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She was truly pathetic. I watched as she staggered up the walk, it was amazing how with the loss of one person, she’d become such a wreck. She was like a flower taken out of its water, beautiful, but with time running out. Her skin had turned a sickly pale; I could see her bones shifting through her skin. She was practically emaciated.
And she was the one I was supposed to watch out for. She could barely walk ten feet on her own.
I shift in the branches of the oak I’ve shrouded myself beneath to get a better view as she approaches the door. A few of the leaves rustle and plunge towards the ground. I cringe, and she turns around, fear in her eyes. Maybe she wasn’t so hopeless.
Her brittle fingers tapped against the door, so discreetly I could barely hear them, even with my enhanced hearing. She’s about to knock again when he answers. The man’s eyes widen as he realizes who it is.
It’s true. We killed his partner and his old affections from their childhood had returned. Now he was every bit in love with her as he had been. Oblivious as always she didn’t seem to notice that fact.
“A-April why are you here?” He says, his voice rugged, and mixed with disbelief and astonishment. April flashes a shy smile towards him, and I struggle to hear her next words.
“I’ve come to ask a favor, Ethan.” Her voice cracks, shaky, but yet through it all her deep fried drawl was able to be heard. She pauses but continues on.
“Ethan, I need you to watch over her. We were still down in Carolina, but they found her, and I can’t take care of her anymore. I’m so weak now Ethan, it’s hard to get up in the mornings, let alone take care of a child.” April finishes staring at her feet, and Ethan watches this carefully, judging the weight of his words before he speaks.
“Do you realize what you’re asking of me April? I can barely keep my own son alive by myself, if she’s around, he’ll be dead in a couple weeks.” He explains tentatively, and gently reaches for her; lifting her chin so he can look her, I can see the tears well up in her eyes. I found myself rolling my eyes; pitiful.
“Just until I’ve passed Ethan, then you can do whatever the hell you want.” She snaps back, her desperation turned to anger. April smacks his hand away from her and glares up at him. She’s so tiny! He must be a foot and a half bigger than her. Practically the size of a child; I stifled a laugh, I slumped back in the tree branches, allowing the cold to seep in from behind, I was lucky to find a tree with all its leaves still on in early November. This fight was going to be rather easy.
I watch intently again as April starts the walk back to her car, where I’d guess her daughter is waiting patiently. I doubt April could drive in her condition.
“April wait,” He calls out after her and she turns around, so predictable. We are always ahead of them, maybe only by a few steps, but still ahead all the same. “Just until she finds her group. Ok? I’ll make sure nothing happens to her until then, you have my word.” He finishes, and they both stand quiet in the awkward silence.
“They killed her you know.” Ethan says resentfully, and I feel a smile creep up onto my face. That was my first task, it backfired, and never really harmed the boy, but it crushed his father.
“I’m so sorry.” April whispers sympathetically, they both suffered the loss of their other half, their souls were ripped in half and this is what became of them. A shadow of what the greatness that once was. For a second I almost feel sorry too, but then I remember my father. Just because he had a child didn’t stop them. And it wasn’t going to stop me.
She heads back to the rusty old truck she pulled up in. Just as I expected the girl is sitting in the driver’s seat, her hair pulled back in a ponytail, a poor attempt to calm her wild hair. Barbaric.
My skin begins to tingle as she turns and looks straight at me, she can’t possibly see me. The girl shakes her head and stares back out the front windshield, looking bored.
April opens the door to the truck, struggling to pull herself up that high. The daughter sighs and pulls her up. Her voice manages to rasp out a thank you. As the truck pulls away I check the license plate, South Carolina, it’s a Ford.
After a long while, Ethan closes the door; I wait a few minutes then jump down from the oak tree. I land without a sound and start the journey back, stifling laughter, never underestimate your opponent. But how could I not when my enemy didn’t even know of our rivalry? It was as if I was fighting a crippled blind. Not even a fight. And I always win. Effortlessly of course.