When his girlfriend leads him astray from his paranoid mother household, Pazel stumbles on something far more than cuts and bruises.


3. Bloodlines

“WHAT IS GOING ON?” I screamed or shouted or cried or something in between as I slammed the door open and reached my house. The door too became stiff and golden so that it fell with the thump in the opposite direction just in time for me to have slipped through the house. My mother was already there, panting up and down along the stairs just hours ago I escaped from her clutches, and her eyes were red and hoarse from continuous crying. 

I wanted to reach out and comfort her, but I knew the consequences of that now. I couldn't get the image of Cassidy out of my head, and the final scream her lips left as I tried to reach out for her. She turned to gold, but it might as well have been dust. I started to pace up and down and blurt out everything that happened, with so little space to breathe my lungs considered passing out. Maybe this is all a dream, I found myself suggesting. Yes, a dream. It would be so simple to wake up to an overbearing mother, and five dozen texts from Cass about what I missed out on. My throat was cracked and ragged for tears, but I couldn't imagine whatever is happening to me had talking thirst into concern.

“Tell me!” A vein in my forehead began to thump with the fury, and she just stayed silent as though it could have possibly happened to her too. If it wasn't from the pallid wrinkles across her face, I might have thought I would have turned her to gold.

“I can’t-“ She fretted, and crinkled a fist of her polka-dot nightdress in her hand. For once, I was not in the vulnerable position. I couldn't imagine what this could look like in an outsider’s view, and for once how the power placements weren't true. She may have been standing at the top flight of the stairs, but more in the way that I was the jaws’ shark waiting at the end.

No, I wouldn't weaken to her tonight. Not after losing my girlfriend to my own hands. The blood – red or gold – was on her hands as much as mine. I could tell by the guilt that radiated of her face that told me this was a secret she planned on taking to the grave.

Maybe now, she might.

I couldn't kill my mother, but I would have said an hour ago that I couldn't kill my girlfriend, either. The house was lit up, so I could clearly make out the photographs of a young Pazel slowly growing, and stretching, until the final portrait where my mother rested  the flat of her palm on.

Those secrets kept had been as long as a life.

“Yes, you can.” I said, as calmly as possible. “You have to, because I don’t know what I am. Is this real, mom? What is happening to me?” Now I was beginning to feel feeble. She, step by step, began to make her way down the stairs until she was until a decent feet away from me.

“You’re a Goldfleck, Pazel.” She sighed into the patterned carpet that peeled at the edges of each white step. The word means nothing to me. "Your father was one, too." Again, she was speaking in a language that no one handed me the dictionary to. At the thought of father, all I could think about was how weird the combination of those six letters were. Even more so than Pazel, because at least everyone could agree that's a little unorthodox. In a town this small, there aren't many dads that disappear when you're four or forty. When everyone else thought of barbeques or fishing trips, all I could think of was what I could gather from television.

"What does that even mean, mom." I was past being angry; all that rage leaking from every cursed pore was fading to remorse. My tone was so flat it doesn't even rise to a question.

"How can I begin to tell you? Your father should be here to do this - but it happened to him too."

"What happened?"

"The Midas effect. It happens when you're not careful." 

"What do you mean?..." I started, before realizing I could answer my own question. Midas, the king of myths who turned his daughter to gold. I couldn't believe as I stood there clutching Cass, that the thought didn't creep up on me. I had lived the fairy tale, or the backdrop to greed metaphors. I wasn't greedy, all I wanted was one night out were my girlfriend didn't hate me. 

"One cut?" I almost laughed. Almost. "That's what started this?"

"Once the blood reaches air, the effect is immediate." I saw my mother as someone entirely different in that split second, as though her memories had taken over her face. She was younger, tougher and wiser. She didn't fluster around like a hen, and only watched and waited.

Waits. Why wouldn't she warn me? Why would she sit and hold this information to herself, knowing what would happen if I even scraped my knee? There was no logic to it, only the selfish urge to mother me better. 

"You could have told me sooner, it wouldn't have happened. I could have handled this. And now Cassidy is dead." I spat out, and I swore I was almost able see little flakes of yellow in the pronunciation of my words.

"You wouldn't have believed me Paz." She attempts to argue and I fell to the ground clutching my stomach and watching the fine fabrics of the run-down-welcome mug she brought in to clean shimmer as it follows the course paved from the finger tips to gold. Her pupils widened, and for once they seemed so dark they stood out from the doe-dipped brown, before her shaking hands formed on her hips and her breathing started to steady.

"Listen to me," She cleared her throat. "We haven't got much time."

"Her body is hidden, they won't find her." I growled, and the sensation of heaving a statue across the floor and burying it with the forest's decomposure feels as though it had blistered my skin. 

"I'm not talking about Cassidy, I'm talking about what happens next."

"What happens next?"

"They know Pazel. I don't know how but they always know. Your father managed to conceal it for years... and the minute he was cut, they knew." I had never seen her act this way, as though she was putting barricades to shield her affections. It was blunt and rigid, nothing motherly and warm. But she looked at me and I could tell it was an entirely new species of mothering all together. The fierceness of protecting, like lionesses in the wild.

And it was a look with more secrets, as though I had the capacity to take any more.

"Who is they?" I held back from asking because I was sure I wouldn't like the answer. Her bottom lip trembled, but the thin line above it refused to crumble and remained stern and focused. Finally, she'd hold herself together to not fall apart drip by drip of information. 

"The flecks. Like you, except it's not always gold. Elements, mostly. They came for him after his nose started bleeding. Could you imagine? He'd never bled in his life and his nose began running." She never talked about him, the way I never asked. And if she did; it was never with such precision, and only with a longing I could only awkwardly observe and never fill.

I supposed that was why I did it. Why I played by her rules. Because at least she could always guarantee I'd come home to her on the rare occasion I left the house, without a scratch or bump to pull me away.

But it was different now. The whole street went without a single word, and the cold began to infuse into the house and run up my sweater, and all the heat escaped with it. Who were the flakes? I had so many questions and limited time. And more importantly, when and at what cost would I find out? 



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