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Sad

“Here to accuse me of murder again?” Emily inspected Rai, from his Nike shoes to his chocolate-brown, shriveled hair.

He was leaning against her door, phone in hand, typing vigorously, not feeling bothered in the slightest. The nerve.

“It’s been three years, Lee,” he said, his stoic expression softening upon seeing her. “I’ll be staying in this region for some time for a new assignment, so we might as well get along.” 

She nudges him away gently – but not too gently – and punches her passcode. The door lock beeps twice before it clicks open.

“If you’re gonna call me by nickname I prefer Em.”

“Don’t wish to be placed in the same category as everyone else.”

She stepped into her room and rotated on her heels to block his path. “You’re not allowed in.”

He grinned. She hated that she couldn’t annoy him and that he couldn’t not annoy her.

“Look,” he pointed to himself, “a cop,” then to Emily, “an agent. Our relationship could go so very far in so many different directions. It could save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.”

OGP’s (Organization of Global Protection) self-explanatory purpose was to protect the human population from dangers beyond their visible spectrum – Deimons – by working with those who had the unique ability to see them. Twenty-year-old Emily was a such phenomenal young adult.

The evolution of the Deimons left OGP understaffed, and they turned to the recruitment of those whose talents lay in areas other than Deimon Hunting. That’s where twenty-two-year-old Ryan Nixon comes in. With the position of a specialist cop, he had roughly the same duty scale as an actual police officer, but with completely different paths and destinations.

There were territories that were exclusive to each Emily and Ryan, and he was right; Developing connections with a cop expands her boundaries, but –

 “No thanks. Bye,” Emily spat harshly.

She attempted to shut the door with a violent shove, but when he extended his arm, the only reason preventing her from breaking his fingers was the fact that Mr. Everyone’s Favorite had terrifying superiors scrubbing his back.

“We were teens back then, Lee.”

She rolled her eyes. “Look, this isn’t about you irrationally tryna lock me up for the alleged homicide of a guy whom you deemed missing even though he’s never where he’s supposed to be, okay? I –“

“Great. Clearly, there are no more hard feelings.” He barged his way in. “We can start over then. Clean slate.”

Throwing his black bag pack down at a foot of the dining table, he trotted over to her kitchen as if he owned the entire dorm building. His head disappeared behind the door of the refrigerator, and when it reappeared, he was holding a small box.

“Pie. Neat.”

The nerve.

“Wait, pie?” She broke into a sprint and snatched the box away from him. “Don’t eat it. Tastes horrible.”

“Did you bake it?”

“N-no.”

He moved his eyes between hers. He pursed his lips, smiling internally: she could tell by the way his eyes squinted, and his nose scrunched.

“Sure it does.” He pried it from her eagle-like grip and headed toward his bag, grabbing a fork from the holder on the way. “You baked it. Any product of your creation, I’ll love.”

She snorted. “Would you like some crackers with that cheese?”

A look of innocence. “What do you mean? This is something you worked hard for, and that’s all I need for it to taste good.”

He slid a piece of the apple pie into his mouth, and she waited for his face to distort. It didn’t.

She crossed her arms again. “Admit it.”

“Seriously. Tastes good for a first attempt.”

She didn’t want to know how he could tell it was her first. There were a lot of things he was able to deduce about her, and that did nothing but frighten her.

“I burnt it.”

A shrug. “Lee, the effort you –“

“Shut it.”

She took a seat on the opposite side of the table and observed him as he munched away like a starved fox.

“Dex told me you got into an accident.”

His posture stiffened, but he kept eating in a poor attempt to mask his hurt. “Yep.”

“Are you okay…?”

“Bones healed, wounds closed. Everything’s all good. In fact, I have a new purpose in life.”

She leaned forward. “A new purpose? What about your old one? Your parents?”

“Don’t care.”

She scowled. “Why not? Don’t you wanna know who they are? Or how they’re doing?”

“I don’t remember them anymore.”

“What…”

He tapped his brain. “Memory loss. Or something similar.”

Once he finished the last bite of pie, he whipped out his phone and typed before heading over to the basin to wash the dish.

He noticed her stare. “I have to frequently record things now or it messes up my mental timeline.”

Emily’s body shriveled. Working in a field like this, she witnessed all sorts of sickening denouements to people’s dreams and lives, and she was yet to become desensitized.  

He released a soft laugh that sent shivers down her backbone. “Don’t feel bad. I received something in compensation. How are your parents?”

She shrugged, thankful for a topic change. “Good. I guess.”

“So… Retirement from OGP and into surgical medicine, huh?”

“How do you know that?”

“Uh, D-Dex told me.”

