Something was off about her. I couldn’t put my finger on it before now, but now I know I’ve found it.
She’s sitting on the chair across from me, the afternoon sun glinting off the gem that rests on her nostril and reflecting on the walls. Her eyes, normally hazel, looked unnaturally green in the sunlight’s glare; and her lips, they’re slightly parted. Without their normal vivid red lipstick, I can see them for their natural pomegranate glory.She’s beautiful, not in a way that is possessing outstanding or unique facial features as some “beautiful” women are. Though she does possess an extraordinarily exaggerated shape and two beauty marks – one on her right brow and one on her clavicle – her beauty is seemingly from possessing a very universally pleasant face. If I didn’t know better, I’d not tag her as “ethnic” as so many would be inclined to upon hearing her origins; no, her beauty is so perfect, so enduring, that she could really be from anywhere.
But she isn’t. She is from a very specific place; a very foreign land where once, civilization was conceived, and through hard labor, it was birthed, and through current despots, it was being destroyed.
I believed her all those years ago when she said she fled after the Shah was disposed. I assumed due to her apparent age she meant that it was her family, not herself; or perhaps that it meant she left later on because of how the country became when he was forced down. Really, what she said was so inconsistent I should have caught on to the lies much sooner. But the come and go and perpetual motion of the lifestyle she swept me into overwhelmed me, and I didn’t notice that in the five years I knew her she didn’t age, the five years I knew her she didn’t change, or even suffer illness. She was like a sculpture of flesh and bone and blood.
She sips a cup of tea, I can smell it is flavored with cardamom and its rich dark color shines through the glass. “I know why you’re here,” she says without looking at me. That voice, so young, yet impossibly aged. It chills me to my core. Really, how could I not have noticed things were amiss sooner?
“Please,” I begin, praying to god that these aren’t my final hours on earth. Why was I so stupid as to pry into their personal lives? If I hadn’t, this wouldn’t be happening now.
She raises her hand; the proportions of it are off by modern standards. Fingers that are too long tipped with nails that seem to serve to elongate them further.
“You’ve been very naughty, Saphronia,” she’s not breathing anymore outside of the inhaling necessary for speech. It’s something that you never understand how alarming it is until you realize that a conscious being, right in front of you, is not doing it. “Do you know what kind of trouble you’ve caused?” she continues.
I shake my head slowly, I know I’ve gotten into trouble, but caused it? I realize I don’t understand the depth and severity of letting my curiosity get the better of me; but I’m pretty sure I’m about to find out.
“No, you wouldn’t,” she sighs. “After all, how could you? I doubt you even thought you would find what you did. But see, we now are in a bit of a predicament. The world does not look kindly upon those like us anymore. We can survive by blending in. But with your lovely prying, we now have someone who knows our secret and might expose us. And we don’t want that.” Her eyes are cold, cruel, and in a sense, soulless as she stares at me. It’s the look a predator gives to prey; and I try my best to not break down in tears as I feel my imminent demise.
I muster all the courage I can, “Pantea, I swear,” I am praying to a God I didn’t realize I believe in, “your secret is safe with me.”
“I don’t think it is Saphronia,” she shakes her head sadly. “I know you’re going to share it. So I must deal with you accordingly. It’s really a shame, I really adored you.”
“Please don’t kill me, please….” My chest is tightening, my lungs are constricting, my heart is pounding.
“Oh,” her faint glimmer of a passing grin makes my body go cold, “I’m not going to kill you.”
I gulp, “You’re not?”
“No,” she smiles sweetly, but the feeling of unease does not go away, “but when we are through, you are going to wish you were dead.”
The hand that rests itself on my shoulder is all too familiar. Its grip is strong, hiding within it the capability of strength present only in those of a supernatural sort. I don’t need to look behind me to know it is him; the one who answers to the Queen’s every beck and call, ready to take me to my awaiting doom.
She was correct, I would share.
She spoke the truth, for she did not kill me, but a fleeting moment passed when he did. But it was so ephemeral that I barely could savor it.
She was right, I wish I was dead.
But that’s no longer an option for me anymore, is it?
I am weak by her design, imprisoned by her power, forever her slave and a slave to the hunger. All because I refused to accept that some secrets are best left uncovered.
I wish I had never entered that home off of Sunset.