And so it begins.
Let Me Count the Ways
Egan pursed her lips and leaned into the thick cushioned back of the couch. Here was a chance to make him squirm a little. It’d be nice to see if he could be anything other than a polite cyborg. She wondered if there was a real wild man somewhere in his head, waiting for his opportunity to escape and take over. Somehow, she couldn’t see it. But just in case, she’d have to make this one count, definitely. And suddenly a revelation struck…A way to get it all.
“Tell me your life story.”
“That’s a demand, not a statement.” He shot back immediately.
“It applies. Tell me.”
“It doesn’t. You qualified what could be said, you clearly used the word ‘question’. That’s not a question. Try again.”
“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” God, there seemed to be an awful lot of tense silences between the two of them. Then, Gerard nodded once. Inside her head, Egan did a very childish and somewhat vulgar victory dance whilst mentally yelling I WIN! Both the dancing and silent shouting stopped when Gerard began to speak.
“Where would you like me to begin?”
“At the beginning.”
“Your life, I suppose.”
“What would you like to know?”
“Jesus H. Christ! Just tell me about the circumstances of your birth or something. Stop trying to worm out of it and be a man.”
“Well, my parents had sex—“
“—I wasn’t really there for that part, but I think it’s safe to assume it happened. Around nine months later, I made my grand entrance into the world.” And it’s all been downhill from there, he thought. Egan noticed the grimace play across his face. “What?” she asked. He ignored her, instead choosing to sit and try to stare her down. It worked; she blinked and then said in a bossy voice “Keep going.”
“I grew up in Belleville, New Jersey. Somewhere in that time my parents had my brother. I attended art school in New York after high school. I graduated and tried to pursue a career in illustration. It went alright, but before I could spend too much time in it, I became involved with the band. We had some success. And now I’m here, regaling you with tales of my existence.” He looked up at her. “Your turn.”
“Not a shot in hell,” Egan said. She was angry. “That wasn’t a life story, that was you being a fucking smart-ass. Go back and do it right.” she demanded.
“Not a shot in hell,” Gerard threw back at her. “You didn’t qualify on this one, and I did as you asked. Now it’s your turn.” Egan leveled her eyes with his, but couldn’t find any give in them. Now she had to decide whether to honor her word (Really, why should she?) or walk (Sounding better and better all the time). Then Gerard said something that made her decision for her.
Well, Egan was stunned. Truth be told, I am too, and I’m narrating.
“I’ll tell you more, if you still want to know. But I can’t tell you right now. I hope you understand.” Damn him. Oh, DAMN him to hell for saying that. Now she had to stay.
“Fine” she said, even though of course, it was not fine. She had been manipulated. She had been killed with kindness. “Fuck you.” she mumbled under her breath.
“Thank you.” He smirked at her. Stupid, robotic, polite, manipulative, pale freaking half Italian cyborg with sonic bat-hearing. Egan cleared her throat.
“Well, I too was born, Gerard—“
“Now who’s being the smart ass?”
“But unlike you, I was born in lovely Nashville, Tennessee.” She continued as if he had not spoken. “Some unfortunate circumstances occurred—“
“Shut up. And because of these circumstances I left Nashville when I was 14. I came to New York and through no fault of my own—“
“No fault of your own? You promised not to lie.”
“Shut up. Through a small amount of fault on my part, I became involved in various nefarious activities and narcotic abuse. I went to rehab, not by choice, and after my stint there the courts ordered I participate in a program in which I live with a sponsor for one year. Apparently it helps keep you clean. I am currently enrolled in this program, again not by choice but it’s keeping me out of jail. Which brings you and I to now. You are up to speed on my life.” She considered, and then “You may now ask questions if you wish.”
He repeated his earlier question. “What unfortunate circumstances?” Shit. She didn’t wanna answer this.
“Um,” she said, looking down at her thumbnails and began counting the white spots, “My parents died.”
“How did they die?”
“Two shots to the back of the head.” Mercifully, he let that one drop. That didn’t stop him from asking other questions though.
“And you didn’t stay with relatives?”
“None of them lived in Tennessee.”
“Doesn’t mean you couldn’t have lived with them.”
“So why didn’t you live with them?” he pressed.
“I don’t know. Geez, why does it matter so damn much? Things…didn’t work out.” She didn’t want to say that they had forgotten her in the graveyard the day they had buried her parents. She tried a subject change. “Things never really do work out, you know?”
“That’s pessimistic.” Ahah! He bit. New, less painful topic ahoy!
“It’s true. I mean, have you ever noticed how many things go wrong in your life? Little things that actually make a huge difference, big things, and life or death things, things that really don’t matter that much, things that you thought were guaranteed. Life gets fucked up. A lot.”
They were silent as both counted up the ways in which things had gone horribly awry. Egan relived the conversation they’d just had. Somewhere in the span of two, maybe three sentences, they had lost their awkward standoffishness and replaced it with openness.
It felt alright. The precarious peace wouldn’t last though. She had some questions of her own.
Author’s Note: Just the basic read and review request (Alliteration! Did you catch it too?). I have heavy stuff coming next chapter. My goal is to make you cry, and I know that’s a horrible goal, but…