July 23rd, 2004

Mask

Dorian

Aurora kicked the gray slush with her boot as Savlers words burned inside her gut.

“Why care?” He said nonchalantly, as if it was easy to stop. His face was apathetic, and it bothered her, how quickly his commitment to his people had broken in this new country. She pulled her coat tighter watching the clumps of snowflakes tumble from the pale sky.

The building Dorian lived in was eerily silent, the snow dampening the usual moan of life inside. The concrete stood against the wind but seemed to absorb the cold like giant corpse. In the darkened interior, mounds of cloth snored quietly. The splintered staircase was wet and pieces of the railing were missing. Aurora put a hand against the wall as she climbed, careful to skip the broken stairs.

Dorian’s' cracked door leaned against the plaster beside his doorway, a few planks barring the way to the one room he claimed. She rapped her knuckles on the wood before peering over the planks. Dorian was laying on the floor, legs spread, arms wide, his eyes and ears covered with an plastic visor, his gloved hands twitching. Aurora slid her bag under the planks and then crawled under herself.

“Dorian.” She said and touched his shoulder. “Dorian.” He swatted at her hand and then pulled the visor off his face, blinking. His bare skin betrayed the evidence of demon feedings; old white scars and pink new ones crossed his skin like a map.

“Aurora?” She smiled and opened her bag.

“I brought you some food.” He grimaced.

“It took you long enough.” The purple under his eyes had grown darker since her last visit.

“I’m sorry.” She said, and started to unload the little silver packages of protein and vitamins. He grabbed one of them and ripped it open, pouring the powder into his mouth.

“Why doesn’t anyone else come to visit me?” He demanded. “Too good for another countryman?” Aurora scratched the broken floorboards with a nail.

“No Dorian.” Auroras' rage surprised her, and she fumbled for words. “I don’t know.”

“I’m not like the others. I’ll never let a demon protect me, own me.” Aurora sighed.

“We're a family.”

“You’re whores.” He ripped open another packet and dropped it into his mouth. She wanted to scream, to force him to realize how he lived in filth, used by filth, hiding from life with the visor. She wanted see his nose broken, hear him beg for her forgiveness. She clenched her fists.

“I better get going.” She said, picking up the bag. He slipped the visor over his head and twitched.

“Next week, bring more food, sometimes people sneak in and steal mine.” Then he was lost in the projections, smiling at a soundtrack she couldn’t hear. Aurora slipped under the boards and down the stairs, clutching the empty bag in her reddened hands.