Flash Fiction piece:
“Do you not see our daughter?” Marianne wailed. “How pale she is?” The one in question flinched, and yet did not move at all.
“You must not look at her,” Julian was saying to Edgar, and to Quinn, and to Marianne. To anyone who would listen. “You must not look at her.” But Quinn did. And when he looked at her, he saw brambles and thorned bushes and a fir that had been over watered. Died before it fully grew. Clouds forever out of reach inside those grey-blue eyes, sinking further from the horizon line. He saw angles degrees colder than they should have been, and that snow-tipped skin was clouded glass, but his hands were too big and clumsy to hold her. He couldn’t.
In the cage that her body now was, how was it that her soul could have slipped away? And it hadn’t told him. Even though she’d promised to do so—always.
“Who did it? Who did this to her?” Edgar demanded, stepping up towards the low-set bed as though to a podium. Quinn’s feet shuffled unnoticeably closer to the patient, Stasi, almost as though he could protect her. His arm twinged in a protest that he hardly registered. Edgar’s question was burning him already, just as the anger the Councilman was carrying on those broad shoulders was; Quinn could feel the condemnation before it had begun. He glanced at Stasi just in case her mangled feathers felt the heat too. Grew singed at the perfect edges.
Then she would certainly never fly again.
“Who!?” Edgar demanded again, chest puffing up to emphasise his clear anger. Quinn looked squarely into the older man’s rapid, knowing eyes, which had fallen upon his own, and that was all he had to do; he was on the floor before he registered the back of the Councilman’s hand meet his cheek.
“You!” Edgar growled, edging closer to Quinn’s crumpled form. It inched further from the certain steps of the Councilman’s shoes against threadbare rug and stone. “Of course!” There was a bull in Quinn’s heart when he wheezed out in protest at the swift kick to his stomach and looked up. Marianne was twitching, watching Edgar as though bewitched, for her eyes could not stray from him. Her husband was the same, though his eyes were drawn to his daughter. And he’d continued to mutter the same thing, over and over again.
“You must not look at her.”
Quinn still did. Caught sight of Stasi’s still fingers between the legs of the Councilman as he approached, and he hung on for his dear’s life.
“I should have known it would be you.” Edgar knelt to face Quinn. “What have you done? What did you do?”
Spittle flew from his lips as he snarled out the words. No one spoke. Nobody moved, in fact, barring the tremor that would not leave Quinn’s bones. “Do you understand? Do you understand what your childish ‘Love’ has done? Your disobedience? There was a reason for what we had done-”
“And for what we did too,” Quinn replied through the liquid iron leaking from his punctured lip. “She did not want to be a sacrifice-”
Again Quinn was slapped, and anger bled from the corner of his mouth, leaving crimson stains on the floor.
“It is an honour,” Edgar hissed. “But of course, you would never understand such a thing.”
And maybe it was an honour- but it wasn’t one that Statsi had asked for. If it was what they were so convinced it was, they why not allow whoever wished to volunteer?
Quinn wanted to apologise—honestly, he did. But Edgar may have mistaken it for an apology for what they had done, and that was something Quinn was not sorry for at all. Neither was Statsi.
She was the reason he wished he could apologise. Neither of them had planned for this. If Edgar was not in the room, he would have. Profusely. Over and over again to Julian and Marianna.
We hadn’t planned for this.
Edgar stood up.
“I-I’m not leaving until Statsi wakes up.”
“Wakes up?” Edgar coughed out a harsh and humourless laugh that had Julian and his wife flinching away. “She may never wake up again. But you know what is certain?” Quinn shook his head, disbelieving, tears beginning to brim and leak over. “You will never see her again.”
“No,” the boy whispered.
“I tried with you,” Edgar continued. “I gave you everything, and received nothing but ungrateful stupidity. Never. You aren’t welcome here anymore, Quentin, and I no longer consider you my son.”
“No!” Quinn fought to rise up, fighting past the pain in his ribs, his arm, and the fury in Edgar’s glare.
“Guards!” Edgar shouted as he intercepted his son reaching for his best friend and first love. Marianne began to wail—softly at first, but then the sound increased, a woeful song, as Quinn struggled still. He grabbed a hold of Statsi’s hand too, finally, and screamed out her name as something came in contact with the back of his head.
Je ne sais pas.