"Shouldn't this have already been done?" I ask, pulling another bauble out of the plastic container and handing it to Mae. She looked down at me as she positioned the golden ornament on the tree.
"I've been busy. With you."
I hand her another a silver one to match the other Christmas coloured balls and bells.
I had decided to stay at Mae's house. Not only had Sybil brought me enough clothes for then but because I didn't want to have to meet her gaze and the words to follow.
As Mae places the last decoration on the 6ft tree, she hopped off one of the chairs putting it back at the dining table. I gaze up at her handiwork. She had been very adamant that I only hand the ornaments never place them as she had already picked out the design.
It is close to geometrical—the baubles were placed in a spiral formation of gold, silver and burgundy and there is never the same colour next to each other. The transparent bells were placed seemingly sporadically between the spirals, but I am sure Mae has done it with purpose and precision.
The star at the top is not your typical metal star and is certainly not a fairy instead it was plastic with small LED lights inside and being the designer that Mae is it was rechargeable no need for wires or plugs. The whole tree is without wires no fairy lights, and certainly, no tinsel which I found from Mae was a horrendous notion when I suggested it to her.
"The best part is when you turn off the lights," Mae said quietly. She hurried off to the switches. The curtains had already been drawn the blackout curtains shading the whole place from any outside light. So when Mae switches off her mood lights, the entire room has almost succumbed to darkness.
I feel Mae's presence as she comes to stand beside me, marvelling at her work. There is a clear reason why she insisted on precision. They had been covered in glow-in-the-dark paint, but this is not neon colours that I am used to when Lincoln would hold a blackout event in the club.
The baubles shone the colours they had been painted—burgundy, silver and gold glowed nearly illuminating the tree but instead just seemed to suspend in the air. The transparent bells looked like snow had frozen midfall.
"Pretty, right?" she whispered. Her arms are around mine as we stare at her achievement.
"It is indeed."
Mae takes my hand, leading me away from the picturesque tree and to her room. She turns on the small side lamp the soft orange glow able not to deter from her glow in the dark tree.
I stand by the foot of the bed as she removes her clothes. Oddly enough, there was no rush of blood to my lower half, I didn't look at her body hungrily, and there isn't a sudden urge to bite down on her neck.
Perhaps the fever was a lot worse, then Mae said.
Instead, I just watch her glide over to her drawers, pulling out a grey crop top. Mae slips into bed before her gaze fixes onto mine.
"You not coming in?"
Surprisingly, I am taken aback. I haven't slept with Mae. I have forgotten that this is what people do after sex. I've been so used to sending her on her way that I have forgotten this part. Not that we need to have sex now I just can't imagine any other situation where we'd be lying in bed together.
"In the days that you were asleep, I wasn't on the sofa. We've already shared a bed."
For some reason that made me relax—it made sense not only to make sure I didn't deteriorate in the night but because it was her place. Mae pats the space next to her before laying down onto her back.
I pull off my clothes far too slowly for my liking hanging them on the chair she had been sitting on earlier. With just me in my boxers and a shirt, I slip into the bed beside her. It is large enough for both of us, but I still found her body heat caressing my own.
"What happened after Glasgow?" I ask, trying to distract myself. I turn my head to face Mae. She is staring at the ceiling almost frozen except the beat of her heart and the rise of her chest.
"Nothing good," she replies.
My keys fumbled into my frozen hands as I struggled to pull out the correct one. It dropped onto the floor the sound of metal hitting rock made my heart jump, and I groaned kneeling down to pick them up. A searing pain ran through my arm, as the grooves of the key slide across the slash in my hand.
I slotted the key my eyes burning as my vision doubled. It was 4 in the morning, and I didn't want any unnecessary noise that would wake up my mother. I closed the door quietly sliding the lock across.
I kicked off my shoes, hanging my woolly coat on the coat rack, and dropping my bag by the radiator before dragging myself up to my room.
As I hit the top of the stairs, I glanced to the left. The light underneath mum's room was still off, meaning I hadn't woken her. I opened my door turning on the small switch near the floor, illuminating my room with tiny white lights from the fairy lights that hung around the perimeter of the room.
I crashed onto the bed, instantly regretting that decision as a pain shot through my stomach almost making me want to hurl. I didn't want to change, right in this moment I wanted to cease to exist.
Bringing my knees to my chest ached, causing the bruising on my thighs to burn and throb. My throat was incredibly dry all the screaming I had done had left my voice cracked and raspy that it even hurt to breath. Or that could've been the fact that I was sure at one point a knee had pushed down onto my lungs cutting off most of my air supply.
I pulled the covers over my mangled frame taking in a large gulp of air that made my chest ache and my head to spin. But somehow I managed to fall asleep or perhaps I lost consciousness from internal bleeding.
I played with a frail bit of fabric of my sleeve pulling the red thread watching it come loose from the knitting before letting it fall on the floor.
I sat in the small room looking down at the brown wooden table.
Surprisingly I had avoided my mum; being a bartender meant that I had become a night owl. Sleeping throughout the day working at night, meaning that I didn't see much of the sun, and most people in general but working as a bartender certainly supported the household.
The door opened slowly, and a brown-haired woman stepped through. She had her hands around two styrofoam cups steaming rising from them.
"I wasn't sure how you took it, so I bought some packs with me." She laid one cup in front of me before placing hers down on the other side. Before she sat down, she fished out the said sugar packets and placed them beside me.
"They said you wanted to speak to someone." She said, taking a seat opposite me. I stared at the swirling brown liquid, watching the caramel outer ring begin to decreases as small bubbles popped.
My middle finger instinctively rubbed the bandage over my palm. I took another long breath. My lungs instantly seizing up before I was able to exhale.
"I want to report a murder."
A.N. Who died? What happened to young Mae? Let me know what you think. Most importantly, thanks for reading.