I sit on the swings on the front porch for the last time. I revisit good memories of us playing football in the rain. There were times when it didn’t matter how different I was. There were moments where I could make Miley laugh. Rare seconds in time where Eric didn’t look at me with disdain. There were even private, perhaps fabricated times when Felix would meet my eyes and he didn’t see a child.
My book bag is at my side, the only thing I’m taking. I have nothing that will remind me of home and I wonder how upset the girls would be if I dug up a rose bush.
The front screen door shuts and Felix steps out. I turn my head slightly, rather upset that I’m being forced from my home for no justifiable reason.
Felix sits down beside me and sighs heavily. His cologne fills my nostrils. I wonder if I could run upstairs really quick and grab it to take with me.
“I know you don’t want to go. And I...” He struggles, scratching his scalp. It’s a habit he does when he’s nervous or angry. “I don’t want you to go.”
I snap my head to him but he isn’t looking at me.
“You belong here. You’re family.”
“Then why am I going? I haven’t done anything wrong.”
He finally turns to me, “Of course, you haven’t done anything wrong. Tymician thinks you’re in danger.”
“But I’m safe here.”
“I don’t understand it either, Kyla but if Tymician knows something, we simply have to go along with it.”
I sink in surrender. I almost thought for a second I could convince him to keep me.
A box drops in my lap. “Here, we got you a little going away gift.” He cracks a smile and his navy eyes lighten. “It’s so you don’t forget where you came from.”
My stomach does that twisting thing again. I’m glad I don’t have any blood. I’d blush and give away my most intimate secret.
Inside the box is a Pandora bracelet with one little charm on it. Felix takes it out hasity and snaps it around my wrist. With his chubby fingers he holds the charm out so I can see it. A little bear with our house number on it. “I know you had trouble adjusting here. But if something ever happens and you want to come home, we’re here. You will always be welcome here.”
I look up and meet his gaze. I hadn’t realized how close he’d gotten and now he’s here and I wonder what it would be like to finally kiss someone. For someone to hold me and love me the way I’ve read about in books. He snaps to his feet, “Get your shoes on, we gotta go.”
I expected nothing else and a smile plays on my lips as I strap on my shoes. He really cares too much about healthy feet.
The next few hours are weird, at best. I switch cars, keep my face hidden behind a big frumpy coat. I’d have died from heat exhaustion if I had sweat glands. We get on a bus, get off, hop on a train, switch cars again until finally I am far from the city. It's too late by the time I remember I've forgotten my bookbag somewhere.
Tyimician picks me up at the King of Prussia mall in a white ford pickup truck I’ve never seen before. “Was that really necessary?” I’m fully annoyed at this point and don’t care who I’m talking too.
Tymician, however, doesn’t talk. He’s too quiet as he drives, barreling down the highway. I watch him out of the corner of my eye. I’m capable of reading him most of the time. He may not know it but he projects openly. Something bothers him and it runs deep. I can only assume it has to deal with me. The elaborate scheme to get me out of town was too thought out. He’s scared for me, like Felix said.
Yesterday, Tymician wanted me to understand that something’s wrong with me. He calls me different. I know I’m not like everyone else. I’ve acknowledged that years ago. It’s a reason I stay with the human population. I feel more like them then my own Fallen family. I may not have as much emotion as a typical human, but I want too. I don’t want to be known as a Fallen. That’s not who I am or who I want to be. But who do I want to be? Does anyone really know that answer to such a profound question?
Either way, being different, being not like everyone else, doesn’t mean I’m special. I have nothing to offer anyone. If anything, I’m considered broken. A broken Fallen, can anything be more pathetic?
I will wait until Tymician figures it out. He’ll fix it. He can do anything.
He suddenly yanks on the wheel and pulls off the exit. I act uninterested until he drives to a small rundown restaurant.
Quickly, I assure him, “I’m not hungry.”
“I want something to eat.” A monotone reply, he heaves himself out. I remain seated, waiting for what he plans to do. Then my door pops open, “Get out.”
He stalks into the antique restaurant and takes a seat. I rest uncomfortably on the cushion, keeping my hands to my side. He tosses me a menu. I guess we’re eating.
“Is there something wrong?”
The lie is as clear as his terse reply.
“Did I do something wrong?”
His green eyes flick up confused. I refuse to meet his gaze but soon enough I feel the rage in him decrease, “No, sweetie, I’m sorry. Come on, pick out something to eat.”
