It was always you…

Posted on 13 Aug 2011 in Emmeline, Imagine | 0 comments

I knew there was something wrong as I walked up to the car. But I kept hoping I was mistaken. I pulled up on the handle and…
It was open.
When I looked in through the window, I saw the frayed end of the cable that emerged from the tape deck. The thief couldn’t even be bothered to unplug the cable from the CD player. So I opened the door. I figured it could have been worse. It could have been a broken window, a stolen car. Then the strangeness set in. My five favourite discs were sitting on the passenger seat.
You’ve got to be freaking kidding me.
Someone had taken the time to open my disc case and remove the five CDs that were on constant play in my car. I should have been relieved. I could have assumed it was the musical angels watching out over me. But reality kicked in. Common sense in this case dictated that the thief was someone who knew me. And didn’t just know me, but knew me well enough to know the CDs that I cared about. Don’t get me wrong. I was incredibly grateful that I still had them. But the sense of betrayal from this wasn’t going to go away easily. Suspicion kicked in.
I knew the two people that it wasn’t…
Derek had been at work, and Faith was sitting at the coffee shop waiting for me to return. So there was really only one other person that it could have been. And I hadn’t seen him for days.
Since he had moved out.
Well, I guess that answered that question.
I didn’t really contemplate revenge. He had no income, no way to live. And I had never seen money or possessions as the be-all-end-all. I was blessed with a blissful denial of the materialistic world in which I lived. If he needed the tiny amount of money that would come from that sale enough to steal from one of his closest friends, I couldn’t begrudge him it. I just wish he would have asked me. Heaven knows that I would have given it to him without asking.
I guess he assumed that I saw the world of money and stuff like everyone else – a constant grab to get what’s mine.
Sad, but true.
And unfortunately for him, whatever trust biscuits had been exchanged between us in the last months had completely disappeared.
I took the five discs, popped them in the glove-box, and locked the car.
Walking back to the Wall Berlin, I contemplated a course of action, but ultimately realized that nothing I could do would mean anything. I couldn’t go to the police – not about such a small amount – especially when it would bring me under scrutiny. And I certainly didn’t need the police looking into my own morally-flexible behaviour. So I decided the best course of action was a good argument. I popped into Wall Berlin to let Faith know that I would be a few more minutes and went hunting.
Sproul plaza was just around the corner, and it was a pretty certain thing that the Hate Man would be there.
I could feel the autumn breeze blowing over me as I approached Hate Man’s favourite haunt. I knew that I must look a bit out of place on campus – even though I had been accepted here only a year previously. The black dress, boots, and the thickly inked face markings had me marked as someone who did not fear death or devastation. I noticed that a space had cleared around me as I walked. When I arrived, I made eye-contact. This was always a sure-fire way to raise his anger. As he started his traditional rant, I stared him down, waiting for the venom to spew out of his mouth. I breathed deeply and found a smile inside when he began.
“You are just a f**king b***h who can’t figure out anything. Too dumb to go to school, too ugly to get laid. I hate you, you f**king w***e.”
I walked closer to him and said in deadly calm tones, “I. HATE. YOU. MORE. F**k you.” I desperately wanted him to escalate, like I had seen him do countless times before.

Normally, people would confront him with soothing tones, trying to get him to calm down by speaking to him as one would a child throwing a tantrum.
I don’t know if anyone had tried the ‘pick a fight with Hate Man’ tactic before.
So I was waiting for the increased volume, the shaking hands, the jumping up and down. But they didn’t come.
He paused. He looked me dead in the eyes – which were already boring into him.
“F**k me?”
“Yeah, you heard me. F**k you.” I grinned, wanting him to lash out, to give me an opportunity to fight a bit more.
He started to chuckle. It was the strangest noise, and seemed wildly unnatural to him. Anyone nearby would have known that he hadn’t done it for years. And then he whispered, “I hate you, you know.”
And I whispered back, “yeah, and I abso-fucking-lutely hate you right back.”
And he smiled. He held out his hand as if to shake, so in bewilderment, I offered my own. He grabbed it, turned it over, and lifted the back of my hand to his mouth in order to offer me the dignity of a kiss.
When I pulled my hand back, there was a glow on the back of my hand.
“You can’t turn it off forever, you know,” he said.
I was startled by both the glow and the comment. I took a step back, my eyes widening as I looked him in the eyes. He had an almost manic gleam. “You certainly can’t keep it turned off here for very long. It takes more strength and training than you have. And as long as you deny it and pretend it doesn’t exist, the stronger it will get against your defences.”
I stammered, “I d-d-don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He started laughing again. And all of a sudden, his glamour dropped. I knew that I was the only one seeing it, but it scared me nonetheless. I looked around, waiting for a panic from a crowd of people that was completely uninterested in our exchange.
He stood seven and a half feet tall and he was immense. His robe was no longer a makeshift costume of sheets and belts, but was a crimson robe with a deep cowl at the back. It was belted with something that shimmered and moved. It wasn’t until he drew nearer that I saw that his belt was alive…and slithering. He had long, auburn hair – the color that everyone tried to dye their hair, but never quite achieved. As I looked at his hands, all I could tell was that they were strong and calloused, as if he had worked and fought. While I couldn’t see it clearly, there was something underneath the robe that looked remarkably like a weapon. I didn’t want to look up, because I knew who I would see. His eyes were the colour of liquid amber, and he was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. I couldn’t look away. The lip-print on the back of my hand started to get warmer and warmer and began to glow red like coals. And I remembered all of the reasons that I truly hated him. The last time I had seen him in this form had been as I ran from him in Los Angeles.

“Did you think that I would ignore you or forget you just because you had left? You’re far too valuable to let go, dear one.”
“Don’t call me that. I don’t belong to you.”
“Not now…but…”
I interrupted him, “not ever.”
He smiled again, and then he reached out to brush the hair out of my face. I flinched, and his hand came to rest on the designs on my face. “It’s just a matter of time, my little Emmie.” For a moment, I could feel the temptation to sink deeper into the caress. It would be so easy. I wouldn’t have to fight any more. His fingers traced the lines and each time he made contact, it felt as if a fuse had been lit underneath the surface of my skin. “You know I’d never hurt you. I have such plans for you, my glorious one.” And all of a sudden, I was weary. Bone weary, as if I couldn’t go any further. I was tired of feeling invisible, inaudible. I closed my eyes and rested my head into his hand and took a step closer. I felt his other arm come around me and draw me into an embrace. And I realized that it could all just go away.
The rejection, the frustration, the delusion. It would just disappear in this embrace.
And then my hand began to burn again. I looked up at him, and his smile seemed so benign, so gentle.
And I smelled jasmine.
I remembered this smell. And it wasn’t his smell.
And then my friend Faith grabbed me and spun me around and was shouting at me.
“Are you fucking mental? You were hugging HATE MAN???”
He was back on his literal soapbox and as I looked up at him, he slowly winked. The world went fuzzy as I heard him whispering through my head.
I will wait for you, Emmie. It was always you.
As I stumbled, Faith caught me and we walked away. I knew that she was talking to me as we walked back off campus, but I didn’t hear anything she said. After a minute, she stopped talking and turned me to look her in the eyes.
“Emmie, I know you’ve had a lot going on, but are you with me? You cannot go around hugging people like Hate Man. You just can’t.”
“Sorry, Faith. You’re right.”
We walked back down the street, and my hand continued to burn. I pulled it up to my mouth and could feel the tingle pass from my hand to my lips. There was nothing visible – at least to the rest of the world, but he had definitely left an impact. I couldn’t escape the feeling that something was burning under my skin.