9th of the 16th, 21st of 357
A Phase of Symmetry
Night melts into day. A thin beam of sunlight is crawling up my leg from where I stand, opposite the sliver of glass that acts as a window- bullet proof of course. Most of the room is already filled with the weak pastels of a dawn in spring, but my corner lies in hazy gloom, left behind in a twilit world. I long to go and stand by the window, to bask in the heat and feel it sink into me, but I know from experience that I’ll get distracted from the task at hand, however unnecessary it may be.
Cold is my constant companion during these long nights of silent vigil, but to feel the golden warmth slowly reawaken my numb limbs is one of the things I love most in the world. It begins as a whisper, a caress, a hesitant hand brushed across my cheek, but as the hour grows later it becomes a passionate embrace. We have a good relationship, the sun and I, considering I see so little of it. I have read about sunrises in books, about how lines of fire streak over the horizon, but I’ll never be able to see one myself. It used to be my dream, but I now understand that it is too dangerous for us to go outside for such meaningless whims. These concrete halls are the only place in the world where we are safe.
It turns out I don’t have to worry about hiding the bodies. Red rivers and bloody blades sink sluggishly into the harsh stone floor as it bubbles around them. Limbs dislodge and crumble into mounds of sand, glittering in small breezes, piling around the crannies of the room before flying away through holes that I know for certain weren’t there yesterday. The clothes left over, which when their powers are stripped by the illumination of the sun, reveal themselves to be made of simple black cloth, not unlike our own training garb, hoist themselves upright and walk through the door. In the end, all that remains are two pairs of unassuming boots, gleaming dully in the morning light, until for one moment I look away for too long and they too vanish.
Disappointment and relief battle for attention in my chest and I ignore them both.
It truly is a good thing that it wasn’t real, because in between routinely surveying the room and checking Stella’s pulse, I have decided that my moves were sloppy and my kills obvious and unsophisticated. I am ridiculously mad at myself, because my incompetence will be fatal to more than just me if I ever get out into the field, or if the Society do send people to end us. I need to be better than this. I have to be.
I shake away the tendrils of desperation. Now is not the time.
Watching Stella wake up is my second favourite part of the morning after of night of keeping my eyes peeled for danger. I’m not entirely sure why, maybe because I can’t understand how she can be as quirky in her sleep as she is awake, or perhaps it’s because I love the colours of her hair when it forms a glowing halo of midnight when the sun hits it. It could be that I just like watching her when she’s still and peaceful.
However I think the most likely reason is because it’s really, really funny. And it’s sort of… cute.
Face flat on the bed, blue-black hair spiked up like a hedgehog, Stella always sleeps with one of her feet delicately pointed towards the window, no matter how entangled the rest of her limbs are by the numerous blankets that lie in small mountains at the ends of her bed. I have absolutely no idea why she does it, but it is crucial for what is to follow.
A warm orange glow gently steals around this one foot, giving it life and personality in the shadowed hollows where it hasn’t yet reached, but then also where the skin has been turned such a bright gold it seems to be emitting a light of its own. It is like a tiny section of sunset, the sunsets I’ve seen in books anyway, all oranges and golds and rich purples, smears of blue later contributed by her hair.
As soon as the wave of colour hits her ankle, she coughs. She squirms. She gives an almighty sigh of frustration and lifts herself up to then drop back to the bed, this time on her back. Sleep smudged eyes, electric blue; blink confusedly, seven times before sliding shut again. Stella sighs for a second time, but this time more contentedly. I can always rely on this, every morning that I am fortunate enough to see it. Just as I can rely that when the ray of sun covers her face, she’ll jolt up, get muddled in her blankets, then fall off the bed.
She doesn’t disappoint.
After hours of solemn silence, the room is suddenly filled with the welcome sounds of Stella’s startled squawking and my ungainly laughter. She tumbles off the bed in a flurry of bedclothes and mussed up hair and lands with a thump on the ground, still struggling but to no avail. I wait until she has flipped onto her back before moving to lean over her, smiling and waving. When she sees my grin her eyes widen comically. She makes to grab my ankle but since her elbows are pinned to her sides all she can really manage is a pitiful flap with her hands, paired with a pout.
“Looking dignified there Stella,” I chirp out cheerfully, “Ready to face the brand new day?”
She mock glares at me, and squirms again.
“Well Ismae. I suppose this is it. I really don’t think you’re handling this situation with enough sensitivity for us to be friends anymore.” Unimpressed, I raise a sardonic eyebrow.
She grins for a heartbeat then huffs, frowning, returning to the game.
“What? It is hard looking down on someone from the floor, let me tell you. But,” She continues smugly, “Over the last ten months, I have mastered it, more than could be said of you when I took you down last week. In under a minute I might add.”
The witty comeback I had so carefully planned dissolves as I splutter in outrage.
“What! No! You so did not!”
“I so did!” She crows, beaming in triumph.
“Fine,” I hiss, “fine I agree that you took me down, one time, even though I have beaten you in every other match for the past eight months, so really I’m still beating you.”
“You just keep telling yourself that, and I’m sure one day you’ll believe it.” She smiles airily and bats her eyelids.
I make my jaw drop before it snaps shut again and I narrow my eyes.
“Not gonna help you now.”
“Fine” Stella brightly declares.
We make a great show of turning angrily away from each other, and tossing our hair (well, Stella tries, but she just ends up hitting her head on the floor again and wincing), and in my case, flouncing to the other side of the room.
There is a snigger from her, then a suppressed giggle from me. She hums inconspicuously, though even that holds back a laugh.
It only takes half a minute before I push off the wall and get a good hold on what I hope is her arm.
“Up you come drama queen.”
“Gee thanks, aint you a charmer.” She drawls. I make a happy noise in agreement, smiling serenely whilst settling her back on her bed.
“And don’t you forget it sunshine. At least I wasn’t defeated by a blanket.”
“Screw you.” She trills. “Just you wait, soon as I get out of these godforsaken sheets…” She trails off expectantly, looking up at me, an expression of pure innocence on her face.
“There will be hell to pay.”
I pat her on the head. She sticks her tongue out. I snort and unleash myself upon her demon bedding.