Savage Delight

Page 7


She looks up calmly and puts a bookmark between the pages. “Yes ma’am?”
“Not to be rude or overly confrontational but why the f**king hell didn’t you tell me I had amnesia?”
She gasps. “You have amnesia?”
“Soapy!” I lament. She stands, putting her book under one arm and offering her other to me.
“Oh stop. I’m kidding. Come on. Let’s take a walk.”
I debate how effective screaming until I got my way would be and decide not very and then lace my arm in hers. She leads me down the white-washed, too-sterile halls. We weave around interns and gurneys. An old woman waves hello from her wheelchair, and Sophia waves back.
“Hello, Mrs. Anderson. How are you feeling?”
“I’m well, dear. What about yourself? I heard you have that surgery coming up. Dr. Fenwall is very excited about it.”
“Oh, you know him.” Sophia smiles wider. “He gets excited about everything. I’m not getting my hopes up.”
“Don’t talk like that, sweetie! I’m sure it’ll be a success and you’ll be out of here and on dates with that dashing young man of yours in no time.”
Sophia laughs, but once we’ve turned the corner her smiles fades rapidly, like a flower caught in a first frost.
“She seems, uh, nice,” I try. “Also, dying. But nice.”
“We’re all dying, Isis,” Sophia says. “Some of us just a little faster than others.”
Feeling somehow chastised, I try to look around instead of at her.
“They really need to redecorate,” I say. “Maybe paint some hearts on the walls. And puppies. Just strew puppies everywhere. Puppy bonanza. Pupanza.”
She doesn’t say anything, leading me to a stairwell. Maybe this is it. Maybe she’s really going to murder me, right here and right now. Maybe she hates puppies. Maybe she hates painted hearts on walls! Maybe my big mouth has finally landed me in trouble I can’t get out of, except I could totally get out of this stairwell by jumping over the railing and straight down –
“Isis, you’re being silly. I’m not going to kill you.”
I look up. Sophia holds open a door at the top of the stairs, sunlight streaming through. She ushers me through it with her hand. I burst onto the roof; fresh, crisp winter air lapping at my face. From here, you can see most of Northplains nestled in the rocky valley below. Thrushes swoop around the treetops, a massive flock of them sitting on the roof pecking at nothing. They look so calm. So small. So peaceful -
“AHHHH!” I scream, charging at them. They scatter with angry squawks, the noise deafening for a split second.
“That’s what you get for being so damn cute!” I shout. Sophia walks up beside me, the wind toying with her beautiful silver hair.
“This is where I come when I’m sad, or feel alone.”
“It’s great!” I shout too close to her ear. “It’s great,” I whisper.
“I’m glad you like it. I’ve never shown anybody it. Well, except Jack. I’ve shown him. And Naomi knows I come up here.”
“Because she’s nosy as balls.”
“Because she’s nosy as balls,” Sophia agrees.
“Noisy as balls,” I try.
“Balls don’t really make noise, but if you pull –”
“Ah, lah lah lah lah!” I shout, covering my ears. Sophia laughs, and perches on the edge of the roof. Warily, I lower my hands and inch towards her. I look over the edge – it’s a long way down. As in, an extremely dead way down. But Sophia doesn’t seem worried at all. She just gently kicks her shoes against the building.
Not wanting her to feel left out, I sit next to her, and gingerly ease my feet over. She hums. The sun is thinking about going down – still bright and full but drooping tiredly. The world is at peace. Or, it’s ignoring us. It doesn’t know we exist. Sick and recovering people live in separate worlds. The regular world is focused on living, and ours is focused on not dying. And sitting up here – inches away from death? That’s another third world entirely. It’s the edge, the in-between. Everything is fragile, and could change at the slightest breeze, a single soft push.
“What are you thinking?” Sophia asks.
“Deep intense thoughts. So deep. At least two indie songs worth of deep.”
She laughs, and hums higher. A thrush starts chirping with her, or maybe at her.
“What’s that on your arm?” She asks. I pull my sleeve down over it instantly.
“If it was nothing you wouldn’t wear long sleeves all the time.”
“It’s nothing, honestly.”
“Did you try to kill yourself?”
There’s a beat. The thrush stops chirping.
“No,” I say finally. “I’m crazy. Not stupid.”
The silence returns with a vengeance. The weight of every world ever is on this roof, bearing down on the two girls sitting on the lip of it.
“Have you ever had sex?” She asks. I abruptly start wobbling for no discernible reason. She grabs my arm and I gasp for air.
“You really are trying to kill me!”
“It’s just a question.”
“But this isn’t answering my sort of direly important question about my amnesia and Jack!”
“I had sex.” Sophia picks at her dress. “With Jack.”
“That’s great!” I feel my throat tighten, and deep in the pit of my stomach something burbles. Perplexed at my sudden bodily reactions to her words, I do the smart thing and brush them off entirely. “I mean, good for you, really! I mean. Good! I hope it was good! You two are good! Together!”
“Jealousy doesn’t suit you,” she laughs.
“Jealous? Uh, did you miss the part where Jack is a giant black hole in my brain instead of an actual person?”
It hits me with the force of a dozen Godzillas breakdancing over the ruins of Tokyo.
“Did I….did I –”
“No! Oh no! Sorry, I didn’t mean to wind you up like that. I don’t think. Um. I don’t know what happened between you two for certain, but last I heard, you and Jack were engaged in a brutal, egotistic battle. Not sex.”
“Sounds rad.”
“He said you called it a war. Occasionally, ‘crusade’.”
“He must’ve done something really shitty if I pulled out the medieval terminology.”
“I don’t doubt he and you had some misunderstandings.” She nods. “He can be cold. Cruel, even. But he’s really not trying to be. He just ignores peoples’ feelings in favor of logic and rationality.”
“Ugh.” I stick my tongue out. “One of those.”
“He blackmailed you.”
“That’s standard issue in a war.”
“You planted weed in his locker and got him suspended.”
“Jolly good.”
“He kissed you.”
I feel the blood drain out of my face and down to my feet.
“Uh, yeah, no –”
“Uh yeah yes,” she corrects. “Avery told me. I forgot to thank you, by the way. Even if Jack doesn’t visit as much with you around, Wren and Avery do. And it’s so nice to see them again. It’s been years. They’re feeling very guilty, you see.”