I cried... she cried... but we survived the very first day of play school for my youngest. She had more fun than I did and an hour later is still raving about the light-up bouncy balls in the gym, but I have no words for how amazing it is to have a shower without the low-level panic of what's going on when I can't hear what's going on. It's been seven years since I've showered without that panic, and it's a glorious experience. Not as cool as light-up bouncy balls, but still. *Hygiene* Lol
As for writing, this whole week has been recovering normal life from the hot water tank episode and I haven't been able to get to anything. Plus it snowed, which means my everything hurt from the weather changing to cold and that stole about 90% of my spoons for getting through each day. Add sick kids and... yeah. High hopes for next week now that the basement is dry and school routines are set up and ready to use. Besides, I have two new novels that are sitting in early editing that I need to get just a bit more progress on so that I can start advertising for them. You know, get out the teasers just like this previous sentence. :) Hope you have a good weekend!
4. Place, Time
He showed her how wide the catwalk was as he told her about his walk to get from where he’d woken up to where she was. Going over what he knew gave him enough time to figure out how to get her up there with him, which was just a matter of trusting his jacket to be sewn well enough to support her weight and getting his footing and balance right so that he didn’t have to use his hands for anything except pulling her up. The hug she grappled around his waist once they were on the same elevation was the most genuine affection he’d ever felt in a single gesture and, just like that, he hugged her back. He couldn’t remember ever in his life hugging someone and really meaning it in place of words. If he’d been breathing, the emotion would’ve sucked the air right out of him.
Suddenly falling into an unknown was terrifying because if he fell, this scared kid would be stuck up here on a catwalk that she couldn’t see. The way the two cops always came to his tournaments and cheered for him suddenly made sense, too. He’d thought they were being nice, or being paid, but they were being what he now needed to be: that adult who looks out for someone else’s kid.
Nish’s brain would’ve broke to know about this moment happening inside Liam’s head.
Liam gave Kaylynd the dos and don’ts of being up here, the safety briefing that every rookie got (or damn well should get, in Liam’s opinion) before running parkour on any course they weren’t familiar with. Her fingers locked around his belt at the back because he needed both hands to be able to follow the catwalk, and then they started slowly making their way in the direction of what he was considering forward.
Around the same amount of time passed between when he’d gotten out of his bowl and first seen Kaylynd when his brain started expecting to see another spec. The grey nothing continued indefinitely. They kept walking, stopping to stretch out sore muscles whenever they needed to, and still there was just the catwalk and more grey nothing. The not needing to breathe came with the added bonuses of not needing to eat, sleep, or use the bathroom, so they just kept going.
By the time he’d lost count of how many stops they’d made, he knew she was ten and a half, everything in her life that had occurred from birth to death (she’d drowned at a lake by her house when she was swimming with friends after school), and every moment of pre-teen drama that had happened during this school year for her. He was pretty sure she’d drowned because she was trying to talk to the fish about Macy, who she hated and was also who her teacher, Mr. Cameron, had made her sit beside in school because she and Macy had been friends last month except now they weren’t because they both liked Ricky and… Liam shook his head and felt a smile pull at the corner of his mouth. Kaylynd was a good kid, and he could tell she was going to be missed by a lot of people. Probably the cops who came to his tournaments would be the only ones who bothered to come to his funeral.
Kids like Kaylynd, though, they were a tragic loss. She had a kid brother and a baby sister that were good kids and whom she obviously adored (even though they were both so annoying), and parents who were good parents (even if her mom did still treat her like she was only nine instead of her actual, and much more mature, ten and a half). Kids like Kaylynd deserved a nice funeral and some kind of life after death that wasn’t being stuck in some monochrome eternity of nothing. She was supposed to have green fields and angels and pretty stuff like that.
The consistent babbling paused as he started getting ready to get moving again. When he glanced over his shoulder because she didn’t grab onto his belt by familiar habit like she had been doing, she was looking the other way and chewing on her fingernails. Instead of reaching for his belt, she reached out without looking and tucked her fingers into his hand.
“This is how much time passes before they turn off the grey,” she stated quietly around the fingernails she was chewing down to nubs, eyes wide and looking everywhere as she squeezed his hand tighter and shifted so she was tucked against his arm.
“How about we wait here until we know if it’s going to happen or not?” he asked. She shook her head, biting faster before noticing that the fingernail was down to bleeding and then cringing because her mom was going to be mad at her again for wrecking her hands.
“I heard growling the first time,” she whispered.
“Then we should get moving so we’re further away,” he said. She nodded, putting on a brave smile because she believed the confidence he was wearing, and when he turned back to grab onto the edge of the catwalk her fingers wrapped around his belt and held on tight. He’d been trying to not put a lot of thought into the other time she said the cycle had happened. He had enough monsters in his memories for his imagination to draw from, so learning that she’d heard growling worth being afraid of didn’t help with keeping the memories safely behind the bars of the coping strategies the counselors had given him.
The roar from a great distance away that ended their next break also didn’t help.
He started off faster this time. There was no way of knowing where they were going, but at least it was a direction away from whatever had growled when it got here and was now roaring. He felt his stomach drop when a new spec appeared in the distance, and then fear twisted his stomach into a cold knot that tightened right up into his throat as he realized what that spec in front of them was. Kaylynd’s grip cinching tighter on his belt at the next roar behind them – which wasn’t as distant as before – pushed him forward, shaking and sweating, toward the door that had started everything wrong with his childhood.
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