The Honest Truth

It's not often that the average person witnesses a crime. It's not often that person happens to be a compulsive liar, who ends up covering for the culprit. And it's even less often that said culprit seeks said person out to give them their thanks. That is to say, Mel figured her chances of all of the above compounding on a Friday night were comfortingly slim. But, well, Mel had failed statistics.

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6. Five

    Cruor rested like an itch in the back of my mind. The only things that came close to scratching it - other than the forbidden communication, of course - were drugs and alcohol, and even those weren’t as effective as usual. In fact, more than anything, they left me in a sorry state as the sun glared through my window, stabbing at my eyes. I squinted against the brightness, groaning and burying my face in the pillow. 

    I knew that there was a note in the window before I looked up. Or, well, perhaps it was the same hopeful feeling I had gotten every morning since Oliver found the notes - half habit, half hope, all buzzing excitement - only this time it happened to be right. As my eyes adjusted to the light, I found myself staring at a folded piece of paper, the exposed portion fluttering slightly in the breeze of my roommate’s desk fan. 

    My hands moved faster than my brain, reaching for it and tugging it free. Though I was wide awake at that point, my head was throbbing, and the words swam a bit before coming into focus. 

 

I’m sorry if I was the cause of the fight between you and your friend a few days ago. I know that you told me to stop stalking you, and I will. However, I still feel oddly indebted to you, and, I’ll confess, slightly concerned for your safety. I’ve done my best to be inconspicuous when writing to you, but in the case that I’ve failed, I would feel wholly responsible if anything should happen to you. However, you have no way of letting me know if there is something suspicious or worrisome going on, for you’ve asked me to stop coming by, and I intend to respect that. Therefore, I’ve placed on your desk an untraceable phone with only my number programmed in. I have another, and I shall never refer to you by name in it under any circumstances. Should you ever feel unsafe or need my help, text me. I will not answer a call. You are under no obligation to ever contact me again, or even to accept this phone; it was simply the least I could do. I hope that, by this point, you trust that I mean you no harm. If this is the last contact I have with you, I will simply say again that I’m sorry for involving you in this; it was never my intention to put you in any sort of danger.

 

(If you choose not to accept the phone, I hope I can trust you to adequately destroy it for my own safety. I like to think that you and I have progressed beyond the point where I need to make threats to insure your discretion, so just keep in mind what I know and what I can do if your actions require me to. That’s a really ominous note for this to end on, so I’ll give you this final thought instead - have a wonderful day)

 

-Cruor

 

    The writing filled almost the entire page; a practical novel compared to the previous lines we’d exchanged. After reading the note again, then once more for good measure, I reached for the foreign phone perched on my stack of neglected textbooks. It wasn’t a smartphone, but had a slide out keyboard with little rubberized letters. I turned it on, and sure enough, the contacts held only one entry: Cruor. The number attached was blocked somehow, but it didn’t matter anyway. 

    I typed out a short message, wondering if I was breaking my promise to Oliver. He had made me promise not to write to him anymore, right? But he said nothing about texting. Even though that was writing, it surely wasn’t the same thing. Or so I lied to myself.  

 

Thank you. 

 

    My thumb hovered over the send button, and almost without thinking, I pressed it. The message was off, and there was no taking it back. I had established first contact, I had accepted Cruor’s gift. There was nothing left to do but see if they responded. 

    I pulled on some jeans and slipped the new phone in my back pocket, the ringer turned on. My thoughts weren’t with my morning routine, but they didn’t need to be. I flew through it on auto-pilot, and it wasn’t until a sharp vibration and low ding halfway through brushing my teeth that I snapped out of my daze. Spitting out my toothpaste, I was already reaching for the phone, a little message symbol glowing on the screen. I slid it open.

    

Cruor: You’re welcome. In order to assure that this is who it should be, what color jacket were you wearing on the night we first met? 

    

    Everything about that night was burned into my memory. 

    

Me: Blue. 

    

    As I hit send, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My hair was laying funny, the short strands curling towards the ceiling as if trying to escape my head. I didn’t blame them. My face was a sight to behold - no make-up, red-rimmed eyes, and dark circles. It was hard to believe that I was the same person who had so felt so confident in her appearance on the way to that bar weeks ago. Today, I barely wanted to set foot outside my room. I wondered if Cruor would recognize me. Then again, I probably didn’t look much better during their late night visits.

    The door to the bathroom opened, and I hurried to gather my things, pushing past the girl in the doorway with my head ducked. I certainly had no issues with self-confidence, but that was after I transformed myself in to the gorgeous rebel I knew I could be. 

    I had just gotten back to my room when another text came. Nearly dropping my toothbrush in my rush to pull the phone out, I felt like a high schooler whose crush had just started texting them. Pathetic. Vigilante or not, this Cruor was just a person, and I didn’t need to bend over backwards or drop everything to answer their texts - sometimes literally, it seemed. I wanted them to operate on my schedule, and so that was how it was going to be. 

    My resolve lasted for all of about two minutes. With only one eye graced with makeup, my will broke, and the curiosity won out. I checked the message. 

