Half Bad

He’s half white witch . . . half black witch. His mother was a healer . . . his father is a killer. He’s wanted by no one . . . but hunted by everyone.


5. Ironing

'You nearly lost your hand.'


It's lying on the kitchen table still attached to your arm by bone, muscle and sinew that are visible in the open raw groove round your wrist. The skin that used to be there has formed lava-like rivulets, running down to your lingers like it has melted and set again. Your whole hand is puffing up nicely and hurts like . . . well, like an acid burn. Your fingers twitch but your thumb is not working.


'It might heal so that you can use your linger s again. Or it might not.'


She took the band off your wrist at the loch and sprayed the wound with a lotion that dulled the pain. She was prepared. She's always prepared.


And how did she get there so quick? Did she run? Fly on a bloody broomstick?


However she got to the loch you still had to walk back with her. That was a tough walk. 'Why don't you speak to me?' She's right in your face.


'I'm here to teach you, Nathan. But you must stop trying to escape.'


She's so ugly that you've got to turn away.


There's an ironing board set up on the other side of the kitchen table.


She was ironing? Ironing her combat trousers?


'Nathan. Look at me.'


You keep your eyes on the iron.


'I want to help you, Nathan.'


You hawk up a huge gob, turn and spit. She's quick, though, and snatches back so it lands on her shirt not on her face.


She doesn't hit you. Which is new.


'You need to eat. I'll heat up some stew.'


That's new too. Usually you have to cook and clean and sweep.


But you've never ha d to iron.


She goes to the pantry. There's no fridge. No electricity. There's a wood-burning range. Setting the fire up and cleaning it out are also your chores.


While she's in the pantry you go to look at the iron. Your legs are weak, unsteady, but your head's clear. Clear enough. A sip of water might help but you want to look at the iron. It's just a piece of metal, iron-shaped, with a metal handle, old. It's heavy and cold. It must be heated up on the range to do its job. Must take ages. She's miles from anywhere and anything, and she irons her trousers and shirts!


When she comes back a few seconds later you're round by the pantry door and you bring the iron down hard, pointed side down, against her head.


But she's so bloody tall and so bloody fast. The iron catches the side of her scalp and sinks into her shoulder.


You're on the floor clutching your ears, looking at her boots before you pass out.

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