Crisp air stung my cheeks and tousled my hair. I saw others smiling as they bounced through the park, coats and mittens and boots shielding them from a playful chill, but to me it felt like a bully’s torments. I couldn’t help but glance over my shoulder every few steps despite the daylight and crowds and I hated even the momentary fog that blew from my mouth, corrupting my vision. 

I stopped at the bush where the paramedics had found me all those years ago. The blood had long since soaked into the earth; not that there had been much of it. I’d been told over and over how lucky I was that the night was so cold, that I’d had the instinct to keep pressure on my wound. Instinct. Lucky. I took a hand out of my pocket and traced a finger down the long scar from just below my ear to the middle of my esophagus. It was thin, but drew stares. My voice had mostly healed; of course I could still hear the difference.

I hated the winter. It reminded me of all I’d lost despite my efforts to do the right thing. Whatever that was, now. I felt as though my moral compass had been shattered, thrown to the ground too many times and now was far beyond repair.

A child’s soccer ball flew toward me and I blocked, returning it to its owner with a ruthless kick. The child grinned and waved, running away again as the ball soared over her head. A deep breath of the frigid air should have calmed me, but what was there to calm? The earth had soaked up more than just my blood that night; it had also taken everything that made me care about this world and the people in it.

I turned a tired eye toward the street where a black SUV waited. It seemed my chariot had arrived.

—– Scene inspired by Wesley Wyndam-Pryce from Angel: Seasons 3 – 4, by Joss Whedon

January 21, 2021

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