bed. My body sinks into the fluffed covers and I press my head to the side. The bottom half of my body is still hanging off the edge, but at this point nothing really bothers me. I am way to tired to think of anything other than how comfortable I am physically right now in this moment. I think I hear another patter down the hallway just outside my door, but I chalk it up to my impending sleep.

My neck aches when I opened my eyes. I lift my hand to the pain, twisting my head to the side in the process of pulling myself up into a sitting position, propping my back against the firm pillows that I crumpled up in my apparently highly active sleep. The crick in my neck sends a sharp, shooting pain throughout the nerves of my body, and I am shocked to find out that it gets worse and worse as I keep my mind on it. I suddenly see a flash of light followed by a flash of total, absolute, utter darkness that I start falling into. I lean further and further, searching for the source of the slight whispers and hisses that lie at the bottom of the abyss. If only I could reach my shaking, aching hand down deeper in the darkness. I stretch out my fingers in every direction, waving my hand around until I can feel someone.

My fingernails catch on a rough slime that sends a shiver down my back and across my skin, raising my hairs. I feel a scream bubbling up my throat, and I try to push it back down, telling myself that the feeling of dread was just my mind trying to get me back into reality. I silently but firmly tell it that reality has no place for me anymore, that everything I once was was gone, lost in the fiery blaze of the lost cause that is my life, my present and my future. My shiver subsides and I reach my hand out once again. This time, when my fingers come in contact with that strange substance again, I grab on and tug. I keep tugging, and tugging, and tugging, and tugging… but there is no give. I curse at myself for my weakness at everything, the darkness in my mind spreading out its wings in triumph, and suddenly the slime breaks off into my hand. Because I am relying on only my touch, as this black space seems to be a vacuum with no sound and what looks like negative light to my insignificant and weak human eyes, I can only imagine what this stuff looks like, and this is what I see in my mind: a green plant-based magical substance that looks like something out of a swamp scene of a horror movie, and from the subtle but constant changes in gaseous pressure around my hand, I assume that it has some sort of emittance of gas. From the surge forth that what I know recognize as my Dark side gives, I know for a fact that this thing, this entire experience, even, comes from Dark magic.

As soon as my brain realizes that fact, the slime latches onto me and begins a painful path of overlapping vines intertwining up my forearm. When it passes the half-way point of my chilled and shaking elbow, I try to distract myself from the horrible thing that is happening to me. I list the letters of the alphabet backwards from Z to A, and as I do so I feel the pressure on my arm abate: Z, Y, X, W, V–the vines give off a hissing noise in my head, and their effort to make their way all the way up my arm is now laced with the difficulty of their labor–U, T, S, R, Q, P–I feel the attackers hesitate more, trying to hold on with their thorny barbs, but they are slipping back–O, N, M, L, K, J, I–the vines’ hold on my arm and on my body, as it seems I was very nearly paralyzed during their approach to my mind and soul, is nearly gone completely and I start to relax a little bit more–H, G, F, E, D, C, B, A. As I reach the end of my alphabetic distraction, the Dark vines fall off of my fingers and I quickly and forcefully yank my arm back and away from the pitch black darkness, hoping like all hell that that Hell does not attempt to reach into my soul and do… whatever it had had planned… again.

As I try to escape the darkness, I feel my physical body fall backwards. I fling my arms back in a futile effort to stop my downward momentum, but I am suddenly stopped from my uncontrollable and terrifying descent by two… hands? Victoria… Victoria, wake up… I need you to… wake up… I try as hard as I can to pull my mind up and into the world of the living, using up almost all of the little amount of energy that I had amassed during my sleep, although I am not sure how long that was. I think I felt the soft blanket of an afternoon sun before I… well, what did I do? Did I pass out again? No, I do not think that can be it. I have passed out too many times for me to count at this point, and I should know the difference between passing out and whatever the heck this strange dream was. What was that? I have the weirdest and creepiest feeling that that was just the beginning of a series of dreams that are exactly like that. Was it the side of the Dark reaching out to me, trying to convince me that it was the best option for me to choose when my momentous and possibly devastating decision rolled about? Would I be suffering from that until the judgement day–no, my judgement day–finally came?

I am jerked awake suddenly, interrupted from my admittedly too destructive stream of consciousness when a cold explosion releases its energy straight onto my face and into my eyes, nose, and mouth. It starts to spread down to my ears, and this is the time when I decide to react. I sputter expletives as a blink to get rid of the water in my eyes. When I am finally dry enough to open my eyes completely, my body fills its empty space with pure annoyance (I would say anger, but even I know that that emotion is not possible to obtain in this particular situation) at what my sharp violet eyes see. Ocean deep, ocean blue eyes stare back down at me, the crinkle at the bridge of the nose in between and and furrow of the brow above revealing the depth of the concern of the man who owns those facial features.