    

Cruor: Good. Although I might argue that it was more indigo, but I can see how you might call it blue.

Me: Please, you’re correcting me on the color of my own jacket after only glimpsing it in a pitch black alley? Uh i think i get the final word here, dude 

Cruor: I apologize. Though for someone so sensitive to the shades of their clothing, I’m surprised that you only seem to own variations of the same drab colors. With the exception of that indigo jacket, at least. 

Me: Drab? Whats drab about the colors of my clothes? Besides, u dress all in one color and you should know thats a huge fashion taboo 

 

    I couldn’t help but glance down at myself after sending that message. Over my jeans I had an army green tank top and a loose black sweater. Those didn’t seem drab to me, they seemed… dark. Tastefully dark. My laundry bin caught the corner of my eye. If I was in the habit of separating my laundry like my mother told me to, I didn’t even think I’d have enough for a single color load. On the other hand, I could fill two whole dark loads. Maybe Cruor had a point. But my clothes were not drab. 

 

Cruor: Perhaps drab was the wrong word. Maybe… earth tones? Nothing bright and exciting. 

Me: Excuse you, *I* am the bright and exciting bit. My clothes have to be earth toney to contain the ball of sunshine that I am

Cruor: In that case, do excuse me. You are indeed a… ball of sunshine. As you prove time and time again with your light and easygoing personality.

Me: Fuck you 

 

    The words I typed were harsh, but there was a smile on my face. It had been a long time since I’d had a conversation like this. Oliver and I tended to hang out more than text, and the other friends I had were more drinking buddies or casual acquaintances than friends I could joke around with. Not that I considered Curor my friend. Absolutely not. 

    

Cruor: If I have offended you, I apologize. I was only trying to… I’m not sure what I was trying to do, exactly. It hardly needs saying that I don’t do this often.

Me: Do what, give your number out to pretty girls? And u didn’t offend me, I was just teasing you. Which i assume is what you were trying to do to me

Cruor: Yes, that. And it is not only the fact that you are a pretty girl that is causing me pause; I’ll admit, I am rather out of practice interacting with most people my age.

Me: Aw, you think I’m pretty? And ur my age?

Cruor: Give or take. And either I do, or it would simply be rude to disagree. Believe whichever makes you more comfortable. 

Me: Can I believe that you think I’m smoking hot? 

Cruor: You could. However, it might be unrealistic given I have seen you sleeping. 

Me: You what now

Cruor: Surely you assumed that.

Me: Well yeah but 

Me: Did I do something stupid in my sleep?

Cruor: No. It’s just that… most people… aren’t attractive sleepers. It’s not thing to be embarrassed about. 

Me: I’m not embarrassed 

Cruor: Okay. 

 

    I glanced up from our conversation, a little embarrassed. What if I drooled in my sleep? Or snored? Ugh. With a sigh of resignation, I looked at the time and did a double take. 

 

Me: Shit I’m late for class. Ur fault 

 

Throwing my backpack over my shoulder, I headed from the room, locking the door behind me. I felt the buzz of the phone in my pocket, but didn’t want to take the time to check it; it might slow my speed walk across campus. It wasn’t until I slid into the back of the auditorium and into my seat that I eased the little phone out of my back pocket and opened it up. 

 

Cruor: I fail to see how this is my fault. The beauty of text is that you can set it aside to answer at the next convenient time.

Me: Yeah, well, you distracted me. 

Cruor: I apologize. 

Me: I’ve never met a criminal who apologized as much as you do 

Me: Or one with such good grammar and weird talking 

Cruor: First of all, how many criminals have you met? Second of all, you can’t include me in that count as I identify as a vigilante. I thought we went over this. As for the “talking,” if you find it weird, then you would likely find me weird as well, given my text reflects my speech. 

Me: Alright, fine. You apologize a lot for someone with little regard for the law. That better? And will I ever get to judge your weird speech in person? 

Cruor: I don’t like to hurt people, and I’m courteous. If the law were a person, I’m sure I would apologize to it after every infraction. And no, you won’t. For everyone’s safety. 

Me: What if I’m willing to take the risk? I just want to put a voice to the name. Call on the phone?

Cruor: You want to hear my voice? Risqué. At least buy me dinner first.

 

    I didn’t need to hear Cruror’s voice to know that theirs was the driest of humors. I kind of liked it; it seemed fitting. There didn’t seem any harm in playing along, so that was what I did. 

 

Me: If I were to buy you dinner, I’d have to meet you in person which apparently isn’t allowed. 

Cruor: Not true. You could leave some food at a designated location. 

Me: So if I do that you’ll let me call you?

Cruor: No. But I’m always up for free food any time you want to buy me some. 

Me: Don’t let your enemies know you’re so easy to lure. 

Cruor: Oh, I’m not. Trust me. 

Me: You have to earn my trust

Cruor: Hm… I’ll work on that.

 

    It was a good thing I was sitting in the back of the auditorium, because I didn’t even try to hide my smile. 

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