Siren’s mindset on the matter was that she was a girl. There was no way she could cause us any real pain at all. Therefore, she could hit us all she wanted. We were a guy and we could really hurt her, so if we touched her in anger at all, she was outraged.
Five times she hit me. Once Guardian. He assumed he deserved it. By this time his self-esteem was so low that he decided this was just his life now and he handled it. He had lost Bekah twice now and he just didn’t care anymore. Once was Shadow. He grabbed her by the forearms, shoved her to a bed, and tossed her onto it. Out rushed Siren’s outrage, and it ended with Shadow running away and Guardian coming out confused but knowing he had hurt her physically and hating himself for it. Then Servant. He didn’t even blink. He was used to the women in his life hitting him, so he just nodded, apologized, then tried to make whatever wrong he had committed right. Once again, she hit Shadow and he screamed at her. He threw her out of Job’s house and locked the door. That was when they broke up officially, but she would stay with us unofficially for some time.
When we told Steven she was hitting us, he jumped at it. “A woman hitting a man is inexcusable,” Steven said.
“She can’t hurt me. She is not that strong,” Shadow said.
“The psychological damage she does when she hits you is worse than any physical pain she could cause you.” He leaned forward. I had been with him enough to know this meant shut up and listen. “No one, no one in this world has the right to hit you. If they do, if any person, male or female chooses to hit you or lay a finger on you in anger, you have every right to hit them back. No matter who they are. No matter how strong or weak. No one has the right to hit you.”
We made up, and she rejoined my life as a friend. We looked in every way like we were a couple but I told her that next day, “I can’t be in a relationship. I am too messed up and I need to concentrate on getting myself back together. We can be friends. But that is as far as it can go.” As the years moved on, I told her on numerous occasions to get away from me, to start a life without me and that if she stayed with me, she was going to get hurt.
It was a few days into our friendship when she came at me again. Servant had said something. He was in bed and was talking, had told her some hard truth she didn’t like, and she hit us again.
Well, she tried to.
Assassin answered that call. He gripped her wrists and glared at her. He shoved her back, and she looked at him and shouted, “How dare you?” She shook her head. “I will not be in an abusive relationship.”
Assassin leaned forward and smiled. “If you ever hit me again, I will slit your throat.”
She stared dumbfounded.
“I will do it. Steven said no more hitting. If a girl hits me, no matter if she can do real damage to me or not, she can harm me emotionally. So, let’s just say from now on that if you hit me, I slit your fucking throat.”
She stood up and walked away. The next day she came back. Assassin was kind of wondering if she ever would.
See, he was like that. He didn’t care. He had death in his hands and he was comfortable with it. His dead eyes and his cold demeanor made a monster of him, but he was not a real monster. He never used the considerable amount of power at his command. He kept it all in check, waiting for the day when he would be in front of Char again.
One night we were sleeping, and Bekah knocked at the front door. No one answered. She went around back and let herself in the back door.
The house was dark. Pitch black, and she made her way through the rooms by memory and the slight glow of the cloudy night sky faded through the windows. She came to our room and stepped in.
Assassin pulled the knife he kept under his pillow. It was huge, but terribly off balance. He gripped it and waited for her to get closer. When she was almost directly above us, he rose.
Assassin never rolled out of bed. He rose. He seemed to defy gravity with the way he moved. He was on his feet with his knife in hand before he saw her. She froze. Assassin slipped the blade behind his back.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “You startled me.”
She laughed, never once showing any real sign of fear. “One of these days I will learn to stop sneaking up on you.” She stepped back and showed her hands. “I have nothing and I will do you no harm. I just came to see if you wanted to hang out.”
And hang out they did. She had a soothing effect on him. Her laugh made the hate he felt within himself feel silly. When she was laughing, his hate seemed like an unneeded part of his life. As if it was a relic of a bygone era. He watched her carefully. And he tried to figure out how she did that. How did she make him almost embarrassed to hate anyone at all? Like he had come to the dance in jeans and all the other guys were wearing dress pants.
It started to become a pattern that on therapy days Siren would drop us off at the clinic and Bekah would pick us up after. She always had a can of Dr. Pepper with her and we would go to her house to let me cool off.
Assassin would drink his soda, then crush the entire can with his left hand alone. Then we would talk. She would give us her room if we needed time alone. And we would take our time getting ready to see the world again.
This was the first one of these when he sat at her tiny kitchen table watching her cooking a box of Rice-a-Roni. I know, gross right? Anyway, she was cooking and he was looking at the table when he asked her about her life and her future.
“Where are you going?” he said. “With your ability and education, you can go anywhere or do anything. What does your future look like?”
“Well, I have the agency. They let me part time there while I was in school and hired me the moment I graduated.” She looked at the pan and her eyes got wide. She seemed unable to say the next part.
“Why did you stay in Springfield? I’m sure you had other options and you could have gone anywhere. You have family in Waynesville, but your parents and sisters aren’t here. Why did you stay? We weren’t even friends or in each other’s lives when you graduated.”
“I thought about leaving, but I didn’t want to run away from my problems. I didn’t want to run away from you. And—” She stirred as she looked at the pan and shook her head. She fought with herself for a long time before Assassin looked down at the table unable to face her.
He knew what was coming. He just didn’t know how to handle it.
“I still can’t see a future for me without you in it,” she said. “Until I can, I don’t want to run from you.”
And that was it. Light had entered the darkness. Assassin’s black heart had just a ray of pure light shined onto it. He stared at the table and nodded.
See, we couldn’t see a life without her either. The situation of our break up in 2001 was beyond his control, beyond anyone’s control. Now he was looking at her still loving him and being strong enough to say it.
This was the conversation that would pull Assassin out of the pit. This would pull him away from the death he had in mind and light him with a new possibility. He knew that he would one day murder Char.
But what if he didn’t have to?
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 2: Normal Street.