I’m late. Again. Not that it matters. Sophia has called a meeting. I can be late for school. Dinner. Just about anything and she won’t notice. Today’s different. She wants to talk about the dream. My mother is not like most.
I don’t own a watch but it’s closer to six than five. River mist is starting to roll and it’s cold. Definitely six. I don’t rush.
I live on the wrong side of the river. If we moved to the other side it would still be wrong. My mother is in my brain. Talking already when we can go weeks without words.
The dream changed everything and it won’t quit replaying. All the time. Day and night.
Sophia will explain everything. It’s what she does. Interpreting dreams. Reading cards. Helping people with problems no one else can. But never with me, this is a first. The Unseen help her. A whisper that guides her. Darpehous. A whisper with a name. She calls him her SpiritPrince. It only bothers me when she forgets to talk to him on the inside.
When I first told Sophia about the dream she closed her eyes and waited, barely breathing. “Tell me again,” she said, eyes still closed. I did, over and over, until she was satisfied. Then again. Then once more. It was the longest conversation we’ve ever had. Tonight I will find out why.
A dark blue car drives past me for the third time. A soda can flies out the window. I hear their war cries but don’t try and dodge. I even stagger just a bit, hoping it will be enough. The car pulls back around. I slow. Relax and count back from ten. My breath makes smoke. Here we go again.
It’s always the same. Confidence in numbers. The car stops in front of me, two wheels pulled on the curb, engine running. Twenty metres between us.
The driver stays at the wheel but the other two get out. A greasy blond leans against the car, watching me through half closed eyes. The other one is bigger, pasty flesh falling below his t-shirt. I can smell them from here. Alcohol with a side of false courage.
I keep walking. Same pace. Same path. No eye contact and no witnesses[TA1] . I’m no longer cold.
Pasty Flesh says, “you go first, bro.”
I lift my head and check for weapons. Nothing. Not even rings. I straighten and look Pasty Flesh in the eye. I see the flicker of surprise. I am not the skinny weed he thought I was.
Greasy Blond speaks, ‘What you starin’ at loser?” He blocks my path. I can’t help smiling.
“You laughin’ at me? You won’t be laughin’ soon.”
He swings first, an easy dodge. One quick step before he tries again. I block his wild swing, grabbing his wrist and twisting. Hard. We both hear a bone fail. The faultline in his balance appears. I shove him forward, letting go only when his face hits the pavement.
Pasty Flesh starts cursing. He rushes me. Rugby player. I drop my shoulder and launch towards his chest, driving him back until he hits the car door. Hard.
Winded but still speaking, “Now you’ve done it,” he gasps.
I keep one eye on Greasy Blond, still holding his wrist, and throw a punch at the talking one’s head. That shuts him up. Blood, spit, bubbles and maybe a tooth.
I walk to the front of the car, swinging my arms to the driver. An invitation. He doesn’t move. But he does speak, “you losers get back in the car.”
I keep walking. Even later now. Squealing tires and smoked rubber. I don’t look up as they drive past.