Devil You Know

Kodi and Nyx. Nyx and Kodi.

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10. t e n

 

         The morning light blended with the red and blue of the police sirens, creating an almost ethereal atmosphere. The boy standing in the middle of the graveyard stood as calm as the stone around him as he was approached. Someone more observant may have noticed where he was looking—not at the approaching officers who sidled with their hands outstretched as though to a vicious animal, but down at his own hands. They were clean, pale in the weak sun, but he rubbed them on his jeans as though they dripped with filth. It was only as he was led to a car for the second time that night that he turned to one of the officers and spoke with a voice they would never forget.

         “What do you see?”

         The police officer glanced at his partner and frowned a little. “Where?”

         The boy gestured behind them. “Where I was standing. What’s there?”

         The police officer shrugged, impatient with his questions. “A broken bottle, grass, nothing fancy. C’mon kid, in the car.” He pushed down on the boy’s head until he was inside, then shut the door on him with a relieved sigh. His partner chuckled.

         “That’s a special brand of crazy, that is.”

         The first gave a humourless laugh. He never mentioned to anyone after that day the crimson liquid he swore he glimpsed on the boy’s clothing.

        

         There was a hole in the arm of the chair, just showing the whitish foam on the inside. I picked at it, tearing tiny holes and letting the removed pieces float to the rich brown carpet that covered the floor. Even being near the amount of money invested in the room made me nervous, and I twitched my leg unconsciously.

         “Tell me how you’re feeling right in this moment, Kodi. Forget about the last few months, and just focus on the now—what’s going on with you?” Dr Black leant his elbows on his desk, leaning forwards slightly. With the shelves of unread leather-bound books behind him and the expensive mahogany in front, he was the epitome of what I had pictured as a therapist. I directed my gaze just behind his shoulder.

         “I want to forget about what happened.” I stopped picking at the arm for a while and fiddled with a loose thread on my sleeve. “I wish everyone would shut up about it—no offence.”

         He smiled wanly for a moment. “None taken. Usually I would take into account your wishes to be left alone, but unfortunately you can either attend these sessions or go to jail. You wouldn’t be happier there?”

         I snorted in answer. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Dr Black—indeed, I was beginning to appreciate the opportunity to talk with someone about things without feeling like I was giving up. I was, however, tired of keeping up the lie I’d decided to stick with very soon after I stuck the bottle in Nyx’s neck. I’d had a mental break—distraught by the death of my brother, I’d falsely accused my teacher of having pictures of a minor, attacked my best friend, and in light of failing to kill him, had dropped my tormentor out of his window. I winced a little at the memory.

         “Do you have any idea how Marcus is?”

         “Are you worried about him?”

         I shrugged. “I wasn’t in my right mind. I regret it.”

         “He’s recovering, but he’ll never play competitive sport again.”

         I let out a sigh and rubbed my nose with my sleeve, drawing my feet up onto the arm chair so that my legs covered most of my body.

         “Will I ever have to see him again?”

         Dr Black lay his arms flat on the table, one over the other. He tilted his head to the side, glasses glinting in the light. “Your father suggested you move schools. In light of your teacher, your friend, and also Marcus Day, he thought that a new beginning might be just what you need.”

         “Would have been nice if he’d told me himself.” My voice sounded bitter, even to my own ears.

         “He’s trying, Kodi. He may not be the most open person at the moment, but you must make an effort too.”

         I looked up towards the ceiling, willing my eyes to stay dry. “I did try, but it didn’t exactly go well.”

         Dr Black gave a small sigh, and I could hear him rifling through a folder. It probably had my police record. Maybe it even had the pictures Nyx had planted on Mr Williamson. The thought made me shiver.

         “What does—” I swallowed and tried again. “What does Mr Williamson think of me?”

         “I haven’t talked to him personally, but he understands that you had a mental breakdown, and forgives you. In fact, I believe that he is keen to get you writing again, if you’re going back. Very therapeutic.” I kept staring at the ceiling.

         “I’d rather stay there. I ran away from Oskar’s death, and look how that worked out.”

         “It’s your choice, Kodi.”

         “Okay.” I picked at the chair again. Dr Black swivelled his watch round his wrist to face him, then stood, swiping my file into a drawer and locking it.

         “If you’ll follow me, Kodi, I believe that there’s someone here to pick you up.”

         I frowned as he opened the door, but followed him into the corridor outside and towards the stairs. “My father?”

         “Someone else.” He held strode down the stairs with the air of someone who’d walked up and down them so many times they could do it in their sleep. The front door was at the bottom, and he held it open for me with a comforting smile—something he’d probably perfected in his training. “They’ll be very pleased to see you.”

         “Thanks.”

         “Until next time, Kodi.” He shut the door with a click, and I turned blinking into the bright sunlight in the car park. It was mostly empty, save for the staff’s cars parked around the edges and one other in the very middle. A figure, black silhouette against the sun, pushed off the bonnet it had been leaning on and raised its hand in hello. I did likewise, still squinting as I approached.

         “Hey.” The voice, so familiar and with so many associations, stilled me in my tracks. The tears that had threatened in Dr Black’s office finally spilled over, and I finished the last few steps towards the figure at a jog. I pulled them into a tight embrace, fingers clenching in the sun-warmed cloth of their jacket.

         “Tom.”
 He rubbed between my shoulder blades, chin resting on the top of my head, before pulling back and holding me at arm’s length. “You look like fucking shit.”
      I felt genuinely happy for the first time since that night in the graveyard and not-so-lightly punched his arm. “Call me that again, Chunk, and I’ll stab you with a bottle.”

         He snorted and pushed me with just as much force round to the passenger’s seat. “Get in.”

         I did so, sliding onto the heated leather and buckling my seatbelt. Tom did likewise, adjusting his mirrors before revving the engine.

         My reflection gazed back at me, but its skin was pale, its eyes blue, and when I smiled, so did it.

 

 

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