It was only after Ben moved off me, stretching out to sleep in the dark that he spoke, and I didn't even know he was there. I jumped right out of my skin. It was cold, sure, but at least it didn't have the sting of Ben's razor burn all over.
Of course my bones all fell to the floor in a heap. Teeth too, and my brain rolled away under the bed and so I couldn't think of anything good to say and even if I could have, I wouldn't have been able to say it.
You didn't wait for me.
Lochlan's voice has a jealous tinge, a beautiful kelly-green shade that turns it thick, luminous-rich.
My finger bones team up, find my brain, pull out some words and run them through my teeth until sound comes out.
Not her fault, Ben says from his dreams. I don't think he's noticed he's still holding my skin from where I leapt from it. I think he finds it to be a security blanket. It won't cover him though, if you stretch it out square I think I'm the size of a king pillowcase.
Good enough, Ben says. He covers one side of his torso with it and goes back to sleep. Sorry, he says again and my brain flexes in a cringe. Once Ben's out, he's out like the dark. He sleeps like the dead. It scares me but right now I have more important things to do, like stand here to juggle these hearts because God help us all if they roll away somewhere out of reach.
I was here waiting for you. More luminous slime pours from Lochlan and my bones rattle faintly as they shake.
You didn't say anything when we came in. My brain is doing a masterful job of finding words that fit together. It's a puzzle. One for ages 8+. One I probably couldn't finish if I tried.
My bones float to the surface of his ire, still jangling faintly against each other and he swallows me whole, chewing on my brain because it's tough and bigger than it looks. He chokes it back and swallows.
Now my teeth have nothing to read.
Sleep, Bridgie. We'll talk about it tomorrow.
I close my eyes with the finger I can reach. It's like when someone dies and you reach out and press their eyelids down over their pupils because they're never going to see you again. I did that for Cole so he couldn't find me anymore. It worked too well. Sometimes I miss him too and then I'm swimming in Lochlan's green pool, while monsters from the depths of his soul reach for my legs to pull me under. I scream at the thought and his jealousy floods down my throat into my toes, filling up my skin, leaving Ben exposed, at risk of losing everything.
I piece together one whole hand to leave resting on Ben's heart. He'll be safe that way while I sacrifice myself. That's how it's done around here, or so I've been told.