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Fiction: Nights Like This (616 words)

01 May

She knew, deep down in her soul, she had made the right choice. Yes, she had loved fighting with them, and it had been her brain child when she and Andy started to put this group together in their teenage years, but it had grown to be so much more than that. And—her heart wasn’t in it anymore. She wasn’t safe working with them, and she made them unsafe just by being there. It had been right for her to leave, no matter how much it had hurt her brother. No matter how much it hurt her to leave Colin. She had made the right choice.

But then, there were nights like this. When she heard the sirens throughout the city, and the news started to wonder if the vigilante crew would show up to help out in this situation, or even worse, when reports of a member of the team had been spotted. She sat, eyes glued to the television like most of the citizens, but with so much more to lose.

Details were always spotty after big events like this. The vigilante crew was always reported to be alive and dead in almost equal measures, depending on the political opinions of the given news channel.  And after a day, night, or week like this, the crew always had bigger fish to fry then to get news to her quickly, to explain what had happened, to let her know if they were safe or not. And she understood that, she really did. But still.

When the news started to repeat itself and it was clear that Mara had learned all she was going to learn from it, she started to pace the apartment. She never got much sleep on nights like these.  Her imagination couldn’t help but tell her that her brother was dead. Or the man she loved was dead. Or one of her best friends from childhood was dead. (She never allowed herself to acknowledge that their fourth, the woman who had replaced Mara on the team and in Colin’s bed, might be dead. Because then she’d have to admit that she wasn’t really upset about that.) And once her brain had made up thorough stories about each of their deaths individually, it started to tell her that more than one was dead out there somewhere, until she had thoroughly convinced herself that she was the only one left, the only one who knew who the vigilante crew was and the only one who was going to mourn their loss.  And she would blame herself for not being with them to save them from this terrible fate.

But then, when she was almost delirious with sleep, he would show up. That brother of hers, the man whose face she knew just as well as her own, the only family she had left and the only person whose loss she knew she would never be able to recover from when it eventually happened, was there at her window, standing hunched on her fire escape, tapping to be let in.

The first words out of his mouth were always an explanation of injuries, because he knew that Mara would ask, and wouldn’t let anything else happen until she knew. They were a good team, and there were many times when the list was only bumps and bruises, and Mara would feel so silly for the panic and the thoughts that her presence would make any difference at all.  After all, she had quit for a reason. She had made the right choice.

 

And she would believe that, if she was lucky, for months at a time, until a night like this made her doubt herself again.

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Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Stories

 

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