I was taking an afternoon stroll around town when I caught sight of Joel sitting on the bench where I had been sitting on the day I had met Kenny. He was staring into the fountain as if he wished he could drown in it. I felt sorry for him despite the fact that this whole affair with Susanna had been his fault. As I paused in the queue at the crêpe van parked nearby, I wondered what Kenny was doing at this moment in time. Had he left the apartment he had been staying in? Was he already on a new mission?
“Is Susanna all right?”
I started and turned around to see Joel standing behind me, hands in his pockets, frowning.
“Um... Don’t you see her at the animal shelter?”
“I do but I don’t talk to her. She doesn’t talk to me either. Svetlana won’t tell me how she’s doing: it’s like she thinks it’s my fault, even though Susanna’s the one who ended it.”
If Svetlana was still here, maybe Kenny was too, I thought to myself. The idea made me want to visit him; then again, I didn’t want to risk causing high Chaos levels because Kenny felt he had gotten slightly emotionally involved.
“She’s all right,” I told him, deliberately neglecting to mention those moments where Susanna was unusually quiet, staring into space as though her mind had travelled to another plane: one which was more comforting than the real world.
“I miss her,” Joel said softly, averting his gaze.
“I ... I don’t think I’ll tell her that,” I replied, even more quietly.
Joel smiled wryly, raising his head, but looking out into the middle distance instead of at me.
“You know, Kenny’s in love too. Makes you wonder if he’ll be rewarded for successfully breaking up me and Susanna, or if he’ll be punished despite. Not by the Council - by Fate.”
“I wish him all the best,” I said, internally stunned by the animosity of Joel's words. “Is it Svetlana? She seems to like him.”
Joel’s wry smile had become something of a wry grin.
“No, it’s not. It’s a human.”
The words struck me like a lightning bolt.
“Oh no,” I whispered. “That’s terrible.”
Joel looked at me. His expression was half rebelliously angry, half painfully resigned.
“I hope he gets his just desserts. I.e., he doesn’t get to be with her. Then he can know how I feel. I hope she falls in love with another human and he’s there to watch.”
Joel seemed to have only joined the queue to impart these cruel words to me and after he had spoken, he walked off, frowning bitterly. I no longer felt sorry for him: he was a jerk. Susanna was much better off without him, I told myself. Let her fall in love with someone who wasn’t so self-centred.