Chapter 27:

She doesn't think

The Sequence of Kai

“Hey Kai.”Bookmark here

Trish greets me without tearing her attention away from the mess of scissors, card and glue strewn around the floor of the living room. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“What are you making?”Bookmark here

“Invites.”Bookmark here

“All those are invites?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, I’m nearly done.”Bookmark here

“You’re mad.”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“I guess yeah… wait you’re turning 21?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, didn’t you know?”Bookmark here

“I thought you were my age…”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“Why’s that?”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Hey! What are you doing?! It’s hard to seal those neatly you know!”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Dear Marie, lucky you, you’re being invited to Trish’s 21st birthday party.Bookmark here

Just as I thought. No way she remembered her fake age when she was writing this, she’s not careful when she gets excited. Bookmark here

I drop the letter from my hands above her outstretched arms and she snatches it.Bookmark here

“Trish, read your letter.”Bookmark here

She hastily reads over her own writing.Bookmark here

“Do you not like my invite? I think it’s pretty cool.”Bookmark here

“Trish, are you turning 20 or 21?”Bookmark here

She looks back down at her letter and then back up at me, then back to the letter.Bookmark here

“So, which is it?”Bookmark here

“Shut up. Don’t say anything.”Bookmark here

I do as she says, and she starts tearing open the letters she’s already sealed. Bookmark here

“So, is there anything important to do today?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, there is.”Bookmark here

“Really? What is it?”Bookmark here

“Wait until I’m done here, and I’ll tell you?”Bookmark here

“Oh, it’s so important that it can wait for you?”Bookmark here

“No, it’s so important that it has to wait for me.”Bookmark here

“I don’t like the sound of that.”Bookmark here

“Well tough.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Can you, like, not stand there?”Bookmark here

“Something wrong with the way I stand?”Bookmark here

“Just go annoy Aaron or something, I’ll call you when I’m done.”Bookmark here

“Alright, that sounds fun enough.”Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Yo.”Bookmark here

“What do you want?”Bookmark here

He sounds annoyed, I wonder why?Bookmark here

“Trish told me to wait for her but to do it elsewhere.”Bookmark here

“And that means bothering me?”Bookmark here

“I fancied it more than watching the old guy write. Got a problem with that?”Bookmark here

“Do whatever you want.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“You look like you’re having a bit of a problem.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, it’s you.”Bookmark here

“I was thinking something that’s popped up more recently than me, something that can be helped.”Bookmark here

“Tch.”Bookmark here

He continues his pacing uninterrupted.Bookmark here

“Passive-aggressive noises aren’t going to fill a pool for you.” Bookmark here

“Filling it isn’t the problem, I can do that whenever I want.”Bookmark here

“Then what’s the problem?”Bookmark here

He bits down on his index finger just between his knuckle and where the finger curls into a fist. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

That didn’t stop him delaying things, of course, he loves avoiding talks about things that might matter, whenever possible.Bookmark here

“Difficult girl, difficult girl….”Bookmark here

He mutters under his breath but it’s loud enough that I’m clearly meant to hear him.Bookmark here

“And here I thought you liked difficult girls.”Bookmark here

“I don’t.”Bookmark here

“What does Trish have that I don’t? Is it the tits? Hers aren’t that much bigger than mine.”Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Trish is a B cup, right? I’m an A, it’s not a huge difference.”Bookmark here

“Look at the pool.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“What about it?”Bookmark here

“Doesn’t it look weird? Doesn’t it look strange?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, there’s no water or people in it, of course, it looks strange.”Bookmark here

“No, I don’t mean that…. What do you need for a pool to work?”Bookmark here

“Water I guess.”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“You’re worried about it looking strange?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, I’d prefer people don’t ask weird questions.”Bookmark here

“Then why didn’t you just make a pool with all of the pool things?”Bookmark here

“I can’t make something like that….”Bookmark here

“You can’t?”Bookmark here

“No, it doesn’t work that way….”Bookmark here

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?Bookmark here

Aaron realizes he’s let too much slip and gets annoyed.Bookmark here

“Stop trying to dig for info on my hand, just give me some solutions.”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“How would that help?”Bookmark here

“People aren’t going to worry about the mechanics of your pool if they’re drunk enough.”Bookmark here