“Oh, thank god you are ok,” Achilles whispers, his strained voice hinting at the despair underneath the surface of his generally calm and collected facade.

“Achs, why are you here?” I do not realize I am moving my lips and breaking my own rule of staying away from him until my lips move, form the words, and release them into his ears.

“I heard you,” he gulps, “I heard you muffle a scream, and I could not just… I mean, how could I possibly…”

I guess I had not been as successful at taming that scream as I originally thought.

Achilles continues by saying, “I know you told me not to talk to you, and to just leave you alone, but there is no way that I was going to leave you in here when I heard you scream. That sound is in all of my worst nightmares. When I came in here and saw you falling, your eyes rolling back into your head so all I could see were the whites of your eyes… my heart stopped.”

“How did you get in her? I know for a fact that I shut that door tight and locked it.”

“I do not know… I do not even know why I heard that scream in the first place. I was going for a walk around the block to get away for a while, and I guess I more… felt your scream than heard it. When I ran up the stairs to find you, your door had already flung open and I was kind of… pulled in. I know I did not do that myself–I always feel something, like a tingle of some sort, when I use my magic. I think it might have been you, with your own magic…” He thinks it was me. How could I possible have that kind and that amount of magic that I could pretty much subconsciously summon Achilles from a great distance? I thought I was just a Seer, Vision, thing.

“I thought so too.” Whoops, I guess I accidentally said that last part out loud. “But I think you are so much more than we had previously wagered. I should have noticed it before. I mean, no one, and I mean no one, is able to control their Sight abilities without help, and certainly not by that age, and without a talisman to ground them to the world while they See. You, though… You were able to do that every single time you Saw. I did not know how you did that before, but now I think it is because you hold within you a power never before seen, of a kind that only you possess.”

I push away from him and sit up on the bed, causing him to fall onto his side next to me. Once he pushes himself up into a sitting position mirroring mine, I glance at him and then cover my face with my ever shaking hands. I idly notice that my neck no longer aches from my awkward sleeping position.

“I just… I do not really want to talk about this right now. Can you just… sit with me for a second?”

“Of course, V,” Achilles says as he shifts himself a little bit closer by putting his left hand to his side and pushing off of the mattress. “I will stay as long as you want. Do you maybe want me to read you something so that you can calm down?” He reaches down and searches through my bedside table’s drawers for a book, instead pulling out a stack of paper loosely gathered together. Oh, no.

“Well, will you look at that. ‘Personal Diary’. You typed up a diary and printed it out? Not that I would really know anything about this, but who even does that?”

“Stop it, I wrote that when I was, like, five for school. The assignment was to write a diary online and prove that we had written it by printing it out. It is that simple. Now, put it back.” Considering his goal is to distract me, I think he is doing a stellar job. There is absolutely no way in hell that I am letting him read that though. I cringe just thinking about how try-hard I was.

“I do not think so, young lady. I am going to read this out loud, and you are going to listen.” He clears his throat dramatically and snaps his elbows out and back in, creating a loud sound of paper crackling while it sets into the position he likes to read. God, this guy is the best friend ever, but I hate him right now.

