I pull the wine through my lips and think about what it would be like to be someone’s first taste. It’s a dry one, sharp on the tongue, bitter in the throat. Something made in Argentina, I think. Dry. Sharp. Bitter. It would be an assault to the senses for a first-timer. But for someone who’s older, who’s lived enough, that taste is a welcome massage to a jaded existence.
I enjoy another sip, close my eyes, inhale the bouquet of it. Pretend that I know anything about wine. I don’t. It might as well be blood. It looks just like it. Like Luke’s blood.
Last year, my brother was murdered. I knew it would happen a long time before it did because I’m what the dictionary calls a ‘clairvoyant’. But as it is with everything else, I take my brain with a grain of salt. Things can always change. They often do.
Nothing changed for my brother, Luke. He was stabbed to death, just as I’d seen years before. I never told him, never told anybody, what I knew. Never tried to prevent it. Hell, we were in a stupid sibling squabble over my mom’s birthday party plans when I got the news that Luke was dead.
I run my finger over the rim of the glass. There is no sound. The deep red of the wine latches into my fingerprint from where my lips rested only seconds ago. No sound. Deep red. Just like Luke.
It’s sort of similar to one of those things where someone falls and you think they will catch themselves, so you don’t reach out to help. Except, they don’t catch themselves and there you stand, empty arms outstretched, having the ability all along to prevent the mess, but you didn’t.
I didn’t catch Luke.
He used to beg me to do something about my visions.
“You can’t live like this, Libby,” he’d always say. “It’s killing you. Always helping other people out, never worrying what it’s doing to you. Why can’t you just let fate just take its course? It’s eating you alive, sis.”
“I can’t just toss away my gift,” I’d argued. “I don’t think that’s how it works, Luke.”
“‘Gift’,” Luke had scoffed. “You’re not tossing any ‘gift’, Libby. You’re freeing yourself of a curse.”
My brother wasn’t wrong. But he also didn’t realize that I wasn’t always so generous with my gift. I foresaw a lot of things that I didn’t touch. Grain of salt. Things change. I’d never seen a death in the future, so I chalked Luke’s up to a nightmare in the form of a day daze. Mind wandering to macabre things. Everyone does it.
Now I know that as a freak who can see hazily into the future, I’m not even remotely qualified to be lumped in with ‘everyone’ after all.
I drain the rest of the wine from the glass, the brunt beam from the towering streetlight above me decanting the alleyway. I settle into my own shadow, tossing the glass into a wide sewer grate. I’ll never see that glass again. No one will. It’ll probably lose itself in whatever current it ends up in.
The glass is a metaphor for me.
I’m going to grant Luke’s wish. I’ll go far away from everything, from everyone. Visions can’t hurt as much when you’re alone, with no one left to love. And I’ll figure out how to unchain myself from my curse. I will. I’ll float along into an endless evening, embracing riptides of all sizes, spates of all directions, to send me where I need to go. I’ll disappear just like that wine glass.
I peer over the top of the peeling green paint, careful not to clutch onto the edge of the dumpster. Nothing has changed. Nothing has moved. I glance at my watch. It’s a quarter past four a.m. I’ve been curled behind this dumpster for five hours now. I drag a long inhale of the cold night air into my lungs through a clenched jaw, and I slowly sit back behind the dumpster, hidden from sight again. I close my eyes, count backwards, steady my body, steady my mind.
You got your wish, Luke. I’m going to get rid of the curse. But I can’t just yet. There’s something I have to do before I fade into the world. I open my eyes and look down at my watch again. It won’t be much longer now that I’ll have to wait.
Half an hour later, there is a new illumination into the inky sky. I stand up from my post and move in small beats against the crumbling brick sidings lining the dank alleyway. I stop just under the new haze of light coming from a second-story window. I stand completely still outside the exit door the window’s apartment leads down to. I wait, on the fringes of what will happen next, a chef knife in my grip. Everyone has to come outside eventually. Everyone does.
It’s nearing sunup when the door finally unlocks from the inside and opens slowly.
I couldn’t catch Luke before his fall, but I would catch his murderer. I’m going to slit his throat. I’m not squeamish. The things I’ve seen in my foreshadowings are the worst kind of things you could imagine.
It happens quicker than I expect. Easier than I expect. My brother’s assassin is a crumpled heap on the doorway threshold in under twenty seconds. He makes a weird gargle sound, clutching at his freshly cleaved neck, which has become an Old Faithful of blood, staring up wide-eyed at me. I lean over him, breathing in every one of his last breaths.
The blood. Deep red. Wet, sharp, bitter. I can’t look away at the endless fountain of life spiking the air. A spray of it hits my hand and I instinctively put it to my lips, sucking in the skin tenderly. The bouquet is rich and evading, a handful of pennies.
The police wouldn’t catch me. I could see it. I was seeing a lot of new things now.
Okay, Luke. You got your wish. I’m getting rid of the curse. And I’m transforming it into something all my own.
My cheeks hurt from the near childlike smile on my face as I walk away from the dead man. Justice for you, Luke. Who knew there was such an alchemy to the ichor?
Turns out it’s okay that I didn’t save you, brother. In your death, I am reborn into an ample night. One that is as unique and special as I am.
The blood—it’s a lot like the wine, really. I don’t know much about it.
But I will.
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Intense story from start to finish! Great work. Would love to get a critique on mine from a writer like you!