“My old friend, how have you been?” he asked me.
I shrugged. “I saved a fae. That’s about it.”
We laughed. Charly took my hand and kissed my fingers. He was always a sweet gentleman. “And how goes the world?”
I smiled at the kindness, but shook my head at the question. “The world is a mess,” I replied. “It’s different and devolving, but what can you do? They’re just mere mortals.” He nodded in agreement. “Besides, I’m more interested in how you have been. How are things here?”
He drank his tea the same as he has always taken it, a lot of grey with a bit of Earl, just a sprinkle of a fingernail or a hair to add flavor to the cup. “You’ve been gone a long while,” Charly said to me. “It’s been quiet. There hasn’t been much that has changed.”
“I think it’s good not much has changed.” I drank my tea, sweetened with a bit of honey. I didn’t drink tea like how I used to. Everything tasted better sweeter. “Even I haven’t changed that much. I’m still running away from things.”
We laughed and he shook his head. “Is it always so hard for you?” he asked me. “You deserve some bit of happiness in your life.”
“I’m working on it,” I replied. “I’m just impatient for things to get to where I want it to be. It’ll get there, eventually. The hardest things are the kinks,” I told him. He leaned in to listen. “There’s just a bit of annoyance.”
“What annoyance?” he asked. “It’s hard to imagine things irking you.”
I laughed. “Try becoming human. Everything is an annoyance then.” He chuckled. I wasn’t sure if he was ever human. From the moment I met him, he had never been to that world. “I think I’m stuck,” I began again. “It’s like a loop that keeps playing over and over again.”
“Tell me more,” Charly inquired.
He nodded. “How could I forget?” he asked me. “She’s still married to our best friend.”
“Yes, him.” I paused for a moment. “When they met, the three of us were dark and corrupted, terrible and horrid in our ways.” Charly grinned. He knew exactly how we were. We weren’t kind by any means. We killed and plundered and did such evil things, it was a wonder as to why we all were able to retire quite peacefully and safely in this world. “Well, when Demonico met Anna, she was sweet and innocent and unblemished. A spoiled princess she was. He was smitten from the moment he met her and he wooed her with words I’ve never heard from him ever.”
“Are you still upset about that?” His cheery brows twisted with concern.
I smiled and shook my head. “It was long ago. I’ve long moved past that now.” He nodded and I continued. “Well, the annoyance was exactly that and them and how it just replays even now. Must we all be sweet and innocent and unblemished to be protected? Sometimes I yearn for that, just someone to say they’d save me, even if I never required rescuing. It’s just the comfort of being loved enough that someone would that makes it good to hear.”
“I would save you,” Charly said.
“You did,” I replied. “And I thank you for it.”
He gave me a smile and I smiled back. He saved me long ago when my home was burned to the ground. There was nothing left but ashes and a trail of slime which led into the waters, back to from where they came out of the deep. They were beautiful with their jellied bodies and flashing blue and red lights, bio luminescent in the darkness of the night. I should’ve said something. I should’ve warned someone. I was a helpless brain dead fool who couldn’t remember herself, let alone the generations she lived in that small coastal town where everyone she grew to love grew old and died, leaving her behind.
“Anyhow, it’s different this time. The annoyances aren’t much now, only sometimes when my mind becomes frantic with frustrations and fears. I will wait to hear him say the things I want to hear when he’s ready, when he means it, and when it comes from him and from his heart. It might actually work this time, this happiness thing that eludes me so much. I might have it and I hope I do.”
“I hope you do too,” Charly told me. His expression was the same, a bit soft and sharp at the same time, but he was happy for me. “I am glad it is working out.”
I nodded. “It is working.” I was happy about it working too. Another thought came to mind. “About the fae,” I said. “She is mine. I don’t think any harm would come to her and she should very well stay out of trouble, but the moment something happens, please give me a call. I am keeping one here following her in twilight, but you know how faes are. She understands that the moment she disobeys, she will be under lock and key and a prisoner. I doubt she wants that as faes love their freedom all too much, even if it’s only an illusion.”
“There hasn’t been any accidents,” he assured me. “Mayfel will be fine.”
“And if you ever need gold, you know where I stash mine.”
He laughed. Charly didn’t need gold, ever. We all retired handsomely with enough to last us until the end of the world and beyond. “Thanks,” he answered with a smile. He paused for a moment. “Must you go so soon?”
I nodded. “If I stay longer, you know what will happen.”
“You eat the food in my fridge?” He grinned and I laughed.
“Yes! But no, really. My mind will drift and I wouldn’t be able to hold consciousness in the other place.”
“So lose consciousness,” Charly said to me. “It’s okay for you to relax a little.”
“You don’t know my life,” I replied. “Relaxing is an understatement. Losing consciousness is an understatement.” I laughed. “I have to go. There are many, many things I should do that I’m not doing. There are things I need to find again, old gods I need to be friends again with and so forth.”
“Old gods?” He wasn’t sure if I meant what he thought I meant or if I meant something else entirely. The latter was the correct one.
“The ones that can’t kill us,” I told him. “We let them be what they are. They don’t know what we are and I like it that way.”
He nodded in agreement. There was something freeing about not being noticed. “I’m sorry about not being there for you,” he told me.
I smiled and shook my head. “It’s past,” I said. “We already spoke of it.”
“I didn’t hear you.” He felt pained.
“I know,” I comforted him. “I don’t hold it against you. When I died, I didn’t die, I simply faded into the ether. He thought I died. Silly old gods and all.”
“I’m sorry you were alone.”
“Don’t be.” I got up and walked over and hugged him. “I was lonely then. I wasn’t alone.”
I despaired at the time. I was foolish and hurt at the time. I was suicidal at the time. But nothing happened. I died. He believed I died. And I sat there watching him turn back to his millions of constructs and all his human subjects whose potential apparently was greater than mine. I was glad he didn’t see me cry. I don’t remember how long I was crying. Through blurry eyes, there was a hand and I reached out for it. The man with the green eyes. He came to me when no other heard my cries.
“I’m not losing consciousness anymore,” I informed Charly with a laugh.
“Does that mean I’ll get to keep you longer?” he asked with a smile.
I shook my head. “No, it just means I have other things to do. I’ll see you soon.”
“Come again, Chao,” Charly said to me. I nodded and made a mental note to come again soonish.