Branded

Weeping. Quietly weeping. Never sleeping. Seeping. Slowly seeping. Can't keep the blood in.

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2. Adam

A stripe of sunlight fell upon my face as I awoke, bleary-eyed, to the shuffling sounds of someone awake. I shifted my head away from the heat.

"Kara?" I mumbled. The sounds stopped. A few moments later, a sweet voice rang out.

"It's me. I tried to wake you but you know what you're like. You're gonna be late to work, honey." Honey. She hadn't called me that since...the word sounded hollow, forced.

I dragged my body from the bed and winced at the sharp pain from my leg. Fumbling for the bottle I knew was on the bedside table, I knocked a few worthless and priceless pieces of jewellery onto the floor. I didn't pick them up. By this time my eyes were halfway open, though crusty. I managed to unscrew the lid and shook two tablets into my hand, throwing my head back as I swallowed them. 

"What time is it?"

"Half eight. You really shouldn't dry-swallow those, sweetie." There it was again. Another empty pet name. 

"It's fine. I'm used to it."

"You shouldn't be." Her voice was quiet, a near-whisper, but I heard it plainly. I turned my mostly-open eyes to her lithe frame, slapping cream on her face at a three-piece mirror. I noticed a thin grey streak in her once-lustrous chestnut hair. 

Waiting for my eyes to open fully before pulling on a pair of grey suit trousers, I wrinkled my nose at an odd scent.

"Is that new perfume?"

"No, just an old one I haven't used in a while."

"Okay, right."

"There's eggs in the microwave for breakfast. They might still be warm."

"Thanks." She knew full well I hadn't eaten breakfast since it happened.

"Adam, I've gotta go."

I sighed at the sound of an engine roaring and pulling away from the driveway. Walking over to the mirror, I began to knot together the faded blue tie I wore daily. For a moment, it appeared to flicker. I shoved on my glasses and looked again. Nothing. Shaking my head, I peered into the mirror. Peering back was an ordinary man in his thirties, with a slowly-but-steadily receding hairline and a tweet jacket. His watery eyes seemed glassy, unfocussed and his collarbones jutted out from his skin, visible even through the slightly-grey shirt he wore. An ordinary man in his thirties, with branches of white scar tissue creeping up from under his shirt to lace in criss-cross lines all over his face. I barked a laugh at him. He looked like the work of some insane artist.

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