It was just another restless night in a long endless stream of nightmare filled dreamscapes. Sleep was unimportant anyways. Ferrian rolled onto her back as the last of the sun’s rays started to descend. The golden skewers of light flickered around her room, breaking past the heavy curtains.
Wriggling to find that one comfortable spot had become a lifelong search. Her back housed odd lumps alongside her shoulder blades, a birth defect, a nuance more like it. Twisting back and forth only made the increasing ache of late only worse. The aching in her body only seemed to pale in comparison to the screaming ache in her head. Another nightmare filled sleep and another round of Holy Hell’s and night-sweats, waking to the utter quiet shattered by her suffocating cries.
Scrubbing her face nearly raw, the raised ragged scar from her brow to her chin was one of her constant reminders why she was a monster. Tracing the thick band of flesh, the memories of the night she received this came rushing back with a renewed urgency. Blowing out a heavy sigh, Ferrian pulled her mind back and pushed herself on to her feet. Coffee, yup coffee nectar of the gods would drag her out of her morbid train of thought.
The night would be long, as she slipped into her beat to shit cargo pants and black hoodie. Another night to pass in her life, another night of work, lately that’s all she seemed to do. Running ten hours shifts six days a week wasn’t enough to keep her mental muscle busy. In truth the loading docks hardly entertained her mind at all, but it was there she could remain anonymous among the world. No one knew her name much less could guess that she was female. Hell she highly doubt that anyone even knew what color hair or eyes she had. And that was just fine with her. The less anyone knew about her the easier life was.
Her scars always had set people on edge when they caught sight of them. At first Ferrian nearly broke down anytime someone saw the, and regarded her as dangerous or with pity. Now she laughed when they noticed, driving away everyone. She didn’t need anyone, wasn’t your classic girly girl who wanted to shop and get weekly pedicures. She barely brushed her waist length black hair much less curled and styled it. Nope she kept it cautiously tied back, hidden inside her hoodie. If God had been so gracious, she would’ve rather had her life ended the last time she pled for death. But gracious he was not. Cursing the image of him, Ferrian knew better, had heard better straight from birth. She was the Devil incarnate and God refused to take pity on her.
Stretching every muscle, the aching in her back had grown worse over the past year, but going in to see a doctor wasn’t happening. Doctors were for rich people. Nope she’d deal even if it made her feel like hell. It would always be constant reminder that she was a freak among the masses; just another reason why she stayed away from people. Her stomach angrily growled demanding food, and all she had in her tiny one bedroom apartment were a few protein bars and some expired milk. “Damn” Food another luxury. Biting back the rumbling in her gut, Ferrian pulled out a protein bar and made her way to the bathroom. Looking around the tiny place, it wasn’t much to see, let alone admire, but it was hers and hers alone. It was quite aside from the neighbors screaming above her nightly. Only the hum of the refrigerator caused any noise during the day, thanks to her refusal to have a phone or even television. Books had been her only true source of enjoyment, even as a child.
As the nightly ritual of yelling commenced, Ferrian threw on her Docs and went for the door. Times like this she relished the thought that she chose to work third shift. The quiet of night when everyone should be sleeping kept her feeling safe.
The bus stop down the street would be her only connection to the world, riding night after night with the ghosts of the city. Staring out of the bus’s smudged window as broken streetlamps flickered with waning electricity, she looked down each dirty alleyway that housed the lost souls that wandered the city in search of survival. She remaindered herself that she too was once one of them. Sleeping in dumpster to stay dry and warm, eating rotting food thrown out by the over-priced restaurants. Her heart sank as she saw a mother with her to small children, huddling against the chilly October wind.
Is this what her life had really amounted too? Working nights and living alone all for the sake of staying safe and unnoticed? Though she hadn’t stayed unnoticed had she? The one friend she had, she tried desperately to push him away. The stigma of her past haunted her like a living ghost. But he refused to leave.
