Chapter 44: You don’t need this.
Evangeline walked past the old bridge. She loved the graffiti on it, and knew that this part of town was once upon a time the home of a local anarchist group of street taggers, musicians and other misfits. But that was when she was still a kid. The bridge had now been known to shelter beggars, cockroaches and a foul odour.
However, it received two other unexpected visitors.
Tessa Cavalier in her darkest hoodie stood standing next to a shady looking guy. Evangeline said nothing, but studied the scene closely. Tessa handed the guy money. He handed her a packet. She shoved him, and he started getting defensive. She was shouting. He pulled a knife.
Tessa backed away slowly. Evangeline couldn’t make out any words, but knew what had just happened. Tessa looked like she was going to turn and run. She bent down and threw sand in the guy’s face. She kicked him in the face, and then grabbed another package out of the man’s jacket. Tessa spat on him, then walked away. The man got up and was obviously furious. He walked away first, then found an iron rod left over from construction, and knocked Tessa’s feet right out from under her. He pulled both packages from her fingers. Then shouted and pointed. She gave some snark remark, and then he hit her. Evangeline walked forward. And then he pulled out the knife.
He cut her shirt open. Then wrapped one hand around her throat. Evangeline realised she was close enough to hear what he was saying.
“Are you trying to fuck with me? Do you think this is a fucking game?!” He yelled. Tessa started coughing.
“You.” Evangeline said. The man turned his head. He was bald, nearing his fifties. Evangeline’s eyes were cold, and harsh.
“That thing you have your hands around is fragile.” She said.
The man let go. He pointed the knife at her. Evangeline started walking towards him and he started seeing double, her eyes become red and rows of teeth suddenly showed up… Her hands turned into giant paws with talons. He made a threatening motion and Evangeline was behind him, and she had one paw around his neck. She whispered in his hear, softly and cruelly.
“I said this thing is fragile. You must not have heard me the first time, so maybe I should show you.”
Her free hand yanked his head one way whilst her other twisted and his neck broke as his face settled in a permanently backwards position. Tessa stared at her in horror. She blinked hard… The man was gone, it was just her and Evangeline. She looked normal.
“You.” She said. “You’re still fucking around with drugs. I mean, this isn’t just weed, Tess… This is dangerous stuff.”
“You’re a monster.”
“You’re high. Let’s go home darling.”
“No, you were a monster.”
“It was the weed. Tessa…”
“No, no, no!”
“There is no such thing as monsters.”
“I know what I saw!”
“You know what you think you saw. You’re still high, aren’t you? I guess I should call your mom.” Evangeline said.
“I can’t get through to you, and Owen sure as hell can’t…”
“Well then you have to promise me something.”
“Go to school, for fuck’s sake. Your life is getting out of hand. Go and kiss boys and break hearts and get straight A’s. You’re such a bright girl. Clean up your life.”
“I know that ‘okay’, you filthy liar.”
Evangeline walked over to the packages. She picked them up and three them down a nearby manhole.
“Go home. Clean up your life.” She said. Evangeline grabbed the tatters of Tessa’s shirt. “Look at yourself.” Tessa was upright now. “You’re a fucking mess.”
“It’s my life!”
“And I want you to have a good life, and you want you to have a good life, so stop dicking around. Okay? I’ve known you for a long time now Tess… You wanted to go to art school and become a dancer and show your dad and your mom and everyone everywhere that you’re going to be great. What happened to that person?”
“Her dad died, her brother became a bluthering mess and her mom became a lifeless doll.”
“So what? Is that supposed to stop her? She should punch you right in the gut. I should punch you for her! Get your shit together! Life’s hard, princess! Then again, you and your brother both were always two little sob stories.”
“You’re just mad because you were the rebound girl.”
“Well that’s the first thing you’ve been right about all day. I was mad because there was never a chance for me with Owen. But that’s okay, you know? Things have a way of working out. Especially for people like you. You’re going to be so beautiful when you grow up. You’re going to go make people jealous just walking down the street, you’re going to be amazing. And I will always be proud of you. So will Owen, and your dad, even when you’re fucked up. But you know you’re better than this. We know, you just don’t. And I can’t make you see that, but you know what? ”
Evangeline let go. Tessa backed away a bit. Evangeline took off her jacket, and threw it around Tessa’s shoulders. “You think you need to do this, but you don’t. You just need to be a kid. I miss being you. Be a better me than I was.” She hugged Tessa tightly, and whispered for her to go.
Evangeline smiled as she did.
“Go you, cleaning up other people’s messes.” Morgan said.
“How long have you been here?”
“Since about when you stuffed several bags of I don’t want to know down a manhole.”
“We don’t know each other all that well, Evangeline.”
“No. You should probably stay out of my business then.”
“I should. But I didn’t come to interfere.”
“Oh? Why are you here then?”
“I never got the chance to thank you.”
“Taking care of my best friend when he lost the girl he loved.”
“And I am going to selfishly ask that you see him while you’re in town.”
“Funny enough, that’s all I’m really here to do.”
“Ah. Then I guess my work here is done.”
“I guess. But I mean… That’s it?”
“No epic talk or monologue or anything?”
“Nope. What were you hoping for?”
“Maybe a ‘he always loved you’ or something. I dunno. Call me a hopeless romantic.”
“Oh. Uhm. He drank a lot of tequila when you left.”
“That doesn’t make me feel better.”
“You had bad timing. Even if you two lasted, you would always be the girl he loved second most. You’d always be in competition with a dead girl. And you lost that competition before you two even started.”
“Wow. My ego, Morgan, it can only take so much punishment.”
“I lost hard too, you know? I can tell you that even if you weren’t the girl he wanted, you were the person he needed. Don’t doubt that he cared about you. But both of us can say with an unappetising certainty that he loved Lisa more than anything else in this world. I doubt Daveigh will survive her ghost either. Unfortunately for her, Lisa found a body named Alyssa St. Claire.”
“Someone else is going to be both the person he loves and needs. And that someone won’t be me. I’ve met a new guy and I still get sleepless nights because of that.”
“Maybe the new guy does need and want you. Just don’t beat yourself up about it. Even if things weren’t meant to last, things aren’t beautiful because they last. You and Owen had some moments. Great ones. Fantastic ones. Some ugly ones too. And now they’re over. Go make new moments. Build pyramids with someone else… Earlier, someone told me that life might be unfair, but it gives everyone a chance. Not always equal, but always urgent and important.”
“Why are you being so nice to me?”
“Of course. It’s like you and Owen were separated at birth. Morgan Siegfried, I hope you survive Lisa’s ghost too… You’ve been haunted by her far longer and far more relentlessly. You’ll build pyramids too.”
“Take care, Evangeline.”
“You too, Morgan.”
“Oh, and thanks for looking out for Tessa.”
Morgan turned to walk away, then looked back over his shoulder.
“You’re probably the closest thing she’s had to a sibling since Lisa died and took most of Owen with her.”
“And you’re the person Lisa should have chosen.” Evangeline said.