With him relaxed, I’m able to shift in my seat and take a look at the food. Chocolate Chip pancakes with whipped cream shout out on the front of the page with a colorful picture and I’ve decided with a silly excitement. The waitress comes and I nearly shout it out. Tymician oddly orders a steak. For some reason he thinks he has to pretend with me but I know he doesn’t need food nor can he taste it even if he wanted it.
He continues to stare at the table, holding his coffee in his hand till the heat vapors cease and it sits cold. One more sip on my chocolate milk before I try again, “Is something bad happening?”
He doesn’t react this time and it creates a terrible worry in my chest.
“Why do you ignore what you are?”
“What do you mean?”
“Kyla.” He murmurs, meeting my gaze. “I’ve known thousands of creatures. Everything the darkness and the Light can produce I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing on the planet or in Heaven or Hell that I don’t know. But you--”
He leans forward, “Why do you deny it? You know, don’t you?”
“No.” I shrink in on myself, fearing him more than I should. I don’t have the answers he craves, I’ve never had them. If I did, doesn’t he think out of every one, I’d tell him?
“I don’t believe you anymore.”
The waitress walks up with our food and I cut myself off, with a low head, hiding from his prying eyes. How could he think I’m lying? Tymician is the only person I trust, I love, I hold sacred to my unbeating heart. He is my family. I’ve never known any other life except for this one. I know with Fallen they have all their memories of every birth and death, every sibling, parent. I know they’ve seen the world ten times over. But for me, everything is new.
It’s also the reason I crave to be human so much. To have a real family with a mother and father, sisters and brothers and to feel a heartbeat or the touch of a first kiss.
Tymician sets something on the table. It makes a click that sounds like glass. As his hand backs away, the round jewel exposes to the light. And I feel panic. Breath that I don’t need escalates in my body. I shake my head, terrified, speechless, incapable of running and yet incapable of remaining still. My body trembles.
“You know what this is?”
“Why are you scared of it?”
“I don’t know.”
“I think you do.” He places a napkin over it and the moment it’s out of my sight, the tension fades from my body and I sag against the bench. “You don’t remember but I do, the first day I found you. This strange woman, walking on the sand in dirty rags with dry blood caked into your clothes. I know I was supposed to find you. I’ve always known that. Because it was the oddest of circumstances that brought me to that beach that day. You were empty when I found you.”
I’m exhausted from that momentary anxiety attack and my head lolls back to rest, “What do you mean?”
“You couldn’t speak. You didn’t understand anything. I had to teach you how comb your hair. How to eat. How to talk. But you learned quickly. It took less than a month for you to learn four languages.”
“I don’t know four languages.”
“You did. And when you spoke, it was only for simple things like, I want to go for a walk, or What does that mean.. No emotion. No personality. No laughter. That took longer.”
“All I have are theories. I brought you to some of them most powerful healers on this planet. And all of them were scared of you. Gula...my sweet Gula wouldn’t even go near you enough to talk to you. She told me that I needed to give you time. And so I did. And soon about ten months, you woke up one morning, like a normal girl, greeted us with a smile, hugged us, and asked to get a job. It’s no wonder Miley and Meryl were scared of you. You were such an odd thing to witness.”
“There’s nothing wrong with me now.”
“Oh, darling. I wish that were true.”
I stare at my uneatten food, feeling like my world is crashing around me. I don’t want to be different. I want to be a human and not worry about what the fuck I am. I don’t want to be dead. I want to feel things. I want to be alive.
“Why are you saying this?”
“Because I love you and I want to keep you safe. I know that’s my purpose. But I can’t do that if I don’t know what I’m keeping you safe from. Why are we running? What’s coming after you?”
“You think I know?” I shove my plate away, “I don’t know anything. I don’t why I’m different. I just want to be left alone.”
“Let me help you.”
“I don’t know anything, Tymician, I swear it.”
“Are you scared of something?”
“Are you hiding?”
“I would never hurt you.”
I slap a hand on the table, “Damn it, Ty, I said I don’t know!” I bow my head upon the eyes of strangers. I chew on my thumb, pissed and bitter, trying to sink into the seat.
“Then tell me what you do know. Tell me your secrets.”
“Please.” I hide my face behind my hands. I want to disappear. I want to run. Running is the way I’ve always avoided these questions in the past and now I feel shackled, incapable of leaving him.
“Can you access the Source?”
“You know I can’t. I don’t have a memory of anything before you. I don’t know if I’ve ever been Hell or Heaven.”
“You haven’t. No one knows you. Lucius doesn’t even know you exist.”
“How is that possible?”
“I don’t know.” He murmurs sadly. It quiets him for a moment as he thinks about something. Then he pops up, sipping his coffee, continuing with his interrogation. “You can feel Souls.”
