I got a prescription for Vicodin for my birthday. And it is one of the most glorious presents ever received.
They ran a few tests on me until I mentioned the lack of insurance and willingness to pay. Suddenly they realized I was probably okay. Low blood sugar and the stress of the accident satisfied everyone.
Magic powers were not mentioned nor diagnosed.
I walked to Walgreens and waited patiently for my happy pills. There is nothing worse than a crowd of sick people. A regular crowd of people is close but add illness and it becomes a shit show. Sitting in the chair with a stack of magazines from the shelf. What happened to magazines? There used to be a ton of video game and mildly amusing ones but now it was all crap. I guess the internet happened. Why spend five bucks on something you can read for free? But I left my phone on the couch before my walk. So shitty magazines for me.
I miss the glossy pages and well thought articles. In comparison to the click bait and sensationalism of the web it was Pulitzer quality.
But free porn. Balances out.
The woman sitting next to me is hacking like she is about to die. After five minutes I hoped she was going to be okay. Ten minutes in I felt so bad for her family having to listen to it I hoped whatever pills she was waiting for were either miracle cures or assisted suicide. My ability to deal with people has atrophied in my solitary state of existence.
I was not a fan to begin with, and now it was a chore seeing the mailman. Imagine this magnified in a store.
I could not take another wheezing back from this woman. It was like listening to someone chew. A child with chewy candy and a stuffed nose level. I bought a bottle of water and handed it to her. She couldn’t speak, just nodded thanks.
For one glorious moment it stopped.
The clouds parted and the light of heaven bathed us with miraculous silence.
And then she started coughing again. I began to fear it was tuberculosis. Flashbacks to Tombstone and Doc Holliday. She was rapidly becoming my huckleberry.
She looked at me with watery eyes and I saw her apology. I also saw that it was cancer. I don’t k ow how I knew it was cancer but it seemed practically written on her face. I felt like an asshole. She was sitting here, in Her last moments possibly and I was annoyed with her coughing fit.
The pressure filled my head. Self loathing must be a trigger. All I could think was she wasn’t that old, mod forties maybe. The cancer added twenty years like a camera added ten pounds. All I wanted was for her suffering to be at an end. Cancer is a cunt. She took another sip of water and saw the look in my eyes.
“Six months. They say I have six months. Just left chemo.”
I tried to apologize. She lifted her stocking cap and showed me her bald head.
“You look beautiful, just my type,” I said with a smile and lifted my beanie to show a matching head.
She laughed a little and patted my arm before a new fit. I held her hand. The pressure mounting and my vision dotted with black spots. I felt bad for her, bad for being a dick. Just fucking bad.
And I stopped and realized she wasn’t coughing. I didn’t want to look over at her. My mind races and I just knew she was frozen solid.
She wasn’t. In fact she had color in her cheeks. And seemed to be breathing easier. We looked at each other dumbfounded.
“Odd, I feel so much better all of a sudden.”
“Maybe our matching cue balls have powers?”
“Maybe. I am fucking hungry,” she flushed a bright red, “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to use that kind of language.” She looked mortified.
“What fucking language?”
We laughed. And she laughed all the harder because she could. I felt dizzy. The spots now more spots of light as blackness took over my vision. I tumbled out of my chair and onto the nice cool tile, mindless of the dirty slush around me. I didntose consciousness as much as misplaced it a bit.
She manhandled me back into my chair and splashed some of her water on my face. I blinked a bit and smiled.
“You okay? You look pale,” she asked, genuine concern in her voice.
I nodded. What the hell was going on? I felt like she had looked when I came in. And she looked great.
“Fine. How are you?”
“Sick of waiting around here and hungry enough to eat the ass off a horse.”
My stomach tumbled loudly. “Me too,” I muttered.
The pharmacist called a name, her’s apparently and she got up and grabbed a huge bag of pills. A skip to her step. I got called next. I shakily made my way up and grabbed my happy pills.
She looked at me with concern. Or pity. My reading people skills had deteriorated badly.
“You okay to drive?”
“I am walking.”
“Not today you aren’t. C’mon with me,” she was eyeing my wrist and saw the hospital band on it.
“That would be awesome. You okay to drive?”
“I could run a marathon right now. I haven’t felt this good in a year and a half. Not since the diagnosis.”
She meant it.
And all I could think was did I cure her cancer?
Did this sudden power have two sides?
“I know, I heard them call your name. I’m Lucy. Very nice to meet you sir.”
We walked out of the store together and got into her rusty sedan. She was in awe of how she was feeling. I was in awe watching her. Not ten minutes ago I thought she was going to drop dead next to me. Now I was concerned I was going to fall over from the wind.
“You may be my good luck charm Mikhail. Pizza?”
“I may love you Lucy. That sounds perfect.”
“Why were you in hospital?”
“I used magic and exploded a bird and cause a kid to get into an accident. Really takes it out of you.”
She laughed. And then stated at me as I stared out the window of the car.
“It feels like you mean that.”
“I honestly don’t know anymore. I truly don’t.”
We drove in silence after that.
She pulled into the parking lot of my favorite little pizzeria.
“Sam’s?” I said surprised.
“If you are gonna eat pizza, you have to have the best.”
“Lucy, you are an angel.”
“Not yet. It was getting close but not quite yet.”
We laughed at the gallows humor. It is one of my favorite types. Gallows, black and inappropriate rounding out my top three favorites.
We went in and ordered a large to split. Onion and mushroom on my half, pepperoni and sausage on here.
While we waited she stared at me. She was trying to gauge if I was serious in the car.
“You need to talk and I want to hear it.”
I don’t know why I opened up to her. A bond formed between us in Walgreens. We both knew something had happened. I spilled my guts. Told her everything that had happened the last week.
