The Switch

Roslyn stood facing the large, glossy mirror in her room. She twirled expertly, swirls of ivory, white, and blush dancing around her feet like pure golden flames. It was a good purchase. On the opposite-facing bed, Pippa lay sprawled, with the brown comforter bunched at her feet. A tuft of flaming red hair fell in her face, and she blew it away. Her strangely dark and mysterious eyes zoomed across their sockets in a steady beat, sucking in words and sentences. She was leafing through Roslyn’s tattered copy of Requiem, a mildly-interested look plaguing her face.

“So... Lorenzo is the...” She scratched her head, cracking a goofy grin as she looked up at Roslyn’s white face.

Roslyn pursed her lips as she peered in the mirror, studying her face from all angles. Pippa said she would have a client tonight. The Citadel hadn’t really specified- someone in their late twenties, probably another beer-swelling buffoon who would leave Roslyn’s expensive Camodress in piggish tatters. She twirled again. Bolts had contoured the design perfectly to accentuate her curves. It framed her ivory smooth face like she was born with it. In a trial run, she unfurled her blossom fan and peered behind it with leering silver-blue eyes, smirking like a geisha. Bingo- that was the look that would knock all the men at the bar dead.

“Hey, Lyny. Earth to Lyn.” Pippa rapped on the cover on the book- now such a faded design that it had sparked a mild debate between Roslyn and Pippa- whether or not the cover had portrayed a young man stabbing a beautiful woman repeatedly- or outer space aliens.

“What?” Roslyn look up, closed her fan, sunk into her own bed. On instinct, they reached their hands across the divide and linked them.

“So, who’s Lorenzo?”

“Originally, I just thought he was the lovesick prince of Tabuul, the father of Carrie’s illegitimate son, who should be the rightful heir.”

“What? Carrie’s the crazy one, right?”

“...But the second time I read it, I finally understood- the character of Lorenzo himself symbolizes the human kind’s measure of lust, how it controls as powerful as pain.” Roslyn finished with a blush, taking in gulps of air. She could see tiny details in Requiem that no one else could see. Sometimes, Pippa thought she was making this stuff up. But Requiem was a tasteful ploy on reality, so absurd that one might not be able to see past the ‘happy’ facade. Just like the dying planet they both lived on.

Pippa sighed in defeat. “This book is too hard for me,” she said.

“C’mon, Pippa. I didn’t learn to read ‘til I was eleven, and I can certainly handle this.” Roslyn smiled sincerely. It was returned with a withering glare as Pippa chucked the book to the other bed and folded her arms.

“Hey, precious commodity! This is the only book we have, and already there are pages missing.” Roslyn pretended to scowl, but she was pleased that Pippa wanted to learn more about her. They both had secret pleasures. For Roslyn, it was reading. Every morning, and just before new contacts at night, she would get drunk on tasteful words. They were always the same words, and she always read the same book. She didn’t want to waste food money on reading books.

Pippa took the more social approach. She liked exploring the cavernous depths of the Citadel- some occupied, some not. She liked meeting new spies, training daggers with them, talking it up with Georges about the latest shipment of treasures. And such.

Technically speaking, it was logical for Roslyn to have had a Citadel boyfriend. She was smooth, confident, and just about walking beauty. But this was all a facade. Ever since she became an orphan, Roslyn hadn’t opened up to anyone. Except spiteful Mercurio- and that had been a big mistake.

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