I dried the oil off my hands with the paper napkins supplied from the bar. Mai had been so perfectly patient with me; we’d not said a word to each other, and she had just sat there so still whilst I gobbled up the entire plate of yummy nachos. Who does that anyway? Surely it’s natural to try and make conversation during ‘feasting’. But, in that way, I knew Mai was special. She was special when she left the bus and, contrarily, she is even more special now she is back.
But how can I know this from one quick word with her?
Maybe that was the answer; she gave off such an aura that something… Well, something had to be special and extraordinary about her, even from that first attention to me.
“You know,” I said conversationally, looking up into Mai’s eyes, trustworthy and solemn, “I hate my life.”
Mai jumped slightly, as though she had been looking straight through me and forgotten her manners.
“Whatever for?” said she, once she had recovered her decorum.
“It’s just…horrible. Fate; a life that I don’t wish to have is unavoidably souring my way, and it is destroying not just my confidence, but the people around me.” I was choked for a second, thinking of Aidan, “I don’t want them to get hurt.”
“Meggie,” Mai said so quietly that she was almost whispering, “You don’t know the meaning of terrible. You haven’t been through something that I have. My life, it…”
I gazed at her, observing her troubled expression that was growing more serious by the minute. I knew that there must have been big action happening up in space but, of course, as a self-absorbed teenager, I thought my life more important.
“You may be an alien, but I bet your life has still been luckier than mine. I’m cursed.”
“No you’re not,” Mai’s tone was rising, slightly infuriated, “Your life is golden and glorious, mine is split with pain.”
I pouted like the teenager I was. She was insistent, but so was I. After all, it was in my personality, my basic genes.
“Prove it!” I scowled, crossing my arms onto the stained wooden bar-table.
Mai almost glared at me. Instead she stared long and hard, her eyes finding and holding mine, almost as though we were having a miniature conversation in our minds. Suddenly she seemed to have made up her mind. She broke the stare.
And then she showed me her scarred arm.