“And we begin: I had never been out of New England. I had never been to towns significantly less affluent than mine; those were not the interesting tourist places to go. My little town sat next to Wellesley ─ or Swellesley, as the locals called it ─ and though we preached diversity, the majority of the population was white. The public education was stellar, but everyone knew that Kennedy Elementary was too old (it still had a bomb shelter), and Natick High School was beautiful but too small for the overwhelming amount of students. Then, my world changed. I started attending The Sage School, a private school thirty minutes out of town. The education was advanced, and I felt at home with my new best friends. I did not feel privileged ─ I was just getting the education I deserved. That all changed when the forty person seventh and eighth grade trip was set for Costa Rica.The first place we went after arriving at San Jose Airport, we went to a huge supermarket where we flooded to the snack aisle. With the heavy scent of fresh pineapple, coconuts, and bananas on our noses, we picked out our share and paid with the debit cards that our parents had sent with us. From there, we went to the elegant hotel just off the crowded highway and rested for a bit. Throughout the week, we had a routine: we would wake up and have a free buffet breakfast of steaming rice, beans, and stripped chicken; after filling ourselves up, we loaded the bus’s soft, reclining seats one by one and go to the site of the day (a jungle and beach one day, ziplining the next); a restaurant in the evenings conclude out hectic, rainy days. All of the Costa Ricans knew on site that the pale, jean-and-t-shirt-clad people skipping around town were American tourists, so we did not generally have to talk with people in Spanish. They would sometimes talk in Spanish once they recognized we could understand it, but even then they slowed it down for us. Friday, and the last full day of our class trip, we gathered in the lobby of the hotel to hear our activity for the day. The Spanish teacher, who was a chaperone, told us that we would drive around Puntacana and do some sight-seeing of the beautiful mountain ranges and the vast expanses of wild banana trees, but something else entirely caught my attention: we were going to visit a school! My heart pounded in excitement. This is so cool! They’re all going to be so surprised and happy that we’re coming! But then I thought about it. They were probably going to be cold towards us, and it would be awkward because we were outsiders. I snapped my focus back to my teacher, who was saying that the “students were less fortunate than us,” and “it was a small school.” Her words barely reached my ears as we set off to see the students. When the bus pulled to the side of the narrow, dirt road, I look out of the window and searched for the school. I could not see it. I craned my head around as I stood up to get off the bus, but still, it was nowhere in sight. The chaperones led us down a dusty driveway with a big concrete block next to it, and I heard an instructor inside. This place is so small. We crowded into the single-roomed school, the stifling air at our backs, like a cell door resigning us to our fate of utter awkwardness. As I looked around at the array of faces, my hands started clamming up and I wiped them off on my shorts, trying to play it off cool. After a brief introduction, we went outside. The uninhibited Costa Rican sun laughed at our pale skin, forcing us into the shadows. Pushing us even further, the language barrier was to large to have a fluid conversation. Finally, one of the Costa Rican students brought out a deflated, ripped-up soccer ball, and my friend and I looked at each other. We both loved soccer. After roping in my other friend, we started to play on the slippery gravel of the backyard of their kingdom. Our soft shouts of pasamelo and aqui grew in volume as our hearts raced a little bit faster, and the language barrier crumbled down in defeat. Even if we only knew some words, we all knew the universal tongue of soccer. After we were all good and tired from running around in the sun, the little children hopped on the creaking swings and asked us to push them. We did, for a long while. When the impatient children tired of the monotonous swinging after fifteen long minutes for their helpers, we all flooded over to the concrete slab that we had seen coming in. It turns out that it was a makeshift basketball court, and we all played basketball, or played catch with the tough-skinned, delectable baseballs that had fallen off of the short fruit tree that was giving us respite from the angry ball of fire in the sky. Someone even brought out a Jenga game. We ended up making friends with the students, even if we could not communicate very well. One of my classmates quickly became Instagram friends before we had to fill the bus once more. None of us wanted to leave. When we began the long drive home, I started thinking. When I walked into that school, I had assumed that the young school children would be asking us all about America, as if we were the center of attention, but that we would be walking around a big, sterile institution. When I finally stepped into that dusty room, I felt something shift in my brain. I realized that I was so incredibly fortunate to be able to have everything that I had ─ the private school education, the disposable money, even the opportunity to go on the Costa Rica trip in the first place.“

Silenced ensued. I really can not believe he actually read that out loud. There was a reason that that was on the bottom drawer of my dresser, underneath all of the other embarrassing papers. There was a reason that it was covered in dust, and that when he snapped the papers that dust flew off into his face.

“Wow. That was… an interesting look into the psyche of a… what did you say? A five year old girl? And by the way, I think you were lying to me about your age at the time,” he smirks, that infuriating quirk up of the corner of his mouth making my spine sit up a little straighter.

“Do not judge me. I was a total try-hard in school, ok?” I snatch the diary out of his hands and stalk over to the trash can, forcefully stuffing it into the small metal bin with a clang.

“Who said I was judging?” Achilles walks over next to me, bends over, and pulls the papers back out.

“The smirk ratted you out.” Before he is able to lift his massive frame back up to his full height where he can lift the embarrassment up out of my reach with ease, I jump in front of him and wrestle the papers out of his hands. When I look down at the source of the harsh ripping noise, I shout in joy: in my hand, I held half of the papers. As in, the right half. He held the left half. I had ripped the god-awful diary out of my life for good!

“V, sometimes you are so…”

“Clever? Strong? Better?” I tease. He gives me another strange look that I compile into my shelf of strange looks that hold a significance that scares me.

“I mean, yeah, but I was going to say childish and infuriating.”

“Funny. I was just thinking the same thing about you.” He smiles at nothing in particular and turns away, walking over to the door frame. With his hands on either side, he twists just his head back to look at me, and shakes his head again. He lifts his fingers off of the wood and steps down the hallway towards the stairs that lead to the kitchen.

I hear him shout up the stairs, as an afterthought, “I am making a grilled cheese, if you want one for lunch!” I allow myself a silent chuckle. No way I was eating–or trying to eat–that again. I rush out of my room, slamming my hip on the solid door in the process.

“There is no way in hell that I am letting you make you and me suffer through that. Give me the damn spatula.” I yell after him as I jog into the kitchen. And stop in horror. Our easy day that we just began is clearly over.

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