I Was Still Reeling

  • by jen“That’s enough.”
  • violating curfew
  • a commotion and a scream
  • his fellow student of death
  • by promptitude and dexterity

Tune in next time part 153                             Click Here for Earlier Installments

I was still reeling from the shock of learning that the man I had always known as my great uncle was instead my mother’s step-father. It was a baffling state of affairs that did nothing to explain why he was now holding me at gunpoint and refusing to let me go to Valentine Village to find Tessa, or at the very least a message from her.

The tree we stood under had many branches that reached toward the sky, and a single branch that dipped toward the ground. I did a quick calculation in my head, and then, by promptitude and dexterity, timed my move.

In the split-second when Jinx blinked, I sprang up, grabbed the branch, and wrapped my legs around the old man’s neck. It was a move I learned from John when I was his fellow student of death at the Academy.

Jinx dropped his gun amid a commotion and a scream that I silenced by squeezing my thighs and cutting off his air. When he crumpled and sagged, I released him and dropped down from the tree. I was now glad I’d allowed John to talk me into violating curfew so many times to hone our fighting skills in the fields outside the Academy.

In the distance I saw the Rainbow Connection, that most colorful of locomotives, still getting back up to speed. The violet caboose was just visible. I sprinted for it, my thighs shrieking and my lungs burning with the effort. I caught the rear railing just before my legs gave out, and I hauled myself up onto the platform.

I laid there, gasping, for the rest of the ride to Barbershoppe. Outside the station, I caught a cab to Valentine Village.

The amusement park was the gaudiest thing I’ve ever seen, all red and pink and frilly lace. Insipid love songs played over the sound system as I waited in line to buy a ticket. My teeth ached from the saccharinity of it all.

At the heart-shaped ticket window, the chubby man dressed like Cupid took one look at me and said, “Tessa’s waiting for you, Jason.” He let me in through a side door marked Employees Only. “She wants you to wear this.” He handed me a toga and a pair of feathery white wings that matched his own, and then stood watching as I changed into them.

“The final touch,” he said, handing me a compact full of blush and a makeup brush. He held a mirror for me as I applied layer after layer of the red stuff to my cheeks. Finally he said, “That’s enough.”

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