Remi had been the only male she ever allowed to see behind her defenses. He opened her up, slowly, taking his time not to push her. Carefully he peeled back the layers of her life like an onion. It had taken him over a year to breech the walls of her security, but Ferrian grew to trust him. He was gentle and kind. Unlike any male she had ever known. It wasn’t just that he was gentle, but he was genuine. He refused to judge her even when she dropped her hood willingly and exposed what he hid from the rest of the world. The compassion in his eyes didn’t waiver nor did he flinch when he traced the jagged scar with this gaze. It had been the first time Ferrian had allowed anyone to touch her skin. Steely herself from cringing, her eyes flooded with tears as his single gesture broke down the nightmares she wanted to leave behind. It was that night her heart had opened up to him. It was that night he said goodbye to her for the last time.
Her heart sank deeper as she remembered his final words before he walked away. “I will always be with you. I will always be watching you, even if you can’t see me. There’s more to my feelings than should be, so now I must leave.” Gently he caressed her lips, trembling against his, Remi held her close. His thick arms embraced her, his warmth seeped down into her bones. “I will miss you until I see you again.” He murmured.
“Why must you go?” her voice shook as did her heart. He had sliced through her walls and breached her heart. The effects of his words as he chose to leave stung her like a thousand scorpions at once.
“Because I can’t stay, I’ve been here for too long as is. I’m sorry mo Aingeal” Cocking her head at him, she had heard him say that before, and for some reason it registered in the back of her memories. Something she once was called by a woman she would never have the chance to know. “Why do you call me that?” fingering away her crystal traitors, her forest green eyes could barely meet his ice blue gaze. “You’ve called me that before. What does it mean?”
“I hope to tell you someday.” Pressing one final kiss to her supple lips, Remi embraced her tighter to let his love radiated through her. “Do you feel that? My heart? It beats for you. Always.” Then he turned away and left her standing on the pier. His body dissolved into the thick fog as Ferrian raced after him.
It had been two months since that last encounter and each day grew more difficult to hang on to the scent of him, to the feeling of him cradling her in his thick arms. Every once in a while she swore she saw him, lingering around the shadows, or reflecting his beautiful image in the mirror. God she missed him. He made this life tolerable and now he was gone. The sinking feeling that consumed her for years started to envelope her all over again. He wasn’t coming back, no matter how hard she begged and prayed, he wasn’t going to return to her. He abandoned her, nothing new. But this time the sting of it was too much to bear.
Her fingers idly brushed over the last place his kiss had touched. Tingles of his warmth danced across the tips. The taste of his lips intoxicated her with rich heated desire. Something she hadn’t experienced before. But the empty feeling lingered, capturing her in its dark void. She grew comfortable with the void again, didn’t like but it was her security blanket. “Mo Aingeal, I’ll always be watching you.” His voice was but a whisper in her head, though she could’ve sworn he whispered it in her ear; spinning around in hopes of seeing him sitting there, with his devilishly impish grin smiling at her. Nothing. Just a whisper that wasn’t real haunting her. It wasn’t just his voice that stalked her, no; he stretched out in her mind when her dreams fought off the memories.
Shaking the last dream of him from her head now wasn’t the time to fall back into that daydreaming rut, where her inner desire ruled her subconscious, but reality shot her down. Looking over the sparse streets of Chicago’s edges, she understood why anyone would run on broken shards of glass to get away from here. The eerie vacant buildings housing more than rats, the gritty dirty streets seeded with thugs and street walkers. Everyone just trying to make a buck, even the addicts had a hand out. No one in their right mind would live on that side of town. During the day it was a variable ghost town, with an odd assortment of religious do-gooders pleading with the sinners to repent and come back to Jesus. Still the nearly empty streets comforted her. The few neighbors left in her building left her alone. In truth she didn’t even know if anyone of them knew she existed. That was fine with her. She didn’t need the safety of high rise penthouses where you’re doorman knew all your dirty little secrets. Too many people on the east side in their overcrowded brownstones and upscale remodeled firehouses. More stories scattered the media of the rise of crime in the safe front of the city. It wasn’t for her. She was safe where less people inhabited.