“Yes. All the time.”
“A Prophet can do that. Are you a Prophet?”
I scoff. “Like Jesus?”
He rolls his eyes, “Do you listen to anything we try and teach you?”
“I suppose if you can feel Souls, you can see them as well? Can you see mine?” With a nod, he asks, “What do you see?”
I’m hesitant as I stare at him. His green eyes interested. A five oclock shadow grows on his pointed jaw. He’s beautifully tanned unlike me with my Asian powder white skin. I always envied his tan. I don’t want him to hate me. I love him too much. But how do I go on to answers these private questions? I don’t know what I should know or not. What if the answer is in me and I don’t even know it? I’m scared because what if I’m more wrong than he can handle?
“Fallen Souls burn like red flames. They twist and gyrate as if they’re angry. Yours though is a blue torch, solid and firm. It appears limitless.”
His green eyes shine, happy with my response “There are limits, Kyla. Everyone has limits. Except God, of course.”
“Angel Souls are like light bulbs, compact and round, little white spheres. Humans shine like stars during the day. None of them really stand out except for,” I glance at a stranger sitting at the bar. “People like her.”
“She’s a Pure Soul. She’s going to be an Angel when she dies.
I pause, looking at the table. “And the ones with cuts. What are those?”
He takes a sip of his coffee, “Cuts? You are talking about Scars”
I tuck a strand of hair behind my ear, dropping my eyes to my lap.
“Kyla, can you see mine?” Tymician responds amiably, “I have plenty, I am not ashamed. Scarred Souls are easy to spot and mine are usually intangible. I’m amazed you are capable. It takes thousands of years to be so perceptive. Usually it’s a gift with Elder status.”
“What are they?”
“When we commit a mortal sin, our Light cracks.”
He cackles, “Oh, I’d be long gone if lying were a mortal sin. I’m afraid it’s much worse than lying.”
“Killing? You’ve killed someone.”
His brows knit as he looks at me, “Do you think less of me?”
“Why? Why would you do that?”
“Does it matter?”
I pause in my response. I’d like to say no, that I’d love him regardless but I can’t. It destroys my perfect image of him and I don’t know how to feel. “Yes.”
“Anytime I have ever committed a sin, it was for the benefit of the human race or my family. I have no regrets. Even if God thinks I should.”
I saw Tymician as flawless. Even if with the refractions in his Light. I don’t know how to feel about him now. He’s different. Jaded. And my faith in him is crippled. He says it was for the benefit of the family but how many others say what they’ve done is righteous, when obviously, doing something terrible affects someone else in a negative way. I’m sure the people he’s hurt don’t feel justified.
We sit in silence long enough our waitress comes over and drops off the check even though neither of us have taken a single bite of our food. I miraculously find myself not hungry. I regret not taking a bite as soon as they arrived. I pull it back, forcing a quick bite, moaning at the deliciousness that could have been.
“Do you know what your Soul looks like?”
I shake my head, quietly interested. Mirror reflections are empty. It’s why when I’m staring back into a mirror it is easier to believe I’m alive. As long as I keep the scar at my neck covered.
My brows knit, “Nothing?”
He swallows, uneasy, a pity ensued look, “I can’t feel you at all.”
A heavy sadness waves over me. Do I exist? If no one knows who I am or what I am, if I don’t even have a Soul, what does that mean? What the hell am I? I want to cry, to scream, to do something that will erase his look from my mind. I want to punch him, to order him not to lie. I have to exist. I had to be alive at some point didn’t I?
Why am I here? Why is this happening to me?
“Klya.” Tymician gets up and squats by my seat, taking my hand. I look down at him, silently begging him to help me. “If you don’t know, I believe you. Maybe the answer is in your head and you can’t see it. I know someone that might be able to help. Will you go with me?”
He pulls me to my feet and wraps his arms around me, “I’m here, my darling. I won’t let anything hurt you.
“I have to exist, Ty. Right? I can’t be here if I didn’t, right?”
He squeezes me tighter. “You exist, sweetheart. We’ll figure it out.” Tymicine leans back, his hands encompassing my cheeks. “I’m sorry I upset you. I needed to be sure.”
“I’d tell you. I swear it.”
He nods, dropping his hands, “Let’s go.” He grabs the napkin off the table but then does something I’m not ready for. He places it in my palm. The jewel stares back at me, a black piece of coal with a blue diamond in the center. .
It’s instant, the crash, the breakdown, the lightning strike, the burst of energy blowing the entire building to pieces and I collapse on the floor, swallowed by darkness.