Amberley Davenport

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When we separate, my weight begins to press against the broad shoulder of a girl. As my legs start to falter, she grabs my arm and yanks me down another shaft of darkness. Her dark silhouette paints against the gray walls; her contour is slight and waltzes under the dim light sizzling around us.

Something makes a metallic click in the confines. Its brisk and curt consonants fill my ears with each chime. It's smeared all over my brain. And above all, it's close to me: it feels as if it's next to me, guiding me in my staggers down the hall, or whatever it is.

The world, for once, comes to a calm pause. In the silence and tranquillity—no clicking, no yanking—the only audible sound is of my slow stomach expanding with each inhale I take. Again, the world is only my breath — no clicking, no yanking, no dissonance.

A second inhale begins to expand in my lung, and my sense, why, they swell. Everything blares against my skin, my eyes, my ears, my tongue, my nose. Everything is so vivid in me — the bright lights, the angelic chorus in my ear canal, the sterile aroma, the mellow buzz of air against my fingertips. I can't stop it.

And then, as I gulp, a limp to the right brings me to the tongue of brightness and vividity. However, beyond newfangled aspects, it does not shroud me in darkness either when the mouth closes, or when it swallows me. Quite the opposite, it is: the whole world is a void of white when the mouth closes and swallows me into the epitome of bland decor.

On the day I left the ease of my home to be punished with permanent residence in hell, my adoptive stepcousin, Lee Dooly, said to write to them; they wanted to know every trivial detail of my new life in our severance. Lee, unlike everyone else in that clique of bionic valor, was sheltered from the truth: they did not know I was going to a place that equates to prison.

Now, what would I tell them if I could write to them? Nothing I write would ever make it to their ears now; anything coming from me, in their eyes, is virulent and meant to sully the virtues of the altruist of the group. Saint Lee. Paragon. Dote-worthy. Precious.

If I could, I would write,

Dear Lee,

By now, you've heard the truth about what happened: Enchancia is a place where people who've committed a crime go. Yes, there's a school, but it is pandemonium in the clouds. Trust is a foreign notion: you may have a group of comrades, but, in the end, it's all another game of survival of the fittest. Neve—or Nora, rather—took the life of my friend just two days ago. She was innocent, but yet, she died. It's only a matter of time before I, an ersatz life form of vice, lose my breath too.

At one point, you would've stood by my side, saying that it was impossible for me to have caused an enormous quantity of torture and destruction — at one point, there was a light to such a fact. Now, my brain, my code is embedded with darkness. My emotions swell inside like a sea of fire, urging me to wreak more havoc; I try my damnedest to fight the shadows seeping through my code, but it's like a freak accident: there's no way to stop it. What happens is just that: it transpires.

Yours Truly,

Amberley Davenport.

"Are you all right?" a rough voice asks. I turn around to see the girl who led me to this place. Her broad shoulders are covered in the length collar of leather, which zigzags down to her slight cleavage. Glitter dazzles one cheek.

By now, I have noticed how the room has warped to fit my accommodations. A mahogany desk hovers against the wall next to a same-wooded wardrobe. On the other side of the room, on the opposite wall, a wrought-iron bed calls my name. A tall cabinet stretches in an aggregation of shelves until it hits the floor—even better, books fill every inch of its confines. And topping it all off, a punching bag dangles in the middle of the room from a cord of chains ajar with the ceiling. 

"Yeah—" I brush my shoulder and stumble forward with a slight giggle "—I'm fine." I don't even realize that my right foot has twisted in adjacency with my left. My kneecaps wobble; then, my upper legs give out, and I'm flat on the floor. 

"You don't look fine." The girl stands over me, clad in leather and lace—all black, of course—with her lips pinched together and arms folded over her chest. From forth the fatal loins of the tongue, a laugh tantalizes the air and sings in my ear. Oh, what a wonderful world. 

"Trust me—" I roll my eyes "—I had better things in mind than this." Then, I grunt with every straining muscle in my body; honestly, such would fare better in private ... on a toilet. Suddenly, the shadows seep over me like a shroud. With a burning ache in my legs, I mutter, "Help me up?" withholding eye contact. 

"I imagined the daughter of unquestionable strength would live up to her father's glory." The girl's inky eyelashes flicker for a moment. "I'm Aphelia." Her fingers, encaged in fishnet lace, dangle before my eyes. 

"If such were true, I wouldn't be here," I point out. After having latched onto the sturdiness of Aphelia's hands, I now shift my weight to my feet. My legs adjust, finally, to the circumstances; now, she and I are merely holding hands, heat swarming between our frictional contact.

As the warmth swells, a low rattle in my throat tosses me back into reality. I quickly say, "Our parents had their destiny for greatness; we, the next generation, have to make our destiny. Ours is, I must say, not laid out for us like a path lilypads for a leapfrog."  

Aphelia hides her warm smile behind strands of silk, inky-black curls that drape down half of her face. One half is free; the other is not. "That's the beauty of it." Her warm words caress my ears; tall, angelic vowels, and consonants fill my senses. And then comes out the dainty commentary: "We get to explore right and wrong. We choose who we are. And if we don't like it, try, try again." 

I can't help asking, "Do you believe in such mantras?" 

Aphelia brushes her hair behind her ears. Her smile is fully exposed. "I don't just believe in them. I know they are true." 

***

Every inch of happiness in this brief life is worth celebrating. At noon, we're all ushered into a chapel. In the beauty of white and roses, an opera of bells sing at their highest note. 

"Do you, Primrose Briar Flynn, renounce your marriage to Ryder Fitzenherbert of Golden Brook?" The reverend's question soothes the wild frolicking of noise. I remember where I am, though I will admit, my lips made love to a bottle of whiskey in the time I should've been sleeping my hangover off; how I got here is quite a surprise. But it's noon, and somehow I've wounded up stumbling slowly through a throng of white guests, waiting to be ushered into the pews. Ruffles of black chiffon sway against my legs while the rest of this tight gown clings to my frame like a barnacle. 

"I do." 

"Do you, Ryder Fitzenherbert of Golden Brook, renounce your marriage to Primrose Briar Flynn?" 

I squeeze through the mass of people blocking the archway to the chapel. Their excited chatter brings about a swirl of thoughts to me. Prim is divorcing Ryder? 

"An annulment," I hear someone mention in a string of incoherent topics. 

Oh. 

"I do." 

In a faint rustle, I whisper, "Oh, Prim, what did you do?" 

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