Savage Delight

Page 16


“Tilt your head to the left, Isis.” Fenwall’s intercom blasts in my ear.
“Rude! I’m having! A discussion! Here!”
“Are you talking to inanimate objects again? Mernich would love to hear about that.” I can hear his grin.
“No! No, I’m not talking to anything! Nothing at all! Just…myself! Which is basically nothing. Nothing special. Except my butt. My butt is definitely something hells special –”
“Left, Isis.” Fenwall doesn’t take my shit. In a friendly grandpa-y way. I tilt my head and Bertha beeps once, twice, and there’s a pause. The regular white lights come back on and the bed slides out slowly.
“Phew!” I leap up and shake off the claustrophobia. I hate small spaces. Almost as much as I hate soy milk. And furbies. Fenwall comes in.
“Feeling alright?” He asks.
“Well, I need to spend five therapeutic years on the open plains of Mongolia, but other than I’m good.”
“Fantastic. Your results will be done in just a second. Let’s go get your mother.”
I follow him out to the hall. It feels so good to walk around in my real clothes, not a hospital gown anymore. And the absence of a stinky bandage turban clinging to my head is a mild plus. I practice shaking my hair out like a majestic lion but almost hit an intern and stop. They have enough problems without fabulous hair in their eyes. Mom’s waiting in the lobby. She smiles and gets up and hugs me.
“So? What are the results?”
Fenwall looks at the papers in his hands. “Everything looks fine. The hemorrhaged tissue has cleared up remarkably well.”
“What about this?” I point at the scar just to the side of my hairline, and above my forehead. “The hair isn’t growing back. I’ll never get married!”
“The scar will shrink and fade, but that will take time. Years,” Fenwall says.
Mom pats my head. “It’s not too big, sweetie. Unless they’re seven feet tall and can look straight down on your head, no one will ever see it.”
She’s right. What’s one more scar on an ugly girl, anyway?
“Do I get any meds?” I ask. Fenwall smiles.
“Nope. You’re free to go. We’d like to set up a check-up appointment in a few weeks –”
He motions to Mom, and the two of them go to the counter and speak to the nurse. There isn’t a big crowd, but there’s more people than normal on a Saturday. But that doesn’t stop me from noticing the bright red hair walking through the lobby.
The flame-haired girl turns, perfect porcelain skin freckled as ever. But her eyes are all wrong – tired, bloodshot. Her clothes are perilously unfashionable. And the way her expression stays the same instead of a grimace or sneer forming when she recognizes me? Something is really off.
“You,” Her voice is tinny.
“Yes, me! I am alive! But that can be easily fixed.”
“Get out of my way.”
“How’ve you been? Busy? Beautiful bitch duties as usual?”
Avery’s mouth remains straight, not even the faintest of frowns appearing. “If you don’t move, I’ll make you move.”
“You can try! Push me a little, maybe? Throw me around? Don’t get too drastic, though. If you cut me in half, nothing but rainbow sparkles and Bacardi would spill out. Also you would be a murderer.”
“I should cut you in half,” Avery finally snarls, her emotionless mask breaking. “You f**ked her over.”
“You,” Avery jabs her finger at my chest. “Sophia finally started talking to me, and then you ruined everything.”
“How did I ruin it?”
Avery’s expression is a cruel, twisted thing. “How f**king fair is it? I was her friend for years. And then you come, for two weeks, and she likes you already? And now you’re leaving her. And she won’t talk to anyone. Not the nurses. Not me.”
“I’m – I’m not leaving forever –”
“It doesn’t matter. She thinks you are. She thinks everyone leaves her.”
There’s a long pause. I nervously pick at my sweatshirt. Avery scoffs.
“But I can’t be all mad at you. When you came, she told me I could visit for once. So I did. And I got to tell her I was sorry.”
She looks off into the distance wistfully.
“I got to apologize. So. Thanks. I guess.”
“You’re welcome? But also I’m going to see her before I leave? And I’ll come visit her? So I’m not actually, uh, leaving.”
“She’s having her surgery soon.” Avery doesn’t seem to hear me. “And now I can’t even say goodbye to her.”
“You can. I mean, you can say it. She might not be talking to you, but she’s listening. I’m sure of it.”
Avery shrugs, her face becoming blank and despondent again as she shoves past me.
That’s not Avery. That’s a shell of the glorious bitch she used to be.
Mom and Fenwall come back, talking amicably. Mom says something about my check-up in February, but I barely hear her.
“When is Sophia’s operation, doc?” I ask. Fenwall looks alarmed.
“She told you about that? It’s in April. April 20th.”
“Can I come see her before it?”
“Of course. You’re always welcome to visit. Sophia needs more visitors, in my opinion.”
She needs more friends. Not visitors. But I don’t say that. People always complain about me saying things. I say too much. Too fast. Too loud. But not anymore. I hold things back, now. Does that mean I’m getting smarter? More mature?
It just means I’m getting stupider. Quieter. Older. Old and stupid like every other person who doesn’t say what they feel, who stays quiet when they’re angry or sad.
I’m getting older. And it’s terrifying.
Sophia’s room and the hall leading to it look different in the day. Less The Ring and more Scrubs. Naomi came and said goodbye earlier, and took me to say ‘goodbye’ to Mira and James for the last time. But somehow, this goodbye is the hardest. Standing outside this door and trying to knock is the hardest thing I’ve done in a while. What I saw last night, her screaming – the way Jack looked when I mentioned her – all of it is confusing and stops my throat up like a shitty cork. How am I supposed to look her in the eyes and say goodbye when I heard her screaming that she hates me just a few hours ago?
How do I say goodbye to Sophia when she isn’t the Sophia I thought I knew? It’s hard.
But I’m Isis Blake. I’ve done harder things. Like live.
I knock twice, and Sophia’s voice emanates faintly.
“Come in.”
She’s sitting up in bed. Her platinum hair fans all around her on the pillow, her skin milk-white and glowing. She looks like a princess of starlight and snow. She smiles.
“Hey. You’re leaving, huh?”
Her voice is so soft, so Soapy-like. Normal. She’s normal right now, not the screaming girl I heard last night. This is the real Sophia.
Before I can open my mouth, Sophia motions for me to come over.
“Come here. I have something I wanna show you before you go.”