Chapter 36:

sceNe 36 - ᴄooʀᴅiNaᴛioN

ᴋraCᴋeᴅ ᴍooN / Kracked Moon

After some thinking, I decided to reach out to Jason first. He sounded happy to hear I was okay, but whenever I would ask how Cryztal was doing, he’d find a way to change the subject. I checked to see if Cryztal had streamed, and there was a post about taking a break. Hard to imagine she’d eagerly be streaming after all of this. I wanted to check on her, but I wasn’t sure what to say. I wasn’t even sure how to feel.

I didn’t tell Jason about my scars being healed. As far as he and Cryztal both knew, I didn’t have them in the first place. I spent an hour or so cleaning myself up, which included shaving my legs and tweezing my eyebrows. It was easy enough to cut my finger nails, but I didn’t really want to paint them again so soon. The worst part was probably cutting my hair, which of course had also become overgrown. I think I did an okay job getting the length, but I might have to go shorter or my hairdresser would ask questions. Why did so much grow back? Is this like a whole new body?

Sandra came home and found me zoning out in our living room. I chose to wear the pajamas Cryztal gave me, hoping they would help me think about the situation, but I was drawing blanks. There were too many details to weigh, and I wasn’t exactly happy with my conclusions. I couldn’t tell Sandra what happened, so I made up a story about accidentally being dropped off at the apartment while hanging out with a friend from high school. She believed me, but made it clear she didn’t want to drive all the way out to Cryztal’s to get my car.

We made plans the next day to meet with Jason at a halfway point. Sandra arrived a bit earlier than Jason, so we had to wait. I was so absorbed in thought that I wasn’t paying her much attention. She decided to break the silence.

“Hey… so when are you moving in with her?” Sandra said, more shyly than I had ever heard from her.

I sighed. “Is that what you think is happening?”

“You rarely come back to the apartment, and it feels shitty asking for rent when you’re not staying there.” She looked out her side window. “I know I’d miss you if you left… but I knew I would have to give you away someday.”

She couldn’t even resist joking during a serious talk like this.

“I don’t know. Things might be a little rough now.”

“Did you fight? Did she hurt you? You don’t look like you’re in pain.” Sandra was quick to turn to me.

“We might have hurt each other. I need to find out.”

Just then, Jason pulled up. As I got out of Sandra’s car, Jason rolled down his window.

“Hey Sandra! Can you stick around for a moment? I want to talk with Nai-bu a bit before you go!”

Sandra didn’t seem to mind, but I was immediately suspicious. Jason had refused to talk about Cryztal over the phone, so I couldn’t gauge his motives. Once I was sitting in his car, Jason took a deep breath.

“First things first. I need you to promise me this won’t happen again.” Jason was looking directly into my eyes.

I looked away. “I didn’t know this would happen. Don’t talk about it like I wanted this.”

“You were clearly okay with it when we were younger, and I want to make sure this doesn't reawaken something in you.”

“You’re seriously going to say that? You were there! You heard me muffling my screams!”

He looked a little scared. Was I that loud? I was just being honest.

“Look. Cryztal’s mom erased every memory of who specifically she ate. All she knew was that she was eating strangers. She might not be ready to process that she has eaten friends or neighbors in the past, let alone you specifically. Just be careful with her.”

Jason’s words were kind, but firm. It wasn’t the first time I had seen him act like a true friend to Cryztal, but it definitely stood out.

“I’ll…try to be careful…” I said, quietly.

Jason told Sandra we were done talking and she could go. He tried to make small talk unrelated to what had happened, but I didn’t want to distract myself. I needed to know if Cryztal was okay. And I needed to decide how I was going to confront her. Every time I would think about her crawling around her house, I would immediately think of the time we had been spending throughout her house, and even us playing as kids. Remembering the tight grip of her claw would shift into the embrace of her arms. But every one of those more peaceful memories would immediately be interrupted with the pain from her biting me apart, or what was left of my body being crushed.

Every single loving memory reminded me of what could have been my death.