“What if there are people that don’t want to drink?”Bookmark here

“At Trish’s birthday? With an open bar? No chance.”Bookmark here

“You don’t know that, I’m not going to drink.”Bookmark here

“I don’t think Trish is going to invite people like you, I’m not even convinced she’s going to invite you.”Bookmark here

“She already promised to invite me if I did the pool though.”Bookmark here

“Hope you’ve got that in writing.”Bookmark here

I’ll make sure he has to fight tooth and nail for that invite.Bookmark here

“Fuck it, I’ll think of something later…”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Figured out what you’re doing to keep him happy?”Bookmark here

“I think so, it’s just a question of if it’ll work.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“I’ve never seen you bleed. Why is that?”Bookmark here

I snap my fingers in front of his face to regain his attention.Bookmark here

“Worry about that after you’ve figured out what you’re doing here.” Bookmark here

His eyes ease themselves back in and he shakes his head clear.Bookmark here

“Yeah… Sorry about that.”Bookmark here

“Don’t apologize to me, it doesn’t seem sincere.”Bookmark here

“Then just don’t tell Trish that happened.”Bookmark here

“I won’t… if you let me watch what you’re going to do.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Fine, just stay there for a second, I need to get some materials from my room.”Bookmark here

He doesn’t have any materials in his room, I was just there.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“What’s in the bucket?”Bookmark here

“Paint.”Bookmark here

“You need that much?”Bookmark here

“Yeah.”Bookmark here

“What for?”Bookmark here

“You asked to watch, not to pelt me with questions while you do.”Bookmark here

“Then give me something to watch.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“You should do more stuff like this in front of Trish, makes you look way cooler than you are.”Bookmark here

“She’s seen me do plenty of cool things before.”Bookmark here

“I’m sure, I’m sure. What exactly does that paint do?”Bookmark here

“Well, if it does what I want it to…”Bookmark here

He feels around where the door was, finds the handle and opens it. Bookmark here

“It should just mask its appearance.”Bookmark here

The door hasn’t reappeared, so when he opens it, it looks more like he’s pulled a rectangular section of the wall away. Bookmark here

Paul is centred in that frame, not looking up at the disturbance. Aaron closes the door again. Bookmark here

“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…”Bookmark here

He grabs the bucket of paint and lugs it up the stairs. Bookmark here

“I’m going to go work on the rooms upstairs, you wanna see that too?”Bookmark here

“No, I’ll go bother Trish again.”Bookmark here

“Suit yourself.”Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Back in the living room, Trish is stuffing the letters into a bag.Bookmark here

“Ah Kai, right on time. Thanks for waiting, I just finished.” Bookmark here

“And I just finished waiting.”Bookmark here

“Then let’s get going.”Bookmark here

Trish hoists the bag onto her back before producing another one from behind the table and hoisting it on to me. Bookmark here

“Where are we going?”Bookmark here

“I can’t tell you until we get there.”Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Here! It’s right here.”Bookmark 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?Bookmark here

“Right Trish, enough is enough, what do you need me for that’s so important.”Bookmark here

“I need to deliver my invitations to everyone.”Bookmark here

“You don’t need me for that.”Bookmark here

Nearly told her it wasn’t important, that was close.Bookmark here

“Yes I do, I’ll be bored otherwise.”Bookmark here

“That’s not an important reason.”Bookmark here

“Do you want me to be bored Kai? Is that what you want?”Bookmark here

“Well, no……”Bookmark here

“Then you’ll come with me.”Bookmark here

Defeated. If only she could extend this nuance to a real battlefield. Bookmark here

“So why did you bring us here?”Bookmark here

“Oh, this is the midpoint between all the addresses, it should make things easier.”Bookmark here

I feel my right hand go straight for her neck but restrain it with the left.Bookmark here

“Kai, what’s wrong? You look angry.”Bookmark here

“How would being in the middle of all the addresses be helpful when we need to go to all of them??”Bookmark here

Trish thinks about it for a moment and then shifts her gaze away from me as she realizes her mistake.Bookmark here

“…it seemed like a good idea when I thought of it…”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“It’s OK, let’s just get started.”Bookmark here

Reluctantly, I grab her wrist and start dragging her towards the first house.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.