Savage Delight

Page 18


She seems so different – her posture is totally relaxed in a luxurious, satisfied way. Her eyes are slits and her lips form a savage, subtle smile.
“I get it, now. That’s why Jack is so fascinated with you. That’s why he kissed you. That’s why he even bothered getting to know you. Because you’re exactly like me. Hopeless like me.”
“Sophia, this is crazy –”
“Is it? Am I crazy? Am I just an insane girl cooped up in a hospital, taking my frustrations out on you? Am I seeing things that aren’t really there? How can I know what’s going on, when I’m trapped in here?”
She throws her head back and laughs that intimidating laugh again. Her head snaps down all of a sudden and her eyes blaze, two stony sapphires exerting their full pressure on me.
“You and I are alike, Isis. But you and I are also different. You get to leave. You’re healthy. You get to be normal, to run and jump and have sleepovers and have dreams and go to school, and go to college, and all the things normal girls get to do, you do. Because you’re normal. Or are you special? Do only special girls get to do those things, and I’m the normal one? No. Don’t answer that. I’m not normal at all. I’m defective. You pretend to be defective, but I really am. So go ahead. Give me your fake-modest bullshit one more time. Do it.”
For once, I’m silent. No comebacks run through my head. No quips. All I can do is ball my fists and tremble. Sophia smiles.
“That’s what I thought. Now leave. Before I throw up on you.”
I get to the door before I turn. Sophia’s watching my every step, her sickening smile never fading. But I can’t just leave it like this. I liked her. Like her. Genuinely.
“When the surgery is over, you’ll be normal, too. And we should…if you don’t hate me still, we should go…shopping. Drinking. Or something. Something normal girls do. Because I think…I think we could be friends.”
“I don’t,” Sophia says lightly. “Now get out, and never come back here.”
“This is what you always do,” I say, my voice getting stronger. “You push people away first before they can leave you. You did it to Avery, and with good reason, probably. But you still did it. And now you’re doing it to me. And that’s fine, but I know what it’s like. I know what it’s like to be lonely, and scared. I know what it’s like to not want someone to leave you.”
Sophia’s smile just hangs there, but it’s like a painting now, instead of something with real feelings behind it. A façade.
“Thirty-eight percent,” she says.
“That’s the likelihood I will survive the surgery. Thirty-eight percent. And if I don’t go through with the surgery, I only have two months left.”
I’m quiet. Sophia folds her hands over one another and leans back, her smile fading.
“No, Isis. You don’t know what it’s like. You have no idea what it’s like to wait to die. Now get out. And leave me alone.”
I’ve never been happier to see home in my life.
Except that one time Kayla let me have her burrito and then Wren let me have his burrito so I ate three cafeteria burritos and then sat through Algebra thinking intensely about toilets and I’ve never driven home faster in my life.
Hellspawn is the first to greet me when I get home. He comes bounding around the corner and I run towards him ready to smother him in a hug of pure love and friendship. He gnaws my ankles.
“Ow! Ow, that hurts, you little shit!” I hiss. Hellspawn hisses back.
“Aw, look at that. He missed you so much,” Mom says as she comes in behind me.
“He missed me, or the ability to eat my shoelaces?”
Mom chuckles. I drop my backpack off upstairs – my room feels so foreign. It smells so weird compared to the faint scent of anesthesia and bleach I’d gotten used to. I flop on my bed and stare up at the ceiling. Who knew I could miss a hunk of plaster so much?
Mrs. Muffin the stuffed panda droops sleepily. I put her on my chest and hug the Chinese stuffing out of her.
“I’m back.”
I laugh at my own words.
“I’m really back.”
The smell of something delicious wafts up and yanks me out of bed. It’s saucy? And cheesy? Downstairs, Mom pulls a lasagna out of the oven.
“You made that? For me?”
Mom smiles sheepishly. “I bought a cake. But no, I didn’t make this. Someone…someone very nice did. They brought it around.”
She serves me a plate and urges me to eat. I take a bite, and the flavors explode in my mouth. It’s the best thing I’ve tasted in a while – hospital food doesn’t have shit on this. Hell, an actual Italian restaurant would be hard-pressed to beat this.
“This is…who made this?”
“Do you like it?” Mom takes a bite. “I think it’s very good.”
“Uhm, I’m kind of the master of avoidance, Mom, and you smell like five whole avoidings! Who brought you this?”
Mom frowns. “Jack.”
I look down at the lasagna, then back up at her, then down at the lasagna before I run to the bathroom and attempt to stick my fingers down my throat.
“Honey!” Mom bangs on the door. “What are you doing?”
“He poisoned it!” I yell around my fingers. “Eat some bread and pepto bismol to slow the spread of it in your blood!”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Isis!”
“Uh?” I throw open the door. “Have I not updated you on how evil he is? He cheated on his girlfriend, he practically abandoned her these last two weeks, he hates me -”
Mom’s frown turns absolutely deadly. She grabs my ear like she used to do when I was little and twists, pulling me back to the table.
“You will sit down, and you will eat this meal, and you will finish every last bite of it, so help me.”
“He’s poisoned –”
“He has not poisoned anything!” Mom exclaims, banging her fork. “He’s been nothing but kind and considerate since you went to the hospital. He’s been bringing me meals nearly every night, and checking in on me, and may I remind you he was the one who saved you, Isis. So you will be respectful and you will eat it and I will not hear you complain again about it again.”
I wince. After a long staring contest with a bit of cheese I take a slow bite. Only then does Mom relax marginally, and starts eating her own. Something like resentment takes root in my heart, but I quickly prune that shit. She has no idea who Jack really is. I barely know who he really is. So it’s understandable that she’d defend him.
Halfway between our slices of slightly stale store cake, Mom breaks her stony silence with a single tear that plops onto the tablecloth. She buries her face in her hands.
“I’m sorry, Isis. God, I’m so sorry.”
I get up and go behind her and lace my arms around her neck, resting my cheek on her shoulder blades. I can see the court papers and police statements piled on the coffee table in the living room, my medical bills among them.
“It’s okay,” I whisper. “It’ll be okay. I promise.”