Life by planet p
Disclaimer I don't own the Pretender or any of its characters.
She stops remembering.
She is bored of study.
She remembers study. This is life and it sucks.
"Come to me," Raines says, appearing in the corridor from a joining corridor.
She approaches cautiously, without haste, and pauses before Raines.
He kneels and places his hands on her face.
She tries not to look at him as he does this.
"Very good," he says, standing now. He places a hand on her hair, but she is unsure why.
"When will I fall in love?"
Raines looks up from the file he is reading, standing leant in the doorway to a cramped storage room.
"When will I fall in love?" she says again.
"Next year, mermaid, I promise," he says.
They lie together. She watches him, he not seeing her. She is facing him. He touches her arm, the soft underside from her wrist to her elbow joint with his fingers. He tells her about his wife. He tells her that she loved him. He's been drinking, and smells of cigarettes. His eyes don't see anything at all. The blue in them reminds her of tropical fish next to the redness of his eyes. She's thirteen and he's drunk.
If truth be told, she is worried. But she can't place her finger on it right now. She is not worried of him, but for him. All of his drinking and smoking can't be good for him, and there are always the rumors.
She has heard that some people become violent or abusive when they drink, but she is not scared of him hitting her, or touching her. He is too drunk for that.
She ponders asking him to tell her his name, but she is tired, not cruel. She closes her eyes. He is already asleep.
It's a Tuesday; the second Tuesday of the month. January, and her fourteenth birthday. She eats fruitcake because Raines says it was marked down after Christmas.
She feels silly and awkward in the woolen jumper with the pattern of alpacas across the front. Raines says that it was his daughter's but she outgrew it. She hates it, but she's wearing the stupid thing, isn't she?
Angelo is sixteen and she likes to look at him and imagine he is kissing her. She wants a boy to make her feel good. She is not a baby anymore.
She wonders if the boy is ill, if he is alright. She walks up to him and watches him. He doesn't look right so she tries to touch his arm, as though she thinks that this will change this.
He smacks her into the wall and her arm hurts behind her back. "Don't touch me!" he tells her.
"Are you alright?" she says, without knowing why.
He watches her. She doesn't look away. "No," he says.
She is sixteen. She has to change into a stuffy uniform because she is going to school. She doesn't want to leave. She tries to say something.
Raines's hands are shaking because he has to drive and it is against the road rules to drink and drive.
They stop at a roadhouse on some road, just some road, she doesn't want to know the name. Later, she will make herself forget.
It is too hot.
She buys him cigarettes and they drive with the windows open. He doesn't stop her when she takes a cigarette. He's watching the road.
She steps up close to him and is holding his hand in hers, and then he is gone. She doesn't want to turn around. She wants to go back home.
She writes Angelo but she receives no reply and she's not sure if he gets her letters. Still she writes. Someone will be reading them, someone will miss them when they stop.
Ten years have passed since she has died. She thinks about Jarod and Miss Parker and smiles because she is not paying attention in class, instead she is thinking about Angelo kissing her.
It is time for her to attend university. She smiles when she imagines failing because then she can go home and Angelo can kiss her for real, if she told him to. She is sure that he would.
She comes across the boy that is not alright and he tells her that he is studying computer science.
She nods and sips the coffee that he is paying for. She plans to become a psychiatrist.
He laughs. "Good luck," he says. And then he says, "If you're ever having any trouble," but does not finish the sentence.
She doesn't need him too. She smiles.
"Don't do that," he says. "I might kill you."
She laughs, but stops, realizing that it was not said to be funny.
He smiles, but she doesn't believe it.
She doesn't feel exactly sure, exactly safe, but she doesn't dislike the feeling.
She reads about the investigation in the papers but it doesn't bother her. It is on the television and she doesn't turn away.
She is twenty-one now.
She is angry at Sydney. She knows who Sydney is and she is angry at him. She knows what he did.
She lights a cigarette and takes a puff, sick of the air in her lungs, sick of it touching her inside the way Angelo doesn't.
"That's disgusting," a young man says.
She stares at her cigarette, on the pavement. She turns a nasty look on the young man and realizes that they know each other. "I thought you'd be fried for sure," she says honestly.
"Thanks," he replies. He laughs. "Nah," he says.
"Liar," she mutters. She is not sure if the young man heard. She supposes he didn't. She is alive, isn't she?
She lights up another cigarette.
"What do you want to do that for anyway?" he says.
He is asking her? She peers back at him. "Oh fuck off!" she says.
She thinks vaguely that it would be nice if he held her just once, just to know what it felt like. "Hold me," she says.
He fixes her with a look. "Oh fuck off!"
She laughs blandly, and passes the cigarette.
This time he laughs. He regards her momentarily. She thinks that he is going to tell her that he did it, same as he told all those others. He kisses her head.
She watches him walk away. She waits until he is safely disappeared from sight, smokes her cigarette. "You're not right," she says to no one, a hint of teasing hidden underneath all of that drab voice.
She is older now. Some might say grown up. She knows many things now that she did not then.
She is unnecessarily and infectiously morbid. She watches everything. That is the way others see her.
She doesn't know if she can talk to Raines now. He is different. Africa has changed him, and she's too afraid to strike out, to dig, to ask questions. She wishes she could do it, for him, but she is afraid.
The elevator has come. She has heard stories about this elevator. She steps inside all the same.