I leaned over as Jack and I sat at the red light, and checked the box in her lap. “How are those files going?”
“Is her presence necessary?”
“Friends,” said Alfred, in the tone that most people reserve for people on the opposite side of the political spectrum.
The child looked up at her mother, and her grandmother stood further still behind. All three shared hair of the deepest black but few other things connected them, save for their mien of iron and blood. They were brutal women and heartless. And yet I saw on the girl’s cheek a single tear trailing down, a trace of salt, regret for what she had to do, for she would taste mortality but know all along that it was temporary.
Height is power. Height is attractiveness. If you’re a man, anyway; A tall woman is attractive only to a certain subset of men. But regardless, being tall is almost always a great advantage. It shows you’ve had proper nutrition, it gives you greater leverage and ability to intimidate, it forces others to look up to you. Height has always been an advantage. Therefore, there have always been short people who resented the tall for their vast prowess and advantages. (Li Fang Fen: Alright, I can take a hint, I just said that the heels seemed like overkill. You don’t have to get defensive about it.)
The lights were still on when I returned home, past ten. I wished Polly and Alfred a peaceful night together, and opened the door. Sitting in the living room, I saw Jack sitting on the chair, curled up, her arms around her legs, face buried between her knees. She appeared to be sleeping, and the pose almost made me wonder if she’d been waiting up for me. I considered, for a moment, picking her up and carrying her down to the bed. I decided to think better of it, less out of fear of her stabbing me in surprise, and more because I thought it would just weird her out. Instead, I lifted a blanket from the couch and draped it over her, and turned off the light, walking towards the kitchen to see if there was any pizza left in the fridge.
Morning came. The upside of it was that the sunlight was lessened down in the basement. I rubbed at the side of my head, feeling the incipient headache. I reached out before remembering I hadn’t poured out a bottle of water for myself the night before. I despaired momentarily until my eyes focused enough to find that there was, indeed, a large jug by the bed. I grabbed it gratefully, drank, guzzled the better part of a gallon. I let out a sigh of deep and abiding relief, and leaned back in the downstairs bed.