Saturday, January 3, 2009

Where were you last night? (Short Story)

"Where were you last night?"

The idly posed question dissipates between us like my condensed breath dragging itself up the chilled night. Inside my jacket pockets, my hands are just as idle, so I squeeze my arms closer to my person in a motion that is meant to look like I seek warmth. Really, I'm just trying to focus on something besides the ghastly green iris that points in my direction at my voice, much as my unanswered question was posed just to give me some other sound to listen to.

The silence of the night screams in my ears during the seconds that his sidelong stare is on me. Shouldn't there be tires rolling somewhere? A cell phone ringing? A lady's heels tic ticking as she scurries home from the bus stop? Of course, we don't want any of these things and this silence is safer than any indications of human presence. Still, I don't know which is worse... Listening to him eat or NOT listening to him eat. I don't think I could choose, although it doesn't matter as he chooses for me.

I should have brought a book or something.

"You should have gone home." Ugh. Telepathy. Right.

"Cut that out. You know I hate that." As I mutter the words, I'm grateful that he gives me a reason to focus on my own voice. He's watching me again, but I don't look at him. This time, his head hasn't lifted and his jaw is still moving. Alright, that's a lie. I kind of don't look. In that crouched position on the pavement, his head bobs in a familiar motion that almost makes me blush. The short tearing sounds that come with each pull are somewhat like what I'd imagine ripping wet jeans wound sound like. Not that I've ever ripped wet jeans. After a minute or so, the grinding of meat between his molars stops and he swallows audibly.

"You were projecting." Oh.

"Oh." He snorts softly in rebuttal, before hiding his maw from me in the steaming dark stew. So much for conversation.

I imagine myself a smoker, releasing frustration into the night as I sigh softly, when he tells me to go home again. I wasn't gonna leave him though. He needed me. Who else would hold his clothes so they didn't get dirty? Who else would watch for any danger while he was vulnerable? Who else would understand that he needed this to live?

His weight shifts as he dips a hand into the makeshift bowl that walked less than an hour ago. There is a snap of bone and cartilage as he removes the barrier of a sternum and lowers his head once more. Not really a snout. Not really a muzzle. More like a protrusion of gum and teeth.

I notice, all to late that my breath is coming back at me. Not that there would be any time to do anything as the changing direction of the breeze was faster than I could ever move. My stomach turns violently as I'm hit with the stench of fluids that aren't meant to make contact with air.

Raw death.

The thick sound I can only equate to a large tub of hearty, thick oatmeal being slopped around with one's hands does anything but help me bite back the bile that threatens to say hello to the pavement. By my stomach's second uprising, I have my trusty plastic bag in hand.

He watches me as I spit the remnants of my weakness into the bag. I imagined he'd stopped eating when I doubled over. As I look up, that eerie iris turns from me, focusing on the remainder of his meal.

"..." I quirk a brow in question as I tie off the bag (moving back upwind, of course). His soiled jaw shifts, as though he wants to attempt to say something again, but he changes his mind. Crap. I must have projected again. I don't know what to say to him either, so instead, I just watch, noticing that he's not going back to his food. This silence jabs at me, prodding as I attempt to think of something to brush it away with that won't seem stupid.

"Done already?" Silence answers for him in its increasingly annoying fashion. This time it's the one to chase it off is him.

"Left pocket of my jacket." He doesn't wait for me to crouch where I'd dropped his clothes in my rush for the bag and find whatever it is he's talking about as he lowers himself to continue. My fingers slip into the cool folds of cotton and wrap around something peach fuzzy and hard. I glace up at him, though he ignores me. As we crouch together on cold pavement, chilly air slipping over, I stare at the contents of the box. A plain silver band, engraved with unfamiliar etchings and glyphs. I don't get a chance to ask before I hear his voice. "I was looking through the things my family left to me last night. My father gave that to my mother the night he asked her to spend forever with him. It won't fit your finger." After a few moments, I hear the oatmeal again, but now I have something more important to do than listen to him eat or feel sick. I smile.

"I'll wear it on a chain." He pauses before his jaw moves again, giving me a silence that broadens my smile.


This is a concept for a comic story. A buddy of mine asked me to start putting my writing up here. Thanks for reading. Hope that was more interesting than my cat and drawing lessons.

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