Sacredlege is the champion!
Game Begins In...
Game Ends In...
Chokma doesn't think, at first.
It came from her uncle, she guessed. He was never particularly careful about these things, and never had quite the best response in odd situations. Chokma used to be the more prepared type. She had to be. Growing up, after her parents died, Uncle Hevel wasn't exactly prepared to be a surrogate father.
But this was different. This wasn't something Chokma prepared for. This wasn't a syllabus for her college class, or a particularly rowdy student in the back of the class, or a pile of papers she needed to grade before the semester ended. This wasn't something multi colored sticky notes and various motivational posters on the wall could prepare her for.
She didn't expect Uncle Hevel to come back.
A sleek, black car rode down the driveway of her family's old Victorian house, and out he came, except he didn't exactly come out right--at least, he didn't come out the way Chokma remembered him to come out. In her mind, Uncle Hevel would always be the 20-something old man who barely got his college papers in time, who didn't know what a schedule looked like (let alone a proper calendar), who smoked a little too much in the kitchen and tried to hide his bottles of Guinness in the house cellar. He would always be rather disheveled, despite himself, graying hair like an untrimmed bush, eyes perpetually dark, a shirt or a sweater that always seemed to big for his lanky form. He cooked well. Chokma spent many years trying to find food that tasted half as good as Hevel's, all in vain--yet, she felt that was the only thing Hevel was truly proud of.
But the man who came out of that car was not quite that. He was tall and lanky, yes, but the black turtleneck strapped on his back actually fit him, made him look...striking. Handsome, no, since nothing could quite fix the permanent smirk on his mouth or the length of his face or the hollowness of his cheeks, but it made him look like somebody you could depend on to get any job done--most likely ill-reputed jobs of course, but that wasn't the point. There was a man following him out, smaller in frame, much more stout yet happier looking. The car waited for them. The man Chokma tried to convince herself was Hevel carried an old briefcase.
The smaller, happier man walked with Hevel to the door, and when they knocked on it she was already there, waiting for them. THe small man looked at her as she opened the door, studying her. "Ms. Qoholeth?" the small man asked.
Chokma didn't reply at first. She was too busy looking at Hevel. And he really was Hevel. She winced. The smell of cigarettes was too recognizable to be anybody but Hevel.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, knowing how rude she may have seemed.
Hevel smiled at her. It gave her little to no comfort that he did. "Hello, dear," he said. Out of his pocket, he pulled a pipe. "Author, good fellow, could you help light this for me?"
The man, Arthur, seemed to oblige, pulling out a lighter that he kept in his vest pockets for reasons Chokma could only guess. "You ought to bring your own lighter, you know, good friend," Arthur said, as he lit the pipe. "Especially since I won't be with you for long."
Hevel chuckled. Chokma couldn't help but miss it--he rarely ever did chuckle in her memories. "It doesn't matter now, Arthur," he said, "I'll figure it out on my own. I always do, after all."
"Yes," Chokma remarked, humming to herself. "It seems you did, after all, Uncle."
Mari had officially been dead longer than she had been alive, and I was still unable to cope with that. I sat on the couch in my mother's living room, staring at the TV unable to process the colorful cartoon events unfolding in front of my eyes. It was hard to watch when all that filled my thoughts was the fact that one of my best friends had died twelve years ago and yet her murder remained unsolved. It was difficult to even think, my mind a maze of cotton and grief, because the voices of my copious therapists all whispered in my ears about how my coping mechanism wasn't healthy.
To hell with them. I'd sit on the stupid puke-green couch and watch Avatar: The Last Airbender whenever I damned well please. It didn't matter that it used to be Mari's favorite show. It didn't even matter that we used to talk about it obsessively before she died. None of that mattered, since I was a fully functioning adult who could cope with grief in a reasonable manner. It didn't mater that my two day old jeans chafed up against my legs and that I couldn't stand how greasy my hair got without showering. I was still functioning.
It didn't matter how my own mother went out of town for the week to avoid seeing her own daughter come home from college, to be reminded of the absolute mess that she had raised.
I touched my forehead to my knees, closing my eyes and blocking out the sound of waterbending. It had been twelve years and Mari's ghost still hadn't appeared, haunting me with her absence from my life. I slowly drew a deep breath in, trying to keep the grief from flooding my lungs. Of course, it didn't work.
A knock came at my mother's door, but I wasn't all that inclined to answer it. No one needed to see me in the state that I was in now, mourning the death day of a departed girl. Hell, if it was my own mother begging for me to let her in, then I would have been inclined to let her stay out in the rain. The house was my own for the time being -- a part from the cat -- and it was mine to mourn in whoever I saw fit. Who cared about the 24-hour Avatar marathon?
A notification buzzed on my phone, so I looked up from my misery.
It was an email from my guidance counselor, asking about my plans for the summer break. 'Sidney,
15 minute game