September 22nd, 2004

Mask

Offering

“Um.” The slender kid swept his red hair out of his eyes. “Is the flower-girl here?” Aurora grimaced.



“What do you want?” The kid reached into his substantial coat pockets and pulled out a small box of protein supplements.
“I’ve got food.” He smiled, revealing six small pointed canines. Aurora frowned at his offering, her forehead wrinkling.
“Fine.” She snatched the box out of his hands “You’ve got five minutes to talk to her. Talking. That’s all.” The kid nodded.
“That’s fine, that’s all I want.”
“Get inside, you’re letting the wind in.” Aurora shut the door behind him and called for Ivy, knowing that she had probably heard the entire exchange. The young man held his flat hat in both his hands, squeezing the cloth nervously. When Ivy appeared around the corner of the small spiral staircase he grinned widely.
“Hi.” He said, shifting the weight on his feet.
“Hi.” Ivy raised an eyebrow. “You look familiar, do I know you?” The kid smiled and then covered his mouth with his hand.
“Sorry. My teeth, I forget.” His voice trailed off and he swallowed, breathing hard. “I buy flowers from you sometimes, in the morning. Today I skipped work and followed you here. I, uh, brought food.”
Aurora tapped her foot and looked at her watch. Ivy bit her lip.
“I remember you, you have a uniform right? You work on machines.” He looked at the floor.
“Yeah, I work on bulk transports, cargo ships. I might be getting a promotion soon. Anyway, I was hoping that I could maybe come over and read to you sometime, if it’s okay with your protector.”
“Oh, we don’t have-” Aurora cut Ivy off.
“Our protector doesn’t like strangers.” The kid searched his pockets and pulled out a trade slip for clothing.
“I could, um, bring more food and, uh, other things.” Aurora snatched it out of his hand.
“We’ll talk about it. Get out.”
“But, five minutes!”
“I’ve changed my mind. Out.” Aurora opened the door. The young man bowed.
“I’ll see you on the street, flower girl.” Ivy smiled and waved. He tipped his hat and walked into the snowy night. Aurora shut the door.
“Ivy, I want you to stay away from him.”
“I can’t, he’s on my route.”
“Then take a different route.” Ivy folded her arms.
“I don’t want to, I have a good route. He’s not a bad guy, he gave us food!” Ivy stomped her foot, her voice rising. “He just wants to be friends. He’s not a monster! He’s just a guy, and he likes me. What’s wrong with that?” Corbett was standing behind Ivy, his face swelling. Ivy ranted on, oblivious. “Would it even matter if I let him read to me? You don’t know, you don’t understand!" Aurora whispered something, but it was lost in the tirade. "I mean, what if I did let him feed a little. Would it really be that big a deal?” Corbett caught Ivy by the arms and spun her around to face him. His face was rose red and his knuckles were white around her shoulders.
“You filthy slut.” He spat on the floor. Aurora shook her head.
“She didn’t mean it Corbett, she’s just a child.” Corbett shook Ivy violently.
“You would whore yourself out to a monster. You would bleed for them! Do you know what that’s like?” Corbett glared. “Do you?” Spittle landed on her face in tiny hot droplets. Tears caught in her eyelashes.
“Corbett, stop.”
“I will show you what it’s like, and you'll know what it means to be a whore.” He raised his fist.




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