Friday, January 16, 2015

Day Eight-Hundred-Eight: That Fine Day

“You didn’t even wear a hat while travelling? That’s a fuckin’ dumb thing to do, this time of year.”

Dragomir scratched his head, reaching vaguely up into his hair and tousling it for a few seconds. “Uh… well, I think I had one, but… I dunno where it is, now…”

Libby rolled her eyes. “Don’t matter, I guess. C’mon.”

The freshly-married couple mounted the stairs and climbed to the second floor of the apartment complex, Dragomir struggling to keep up with Libby’s two-steps-at-a-time pace. She rolled her eyes at that, too, and at the thinness of his arms and legs. He seemed nothing like the strong, dependable farm boy promised by the letters to her father.

“I didn’t agree to this, y’know,” Libby snorted halfway up. “Didn’t wanna marry fuckin’ anybody. My daddy insisted. So don’t think you’ll be likin’ this marriage anytime soon, hear? Sure as hell ain’t gonna be gettin’ up in my loins none.”

Dragomir’s jaw dropped open, and he nearly missed a step. “L… lions? You have lions?”

Libby stopped on the nearest landing, turning to stare incredulously at her new husband. “Lions? Loins, ya fuckhead, loins. The things ‘twixt my legs. You know what loins are, don’t you? You’ve got your own.”

“Oh.” Shifting his backpack from one arm to the other, Dragomir peered into his pants. “Y’mean this tube thinger? Have you got one too?”

“FUCK!” Libby smacked him in the face, adding a fresh bruise to the earlier blemish. “My gods, what’s wrong with you?! I don’t wanna see that! Learn some fuckin’ manners!”

Staggering back several paces, Dragomir laced his pants and bowed deeply. “Sorry! Sorry! Agh, sorry! I’m, I’m, I’m just… kinda… well, you know, this is a new place, ’n I just, I, well, I’m, like, I’m married now, and it’s - “

Libby wasn’t interested. Flexing out her disapproval, she continued up the stairs to her apartment. Dragomir struggled to keep up, wailing apologies the whole way.

Their apartment was, in fact, little more than a walk-in closet, though nicely appointed with furniture Libby had carved for herself the previous day. The dominant feature was their bed, one Libby had crafted to be more than large enough for two people. She didn’t intend to spend more time in the room than was absolutely necessary - and she prayed the same went for her husband.

Watching Dragomir meekly set his backpack to one side, Libby’s scowl deepened. She looked him over, head to toe, and found very little to like. He was not an especially attractive man, though more on the plain side than outright ugly, and his lanky physique left little doubt as to his level of fitness. His clothes appeared to be shabby beyond the rigours of travel, and a faint, pissy odour wafted from his person at regular intervals. Libby wondered if he wet the bed.

If he wets the bed, Libby thought, staring at the small hole in the wall that passed for a window, I’ll throw him through that. Dad won’t get word that I’ve killed my husband for at least five months. I can handle five months of quiet.

“I’m one of the head carpenters,” Libby said, crossing her arms. “Once that old pinhead Pinter croaks I’ll be head carpenter. I work all fuckin’ day. When I come home I want some quiet. You work night shift a lot, right? ‘cause you’re a guard?”

Dragomir shuffled his feet. “Well, I think so, but I haven’t checked in yet so I’m not really - “

“Figure it out,” Libby demanded. She pointed to the bed. “They wouldn’t gimme a bigger room, so we’ve gotta share this. It’s an awesome bed, because I made it, and I’m pretty fuckin’ awesome at my job. When I’m in this bed, and you’re in this bed, we don’t touch. You don’t make a noise. We sleep. That’s it. You get me?”

Dragomir nodded quickly. “Yes’m.”

“Good.” Libby hopped onto the bed, bounced once, and reached for a pair of scissors on a side table. “Go check in, or whatever. I expect you to work damned hard.”

Dragomir nodded again, slouching towards the door. “Yes’m.”

Libby’s scowl deepened for a third time. The man was clearly a pushover, and while she valued getting her way, she also didn’t much admire pushovers. She preferred people with a spine. The thought made her scowl so deeply and so thoroughly that she didn’t pay much attention to what she was doing, and she pinched her finger with the scissors as she tried to trim one of her nails. 

Her yelp drew Dragomir back. “Ahh! What? What happened? What’s wrong?”

Shaking her hand, Libby snorted. “Fuck! Ow. Nothing. Cut myself. Go, do your shit. I got this.”

To Libby’s surprise, however, Dragomir did not leave. Instead, he swiftly ripped a small piece of the bottom of his shirt away, hopped onto the bed, and reached for Libby’s hand. She pulled away, aghast and confused. “The hell you doin’? Freaking pervert!” 

“I dunno what that is,” Dragomir admitted, tense but persistent. “C’mon. Lemme see that. Please?”

Though irritated, as much by the cut as Dragomir’s cavalier attitude, Libby extended her bleeding finger. With a tiny, tight smile, Dragomir wrapped the strip of cloth from his shirt around the wound, tying it tight. The satisfied grin lit his face, and for the tiniest second Libby thought he could almost, with about a thousand renovations, appear handsome.

“There,” he said, tugging on the neat bow he’d made. “All better. Does it hurt?”

“No,” Libby insisted. “Don’t be stupid. Here, put these over there. I’ll cut m’damned fingernails later.”

Libby handed Dragomir the scissors. They touched his hand and abruptly slid out of his fingers. Frowning, he tried to grab them from the bed, but they slid out of his grip again and again. Each soft plop onto the coverlet increased Libby’s puzzlement. “The hell? Pick ‘em up. Why aren’t you picking them up?”

“I’m trying,” Dragomir said, grunting. “But… they just… won’t… bah! They must be covered in oil ‘re somethin’.”

Libby plucked the scissors from the bed with one swift gesture. “If they are, it’s Anti-Dragomir oil. Or somethin’. See? Maybe you just suck at life.”

“Ha ha! Uh, maybe.” Dragomir blushed. He poked Libby’s shoulder tentatively, looking as though he feared violent reprisal. “Well, um… I guess… maybe… I can’t touch dangerous stuff? But, see, I can touch you, so I guess… you’re not… dangerous? Yeah, ha ha, right?”

Libby punched him in the arm. “Think again, douche.”

Rubbing his shoulder, Dragomir smirked. “You’re the douche. Douche.”

“Get outta here, douche.” For the first time that day, Libby allowed herself a little smile.

His hands were always so warm, Libby thought. Didn’t matter what was comin’ out of his stupid mouth, his hands were always so warm.

The claw hovered in front of Libby, reaching for her through the snow. It was black as oil, sharp and inhuman… but as the tip of one indistinct fingernail brushed Libby’s cheek, she felt that warmth.

“Don’t do it,” the rat hissed. “He’s not the one for you. I am.”

We were forced to get married, Libby thought. But I grew into it.

Libby took her husband’s hand, and as the world whirled and crashed, he pulled her into his shadowy embrace.

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