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


1. Astray

My mother always watched me with a paranoia that I might snap in half. She had a phobia of blood, she said, and that it was only careless parent’s work to see a little boy or girl with bruised knees of little faint cuts. Of course I agreed with her – she was always right – and even if I once doubted she wasn’t her stern looks would send me flying out the door, wearing plasters on my joints for the accidents I wasn’t hurt from yet.

“Your mother doesn’t protect you; she smoothers you.” Cassidy murmured, and picked at her right toe nail from her bright sandals as she draped across my bed and the light gleamed from an open door. She seemed to groan at the brightness at half-mast from out side the room, like a glowing beacon symbolising a yellow eye of my mother. 

“It’s hard for her.” I defended weakly, knowing well enough the house was too small to be hidden from any conversation, especially thanks to that open door.

“It’s hard for any parents, but they do it anyway. You’re seventeen and she won’t even let you shut the door when I’m here.” She sulked in the corner and fiddled with the radio until at last something came on to distract us from the feverish silence. The radio was just about the only thing she liked about the room; the bed was plain and always decked in faded blue covers to match the faded blue walls and faded blue carpet and well, a similar colour scheme applied for the drapes and lamps, too. She sat as though observing the room for the first time, tapping her knees together and taking animated sighs, with no intention of giving up on her word.

Of course, Cassidy was right. Harsh, but right. My mother was three paces too clingy, and another six more passionate in her hatred for Cass than any girlfriend’s worse nightmare. Cass herself always complained of a chill when she arrived at the house, but I think she was only catching on to the cold of my mother’s glares.

“I’m sorry.” She patted the top of my arm slightly in small circles, trying to get me to face her. “It’s just hard sometimes.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Come out tonight, please Paz. Just tonight.” I wished Paz was a ridiculous nickname, but in a ever more tragic reality in which I lived, Paz was only the shortened version of what had to be a joke in the naming game. Pazel. Paz-el. They say that a name can make or break a person, and I couldn’t agree more with the latter.

“You know my mom will never let me Cass.” I pleaded with her, but from the burning sensation almost catching alight on my sleeves I could tell her gaze wasn’t one of surrender.

“You don’t need her permission. We’ll just sneak out when she’s sleeping. Please, Paz. Just once. I promise I won’t ask again.” She reached out in front of me, begging for my approval. What could I do? There’s nothing more hopeless than a prisoner who doesn’t particularly mind his jail bars.

One look, and I could feel the sweat start to drip off my face.

Two looks, now the pros of abandoning my family unit of two were beginning to gain some leverage from the cons.

A third and final look, and I know that I couldn’t refuse a cogent that powerful. She just knew that if she stared long enough, the little flakes of gold began to gleam in the maze of dense brown. And then with that, her eyelids that were always just a smidge purple from her insomnia begin to look like make-up from a high fashion magazine, and her cheekbones seemed to rise and lips glittered and well, I would like to see you reject that face. Because I sure couldn’t.

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