That impossible anger strangling the grief until the memory of your loved one is just poison in your veins.
—Assassin Ra’s Al Ghul
THE SMELL OF FIRE BROUGHT ME BACK FROM A SHALLOW, dreamless sleep.
With a heavy head, I stirred, disoriented. Despite the plumes of pungent smoke rising from below my cheek, which rested on the tired suede of the beaten-up sofa, I refused to let myself return to reality.
These rare minutes, only found in this state of in-between, were one of the few places I wasn’t at war with myself. Here, there were no unanswered questions and no injustice. I didn’t feel hollowed out, and that ache in my chest didn’t exist.
I was weightless.
I tried to coax my mind back into its crawl space, back into the relaxed recesses, the one place that kept me held on pause. But my head was already clearing; the word fire, already forming, and I knew in a few more seconds I would be awake, and my endless, soul-crushing struggle would resume.
The first thing I’d think about would be her. And that was okay—until I remembered, she was gone.
My little sister, Mariposa, was dead.
My eyes opened. I could see flames creeping up from the carpet, underneath where my fingers had loosely held a cigarette prior to passing out. I slumped over the sofa’s side, reaching for the bottled water down by my feet.
I hesitated before tipping it over the small blaze, but not for long. I knew what it must be like to burn to death. I had researched it plenty. Knowing the SUV carrying my family had tumbled several times before erupting into an inferno, I had painstakingly explored the process.
The cops had assured me that the impact would have killed them instantly. And, if for some reason that weren’t the case, they should have been unconscious when the Chevrolet went up—at least they claimed that’s what the medics had said. I often wondered if Mariposa had listened to Mum and buckled her seatbelt that night.
I hoped she hadn’t. I wished for it to have been quick.
When people asked about the accident, I replied that it was apt—with angry sarcasm I said that her life was back-to-front. Born blind, she was brought into this world in the dark, and then taken from it in an explosion of light. How very ironic.
I stamped my foot, ensuring the carpet was doused, and immediately found myself looking for the bottle of vodka. Striding over to the kitchen, I kicked away the rubbish that covered the floors of the loft. I found it knocked over on the countertop, spilled empty. I pulled back the fridge doors, to bare insides; I was out of everything. Nothing new there.
As I began to contemplate a trip to the liquor store, the apartment buzzer sounded. Scratching the back of my head, I made my way over to the intercom.
“Jonah, it’s Tabs, can I come up?”
I paused, but then pressed the button. There was no point telling her to leave. Knowing Tabitha she would stage a sit-in until I gave up. If I left the apartment, she’d follow me to wherever I was going.
Clicking the catch, I swung the door open and wandered away in search of my cell.
I was busy flinging dirty, discarded clothes across the living room and shoving my hands to the back of the sofa when her light voice reached me.
YOU ARE READING
The Styclar Saga (Book1 Lailah): Jonah short storyShort Story
Jonah is mortal. Though Jonah is living and breathing, he might as well be dead. The only shelter he finds in which to hide from his excruciating existence is in those seldom few moments, just before waking from sleep. In that half, dream like stat...