Thorns – Part 19

When Elwin eventually arrived at the café in his condominium building later that afternoon Kylie had drifted off to sleep, her head resting in her arms on the table. Elwin cautiously sat down but bumped his knee on the table leg waking the sleeper. Kylie jerked upright her face contorted from much crying she stared at Elwin for a few moments before she managed to speak.

“Elwin! You came! I thought you had forgotten me, here is your lunch,” she passed him the sandwich which was now soggy. Elwin didn’t complain, but thanked her quietly for the sandwich and for waiting for him. Wearily he started to eat the sandwich. Kylie watched him and slowly it occurred to her how dirty and soot covered he was. Although Elwin often worked in the coal mines he didn’t typically look this bad. She inquired and he related to her the incident with the Kellite engineer. He did so in flat even tones betraying no anger.

“I have listened to you telling me of the Kellite engineer and how he treated you. I can tell that you are not angry, but allow me to say that I feel angry. I do not know why because this engineer was one of our betters and one shouldn’t question them. Yet all the same part of me burns with fury that he should do this to you.”

Elwin felt too uneasy to make eye contact with her so he continued to focus on the remains of his soggy sandwich. He felt a sense of confusion: on one hand he was pleased that she was angry, on the other hand he felt angry with her for speaking ill of a Kellite. It scared him think that perhaps the treatment he had received was somehow unjust. If the Kellite engineer had been unjust then many other threads threatened to come loose from Elwin’s mental fabric. He did not know why, but it still felt somewhat important to keep those threads safe, and so he pushed the idea aside and focused again on the sandwich. Besides, the thorn in his chest hurt less when he avoided thinking about such things. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 19”

Thorns – Part 13

Holda glared at her husband with her dark little eyes. Elwin wanted to run away, but he was stuck to the floor. Thanks to the generous allocation of food available only for breeding couples, Holda had managed the achievement of being fat in a society where the expense of food meant most people were on rations. She pulled herself up from the chair, the ring of flesh about her middle wobbled as she did this. She moved menacingly closer to Elwin. Her voice was uncharacteristically quiet but every question she asked sounded like an order.

“Where have you been?”

“Just out with Erian.”

“Where were you?”

“At Erian’s apartment,” lied Elwin. He stuttered as he said this, the area around the thorn in near his cheek always hurt when he lied.

“You’re lying, Elwin, now tell me the truth.”

“I was with Erian.”

“I went to Erian’s apartment to look for you. I searched every room, you weren’t there. Now where were you?”

Elwin felt his throat tighten and close over. He gasped several times before he could finally croak the answer out, “I was in the complex next door, in Kylie’s apartment.”

Holda’s fat cheeks flushed red and Elwin knew she was about to start shouting. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 13”