The Sequence of Kai
Trish greets me without tearing her attention away from the mess of scissors, card and glue strewn around the floor of the living room.
I count three pairs of scissors at least buried underneath piles of cut and uncut card, and a fourth pair currently in use. If I were to guess why there are four pairs of scissors and only one Trish, I’d say she lost three of them and rather than looking down she just went to get another each time.
Beside her on the table in a messy pile, is a stack of purple envelopes and, in an even messier pile on the floor beside are the ones that fell off. Must be dozens between the two.
“What are you making?”
“All those are invites?”
“Yeah, I’m nearly done.”
“I want a lot of people at my party, it’s my 21st, that’s like the last big one where I can still say I’m young! Besides it’s not like everyone I invite will be able to come.”
“I guess yeah… wait you’re turning 21?”
“Yeah, didn’t you know?”
“I thought you were my age…”
I’m only turning 20 in November, which makes her more than a year older than me… I had thought, because she transferred into my class in secondary school, that she was around my age. Well not just around, I had always assumed she was younger than me.
“You have to talk to me more about these things, it’s not like I’m keeping my age a secret from you. Oh, but I am keeping it a secret from everyone else, if someone asks I’m 20.”
“Had to forge a few details when we moved here, I was technically too old to enrol in your year, but I had to finish school to get into college. So to everyone else, I’m 20 and half British, but I prefer to ignore that latter detail.”
As she tells me this, she licks the seam of the envelope she’d just put her most recent invite in and goes to drop it on the pile, but I snatch it out of her hand and rip it back open.
“Hey! What are you doing?! It’s hard to seal those neatly you know!”
I ignore her protests and hold the letter above my head so I can read it without her snatching it away from me, which she is trying to do.
Dear Marie, lucky you, you’re being invited to Trish’s 21st birthday party.
Just as I thought. No way she remembered her fake age when she was writing this, she’s not careful when she gets excited.
I drop the letter from my hands above her outstretched arms and she snatches it.
“Trish, read your letter.”
She hastily reads over her own writing.
“Do you not like my invite? I think it’s pretty cool.”
“Trish, are you turning 20 or 21?”
She looks back down at her letter and then back up at me, then back to the letter.
“So, which is it?”
“Shut up. Don’t say anything.”
I do as she says, and she starts tearing open the letters she’s already sealed.
“So, is there anything important to do today?”
“Yeah, there is.”
“Really? What is it?”
“Wait until I’m done here, and I’ll tell you?”
“Oh, it’s so important that it can wait for you?”
“No, it’s so important that it has to wait for me.”
“I don’t like the sound of that.”
The conversation drops there as she gets back to ripping apart envelopes in earnest. That only lasts a minute before she realizes I intend to fill my time waiting by watching her redo all the letters.
“Can you, like, not stand there?”
“Something wrong with the way I stand?”
“Just go annoy Aaron or something, I’ll call you when I’m done.”
“Alright, that sounds fun enough.”
I leave Trish to her devices and go scouring the house for Aaron. I spot him squatting down in the garden from his bedroom window.
He’s inspecting an empty swimming pool that wasn’t there yesterday. Impressive that he’s already managed to get it set. I head out back to watch what he’s doing.
“What do you want?”
He sounds annoyed, I wonder why?
“Trish told me to wait for her but to do it elsewhere.”
“And that means bothering me?”
“I fancied it more than watching the old guy write. Got a problem with that?”
“Do whatever you want.”
Aaron goes back to what he was doing before, pacing around the perimeter of the empty pool with his right hand in a fist covering his mouth.
It’s a tidy garden, if nothing else. There was a fair bit of land left over after the house was built, I’m told. A bit less than a football pitch’s worth of grass and a tall stone wall to keep away onlooking eyes. It’s not tidy because of Paul or Trish of course, Aaron makes it a point to tend to it all personally, even though I’m sure he could make machines that did it all for him.
