Playing around with a new story setting, possibly a new voice as well. Comments are always appreciated.
I saw her again.
I saw the Witch. She was squatting under the old ATM spot on Fifth and Mill. Her long hair, even longer and blacker than I’ve ever seen it before. She was filthy, and it went deeper than simple street crud. She sat, without looking at anyone, singing. I watched as a person dropped a phys-cred into a battered tin cup that lay on the sidewalk between her feet.
I felt compelled to do something. She used to be a friend, no she was more than that. Now though, we moved in completely different worlds. She had her visions, her family’s curse; I had computers, electronics and a steady job.
I’m not sure those compare. But we did go in separate ways, each having their own needs, desires, and vision of how the world worked. I struggled to finish school, she fought not to go crazy. Even in our parting both of us knew we would enter each other’s lives again when it was needed.
“Hey, you eaten today.”
“No” slurred out from under that greasy hair. The cup rattled and she glared at it.
Gasps and a few catcalls erupted from some of the college students and assorted hipsters too rich for a real job, to young to play at Dad’s. I pulled the witch to her feet, and with a hand around that once shapely waist pulled her into a Jack in the Box. Closest thing with mostly real food anyways.
A Dr. Pepper for me; a water, an iced tea, and an egg sandwich for her later, we were seated in a booth. Without a word those spindly fingers had the sandwich top under that hair and I could hear her eating it. Fast food for a girl that used to only eat all organic, local stuff. Times obviously changed as I watched her pour the last three pieces of Kibble out of a dirty handout bag, expired at that. What a great humanitarian program that turned out to be.
“Thank” she was stumbling for words. “You.” A combat boot started to caress the back of my shin. “Repay?”
Shuddering, “No!” I pulled my legs back to emphasize the point. Though I wondered if she recalled when that was all we wanted from each other.
She recoiled like she had been shot, hands wrapped under her clothes, face hidden even deeper under that veil of hair, and she was very, very still. I dug out a spare credchip, old habits die hard, and passed it to her.
“Look, I didn’t do this cause I want anything from you. But if you take that, you need to spend it on food or water for yourself. Ok?”
A slight spark told me it was time to go. “Take it, there is enough to get you into a home or shelter for a while.” Standing I grabbed my now empty cup. A hand had re-emerged onto the table.
“How – can I – repay you?” the food, and actual human interaction was already doing her some good.
I knew there would be hell to pay but I did it anyways, I leaned in close before nearly whispering my reply. “You already did, long ago.” she stiffened as I straightened to the smell of toasted skin. A glance confirmed I was going to have to replace another watch.
She grabbed me as I turned away. “Don’t go, please don’t.”
“I have to go to work, but I will find you later if you want.” I had no plans tonight other than being bored with the latest war coverage from the UK and maybe some football.
“Yes, very much so.” She tossed her hair back to look at me. She looked at me with those eyes of hers, one blue, one green the stuff of legend, of dreams. At first there was no recognition in them.
Smiling, “eat it all, drink it all. I will find you later just keep that on you.”
I was a few paces from the table when I felt recognition hit her, less than a breath later it hit me too. She had left from the table to embrace me from behind. “Thank you, Michael.”
She released me and I made it out the door before everything in my left eye turned a dull gray leaving the slight smell of ozone and more burnt flesh.