“Loose lips.” She stretched her arms and placed her chin on her inner elbow “I’m not sure if I’ll even be able to. I need to work a few more years to earn enough for my degree. I’ll be 32 by the time I finish my bachelor's. Then there’s masters, residency, fellowship, and oh gosh, so much. There’s –“

“Hey.” A glass was placed on the table.

She looked to see his emerald-green eyes twinkling at her. She wouldn’t be surprised if it was discovered that angels had replaced his eyes with real gems before he was born.

“You’re gonna be fine.”

“Pfft,” she leaned over to peer into his glass of coke. This boy really did have some nerve to go snooping around in another person’s refrigerator.

“Saw the future, did you?”

“Yep.”

“Sure.”

“Seriously.”

“Yeah, and I’m a math prodigy.”

A chuckle explodes. This divine sound was why she’d begun to avoid him.

She sighed. “I’ll reach my goal at 32 without the usual, typical distractions. Now imagine with them.”

“Distractions?” Rai asked, but he knew exactly what she was going to say.

“You know. The usual. Dating. Marriage. Kids.”

“You want them?”

She met his look. Then, shuddered. “Ew, no thanks.”

“I feel like I should be offended for some reason…”

“Children are parasitic.”

Rai winced. “You’re a parasite, Ryan. That’s why your parents abandoned you.”  Perhaps recording one’s most traumatic memories in a journal wasn’t the smartest idea.

He shook his head. “You assume that because that’s how you view yourself. You think your parents would be happily retired by now with a doctor for an older daughter. ‘They could become grandparents and just enjoy some time to themselves as old people should. Instead, they’ll be working till the day they die.’ Isn’t that right?”

She slammed a fist down in front of him. “Shut it.”

“You assume your parents will never see you in a lab coat. The thought of them dying petrifies you, so you constantly remind yourself to not fall in love, to not create a family that you’ll have to bid farewell to –“

 “You think you have me all figured out, don’t you?” Emily’s nose flared.

He glanced awkwardly to the left. “I didn’t say that.”

“Get out.”

“Hey, hey, you’ll eventually tell me all this, so technically –“

She walked around to him and held him by the collar. “Get out! You think it’s fun to tease someone’s philophobia?”

He stood up. The sudden height difference flustered her, and she stumbled back. But, he kept their faces only a few inches apart. Such nerve.

He shuffled forward. Oh gosh, his face was so close. Those long lashes. Gorgeous eyes. Soft lips. Chiseled jaw.

“I’m not tease – You’re blushing. Why –“ He grunted out a curse as her knee flew into his ribcage.

“Shut it, jerkwad.”

He rubbed the sore spot. “This is…why I fall in love thrice.”

“I’m sor- what?”

He blinked several times. “Oh right, we’re still on the second.”

“You make no sense, but out, out. Now. Get out, or I’L hit you.”

“Try me.”

Two seconds in, she was already in stance: legs shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, waist balanced, and arms out. Driving the momentum from her hips to her right fist, she charged.

He dodged, simultaneously wrapping her fist in his hand. He tugged, making her lean forward. Their heights matched.

“This is a timeline where I’ll win every single fight against you, Feisty,” he whispered.

“Don’t. Call. Me. That!”

She used his grip on her and twisted her arm. He released it before it could do any damage, and swiftly moved past her, getting on one knee while elbowing the back of her leg. With a yelp, she fell onto his perfectly placed hunched back.  

She flailed her arms around before finding the strength to straighten.  “What the hell? Did you receive special training?”

He tapped his brain again. “I remember the future.”

“Bull.”

“Seriously. Do you honestly think I’m any match for you? Even if all your limbs were detached, you’d still beat me, Ace of In-Dis.”

She was the #1 agent of Intermediate District, so how did a cop…? Her eyes widened.

“You’re… kidding, right? Rai?”

He climbed back into his seat and finished his drink.  

“Spill it,” she dragged out the chair next to him and sat down.

“What do you think?”

“That it’s bull.”

He winked. “Shall I tell you then? Our future?”

Her brain glitched for some time before she crossed her arms and rose a brow. “Go ahead.”

He reached out and pulled her arms apart. “Stop resisting me so much. Fight all you want, but you’ll fall in love with me. Before the end of the year.”

She snorted.

“You’ll confess on January 48th, next year, and for the next three months, you’ll avoid me in an attempt to get over me. Then, on the day that your resignation gets processed, I’ll get reassigned to a different sector. You muster the courage to see me and apologize. And you thank me. Then, you decide to never cross paths again.”

By now, Rai’s low voice and lack of hesitance are beginning to get to Emily.

