Get Shorty

His eyes were glazed. Not the way eyes are when you know the owner of them has been pullin’ on something, natural or manmade. It was the kind of glazed eye that was a forewarning. It signaled lava on the move beneath the surface. A boy turned volcano.

Without scientific proof, I could feel a thawing occurring deep inside, at his core, some weeks prior. The lava that once moved like sludge uphill now quickened its pace, lighting small fires here and there along the way. Unspoken agreements were drawn between us. Me agreeing to pay close attention, him agreeing to make the warning signs a little louder. Me agreeing to clear the space around him to prevent bigger fires, and him agreeing not to burn down too much as long as I moved fast enough.

At times his wiring got crossed and he said or wrote things that leapt over the line we had agreed would remain between us. A word too harsh, a gesture too grown, and then a little too much brute to his force in what started out as play. He managed to find his way back, to contain the flow of lava, when I shot him a particular look–one of love and seriousness and the seriousness of love. ‘Almost’ never became when I’d call his name and remind him to meander coolly to his chair where he could blame me for his lack of threatened follow through.

And then came his glazed eyes.

He sat, a volcano, waiting on a virgin offering. Smoke billowed from his ears but you had to have magic to see it. I’ve never attended Hogwarts but… His breath rumbled mercilessly within, seeking an outlet, sounding like thunder in a distant county. I kept an eye on him. I kept an ear on him. When it felt necessary I kept a hand on him, trying to relieve the tension and reminding him that someone who cared was nearby. He was responsive. And then…

She stood. And she innocently said. And he erupted. And first the smoke got thicker, though still not visible, and the line of virgins began to choke. He made prayers in the names of men in his family who are no more than ashes now. His fear of becoming them, coupled with his hurt from losing them, balled up like a fist.

A fist and a volcano. Lava spilled over and burned several virgins lined up as potential sacrifices. Sight set on one virgin, his lava burned a path to her and his fist became Thor’s mighty hammer and landed on one virgin’s eye. Every unspoken hurt landed on her face, through his fist.

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Stars have never shown in color before. At once they were red and blue and white. And they shone with song, sirens singing their arrival in the morning sky. The glaze remained in his eyes. Blood poured from her eye. And tears fell from mine.