Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6.30

Posted by harmony0stars on July 2, 2010

“Robert,” Glory said as they drove to the store. “It’s really past time we had this conversation, and there’s no easy way to explain this…”

“You‘re not keeping me,” he blurted, his voice hitching up as he stared at her in horror. “You want me to leave.”

“No! Nothing like that. Whenever your social worker finally catches up with you, I plan on asking to adopt you… if that’s alright?”

“Oh… yeah,” he said, grinning with relief. “Yeah, I’d like that a lot!”

“That’s not what I wanted to talk to you about though,” she said, and he looked perplexed. “I’m sorry. This really is an awkward conversation no matter how I go at it.” She took a deep breath. “Look, you know how I said I don’t dream, and I don’t sleep?”

“Yeah, that was kind of weird, but I was a little freaked out over what you said about the cat. Do you really not sleep, like not ever?” He cocked his head to the side as if trying to figure out if she was pulling his leg.

“Not any more, not since… you know when I speared that toad-thing’s tongue with the fire?”

He smiled again, rubbing his scarred arm “Yeah, that was awesome.”

“Well, that fire is alive. I call him Phoenix, and unfortunately he lives inside me.” Robert chewed on his lip as if trying to decide after all they’d seen if maybe she‘d lost her mind. Glory didn’t blame him; she knew how it sounded. She’d have thought the same thing if someone had confessed to having a living fire inside their body. “Believe me, it wasn’t my idea. The same man who left me all the money and the house, he put this creature in me without asking. He thought it would help, and I guess it does, but… there are side effects.”

“Like what? You don’t sleep or dream?”

“Yeah, I think he occupies whatever part of my brain controls those things,” she replied, turning into the parking lot of the grocery store. “He also dulls my senses and my appetite.”

Robert scowled. “So that’s what this is about… you not eating. Well forget it. I’m not buying it.”

“It’s true. I don’t need to eat at all. I wish I did. I kind of miss it. I mean I can still do it, but I don’t really taste it or get any benefit from it. And Phoenix really resents it when I eat because he feels it’s unnecessary biomass that he has to burn off. Something about our partnership ensures that his energy supports my life force, and my life force gives him the energy he needs, like a perpetually renewable energy source. I really can‘t say I understand how it works, but it does. So long as he lives inside me, I won‘t ever age, I don‘t sleep or dream, I don‘t need food, and none of my senses really work they way they did.” She didn’t add that if Phoenix was feeling particularly put upon, he had a habit of sucking the energy out of living things, often burning them in the process. That made him sound like some kind of pyromaniac, and she didn’t want to scare Robert. He was upset enough already.

“So basically you’re telling me to stop making you eat,” he snarled, staring out the side window instead of looking at her.

“I know how you feel, Robert. I really don’t mind eating, but Phoenix does. I just don’t want you to keep worrying about me if I don‘t eat all the time. I’ll be telling Ann the same if she decides to stay with us at the end of the week. Just for the sake of keeping Phoenix from whining in my ear, I‘d rather not eat unless it‘s to keep up appearances. I will eat in social situations like dinner tonight, but I’d just as soon avoid eating when it’s just the four of us.”

Robert hurriedly rubbed his eyes with his sleeve before turning his head. “Why? Someone else coming to dinner tonight?” he asked suspiciously, his cheeks still slightly wet.

“Officer Hart,” she replied, opening her door and stepping out onto the tarmac.

Robert rolled his eyes. “Why for? He’s just going to stick his nose in whatever you’re doing. I used to think he was cool for a cop. But I let him pick me up and take me home a couple times, and suddenly he thinks he’s my big brother, looking over my shoulder all the time. It‘s not like I ever did anything really illegal aside from running away…” he paused and then grudgingly added, “and maybe sometimes trespassing when I was looking for a place to sleep.”

Glory smirked as she walked towards the store. “You know Robert, people are apt to notice things about others that they are in the habit of doing themselves.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he squawked, hurrying to catch up.

“Not that I mind your concern about my habits, but you basically just described yourself.” He grunted without replying, and she continued. “Besides, I need to ask his advice with Edgar.”

“Why? It’s not like he has any experience with… um…” He came up short as he realized they were in public and perhaps he shouldn’t mention what Edgar was. After an awkward silence, he said, “Does he?”

“Not exactly, though he might have some insights.” Glory paused as they reached the sidewalk, and said in a low voice. “But he might have some ideas on where to get Edgar some ID. Eventually he’s going to need it, and I’d rather have him legal before someone from the state shows up about you.”

Robert blushed and said, “I don’t know… he’s kind of whitebread.”

Glory choked on a laugh. “He either will or he won’t. Either way I trust him more than some random guy. At least Hart will be able to tell me where I can go, if he’s not too insulted by the question to have anything more to do with me.”

to Book 6, part 2, page 1

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