She didn’t judge, just sat and listened. And destroyed some pizza. She ate like someone who had not eaten in forever.Sje explained that she had not as I tore into the pizza and gathered my thoughts.
“I was diagnosed almost two years ago. The last couple months has been fast. I think they told me six months son as to ruin the holidays. It is really like any minute.”
“Well if your magic Ice Queen powers are real, maybe not.”
She wasn’t kidding. She looked thirty years younger as she ate and listened. She lulled out her phone and looked at herself and just started crying at the table. Tears of joy. Of not being in pain for the first time in doing it was a foreign thing.
And I felt great as well. Seeing life win changed my perspective. Maybe it was not all hell and pain. Maybe there was a silver lining.
“Mikhail?” the cook yelled.
“That’s me,” I yelled back.
Who in the fuck could have guessed I was here?
“That is strange,” Lucy said as I got up.
I took a big drink of tea and swallowed a couple happy pills as I walked to the counter.
“My love, enjoying the food?”
“What do you want?”
“You have been busy my sweet. Enjoying your birthday meal with Lucy?”
“Leave her alone. Please.”
“Oh she is just fine now isn’t she? You fixed her. It feels good using your power doesn’t it? Like you are a god among the little mortals.”
“What have you done to me? What is this?”
“Your birthright. A sign. Like the blue flame. Now hurry home. Any longer I may get jealous and you wouldn’t want poor Lucy to relapse, would you?”
“Look you crazy bitch. Stop stalking me! Leave her out of this!”
But she had already hung up.
I went back to the table but Lucy had gone. She scribbled thank you and her number on the napkin, along with twenty dollars for the food.
I couldn’t say I blamed her.
I paid for the food and dry swallowed two more pills as I walked home.
The euphoria of the pills was nearly strangled by the fear. Like a rollercoaster ride over a shark tank. My stomach full of delicious pizza and for once my heart felt light. I did something good today. A lot of shitty but baby steps to not being a piece of shit.
Lucy. I hope she is really better. I have failed so many people through out my life. In a way, she is the only one I have ever helped in a purely altruistic way. I didn’t expect nor want anything from her except her suffering to end. I didn’t know healing was a possibility. It could have easily ended up with her frozen solid. This power is pretty frightening.
Not right now. The pills make everything sort of even keel. It all sort of whatever right now. I missed drugs. I don’t need them to function, but man do they help.
This day managed to go from pure shit to pretty decent. I let my legs take me where they chose as I thought of the possibilities. If I could harness this in a meaningful way, I could help people. I could be someone that meant something. I haven’t had thoughts like this in a long time. It made me feel a spark of hope.
I ended up back on the bridge. It is peaceful at night and the slush had solidified and the stars glinted off of it like a second sky. I leaned against the railing and stared down at where it all began.
“My love, having a good birthday?”
I didn’t jump. Much. I slowly turned. I knew she would show. I don’t know how but it was like I felt her.
“Had some pizza and pills. I have had worse.”
She stared at me for a long moment. She is beautiful, in an almost alien way. Her eyes filled with hunger, and Her slender face framed by hair the color of the night sky. I can feel her uncertainty as She stares. She expects me to run or scream.
I want to. All my cells are afraid. But the pills keep me relaxed. Enough at least. I want to summon false bravado but I find myself lost in Her eyes.
“My love, I have waited centuries for you. You were born to be my mate, to share this power. We shall rule together. You can feel it, can’t you?”
Yes. I could.
“Come with me. Enter my, our, Realm and learn from me. I can help you harness this.”
“You must. You are Mine!”
Her rage pummeled me.
“I am not yours. You may be all powerful but you do not understand the basics, do you?”
She looked if She had been slapped. Her perfect lips moved yet no sound came out.
“I cannot explain any of this. It doesn’t make any sense to me at all. This power, You, how you stopped me from dying. None of it seems real. But I can never forgive you for Beth.”
“I. I. I’m sorry.”
She looked away. Shame written on her face. I wanted to reach out to her, instinctive need to comfort taking over. My hand moved of it’s own volition. She shied away for a second and allowed the contact.
I hate Her for what She has taken from me. But I believed Her. She meant it.
“Because you love her like you should love Me. Because I have waited so very long. Because it was meant to be. Don’t you see it? A life of heartache and misery is all you have been given. We are alike in this way. We were made to complete one another. I can give you the happiness you have craved. Come with me. Please.”
Her words had a ring of a truth. I didn’t know if it was because they were true or that She believed in them and conviction came through.
“No. I cannot forget what you did.”
“She is fine. Your precious Beth. I didn’t kill her I took her.”
“You are lying.”
“I am not. She knows you my love, better than anyone. I took her so she could help me to know you.”
I didn’t want to believe it. But I did. I felt the tears pour down my face.
“I can and may yet kill her. She told me you would never forgive me if I did though. She is a strange person. She has taught me so much over the last couple of days. About you. About this new world.”
“Can I see her?”
She cocked an eyebrow at me. A smirk as She waved her hands in front of Her and a sheet of ice formed. It was hazy for a moment and slowly an image formed. It was Beth! She was sitting alone in a frozen campsite. She looked afraid but fine.
She was alive!
“Let her go. I am begging you. Let her go, please.”
“A trade? You for Her? Tit for tat?”
“How can I trust you? You slit my throat after all.”
“And you got better. Beth said you were big on trust. Foolish need. Fine. I will release her. Tomorrow. And then you are coming home.”
“Then go to your hovel and rest my love. Tomorrow you finally go home.”
The world spun around me and I was sitting on my couch, as if I had never left. The neon green band from the hospital and bottle of happy pills the only indication any of it actually happened.
I think I may have made a deal with the devil out there.
I try swallowed a couple more pills and fell into a blissful sleep.