“You got a tattoo.”
“There was also demons, the police, a fae --” I tried.
“You got a tattoo.” She raised a hand, and for half a moment I thought she was going to slap me before she reached across the kitchen table and brushed some hair from my face, staring into my eyes. I tried not to squirm. “Show me.”
I sighed and unwrapped the bandage on my left hand and showed her both palms. “They’re visible only if I want them to be.”
“Because they're magical tattoos?” she said, but there was a tightness in her voice when she stared at my left hand.
“How did you --?” I drew back and grandma blinked a few times.
“I was joking. Or I thought I was,” she amended, then frowned and turned my left hand over, staring at my palm. “This?”
I looked down and saw the faint outline of the tattoo glowing red. “Weird.” I concentrated and it faded away almost to nothing. “There. I guess using fire soon after getting this wasn’t the best idea.”
“And it is?”
“The new moon, the Eye of Horus -- closed -- and a phoenix reversed. It should basically make a framework for binding the angel and save me time and energy. It knows what I am, about the knife, and can probably seen the fire in me. I need another edge, or at least a moment of surprise.”
She ran her fingers lightly over both palms, tickling my right a little in the process. “And it was worth it?”
“Don’t know yet.” I pulled my hands away. “Probably not: it hurt a lot.”
“You knew that going in.”
It wasn’t a question but I nodded anyway. “I thought anything on my left hand would hurt a lot by default.”
“You could have asked me.”
“Would you have said yes?”
Grandma was quiet for a few minutes, staring at my hands, then looked up and smiled wanly. “Probably not. But despite what you may have heard, it isn’t easier to get forgiveness than permission.”
“It may seem easier, but you break a trust in doing so.”
“And,” she added with a gentle smile, “sometimes when adults say no, it is for a good reason.”
“‘People only grow to the extent they aren’t protected. Not by closing their hearts, but by the pieces they leave open.’” I quoted.
She snorted. “Your father always was too poetic for his own good.”
“You don’t grow if you’re sheltered. That’s what he meant. It’s not a bad thing to want to, but only for so long.”
“Aiden. You’re only fifteen. You’re young enough to be wounded, yes, but are you old enough to heal?”
Neither of us looked at my left hand. I smiled, or at least tried to. “I don’t know.”
“I was young once, too. I took risks, did foolish things. All parents were children once, Aiden; as difficult as you might find it to believe, all grandparents were, too. I don’t know many things in this life, but I do know that we only grow by scar tissue, and most of us, if we had a choice, wouldn’t choose to grow at all.”
“Hush.” She took my hands in hers, lightly. “To be content in life, you need ignorance, Aiden. The world is full of evil and good, and I doubt either is stronger than the other, but it’s all too easy to see the evil. One act can make someone evil, but good is so many little things, all adding up in amounts so small we almost never measure them.”
“Demons, grandma. They’re real, and they hate us. You want me to be ignorant of them and have the world end?”
“No. But I think it would be better by far to be happy when the world ends than to be sad over your own life. Your parents had each other. They knew love. But you -- if you save the world and end up bitter, or sad, or lonely, what have you saved that was worth it?” She let go of my hands. “I don’t want your life to be like that, no matter the choices you make.”
“But I’d save the world.”
“I think it is generally better if our lives have meaning than that our deaths do,” she said dryly. “I’d rather you lived a full life, Aiden, and died in some random accident, than died a death in the cold and dark with no one to mourn, no one to attend your funeral.”
“How many will attend yours?” slipped out before I could stop it.
I stiffened, prepared for her to strike me this time, but to my surprise my grandmother laughed. “Oh, Aiden. Thank you.”
“Your parents would never have said that, never dreamed of it.”
“I’m sorry --.”
“Hush.” She raised a finger to my lips. “It was true. I am scared you will make the choice I made, Aiden. I’m an old lady who doesn’t even keep cats for company, who had no lover who remained, who made no friends I wasn’t too quick to renounce. But you are your parent’s son, too. And they could use people without hesitation if they had to, friend or not.” Son or not remained unspoken.
“I don’t plan to.”
“Of course you don’t. You’ll just let it happen, and pretend surprise when it’s over.”
I scowled. “I’m not you. And I’m not them!”
“I wish I could believe that.” She stood. “You don’t know how hard I wish that.”
“I stood as well. “So, I’m being grounded or something?”
“I think you’ve punished yourself enough. This time. But you can’t keep doing things like this. There are limits to how much a body can endure.”
I said nothing.
She began walking to the kitchen stairs, and turned and looked back. “You need to learn to bend, Aiden.”
“I am an exorcist,” I said, holding her gaze. “We break before we bend.”
And my grandmother stared at me for a long moment, mouth opening, but she closed it on whatever words she was going to say and turned out the light.
I stood in the dark alone until she went upstairs so I could pretend I never heard her crying.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Just came across this bit of news today, and I'm still terribly amused by it. You see, Archie Comics did this fun mockery of Marvel's Civil War with their own 'Civil Chores' . All I can think now is that this is their version of the marriage between Spidey and MJ, and it will end with Archie making a deal with the devil to annul his marriage.
... Is there a reason you're looking at me like that?
... Is there a reason you're looking at me like that?