The Sequence of Kai
Things are following me. During the day, during the night, I’m stalked by flesh.
It’s been 3 days since I returned to Touen, and I haven’t slept a single second in what’s meant to be my bed.
My father didn’t get that day off work on my first day back, that’s what my mother told me anyway. Something came up at the board meeting apparently, but he’d definitely take tomorrow off. And the next day. And the next.
On the first day I tried going into town to do some shopping, take my mind off things. That was the first day that ended with hysteric screaming.
I had gotten on the bus at the bottom of the hill to get to the shops. That early in the morning, I was the only passenger.
As the bus lipped over the hill just before town, that inferno of symbols flared up when I blinked. It was sitting at the next bus stop, waiting.
I started screaming at the bus driver.
“Turn around! Can’t you see it?! That monster waiting for me?!”
His startled look was unsurprising. I knew logically that he could not see what I saw but how could he not sense that?
With enough kneeling, sobbing and pleading, the bus driver did eventually turn around and drop me home. The advantages of being from a family that lives at the top of the hill, the bus wouldn’t turn around for most in Touen.
I stayed huddled up in my room until the same time the next day. I didn’t even make it as far as the bus that morning, I saw that invisible person waiting for me at my bus stop as soon as I was out our gate. I rushed back inside and locked my bedroom door.
My mother kept knocking, asking if I was OK. She gave up after a while, coming back every so often to check if I’d stopped crying. I hadn’t.
On the third day, I didn’t even leave the house. When I opened my curtains to look outside, both the invisible person and the inferno in a skin suit were hiding in the trees just beyond the estate.
I closed the curtains and curled up in the corner, unable to scream because my throat was too raw.
Today is my 4th day back.
I didn’t sleep last night, even though I lay down for a number of hours. I spent too long with my eyes closed, tossing around in my bed to make sure that person from the car wasn’t coming for me.
The sun came up earlier and left just as quickly. I finally had to leave my room to get some food, my mother was already preparing dinner when I came downstairs.
Right now, we’re sitting in front of cold steaks and empty wine glasses.
Dad didn’t take work off today either. Not that I expected him to, not that I care.
I know that he’s been disappointed in me. My body was never acceptable, my ambition was never enough. He wanted a son, he told me as much. I’ve always felt unwanted when he’s around, it’s why I had to move away for college.
Even so, I am his daughter, when he heard I wanted to move away, he had the face of a child being told that the toys they haven’t played with in years are going to charity.
“Can I eat now?”
I want to go back to my room, it’s easier to see the forest from there.
“Oh Mallory, be patient, your father will be home any moment.”
She pours herself another glass of wine. It’s a four glass delay tonight, one more than usual. Every time I blink now, I see the pain she’s drowning. I had always thought she just liked wine.
I periodically look around with my eyes closed to make sure that the invisible person isn’t here. He’s not.
“What are you doing dear? Open your eyes.”
“Sorry, I’m just tired.”
“Try to stay up for dinner at least, your father would be so disappointed to not eat with you.”
That just means there’s something he wants to tell me, and he doesn’t want to come home tomorrow to say it. I don’t want him to come home tomorrow either so it’s fine.
Half a glass later and finally the estate gates open followed by the sound of dad’s car pulling into the garage.
He walks into the dining room and my mother jumps up (nearly spilling the remainder of her wine) to take his jacket off him.
“Ah Mallory, you’re still up.”
He walks over to me and kisses me on both cheeks.
He sits down across the table and pours himself some wine.
“Do you want me to heat that up for you?”
“No, I’ve already eaten.”
“What about you Mallory?”
My mother takes both of our plates and puts them in the oven which she had never turned off. My father sips away at his wine in silence whilst he replies to texts on his phone.
“Don’t you have something to tell me?”
He doesn’t look up from his phone.
“I thought you’d want to say something to your daughter who’s just come home.”
“I welcomed you home.”
“One who was just held hostage.”
“I thought you wouldn’t want to talk about that.”
“Then what are you complaining about?”
What am I complaining about? I’ve resolved myself to hate my father, it’s been that way since I could think for myself. I hated him because I knew he hated me. Why do I care now? Because he’s neglected to ask how I am? He’d probably prefer I’d never made it back after all. It’s not like me to care what he thinks, if I cared I never would’ve left home.
“Well, couldn’t you have asked, just to check how I am?”
“Why would I do that?”
“Because I’m your daughter!”
“If you’re going to shout at me at least open your goddamn eyes, Mallory.”
I hadn’t even realized but I’ve been looking at him with my eyes closed for a while now.
From the second he kissed my first cheek, I instinctively shut them. I’ve never liked seeing his face so close. Unlike normal though, I didn’t reopen them afterwards.
“Olivier, the doctors told us not to mention the eyes!”
My mother pleads with my father while trying her best to not turn towards me.
“If she thinks she’s a grown woman, then she can look me in the eye when she argues. I don’t want to hear any bullshit about sensitive topics, she clearly doesn’t care.”
He’s so calm. He never shouts. I thought I knew his truth, the kind of person he was. I was able to move forward by moving away from him, because I knew he was a hateful man.
But now that I can close my eyes and look past his face, I can see that’s not true. He doesn’t hate me; the symbols don’t convey that. He hasn’t secretly loved me either.
I look for what he thinks of me inside his soul, but I can’t find anything.
And that’s the truth.
All this time, he never loved or hated me.
From the day I was born, he simply never cared.
For some reason, that’s more painful than what I thought before.
“Mallory, honey, it’s OK, your father didn’t mean it.”
My Mother lays a hand on my head to comfort me because, somewhere along the way, I’d started crying.
I can’t take it; I slap her hand off me and run upstairs to my room, locking the door behind me.
I don’t hear any arguing from downstairs, they’ve never been the type of parents to start big arguments, a line or two is the most they ever got into it.
I’m so tired, I can’t stop crying. I need to sleep. I don’t care anymore. If that invisible man is going to kill me, let it happen in my bed.
I crawl under the covers of a bed for the first time in a week, still crying softly. I try sleeping on my front.
But I can see my parents downstairs.
I try to sleep on my side
But I can see our neighbours in the distance.
I don’t usually like sleeping on my back, but I don’t have a choice anymore.
There’s no one above me. There can’t be anyone above me. It doesn’t make sense.
So why does the moon look like that? Why does it have an inner coil? It moves like a person’s but it’s gigantic.
It’s looking at me.
Why does the moon look like that?
Why does it look like that?
The moon. The moon. Why is the moon alive!
Why does it look like that?!