A year ago, when Asylum and I were in the first week of being on the streets by our lonesome, I had won a gamble. It was a bet, this teenager’s car against Asylum’s gold family artifact. It’s a good thing we won; otherwise I would have felt so terrible in losing that gold armlet with the sapphire encrusted jewels.
But we did; we won the gamble. We got the car and a few thousand dollars worth of money from the other people who had participated. We were golden, and we could afford food that we had been craving for the past seven days. The two of us were starved, and seeing Asylum eat after so long was worth risking her family artifact.
I walked outside after throwing on a light jacket, and looked at the low-riding, sleek speed machine on wheels. Yeah, that’s right, I didn’t have a license. But did I care? No. The law could kiss my ass as long as we were safe.
Just be careful, and you won’t get caught. Not like they told us in the academy “break the law!” but they did say that do whatever it took to keep the Rhaso safe. Yet again, follow tradition, do what you have been forced into against your will, and everyone will be happy.
Sighing, I turned and leaned against the vehicle, looking up at the puffy white clouds passing overhead. The apartment building was placed on 5 acres of land, a beautiful spot in Pennsylvania fifteen minutes outside of Philadelphia. Since we were in a fairly densely populated area, it would be hard to track our movements if anyone were to follow us, but we had to remember that it wasn’t impossible.
We would have to move eventually. We already spent two and a half months here, long enough for someone to notice something odd.
“How long is she going to take…?” I said softly. My skin was tingling, the hairs rising on the back of my neck. “Must be my paranoid side getting to me…” As I folded my arms in front of me, I glanced around the area, just to make sure there wasn’t any danger.
The park down the street; just a bunch of children and their mothers. The group of teens walking in huddled formation; just a bunch of adolescence with nothing better to do. The old woman on the bench twenty five feet down the sidewalk from me; just feeding the pigeons like normal.
“Roza!” Asylum called over as she walked across the street. “What’s gotten you so tensed up?”
“It’s nothing.” I stated. “Get in the car, I don’t like being out in the open.”
“You’ve spent way too much time down in Arrock.” Asylum stated. I narrowed my eyes at her. “Don’t give me that look! No one’s going to hear me.” She opened up the passenger side door and climbed in, I opened the driver’s side and followed her lead. “Look yourself over in the mirror, you look like you’re still half asleep!” She pushed the rearview mirror so it faced directly on top of me.
I chuckled, looking up at the reflection as I said “I don’t care what I look like, I’ve got no one to impress.” Dark blue eyes stared intensely back at me as though suspecting me of committing some foul crime as long dark blond hair framed a face covered in skin that seemed to never see the light of day.
My eyes focused in on the scar that started right below my ear and ended at the corner of my mouth, a scar that had been there for three years now, invading the right side of my face. I couldn’t stand looking in a mirror because of that thing, not because I was disgusted in how it looked – I honestly didn’t give a crap about my looks, but about what it always reminded me of.
“You will one day, I’ll make sure of it.” Asylum stated.
“No, I won’t. My duty is to protect you. What happens if I fell in love? Got pregnant and had a kid?” I stated, moving the mirror back in its place. “You get attached to a thing—“
“A child is not a thing!”
“—and you lose focus on what’s important. I’m not going to risk putting you in danger.” I continued, ignoring her interruption. “Besides, based upon what occurred with me and my parents, I couldn’t even say that I could be a parent if need be. The thing would most likely be thrown into the academy to be brought up, just like I was. I wouldn’t know how to teach it, and I sure as hell wouldn’t know how to love it.”
“Don’t say that, Roza. I want to see you happy, you know.” Asylum stated.
“I know.” I replied, turning the engine on. “But you forget, happiness for a Crystal is not part of our tradition. If we left, and lived out in the world with the regulars, then it would be, but I’m not doing that. I’m not leaving you unprotected, so I can just forget about this happiness business.”
Asylum sighed and stared out her window as we pulled out and drove away. “I know, Roza, but it’s just not fair.”
“Life isn’t fair, but we still gotta live.” I replied.
The rest of the ride to the mall was quiet, neither of us talked. It made me think about how different she was from me, just because we didn’t share the same color of blood. Asylum was part of royalty, no matter how much she rejected it. She didn’t want the throne, ruling a hidden nation wasn’t her type of thing, and I couldn’t blame her. But what about the runner-ups? There were only a handful of people that even held a chance about keeping the Rhaso safe and on their feet.
She was pampered, she didn’t have to worry about much, and because of that she’s able to claim a love life, able to bring up a stable family. Me, on the other hand, I was beaten into thinking that my life was less than that of a full-blooded Rhaso. I was taught to be aggressive, serious. To be a hardened gem that is unmoving and strong.
Those teachings scarred you, sometimes literally.