~The Dress~ pg 7

“That… that’s so terrible!” Fiora was trembling now. He had shaken her belief in the woman she had been taught was an infallible god, but better she learn it now. Better she see that this woman should have no power over what she decides to do with her life. If only he had known sooner… his life would have been so different. “I can’t imagine having to live on the streets,” she continued finding a log to sit on, perhaps because she was losing her will to stand.

“The four of us kind of just stuck together from there. Demil became a part of our family. He had street smarts and back alley connections, and we had the muscle for doing odd jobs enough to get by. It was not an ideal upbringing, by any means. All courtesy of her grace, Lady Darya, and the wisdom she claims to have.” Her mouth opened and shut again as he watched her process everything, wanting to protest but being unable to refute his case. Somehow she seemed a little less innocent… a little more burdened by life and he knew it was his fault. Ignorance is bliss, after all, and the truth… well, sometimes the truth held nothing but pain.

Fiora’s eyes eventually drifted back to Chink who held Borris’s hand, still clinging to what he had left. Borris smiled at him with a kind of connection that Alex had never known with anyone. It almost made him jealous… almost. “At least my brother was able to find happiness again,” he commented, “which is more than I can say for myself.” 

“You are not happy…” It was just as much statement as it was question. 

Hearing her say it aloud only solidified the fact and the weight of it made him even more weary. He had not told her everything The Wisdom had taken from him. Instead of burdening her with more, though, he lowered himself to the log next to her and simply shook his head in silent response as they both observed Chink kiss Borris on the forehead. Alex smiled. Fiora blushed and dropped her gaze. 

He was used to their familiarity and gave a shrug. “I am just happy that my brother is happy. I am glad that Chink was there for him to cling to. After all they have lost, it is a miracle their hearts are still able to love.” He took in a deep breath and let out a long sigh as it stretched his wound against its stitches, “Tragedy has broken us all.” 

Again Alex wondered why he was telling her all this. Nivia was the only other besides their band of four that knew their story. The only other he had trusted with it. This girl had tried to kill him… but still he trusted her. Inexplicably and without reason, he realized; he trusted her. Maybe it was the way she had fought for her love or the way she mourned when she had thought him lost. Maybe even the way she came after him in vengeance. They were all things Alex had failed to do in his life. All things he regretted not doing. She was braver than he was and, though it put him to shame, he respected her for it.

Fiora’s gaze returned to her lap where the fingers of one hand stroked another. She did not look at him when she asked one more question. “And what of you, Alex, what do you cling to?” 

He did not answer right away, partly because he had never thought about it before, and partly because he didn’t want to admit it. He waited long enough that she had looked at him, worry creasing her brow. “I cling to the only thing that I have left,” he finally answered in bitterness. “My hatred for The Wisdom.”

The End

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