“You look like you’re having a bit of a problem.”
“Yeah, it’s you.”
“I was thinking something that’s popped up more recently than me, something that can be helped.”
He continues his pacing uninterrupted.
“Passive-aggressive noises aren’t going to fill a pool for you.”
“Filling it isn’t the problem, I can do that whenever I want.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
He bits down on his index finger just between his knuckle and where the finger curls into a fist.
He’s frustrated, realizing he’s admitted there is a problem, other than me. Of course, it wasn’t really a question of if this problem existed or whether or not either of us thought it didn’t. It does, and we did respectively.
That didn’t stop him delaying things, of course, he loves avoiding talks about things that might matter, whenever possible.
“Difficult girl, difficult girl….”
He mutters under his breath but it’s loud enough that I’m clearly meant to hear him.
“And here I thought you liked difficult girls.”
“What does Trish have that I don’t? Is it the tits? Hers aren’t that much bigger than mine.”
I grab my left breast through my T-shirt with my right hand to make a show of it. I’m not wearing a bra so it’s all pretty visible underneath the white shirt I decided to wear today.
The second he registers what I’m doing he forces his eyes shut. Nothing gets him worked up quite like a bit of sexual suggestion, total virgin.
“Trish is a B cup, right? I’m an A, it’s not a huge difference.”
“Look at the pool.”
To avoid looking at me he’s jumped into the empty pool to showcase it. He cracked so easily. It sort of sickens me that Trish has had sex with this loser, he deserves to remain celibate forever.
“What about it?”
“Doesn’t it look weird? Doesn’t it look strange?”
“Yeah, there’s no water or people in it, of course, it looks strange.”
“No, I don’t mean that…. What do you need for a pool to work?”
“Water I guess.”
“You don’t just need water though, you need filters, chlorine. There’s nowhere for the water to go in this pool, it looks strange.”
“You’re worried about it looking strange?”
“Yeah, I’d prefer people don’t ask weird questions.”
“Then why didn’t you just make a pool with all of the pool things?”
“I can’t make something like that….”
“No, it doesn’t work that way….”
Does he mean that he literally couldn’t have made a normal pool? What sort of limitation does his power have? Can he really make a thread that connects souls but not a normal-looking pool?
Aaron realizes he’s let too much slip and gets annoyed.
“Stop trying to dig for info on my hand, just give me some solutions.”
“The solution is to not worry about it. If you’re too much of a nervous wreck that you can’t, then get a good fucking open bar, Trish said she wanted one anyway.”
“How would that help?”
“People aren’t going to worry about the mechanics of your pool if they’re drunk enough.”
“What if there are people that don’t want to drink?”
“At Trish’s birthday? With an open bar? No chance.”
“You don’t know that, I’m not going to drink.”
“I don’t think Trish is going to invite people like you, I’m not even convinced she’s going to invite you.”
“She already promised to invite me if I did the pool though.”
“Hope you’ve got that in writing.”
I’ll make sure he has to fight tooth and nail for that invite.
“Fuck it, I’ll think of something later…”
Aaron jumps up and (just about) pushes himself out of the empty pool before walking straight past me and into the house. I’m sure he knows that won’t work. I tail him inside and find him staring at the door to Paul’s office.
“Figured out what you’re doing to keep him happy?”
“I think so, it’s just a question of if it’ll work.”
He hunches down to check the bottom of the door. He places his thumb on the crack between the door and its frame, tracing upwards along it. Then he turns to me. His eyes unfocused, I’ve seen them that way only a couple of times before, when he’s thought of a new application for his powers, or so Trish tells me anyway.
“I’ve never seen you bleed. Why is that?”
I snap my fingers in front of his face to regain his attention.
“Worry about that after you’ve figured out what you’re doing here.”
His eyes ease themselves back in and he shakes his head clear.
“Yeah… Sorry about that.”
“Don’t apologize to me, it doesn’t seem sincere.”
