Friday, January 10, 2014

Episode Thirty Two



Episode Thirty Two:
Closer
Darkness isn't the opposite of light, it is simply its absence.
-Terry Pratchett

     Simon and Ro sat on one of the benches against the ivy wall at the cross of Macmillan Gardens and Morland Avenue; Simon atop with his back against the ivy.
     "Hey," Esther said, quietly.
     "Sup!" Ro hopped up. "So when are you gonna tell me where you go each week?"
Esther started, the blood draining from her face as she glanced at Simon. "I...I..."
     “Ok, ok never mind. Just a suggestion," Ro back peddled. "You guys free this weekend?"
     "Yeah." Simon stepped down from the bench.
     The three of them crossed the street.
     "I think Monica is on double shift at the hospital Saturday."
     "Awesome! How about a hang out day at my place? You got allergy meds, right Si?"
     He looked at her blankly.
     "I still got the kitten brigade."
     "Oh, right. Yeah."
     As they got to the steep incline, Esther slowed. She turned to the street; an odd feeling creeping into her stomach.
     "Hey, what's up?" Ro stopped, waiting for her.
     Esther frowned. "Like de ja vu...or something..."
     "There's a glitch in the Matrix."
     Esther looked up at Simon. Ro laughed.
     "Did the ginger just make a funny? Hurry up, Neo."
     Rounding the ivy walls they headed up the front entrance to Westin.
     The closer they got to the school the harder Esther gripped the strap of her satchel. She kept her eyes on her shoes even as Ro rattled on about the games she had or the movies they could watch. Esther glanced to her left, sure she heard a familiar giggle.
     Rebeca, Isabella and Sadie stood in a semi-circle around Tobie, Jacob, Gus and Holon. Tobie leaned into Rebeca, who was twirling her hair around a manicured finger. Gus talked with Jacob, pretending not to notice the pair, but his gaze darted to them every so often with an ill-concealed frown.
      Esther glanced at Holon. His gaze, intent on the scene in front of him, flickered immediately to her. Esther's breath caught in her throat. Sadie, noticing Holon's switch in interest, turned. So did Isabella, then Rebeca, quick as a cat. Esther jerked her head down, feeling the nasty scrutiny of all three girls as they passed.
     "Morning ladies," Ro said, cheerfully waving. "And jerks."
     "Stop it, Ro!" Esther grabbed her arm, picking up her pace. She couldn't help but glance back. The girls were ignoring them, and Holon had turned forward. Rebeca was preening again for Tobie, her smile suggestive, her hand on his chest. A shimmer of light darted across Rebeca's fingers then over her hair. Esther's eyes narrowed, but the refraction skipped away.
     "Oh you stop it." Ro twisted out of her grip. "Show them they can't get to you and they'll get bored. And seriously, what's the worst they could do?"
     Esther bit her lip. "I'd rather not find out." As she turned forward, the refraction darted in front of her eyes with a barely audible buzz. She lost mastery of her left foot as it collided with her right heel and tripped; skinning her knee just above her socks as her satchel thumped to the ground, spitting out her books. The expected laughter still brought tears to her eyes, more than the pain.
     "You ok?" Simon asked, a hand on her shoulder. She gasped and his hand recoiled, as if bitten.
     "Geez, Es," Ro said from behind her. "You were even too fast for Si. E for effort though, man."
Esther stared at Simon's arm a moment, the awkwardness setting it. Turning away she lifted her arm slightly. Simon's hand slipped under her. Esther leaned into him, letting him help her up. She stood, trying to control her breathing, trying to keep the tears in place.
      "Y-Yeah. I'm fine."
      “You're bleeding," Ro pointed out.
     "I'm fine."
     Simon handed her the books. "What's their problem?"
     "Demented followers of the false god," Ro said loftily. "They're so damn full of themselves you'd think they'd float away. Or been beheaded by now."
     "I need to go clean up." Esther hurried ahead. "I'll see you guys later."
     "Meet for lunch?" Ro called after her.
     "Yeah."

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