Graying the Lines

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 5 (v.1) - Chapter 5

Submitted: September 15, 2018

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Comments: 1

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Submitted: September 15, 2018

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Chapter 5



 

 I stood in front of the rusty mirror, perfectly silent, perfectly still. I couldn’t say how long I’d been staring at the image in front of me. Long enough for the boys to grow impatient, I noticed, as they paced around me, glancing up at the clock on the wall whenever they were across from it.

 I’d gone over that reflection maybe six or seven times now, trying to find some trace of myself within the wild red curls, or the dark makeup surrounding my eyes. I was reluctant at first, but I had to admire the contrast and the way it made this girls’ green eyes so much clearer. Maybe there was a part of me hiding behind the silver wing earrings she had hanging from her ears. Skids had picked those out with a laugh. Maybe I was underneath the strange array of provocative garments they had dressed me in. The short purple skirt clinging to my thighs seemed to have black spiderwebs sewn into the lace. The leather jacket on this new girl in the mirror had originally been zipped up to the collar to hide the low neckline of a black over red netted tank-top. Where I came from this kind of apparel would have been obscene. My father would have locked me up for days for even considering it. I shivered at the thought and closed my eyes to push it away. This is not where I come from. I don’t have things like that to fear. And here they insist that you leave the jacket unzipped. I felt bare, naked in the eyes of this foreign society. But at the same time, I felt exhilarated. I felt empowered. I pulled the jacket tighter over my arms; the studs on the shoulders glinted in the lamp-light.

 At last, my eyes were drawn to the ink winding its way around my left hand like vines. Skids had done a wonderful job. I marvelled at how he managed to make the shape look both delicate and powerful at the same time. The flower at the end of this vine was a single rosebud, marked gracefully on the first joint of my thumb. It wasn’t in full bloom, but instead, the petals just began to fold back, not quite revealing its full potential, but ready to bloom with it any second. It wasn’t quite the vibrant red I expected it to be either. It had a more subdued and faded look. I liked it better this way, faded. It gave the impression that I’d had it for much longer, almost as if it had always been mine. I flexed my sore fingers and watched the way they moved with the ink, mesmerized until Victor’s agitated voice broke my trance.

 “It’s getting late,” He sighed, voice low but full of purpose. He pulled a sleek black cell phone out of his back pocket to double check. I could see a decal of a skull and crossbones through his fingers supporting the device. “We should go,” he said in the same manner, quiet, clipped, and quick. “I don’t like you being down here for so long.”

 “Where’s she going to stay?” Skids said. “I mean, Chienne’s got room but I’m not sure how cool she’ll be with that, knowing you brought her. All the other girls' bunks are full.”

 Victor’s hand went up top rub across his sharp chin. I looked between the two of them. I was slightly peeved to hear them talking over me, neglecting to ask for my opinion on the matter, which for the record, was very strongly against the idea of staying with a bunch of dark strangers, in a basement underneath a cemetery where I didn’t know my way around and would likely get lost the instant I turned a corner.

 “Alright,” He agreed, voice and posture thick with reluctance. “I know a place we can use for the night.” He turned to me, reaching for the door. “But this is just for tonight, okay? After that, you’ll need to find somewhere else.”

I nodded.

“Okay,” he said. “Let’s go.”

 Skids stopped him with a hand on his shoulder and spoke closely to his ear. All I could pick up were mumbles. Victor turned to look at me with cautious eyes before mumbling back to his counterpart. “I’ve got a few days. I’ll be here next chance I get.” I caught this comment but couldn’t make sense of it. It was one of many pieces of a puzzle I didn’t have. I decided I’d let it go for now. Skids noded, black hair falling over his face. Victor turned sharply and stepped back into the hall leaving me to offer a polite thank you to Skids for his help, and I followed him back out into the dark.

 

 I could feel as much as hear the heavy stone door slide shut behind us as I stepped onto the unkempt grass of the cemetery. Victor took a deep breath beside me and shivered against the breeze. His eyes were everywhere, searching for something among the headstones. Once he was satisfied, he turned to me again.