“Then just don’t tell Trish that happened.”
“I won’t… if you let me watch what you’re going to do.”
He wants to tell me to fuck off, but he knows he can’t. He’s too reasonable when it comes to these types of things, beholden to the give and take of normal interaction. He gives me what I want, I’ll give him what he wants, that’s the way it should work, at least in his mind.
“Fine, just stay there for a second, I need to get some materials from my room.”
He doesn’t have any materials in his room, I was just there.
A few minutes later he comes downstairs to grab a bucket and a few more after that he comes back with that bucket filled, about halfway up.
“What’s in the bucket?”
“You need that much?”
“You asked to watch, not to pelt me with questions while you do.”
“Then give me something to watch.”
Aaron obliges, rolling up his sleeves and plunging his right hand into the bucket. He starts at the base of the door and spreads the paint out left and then back in again, it becomes apparent quickly that he’s making a spiral pattern with the door in the centre. About halfway up the frame of the door, he dips his hand back in for more.
I only notice when he leans back down to get more but the grey paint that he’s plastering on the wall is changing colour. Not to anything more vibrant but a collage of blood reds, cold blacks and dark blues.
It takes him about 10 minutes to complete his spiral around the door. When he fills in the final inch of wall on the right, the door itself twists and cracks until it becomes part of the pattern. Any indication that the door was ever there is gone, all that remains is the spiral pattern, which even now is twisting more colours into each tendril that makes it.
“You should do more stuff like this in front of Trish, makes you look way cooler than you are.”
“She’s seen me do plenty of cool things before.”
“I’m sure, I’m sure. What exactly does that paint do?”
“Well, if it does what I want it to…”
He feels around where the door was, finds the handle and opens it.
“It should just mask its appearance.”
The door hasn’t reappeared, so when he opens it, it looks more like he’s pulled a rectangular section of the wall away.
Paul is centred in that frame, not looking up at the disturbance. Aaron closes the door again.
“That should stop anyone from going in there, I’d like to do work on the entire house but I’m not confident in my ability to work on spaces so big…”
He grabs the bucket of paint and lugs it up the stairs.
“I’m going to go work on the rooms upstairs, you wanna see that too?”
“No, I’ll go bother Trish again.”
Back in the living room, Trish is stuffing the letters into a bag.
“Ah Kai, right on time. Thanks for waiting, I just finished.”
“And I just finished waiting.”
“Then let’s get going.”
Trish hoists the bag onto her back before producing another one from behind the table and hoisting it on to me.
“Where are we going?”
“I can’t tell you until we get there.”
Trish marches me out of the house and down to the middle of Brighton town. She’s looking at the maps on her phone for some point in particular.
“Here! It’s right here.”
We’re in the middle of one of the main streets, not in front of anything, just… in the middle. What exactly is here?
“Right Trish, enough is enough, what do you need me for that’s so important.”
“I need to deliver my invitations to everyone.”
“You don’t need me for that.”
Nearly told her it wasn’t important, that was close.
“Yes I do, I’ll be bored otherwise.”
“That’s not an important reason.”
“Do you want me to be bored Kai? Is that what you want?”
“Then you’ll come with me.”
Defeated. If only she could extend this nuance to a real battlefield.
“So why did you bring us here?”
“Oh, this is the midpoint between all the addresses, it should make things easier.”
I feel my right hand go straight for her neck but restrain it with the left.
“Kai, what’s wrong? You look angry.”
“How would being in the middle of all the addresses be helpful when we need to go to all of them??”
Trish thinks about it for a moment and then shifts her gaze away from me as she realizes her mistake.
“…it seemed like a good idea when I thought of it…”
You didn’t think Trish, you didn’t think at all. You did all the steps before thinking without actually engaging in thought of any kind.
“It’s OK, let’s just get started.”
Reluctantly, I grab her wrist and start dragging her towards the first house.