“I need to know where the monster is,” Blake said. “Do you know where it is hiding?”
“The monster?” I asked, suddenly afraid. I looked around the trees and searched for some dark shadow lurking.
“The Waxling. Do you know where it is?”
A monster. I closed my eyes and shook my head. I’m a monster. Tears came from my eyes.
He walked closer and moved to put the hand that was not holding a knife around my jaw. He paused before he touched me, his fingers lingering millimeters away from my skin. “Hey.” His voice was soft. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to scare you.”
“I’m not…” I opened my eyes and he was right there. “A monster?” I repeated. Is that what they all thought?
“Have you seen it?” he asked, dropping his hand, his fingers grazing the skin on my neck. “What does it look like?”
I looked up, and his face was so close to mine. He was right there, ripe to steal my heart. I searched for words, but none came. My heart felt folded inside. He had seemed so real to me before. But now he was only a threat.
“I have to go,” I said, but my feet wouldn’t move.
“Please. I’m sorry. This isn’t about you.”
I was silent, but when I spoke my voice was broken. “Yes, it is.” I’m the Waxling, I thought but didn’t say.
“What’s your name?” he asked again.
I shook my head. I don’t have a name.
“Please don’t be scared. I promise I won’t hurt you. Look.” He dropped the knife to the dirt and put up his gloved hands. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
I put my hands over my eyes, and tried to hide. But I could sense him so close to me. I could smell him, and the way his presence tainted the sweetness of the woods.
“I just…” he said, somehow stepping closer. “I want to know your name.”
My name was monster. My name was creature. Weird thing. My name was ugly and broken. My name was words.
“Are you okay?” he asked when I put my hands down. I squinted in the sudden sunlight, and wouldn’t look at him.
“Please,” I said. “Just leave me alone.”
“Okay,” he said as he stepped back, his hands slowly lowering. “I’ll leave you alone. I…Please. I just need to know your name.”
I closed my mind and the words swam through it, a thousand names ran through my mind. Lucy, Odette, Alice, Helen, Juliette, Emma, Hermione, Jane, Scarlett, Violet, Bella, Susan… the names kept coming. And they wouldn’t stop. They fell over my head like a waterfall. I didn’t know. I didn’t know who I was.
“Sarah,” The word came through my mouth without my mind telling me. That single word stopped the flow of words. My name was Sarah.
Sarah. That’s who I was. My name was right, and the familiar sound of my name sent me in a nervous silence. His face was suddenly close to mine, and I didn’t startle. “Sarah,” he breathed. The way he said the name felt almost holy. It was perfection there in the sunlight next to the boy with the blade.
“Blake.” I said with a broken smile. After a moment of just starring into each other’s eyes I spoke. “I wish your mother well, Blake.” He lowered his head. “What wrong with her?”
The word felt heavy in my ears. Felt like darkness and fear, familiar and scary, although it was a new word for me. “Cancer,” I said, trying it out with my tongue.
I could end that word. Take out that darkness.
That would be my wish.
“Thank you, Blake,” I said, smiling with new found purpose. He walked to me then, and put his hands up to touch my face, and then back to his side. He searched my eyes, and healed me with them.
He licked his lips, and I cocked my head. “Are you alright?” I asked.
“I’ve never felt like this before,” he said. “I keep forgetting everything else. You smile and my world silences.”
I couldn’t stop myself. His words made me smile, and I could feel what he meant. The whole world was silent except for the sound of the leaves beneath his feet as he took away the space between us. There was nothing except the wind that wrapped us together. There was nothing but him and me and a perfectly still unending second. There was only one word left in that moment, a word I’d read before and never really comprehended.
I understood it now. What it felt like, what it would do, what I would do for it. He caressed the side of my face, and I leaned into his hand.
“Your skin feels odd,” he said.
“Maybe it’s your gloves,” I suggested. He pulled off his gloves and I saw deep red scars warping the skin of his hands. I ran my fingers over the burnt skin, and looked up at him with sympathy. The back of his bare fingers brushed against my cheek. He stopped, and turned his hand, running it across my neck. A look of horror and fear swapped his face into someone else’s.
“No,” he whispered.
“What?” I asked.
He shook his head and let out a breath. His voice was cold and sharp. His eyes were betrayed. “I was warned that you would look human, but I didn’t realize you’d look like…”
“Like an angel.” His shoulders rose and fell, and he closed his eyes and turned away from mine.
An angel. The words felt like honey on my tongue. I smiled, and then he picked up the knife.
“I’m sorry,” he said to me. His back to me. “Oh god... I’m so sorry, Sarah.”He turned so suddenly, lifting the knife’s point to my chest, and I screamed.
The Waxling launches early 2014. All work copyright Sheena Boekweg, and subject to change.