As usual, this is completely unedited. I haven’t even checked it over for typos, so you’ll have to forgive any error. Regardless, I hope you enjoy.
(Snippet from Notte, my current WIP, about a very special man who began life as a biological weapon and ended as the perfect gentleman.)
“Keep up, idiot,” Re muttered, and I shook myself from my wonder to trot beside him.
I didn’t like being insulted, but I never had been before. This was new, and strange, and unpleasant. “My name is Night,” I reminded him.
“Yes, yes. Your name is ‘Dead’ if you don’t stop ruining our show, however.” Re glanced around, a subtle motion involving only his eyes. A single glimmer of light raced over his skin, smooth, like sunlight on a polished shield. “We must find shelter. It’s tiring hiding you as well as myself.”
“You are hiding me?” I looked at myself. No, I was visible; others stepped aside from my path, or glanced at me with open-eyed wonder. I was slightly taller than most of them, and unlike their tight, stiff curls, my own were loose. They bounced as I walked, unused to my wonderful new sandals. And of course, there was my skin. It amuses me now that so many think I am dark; then, there, I was light. Perception hinges, always, on how people view themselves.
“I am making sure they only see what I want them to see,” Re said impatiently. “A pretty, stupid slave. At least I only have to invent part of that scenario.”
These insults were growing tiring. I decided like-to-like was my best option. “Perhaps I should leave you. I wouldn’t want to put a strain on your delicate resources.”
He startled. This was, perhaps, the most eloquent thing I had yet said. “No. No, don’t do that. I’m fine.”
“Then stop telling me terrible things about myself.” And at that moment, I had a funny revelation: I liked speaking. It felt good, words tripping off my tongue, meaning and subtle rhetoric all woven by the simple sounds I made with my mouth. It felt wonderful to be communicating so clearly. No wonder my daughter had spoken all the time! “I do not wish to hear them, and I do not need your help to destroy the evil god.”
“Shhh!” Re looked around, eyes wide. “What’s the matter with you? Hush!”
Perhaps he had a point. Pulus’ priests could be anywhere, and I did not wish to alert them. “I am not afraid. You are. That is what is wrong.”
I had intended nothing with my words; simple observation, spoken because I could. I would never take speech for granted, having lived so long without the ability to perform it. But he reacted as though I’d cut him to the bone, flinching, turning his arrogant gaze to watch the dusty ground, as though he’d dropped his ego and couldn’t find it.
“You can be cruel, Night,” he said, finally using the name I’d chosen for myself.
I preferred it over mud-man. I was not sure yet if I liked being called cruel.
Time would clarify that.