“Except we do meet again. When you’re 26 and you’re working as a nurse, I get admitted to your hospital because of a gunshot wound. At this point, I’ve become an actual cop, not through OGP. You’d developed feelings twice already for some useless men but managed to chase them away. Except this time, when you fall in love with me, there’s no going back. Then, we date.”

She chuckled. “There’s no way in hell that’s gonna happen.”

“You’re going to be 26 and clinically depressed, Lee.”

The back of her neck burned with pain, but Rai didn’t notice her discomfort because he picked at his fingernails. He continued to ‘recount’ the future mechanically.

“Life is hard as hell. You’re working hard to become a doctor by 32 while saving up and caring for your parents. Your sister is no help in that field. With all of this, I give you space to breathe. You fell in love with what I had to offer. We date until your 31. You don’t want to get married. You don’t want kids. You’re a doctor by now, and your parents are urging you to marry me. They want to see you settle down before they… you know.”

He has to give her a second look to see her shaking. Her bangs covered her eyes, and by the way her shoulders bounced, he could tell she was crying.

He cleared his throat. “You can’t take it anymore. I try to convince you we don’t have to marry or have kids, but the problems keep you up at night. You cry to sleep when you’re alone, and you cry to sleep when you’re in my arms. Your depression seeps back in –“

“What the hell do you want then?” The venom in her voice was strong, and fury swirled in her pupils. “That’s far too much damn detail for all this to be a lie, but if it isn’t, Rai, then what the hell do you want if our relationship is going to end in shambles? And if all of this is a lie, I will decapitate you, make a necklace out of your teeth, and stuff your guts into my pillows.”

“You die alone,” he said harshly. “Emily, you die alone.”

Her face morphed painfully, and she gagged, her neck reddening and veins appearing.

“I’m here to change that,” he murmured as he placed his arms on her shoulders, forcing her to straighten. “I’m here to change that future. We can –“

“Dying alone is what I want.”

“That’s not what you want. Lee. You can’t even go to sleep in the dark because the fear keeps you up. You don’t want to die alone, but you’re terrified of saying goodbye. You want to live the rest of your life alone, but you’re scared of that too!”

“Then, I should just die!” She screamed and stomped her foot. “You’re telling me things I already know about myself, and you’re just reminding me that there’s nothing I can do to change it! Let me just die then, dammit!”

Her nose was running. Her face was wet despite Rai’s persistent wiping.

“No more,” he caressed her left wrist. “This wrist looks so much better without the scars on it. And I promise I won’t let you hurt it.”

“Leave-“

“Lee,” he cupped her face. The baby fat on her cheeks fit perfectly. “I can help you. I can heal you. I just need you to let me in.”

“You’re gonna leave! They all left! Darwin! Caleb! Shae!”

“Darwin was too foolish. Caleb couldn’t protect you, and Shae didn’t appreciate you. I’m not going to do any of that.”

“And what happens when you die? Say we date, get married, and have kids? Huh, then what? What happens when you die!”

“We’ll live a long life. We’ll be rich so our kids don’t have to worry about money. They won’t be parasites, they’ll be blessings. We’ll live long, happy, rich lives, and then we’ll die together.”

“Life doesn’t always work that way! You could die in an accident or something!”

“Then, join me.”

She sniffed. “What?”

“If living alone scares you so much, always know that you have the option of either living with our kids or joining me. That’s a decision we can make when the time comes. Until then, don’t waste time trying to run away. Let me heal you.”

She read the honesty in his eyes. The same honesty she saw in the person that promised her a lifetime of friendship. Was she willing to take the same risk again?

“Let me fix you, Emily, please.”

October 09, 2020 16:52

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4 comments

Alexander Katz
21:49 Oct 14, 2020

Love the amount of world building you pulled off while managing to tell a personal story with depth at the same time. And while sad, there's a spark of hope in it too. Nice *thumbs up emoji goes here* .

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Em P.W.
05:36 Oct 15, 2020

Thanks! I've had these characters in mind for quite some time now, so that probably contributed to the depth. I was worried that the word count would be too high (my short stories tend to be on the wordier side), but I'm glad the depth compensated for it. Phew.

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Gip Roberts
20:15 Oct 14, 2020

What a powerful story! I felt every emotion while reading it. Her 'waiting for his face to distort' as he ate the homemade pie was funny and made me smile, and "This wrist looks so much better without the scars on it" really got to me, as just a couple examples.

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Em P.W.
05:33 Oct 15, 2020

Thank you so much! I really appreciate your comment! I was a little skeptical about Rai's statement about Emily's wrist because I thought I'd want him to be someone who liked her despite her scars. At the end, I decided that saying it looks better without the scars didn't mean that he didn't love her any less WITH THE SCARS. I'm really glad it got to you. :D

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