TW: Death and Weapons
“But Mama-” I started.
Mama placed her pale hand in my face. Her dark eyes scanned my pale green ones.
“Why? He was my friend,” I murmured.
“We can’t have friends,” Mama responded flatly. “That’s your fault for befriending him. You know we can’t control our targets.”
I stared down at my best friend’s limp body. His neck was twisted at an angle I could barely withstand. If I hadn’t already seen that angle so many times.
“Why, Mama? You owe me that.” I slicked my jet-black hair into a tight ponytail in an act of stubbornness.
“Because that’s what I was told.” She wouldn’t meet my eyes.
“Please. Why do I have to help you? Can’t I just live a normal life?” I begged.
I’d grown up in a household where begging was petty. It was a disgusting act and I would typically be severely punished for it.
Her cold eyes were staring into the distance, as though they longed for escape as much as I did.
She pursed her dry lips. “Because I said so.”
Mama always said that when she didn’t have a reasonable answer. The unreasonable answers I was so desperately searching for.
“Mama,” I whispered, bending down to stroke the dead boy’s hair as I had when he was alive. “I think I loved him.”
She stiffened very visibly. Usually, she would try to hide any hint of softness or emotion.
“Love gets one nowhere,” she snapped, nostrils flaring.
“Why?” I questioned. I felt as though I shouldn’t need to say that every time we have a job.
“Because I said so,” she replied through gritted teeth. “Love is pointless and does nothing but backstab you. Love makes you weak.”
“Just because Papa was a bad man doesn’t mean he was going to be!” I shouted, furious.
Oh, crap. I shouldn’t have tugged that string. It appeared to be that I tugged it hard enough for it to come falling out.
Mama grabbed her gun. Her expression was concealed by the shadows. I hoped mine was, too. She laughed softly.
“Papa was a bad man. And you’re being a very bad girl.” She raised it until the tip was facing me. Right in between my eyes.
I inhaled sharply. I felt for the knife in the pocket of my cloak, very slowly in order to not draw attention.
“Looking for this?” The graveyard was brimming with fog, but I could see the faint outline of my knife.
I tried to slow my breathing as panic threatened to roam free, wreaking havoc. In one swift movement, I pulled the deadly spear from my boot. I’d never told Mama about it in case of such a situation.
My heart pounded against my chest as blood rushed through my veins. I was about to fight my own mother.
I extended the spear to full size, and the poisonous tip gleamed an eerie green. Mama was very talented when it came to burying her emotions, but I saw her tiny step back in minor surprise.
“I’ve taught you well,” she said eventually, reloading her gun with a quiet click.
I allowed a tight smile to spread across my plump lips.
“We don’t have to fight, Mama,” I whispered, shakier than I’d intended. “Love may make us weak, but I can’t kill you.”
“I can.” It happened so fast.
A loud ringing in my ears as pain shot up my arm during the time I tried to dodge. Mama had anticipated my move and had shot slightly in front.
Pain seared in my arm, and I let out a strangled cry. I refused to drop my spear, so blood dripped freely from my wound, forming a ruby-red pool at my feet.
The moonlight made it almost hypnotising. Another surge of pain in my wounded arm jolted me back into reality as I faced my opponent.
Was that the slightest hint of genuine regret in those bloodshot eyes?
“I’m sorry, my child.” She said it so quietly, I barely heard her.
“How could you try and kill me? Why, Mama? Why?” I was overwhelmed with emotion and pain that my vision was getting blurry.
Maybe that was just my blood loss.
“Because I said so.” Another gunshot. If I hadn’t had razor-sharp reflexes, it would have pierced my forehead.
Instead, it hit my hair as a bullet-shaped bunch of hairs fell from my head. I did not care for my hair at this point.
“Mama!” I cried.
As she was reloading, I crossed the dead grass to her. The only thing in between us was the hole with my best friend in it.
I could see Mama clearly now. Her eyebrows were furrowed in a quizzical expression. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say she was considering actually killing me.
She didn’t move for a few seconds, so I cautiously ripped off a part of my long sleeve and wrapped it tightly around the bullet mark. I refused to lose any more blood. Feeling light-headed, I steadied myself. My spear was long enough to reach over and stab her. Even if I scraped her, the poison would be enough to end her.
Mama finally glanced up. She saw my numb face and raised an eyebrow mockingly.
“You’re too young to defeat me!” She giggled humourlessly.
I returned it with an emotionless smile. “Want to bet?”
Mama immediately stopped. She scanned me with a delicate parting of her thin lips. I was no longer her daughter.
I was her opponent and nothing else.
“You know I love you,” she sighed.
“Why?” I shot back, mirroring her expression.
“Because I said so.” And with that, she raised the gun at my forehead.
I ducked and snagged her calf. She cursed and readjusted her weight. I’d paralysed her leg with the poison. Still cussing under her breath, Mama – if I can still even call her that – shot my ankle. My turn to swear.
I also switched my weight to my other leg, and we stared each other down.
“Cut!” the director, Mark, shouted. “That was amazing work!”
I sighed in relief. Acting was difficult. Mama, played by my co-star Giselle, allowed a grin to split across her mouth.
“I’m so proud of that! You were amazing!” she exclaimed.
I smiled tiredly, wiping away the fake blood that had seeped into my sock. I peered down at the dummy in the hole I had been petting earlier in that scene.
“Thanks, you too.”
Giselle beamed. For an older woman, she was rather energetic.
Make-up artists surrounded us, helping to remove the products applied so delicately onto us.
“This’ll be a big hit,” I said confidently. “I can’t wait for this episode to be released!”
And with that, we all laughed in exhaustion and continued packing up.