• Pearls strung on the dead house cat • Leaving the suburbs and the wraiths at last • The writer and the plagiarist • Closet of furs • Carrion birds circling • Twelve Labors of Hercules • The ruins after summer
It was a rolling November night with the black scent of rain
carried in on the thick breeze, hints of the coming chill manifesting as slight
shivers and trees devoid of even the memory of leaves. This would be the night that the plan would be
drawn up, in a diffuse haze we would only know about because of the deeply
detailed pdf we had emailed to ourselves.
Kat approached the two of us first. She was holding a cup of
tequila in her hand, but the intactness of her lipstick and purposefulness of
her steps led me to believe she was entirely sober. On her throat was a small
red gemstone that appeared to be garnet, but upon closer examination was
carnelian. We would later learn she never took it off, but not why
“Evelyn, right? And Laurel.” she didn’t call me Laurel, but
we’ll pretend she did for the sake of coherency and continuity. Either way, she
spoke with a soft cadence like a gently falling star, or the last snow of May,
melting mere hours after touching ground. She was objectively beautiful, but
despite the innocence she commanded, she didn’t look delicate, just the last
remnant of sobriety at the party of some shitty high school football player we
never learned the name of.
I sighed, pulling the tequila from her hand and choking a
few mouthfuls down my already burning throat. “Kat. So good to see you.” Evelyn
pulled her down onto the cool concrete next to us, scraping her hand in the
process. Truthfully, we had never spoken to Kat before, but that was more a result
of our inability to form friendships and less about her as a person. She was
here, though, and we looked more approachable than normal I suppose, so we went
along with it.
I pulled a bottle of whiskey off a giggly freshman and
turned to her. “Now this, this is proper alcohol. Drink.” She listened, as I’d
hoped she would. People underestimated girls like her. She was clad in pastels
but she had a deliberateness about her that whispered of more than gentle dove
beneath the surface. She coughed as it hit her system, but drank more
immediately after the shock subsided.
The flashing of her eyes was enough to communicate that this
was a challenge. The three of us drank in a half weaponized silence until the
bottles lay empty. Evelyn won, but she was always doing things like that. You
got used to it. She was a good friend but she took mortality as a personal
insult, and often I was surprised she hadn’t been taken by Hades yet.
Yet it was not her that he had chosen to mark.
We dragged Kat to the dock on the far side of the nearest
lake, stumbling ever so slightly with each step, whispering things that there
weren’t supposed to be words for. She was the first to really speak though.
She held one of our wrists in each hand. “Rome is beautiful,”
she nodded solemnly at this, “And you will love it.” There was a certainty that
edged her words, a promise. We asked her to clarify.
We had always wanted to leave, but we weren’t about to
destroy every line we’d drawn without good reason.
“We make boys fall in love with each of us. It’s called a
diversion. Then one night, we leave. We fly to Rome and we never look back and
we keep running. Evelyn. Laurel. This town is too small. We will get out,
leaving only our bite marks like wolf teeth on this place that never moves. It
will be called the bloodletting.”
With slurred speech she begged us to help her escape. She
was desperately afraid of growing up in a town that was hollow and still. We
were the first to listen.
We said yes.
It was November and August was already glittering cruelly in
our drunken minds.