A few new layers to the onion that is Emma

The cold pattering of the rain could have matched my fingers on the windowsill, if only they had been a bit slower in clouding the window and threatening to flood everything. Soona Bris hadn’t had a flood in a while, and we were in a higher land, but it was easy to abandon logic and start fearing that we were going to be overtaken by water when you saw the severity of the downpour.
“Hey there, May.” I looked up from my spot on the chair that I’d pulled up to the window and noticed a disheveled Emma standing in the doorway, nonverbally asking if she could come in. “I need somewhere quiet. Yasmin and Constance have been harassing me all day. I think I did a bad.”
Ignoring the last sentence, which Maxine had said in passing during one of the boring stretches of time on the skyskipper would be something Emma slipped on from time to time, I gestured for her to come in. She immediately plopped down at my feet, her legs crossed and her hands in her lap.
“So, Emma, I noticed that you got your bandages taken off today….” Tension raced over all my muscles. Stay calm, May. It’s just bandages, right? There’s absolutely no reason to feel panicked at all over Emma finally being healed enough to see on her own.
“Yeah. I appreciate actually having depth perception now.” The area around her eyes was slightly red, like she’d gotten a mask-shaped sunburn. It was an improvement over the constant wrappings, I suppose. “I’m still going to have to use the ball sometimes for a while, since I’d gotten used to it and have to get back to being used to seeing with my own eyes.” A pathetic laugh escaped her lips. “You know, half a year ago, I could have just turned my back on Zorphia and kept living a normal life. But this place just keeps biting me in the bum, eh? They almost worshiped me a few years ago back when I was in seventh grade, but I believed in God back then, so of course they had to too.”
“And you don’t anymore-”
“Nope. Haven’t been since shortly after our lives crossed paths. I never told that many people on Earth, though, since I kinda value my personal safety over having my sensibilities overridden.” She glanced at the rainy window then. “I used to date someone who was afraid of storms.”
“Way to go, Captain Subject Change.” That’s weird. I did too. “Was her name-”
And at that moment, as it it were happening for the sole purpose of interrupting my questions, the lights flickered and then went out altogether, along with every other light in the house. “May, what’s happening?”
“I don’t know for sure… I’m going to go investigate.” I got up to pay a visit to the circuit breaker box, but my phone rang, on the dresser where I had placed it to charge. “Hello?”
“May!” a very panicked Yasmin screamed into my ear, and for a split second, I regretted answering the call. “You there?”
“Yes, I’m here. Please be considerate of sensitive ears.”
“Don’t come downstairs. Don’t leave your room, actually. We’ve got some-” and static came down and fuzzed up the call for a moment before lifting up slightly. “-sturbances down here, and we’re taking care of it. Stay safe.”
The call ended suddenly then. Did she end on purpose, or…? “Emma, we’re going to be stuck up here for a while.”
“I know. I could hear the call too.” She was still sitting there on the floor, looking up at me with eyes that shouldn’t have seemed childlike for all the crap that she’s witnessed and been a part of. “Good thing that there’s a bathroom on this level. Oh, and I thought you should know, I’ve been hiding food under your bed.”
“Wha-” and I checked, and there indeed was a few boxes of cereal and a package of string cheese just sitting there like nobody’s business. “How?”
“You’re a heavy sleeper. I knew that Allaketo would grow quickly tired of playing these games with Yasmin and decide to just pluck us all from where we’ve been sitting, but I didn’t know that it was going to be this quickly.”
I stood back up straight again. “It’s been days-
“Yeah, I know that Allaketo is impatient.” She held her hands out, palms up. Staring at them, she added, “I mean, he didn’t even wait a month in order to do all the slowly drawn-out torture. He just leaped straight into all the things that could be done quickly.”
“I don’t think that’s a good example-”
She kept going, looking strangely disconnected from what she was saying. “And he didn’t give me due notice that he was going to try to usurp me… just went ahead and pronounced himself king one day, and everyone followed him since I’d drifted a great distance away from all the homophobia and religious fervor that defined Zorphia. But we all have been impatient for results that we ended up having to be patient for.” A small pause ensued, and she pulled herself into my vacant chair. “Do you have any good books in here? I’m bored.”


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