You watch the long mirror mounted on the inside of your closet door, pulling your sweater straight and then fidgeting with locks of hair so they’re arranged just so. You haven’t popped in your contacts yet, so the eyes that look back at you are still dark brown. You’re putting in a little extra effort because today is a very special day for you, but truly you always meticulously present yourself. You lick the pad of your thumb and curl a particular clump of your hair. You twist your head a bit to get a good look and are satisfied by your handiwork.
You collect your contacts from your desk, which has been arranged neatly with a letter explaining your absence to your roommate situated in the centre. You grin to yourself through the task of popping in your contacts. You focus on the mirror yet again. Perfect, there you are, reflected pristinely back at yourself in the mirror. The chasm between the two is as closed as you can really get it, these days. You’ve laid your bridge, now it’s time to walk it. You swing the closet door closed with a small push and are off on your way.
You slip out of your room, down the hall, out the door to your backyard, through the grass and onto the streets. You pass by fences and vegetation as you trail along the residential area in which you reside, which eventually gives way to a fresher-paved commercial street. Just the one you were looking for. There’s foot traffic, and regular traffic, but they don’t hinder you much. You weave through people expertly, like a fish through water. You ignore the looks you get; you know it is because of your appearance. It’s extremely… it bothers you, but in the sense that it aggravates you that people treat others like this more than it makes you sad, or something of that ilk.
It’s insidiously, casually, mundanely cruel. That is something you’ve always had an eye for, something you’ve always felt pointed at you, something that invokes your ire quite literally and truly like nothing else. Ugh, here you go again, stewing like the bitter coffee your housemate makes when you wake up. You steer your thoughts back to course, you presently have more important matters to attend to.
You square your shoulders, firm and proper as the tendrils of a grim determination wrap around your bloodpusher and slither into it like worms into a buried cadaver. You wobble a little forwards on the curb. This isn’t a major street, but like you’ve always been told, you’re sensitive. It feels so unbearably loud. You step out into the road with a sure foot and your whole weight, yet your shoulders are caught on something and your body pulls backwards towards whatever it is. There… someone’s hand is tangled like a firm knot of a sailor in the back of your ever-present red sweater.
(not your old one, but a lookalike. In spite of how messy it’d be, you want to look as much like yourself in death as possible. You.. don’t mind it not being your old one. It feels kind of nice to separate the comfort of its familiarity from Porrim. And you got much nicer and more open ones, with this silky sort of fabric stitched into the inside. You like the sensory experience more.)
You pivot to look at who grabbed you. They’re holding you at a distance, mercifully not touching you, which is surprisingly considerate of them. But you realize instantly who this is.
Eyes so dark brown they’re almost black glare at you sternly, but not cruelly. The muscles in her face are hard and tense; although her expression is neutral, save her eyebrows, which betray her upset with the shape of their points.
Guilt prickles into your shoulders and you feel a bit of acid scald your throat. “I called to you,” she says. Her accent is thicker than usual, she’s definitely upset. She speaks English easier now than she did before, but her voice is her voice, and more so when she’s all gummed up like she is now. You feel bad. Horrendous even.
“I’m sorry,” you state quietly, head bowed. Your own voice sounds small, and your voice spits out the o in the word funny. You used to get bullied for it. But your voice is still your voice, too. (You like it anyway. Your mother always tried to teach it out of you, but it makes you feel right. Like you. She had no right to try to change you.)
She still doesn’t touch you as she hauls you further into the safety of the sidewalk, instead pulling you by your sleeve. You follow without protest, but slightly sheepish and with a tilt of your head. “It’s fine. I caught you easier than I catch a Friday night hookup. What would you do without me?” She says, still glaring. You think about it and wince.
“I don’t think I would have even made it far enough to attempt now, honestly. I suppose I should be glad for that, but a part of me wishes I had not- that you didn’t put up with me,” you frown minutely, having looked away from her without registering it at some point. She manhandles you to face her-
and slaps you, hard, in the face. Some old, old part of your hindbrain kicks you on the rump and makes you more aware of yourself and your surroundings, senses sharpening, a feeling like weight going back into your feet as your nonsense thoughts get the breaks hit on them. You go rigid as a plywood board, shoulders stiff, but you’re sufficiently grounded.
“Unfortunately for both of us, you’ve improved my life somewhat. And I don’t put up with you, you wet biscuit of a man, but I do what’s called keeping you around,” she says, shifting to grip the collar of your turtleneck, speaking directly into your face, drowning out the grey and the people. Passerby probably think she’s going to kiss you; That’s horrifically embarrassing.
You hum, and your cheek stings a bit. This sucks, why did you do this again? “I find that objectionable, but your thoughts on that topic trump mine. We should stop jamming the sidewalk, though,” you state plainly.
She glances away and loosens her clutching of you. “Right. Don’t want a human pileup anywhere other than an orgy,” she says in agreement. You grimace, which she seems to have a fifth sense for, because she snickers. Her hands lower to hold onto your sleeve again, and she kicks off with that strong Megido stride, and you do your best to keep up. “I haven’t eaten since this afternoon, and I’m sure as shit not cooking, and I don’t trust you in five feet of a kitchen right now. We’re getting food,” Damara says. You have no protests against this plan, honestly you’re a bit hungry too. “Maybe eating will make you less of a sadsack,” she turns, looking at the signs of the establishments around you as you zip past. Something starts to burn behind your eyes. You think it’s tears, for a moment, but-
Then you need to close them. You need to close them because the burning feels like an angel falling from heaven and screaming all the while. Your voice comes out strained under the weight of your agony, and the only thing you mutter is “fuck”. Playing out on the inside of your eyelids is someone looking up at you, juvenile troll eyes echoing over pitch black human ones, framed like a portrait by the faint blurry edges of a set dinner table.
Once your migraine starts to sizzle out you become aware of your face scrunched up tight, and Damara’s hands holding your elbows firmly, and a wave of familiarity hitting you hard like a punch to the teeth. You take a deep breath and sort yourself out again. “Vision?” she questions, keeping her voice quiet both so as not to alert strangers, and for the sake of your head.
“Yes,” you confirm. “Nothing specific. Doesn’t feel like it’s bad, though.”
Damara sighs, and one of her hands drops as you brush the spot with your own. It tingles. “That’s good. but now that your brain isn’t ramming itself with a rusty pipe,” she says, nodding her head to the side down the walkway. You respond by straightening out and starting to walk. She does too, then regains her position leading you. You notice even more weird glances gathered nearby where you were standing as you begin to stroll, even someone holding their phone and looking dazed, and somewhat like they’re wondering if they should call 911. Neither of you give them the chance to try, your gaze on them tipping off Damara to their presence. This spurs her to shoot them a murderous glare and increase her velocity untill you’re across an intersection (which she glues her eyes her eyes and hand to you for, ugh, you feel awful about doing this again.)
You are corralled, slightly more miserable than a moment before, into some sort of breakfast restaurant and diner fusion on the corner, which is apparently what Damara has decided appeals to her whims this evening. Well, if the way she drags you by the arm through the door is any indication.
You look up at the doorbell with a wince as you sense the shifting of eyes onto you and her. You’ve caught someone's attention. You steel yourself and drop your head from the angle it took to look towards one particularly intense mite of attention, and you see… you see those black eyes from your vision, widened and full of hope yet sharing a face with a mouth pressed into a straight unsure line, the kind someone you knew made when he was not sure what he was feeling. They’re still fully seated, but turned away from their group to look at you. Damara is too, now. Looking at you, you mean. She seems quizzical in the corner of your eye.
Today is a very special day.