“Child, take all the time you need,” the priest invited, kindly.
“Thank you, Father,” Liz said, and paused to marshal her thoughts.
“It all began one night, when I couldn’t sleep ...”
Liz groaned in misery.
It wasn’t working. She couldn’t believe it; her trusty, reliable, never-fail cure for insomnia – a.k.a. any given passage in any given history textbook – was doing nothing to help her sleep. Nothing. In fact, she’d ended up reading well into next week’s assignment.
In desperation she turned to her laptop, but sure enough, the battery was dead. And that sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach told her that yes, she really had left the adapter at Maria’s.
Finally her gaze lit on her television, and after a desperate search under pillows and through her closet, she found the remote perched precariously on top of her bedside lamp. With a triumphant grin she found herself ... flipping from infomercial to infomercial. As her eyes glazed over, she could actually feel her IQ dropping point by point. Even a late-night soft porn movie only held her attention for about 30 seconds before the repetitiveness and predictability of the 'action' grew boring.
Besides, the woman playing one of the ‘lead’ roles was blond and pouted a lot. This was not a relaxing diversion from her troubles!
Pressing buttons at random, she came across something different. It was an exercise show on a public access channel, but there were no bright colours and perky dancers. There was just a man, middle-aged and undistinguished, yet he moved with immense grace and power. Something about him fascinated her, and without questioning her instincts she slipped a tape into the VCR and pressed record, unintentionally taping over part of a ‘Charmed’ episode that she hadn’t watched yet.
Then, following his example, she cleared a space for herself on the floor and stretched lightly. She felt inspired by the man’s almost tangible aura of absolute competence.
Within minutes she had the pattern of movements down pat, found muscles she hadn’t used since her dance lessons as a child, and lost herself in the choreography. It felt good, and she fell asleep within seconds after pressing stop at the end of the show.
And for the first time in months, she felt rested when she awoke.
The next day Maria offered Michael a ride home so Liz decided to walk home; she had an idea that they might want privacy. She was halfway down Main Street when she noticed the sign. It was small and tucked away in the corner of a shop window, and she had never noticed it before. After studying it for some time, she finally walked into the shop and asked the woman behind the counter for more information.
In minutes she had an appointment for the very next day.
“An appointment?” he couldn’t disguise either his curiosity or his trepidation.
“Yep,” Liz confirmed, and thought about how once again, her life would change in the course of one day.
And how that day changed her.
“Liz, what’s up?”
“Hmm? Oh, nothing Maria. What’s up with you?”
Maria shook her head in cheerful warning. “Oh no, you don’t. You’re not getting out of it this time.”
“Out of what?” Liz asked innocently.
“Where do you go?”
“When?” Liz asked, thoroughly confused now.
“After school every day! Where do you go?”
“I called! You weren’t here. Or,” Maria said, waving off her friend’s next words, “the library, work, or anywhere else.”
“Maria!” Liz exclaimed, a little shocked. "Are you stalking me?”
“Well, yeah!” her best friend shouted back, and then quieted, blushing guiltily. “Hey, you didn’t think I wouldn’t notice, did you? And I’ve been waiting for you to tell me, but I just can’t wait any more,” she complained.
Liz had to laugh. It must have been hell for Maria; she hated when people kept secrets from her, and her imagination always worked overtime. Catching her best friend in a hug, she tried to ease her fears without getting too specific.
“Please don’t worry, Maria. And I’m not avoiding you. At least, not the way you think It’s just ...” she thought quickly. “Maria, you know that everything that’s been going on has been kind of hard on me, right?”
“God, yes, Lizzie!” her friend said immediately, and hugged her back, hard.
“Well, I feel like I’ve been so wrapped up in … everything ... that I’ve kind of lost myself. And I’ve been kind of impressed by the way Kyle seems to find some peace in his Buddhism, so I thought I’d –”
“Oh my god! You’re a Buddhist now?” Maria asked, eyes wide. “Wow!”
“No, I’m not a Buddhist,” Liz laughed. “But I do meditate in my own way. And it pretty much only works if you can find some privacy, you know?”
“Absolutely!” Maria beamed at her best friend. That was it? Her big secret? Well, if that’s what she needed, than Maria could respect that.
For at least a day or two. Maybe even a week.
With a final hug she headed out to begin her shift out front. Liz watched her leave and then turned to her locker. Pulling out the duffel bag she’d stuffed inside earlier, she walked over to the laundry room on the other side of the stairs and started the regular cycle.
And after dumping a great deal of detergent into the water, she casually pulled out several dirty and bloody items of clothing and threw them in. Closing the lid she turned and sat on the couch to wait with a bottle of fabric softener and a serene smile.
She didn’t want to miss the rinse cycle.
“Blood?” he asked, worried. “Child, does this have anything to do with the, the deaths you mentioned?”
Liz shook her head, then realized he couldn’t see her. “Not yet. Most of it was mine.” She took a deep breath. “I just wanted to explain why I was hiding stuff from Ma- Monique. See, it was the first step. After that point, after I realized that people were noticing the change in me, it was just inevitable that my friends would find out my secret. And I thought it was really important that I be ready for that time because I didn’t want them to stop me.”
“Stop you?” he encouraged.
“Yeah,” she said, and her voice grew steely. This was an old argument, and there were times when she had to remind herself that she had good reasons for acting as she did, even if others couldn’t see it. “They – the aliens – got used to thinking of humans as weaker, as good friends but undesirable allies. I needed to prove them wrong, but I needed time. Otherwise Ma- Malcolm would just step in and try to protect me, like he always did, even though we weren’t together anymore.”
There was silence as the priest thought about this.
“Oh,” he said, finally. “So what was this appointment for?” he asked, when it didn’t seem like she was going to continue.
When she did, he couldn’t miss the humour in her voice. “Well, I wasn’t meditating, if that's what you were thinking.”
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|DC Slash||Harry Potter||Ros. Hetero||Ros. Slash||Ros. Other|