 “Okay,” he started, as I looked up at the clear night sky and the stars I thought I was so used to. The wind ruffled through my new feathers as, slowly, I stretched out my wings. This strange feeling of adrenaline and excitement was immediate and unable to be ignored. “Now you’re not used to these wings yet so you’re going to have t- Hey, slow down!” He gasped as I jumped into the air and dived through the wind. I hadn’t flown like that since I was eleven years old, the day my wings finally grew in. Unfortunately, that day had ended with my first plucking, each feather pulled from my skin, punctuated by every other word. Good Angels don’t flap about when they're not supposed to.” I didn’t understand it then. But I guess once an angel could fly, they have more freedom than the Elders allow. Despite the following punishment, I had loved that first flight. I’d never felt so light before. I enjoyed this flight even more. I felt so alive. I felt so free, and I enjoyed the motion of my new wings pushing streams of air past me. Soon, Victor caught up and glided along next to me, trying not to appear out of breath. It was a longer flight than the clumsy one into the city. I watched below me as the tight rows of brick and cement thinned out. The roads emptied of cars and were replaced by large patches of open dusty ground. I could see the center of the city disappear a few miles behind us. Once we neared the last rows of buildings before the desert took over, Victor tapped my arm. I looked at him and he pointed towards a shorter building sitting against the edge of the city. It was gray brick, smooth and unassuming. I liked the way it looked against the sky.

“Race you there!” I shouted over the wind to him and sped onwards towards the star-spotted horizon.

 

“That was incredible!” The words left my mouth, shaky and hysteric, as I landed on the windowsill of the old building and climbed inside. It looked like it had once held rows of cubicles where poor humans had worked their long-hour day jobs. “I don’t think I’ve ever flown that fast before,” I told him. I hopped down off the ledge of the window and shook out my wings, folding them up behind my shoulders as I looked around. Victor landed behind me, chest heaving. He looked equal parts annoyed and amused but I noticed neither at the time. I was lost in thought. Victor took a cautious glance out the window before sliding it shut. A worried crease grew between his eyebrows but disappeared just as quickly.

“So, what is this place?” I asked him, as he walked up beside me.

“The building used to belong to an insurance firm, I think,” he said. I stepped towards the center of the room, scrutinizing the half painted walls and the low hanging ceiling. In the wall to my left was a glass door that had been covered in planks of wood which made it impossible to see through. I walked towards a light switch next to a window, across from the one we had flown in from and flipped it experimentally.

“There’s no electricity,” Victor stated, furthering what I had already discovered. “There hasn’t been for years now. They were doing construction on it back in 2001 but there was too much damage so they just kinda gave up. It wasn’t long after that they stopped using the lower floors of the building due to ‘suspicious disturbances,’ on the upper floors.” I turned to look at him when he trailed off. He leaned against a dented piece of wall with an expression that was both sad and smug. “It’s where I started coming to… ” He paused, choosing his words carefully. “Blow off steam.” He decided.

“I can see that.” I forced a laugh, nodding at the dent in the wall. Looking around the room I noticed that there were dents and holes on all four walls, some dripping with pink, puffy, insulation, falling out in a mess onto the floor. The vibrant color provided a shocking contrast to the rest of the dusty, gray room. The damage served to remind me of the company I was in. I’d begun to let my guard down. I couldn’t believe how quickly I’d forgotten. I took a step away from Victor, he didn’t seem to notice. My hand came up to rub my arm and the new color on it caught my eye. Something about seeing the rose there, petals soft and thorns sharp, gave me a bit more security.

The floor was made of rough, unfinished wood across half the room, and a plain, grey speckled carpet tacked to the other side. A single mattress lay pushed up against the finished wall on the carpeted side. A few cardboard boxes sat at the foot of it. I figured Victor must have stayed the night here more than once. Maybe the place was more familiar to him than he let on.

When I turned to look at him I noticed a small cushion lying underneath the window we had come in. Following my gaze, he turned and reached to pick it up, dust it off, and set it on the window sill. The motions seemed too practised to be random to him.

He turned back to me. “We can stay here for the night, and in the morning you can figure out where you’re going to go.”

My nerves were on high again. “Look I really appreciate your help and getting my wing fixed and all, but I really don’t think I need a chaperone.” I crossed my arms.

“Well, believe me, I don’t want to be your babysitter,” he scoffed. “But considering you’re flying uncharted territory here, not to mention the hostile environment below ground level, and the fact that I brought you here, I figure you’ve become my responsibility, whether I like it or not. I think leaving you alone could be a bit dangerous. I don’t want to be responsible if you get hurt.” He added quietly.

I still didn’t like it but I didn’t see another option. He seemed to be trustworthy, even if he was a little cold and rough. I guess it could be helpful to have someone around for the night. “Fine.” I agreed, without uncrossing my arms. “But I get the mattress.”

 



© Copyright 2019 Mica L. Rich. All rights reserved.

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