in which we hide from consequences ˑ tell me the truth ˑ cassandra should be leaving
Cassandra wakes up slowly, to the realization that somebody else is in the room with her. She thinks, perhaps, it might be Will – no, that’s not right. She hopes, but knows it isn’t, because some part of her is still dreaming of the twin she’s supposed to have. But Will doesn’t care enough to be holding a low but urgent phone conversation mentioning how injured she is.
“-look, you know, you know I wouldn’t be asking this of you if it wasn’t a problem. I can’t exactly take her to the hospital, Robin.”
She slowly levers herself upward from the sofa cushions. It’s interesting. She’s sold her ability to feel pain, but it means everything else is so much more present. It’s not painful to be sore; but it’s uncomfortable how stiff and sore her shoulders. It’s not painful, exactly, to be dizzy; it’s just disorienting and confusing.
The person on the phone glances over their shoulder, then gives them a small smile. They’re Black, with locs hanging down over their shoulders in shades of black and purple, and wearing a dark, pinstriped dress shirt that certainly wants to look like it’s made of silk, but is probably a cheaper material. Cassandra hates knowing things like that. It’s not like it matters.
“I… assume you’re Avery.”
Avery says a quick goodbye into the phone, then hangs up, eyes warm. “Yeah, that’s me. And you’re, uh, Will’s sister, right?”
“Twin sister. Not that most people guess that.” Cassandra’s beyond making self-deprecating jokes about being fat – that particular coping mechanism only lasted through her grade eight year – but it’s tempting as Avery raises their eyebrow.
“Nah, I can see it in the face. Also, the way you talk.”
Now it’s Cassandra’s turn to be surprised. “We don’t talk anything alike.”
“You’d be surprised.” Then Avery sits at the end of the couch, giving Cassandra a searching, careful look. “Aren’t you supposed to be a long, long way away from here by now?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“I have a police scanner in my car. And I know enough about Willow to pay attention when a house in New Edinburgh goes up in flames.” Avery folds their hands over their lap. “You must know what it’ll look like when they can’t find your body.”
“Yes. I don’t care.”
“You should care enough to be long out of the city by now.”
“And look guilty?”
“Fleeing at all makes it look worse.”
“I don’t care about that, either.”
Avery frowns, uncertainty flashing in their eyes. Tell me the truth. For a moment, Cass thinks she’s imagining it, the suggestion glowing in the back of her skull, but then she starts to talk and she knows what’s just been done to her.
“I’m scared, and I’m lost, and I don’t have anybody but Willow left. And I didn’t do it on purpose. I swear. I think. I don’t -” Cassandra manages to force her mouth closed, and glares at Avery until they wilt slightly under her gaze.
“I’m sorry. I had to be sure, you know?”
“Sure of what?”
Avery snorts quietly, although not meanly, and sits up. “A friend of mine is coming over with some medical supplies tomorrow. Try to lie still today, alright? I don’t want that break getting worse.”
“I can hardly feel it.”
“I know. And I’m curious about that, too. But just because you can’t feel it doesn’t mean it’s not there.”
Then Avery leaves – and the question hangs, unanswered.
Sure of what?
Cassandra doesn’t know, and has no clue how to find out.