"You see?" I said softly, looking the girl in the eyes. I wasn't trying to big myself up, and I wasn't trying to make it seem like I had everything worse, because that wasn't the kind of person I was. I just wanted her to get a little perspective and realise that everyone else had pain in their lives too: it wasn't just all happy-go-lucky.

"Who ... who did that?" Meggie whispered, running her fingers over the scars. She traced the image of my face and felt the raised lumps under her fingers; she looked at the picture as though it was a masterpiece of horror, and in its way, I guess it was. "That's a picture of you, isn't it? Who did that?"

"A man -- not a human, but one of my kind -- called Jed. He's not around here, hopefully. As far as I know he's back on our home planet." With a soft sigh I thought of that exile. "That's why I'm here. I'm trying to get away." I pulled down my sleeve and looked up as some others returned to the pub. "That your friend?"

"Aidan!" said Meggie happily, staring at him. I knew I wouldn't get anything else out of her, so I turned to the barmaid.

"I don't suppose I could have a lemonade?" I asked her. She handed me the glass and I exchanged it for a pound coin. I decided that I liked this pub. She gave me change.

Parched, I gulped down the drink in just a few mouthfuls and moved onto another. And then another. Something inside me was desperate for the sugar and the fizz, which would hopefully restore a little of the energy that I still lacked from not being able to go Home. Meggie turned back to me.

"Mai, did you ever meet Aidan? I can't remember if you'd left by then." I couldn't remember either. All the faces and names were blurred into one, and though I had some vague recollection of their friendship it could have just been from what Jenny told me after she rescued me from Jed's grasp.

"I don't know. But if I did, I'm glad to meet you again." We shook hands, feeling oddly formal.

The End

203 comments about this exercise Feed