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Fujiyama Mama

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I’m a Fujiyama Mama

and I’m just about to blow my top

when I start erupting

ain’t nobody gonna make me stop


She never meant to get herself killed ten years ago, and she didn’t mean to kill herself now. It was the hiding that got to her, stuck in Kyle’s spare room day-in, day-out. She got to feeling like there was a blackness underneath everything. Like a Rothko painting, how the black bled through the color. Feeling everything led to nothing, and there was nothing she could do about it. Day after day of being alone and numb and still dead to everyone except the handful of people who came to visit her in hiding. And they were a fucking pathetic handful: Maria didn’t know how to act around her, Kyle and Alex trod too lightly, Liz was always on the verge of tears, and Guerin was completely closed-off to her. She wondered if it would just go on like this till her teeth fell out, till she couldn’t muster the energy to roll out of bed in the morning. She was alive, but a life where she was meant to be dead was no life at all, alone except for the growing terror her dreams weren’t in the future but somewhere far behind her.

Luckily, not everything had changed in ten years. In Roswell you could still get what you wanted if you knew where to look.

Still, she didn’t mean to kill herself. She didn’t do very much, but she hadn’t used in more than a decade, maybe being dead had fucked with her metabolism—whatever. She came to on the floor of Kyle’s living room with Kyle and Liz crouching over her, and Guerin was there, too, swigging from a bottle of nail polish remover and looking almost as sick as she felt.

Kyle made her drink some nasty black shit that had the consistency of paint. Liz kept asking her what happened, if she was trying to hurt herself. Liz thought it was plausible that she’d tried to kill herself, or at least stupidly OD’d. “I know you took…” She didn’t finish the sentence. Like there was a word that couldn’t be spoken aloud. She wouldn’t say it. Which was weird, because Liz always had something to say. Especially now that she was the big sister.

Guerin didn’t say anything. Apparently he’d healed her, which was a thing he could do because he was an alien, he’d been an alien all this time, Isobel and Max too. Go fucking figure. Isobel influenced minds and Guerin did telekinesis and Max when he was alive had healed and done stuff with electricity. Now Guerin was trying to get better at healing so he could resurrect Max, but he wasn’t good enough for that yet, just good enough to save dumb girls who snorted too much powder up their noses.

Kyle took the half-empty bottle of acetone out of Guerin’s hand. Guerin tried to snatch it back, but Kyle held it out of reach. “Sorry man, you know the rules.”

They put her in Kyle’s car and they drove. “You gotta be kidding me,” she said, when Valenti’s old cabin came into view. “No fucking way.”

“You don’t have to stay in the basement this time,” said Kyle. Did he think he was being funny? She gave him the finger. “Alex uses it for storage now.”

“Alex?”

“Our dad left the cabin to Alex,” Kyle explained. “He lives there now. But he’ll crash at mine for now, so it’ll just be you and…”

“Me,” Guerin said. He twisted around to look at her in the backseat. “Sorry.”

Him?”

“Michael’s staying at the cabin while he…” Liz was sitting in the back with her; she lowered her voice and leaned in. “Él bebía demasiado. Estamos tratando de secarlo, ponlo sobrio—”

“No need to spare my feelings, Liz,” Guerin said.

“You’ll sleep on the couch, right, Mikey?” Liz asked.  

“Yeah, whatever.”

“What is this, some kind of fucking halfway house?” Rosa demanded.

Guerin laughed humorlessly. “Something like that.”

It was bullshit, but she had learned there was little point arguing with Liz and Kyle. They’d just go ahead and do whatever they wanted with her. Being dead, being a fuck-up, being ten years younger—she didn’t get a say anymore.  

She slammed into the bedroom without saying hello to Alex, faceplanting on the bed and listening to Liz, Kyle, Guerin, and Alex converse in whispers. She heard her name a couple of times but couldn’t make out what they were saying. The shit she’d taken was still coursing through her bloodstream, keeping her on edge. Or maybe she was just buzzed off Guerin’s healing detox. If sleep ever happened to her again, it would be a fucking miracle. She propped her leg up against the wall and ran her hand through the bars of light that fell on the wall. How long would they make her stay here? she wondered. She kind of missed Kyle’s spare room. She definitely missed Maria. She missed being nineteen. Her head felt like a dusty room cluttered with sad broken things from another time.

Someone knocked on the door.

“Vete al carajo, Liz!” she hollered. “Fuck off!”

“I’m not Liz.” It was Guerin’s voice. “She left with Alex and Valenti a few minutes ago. Can I come in?”

“Whatever.” There was no lock on the bedroom door; she’d already checked.

Guerin let himself in. He slouched there in the doorway, framed like some weird saint. Hair-haloed, stained gold, glowing in the dying sunlight. He was a fucking asshole, obviously in league with Liz and Kyle, but he’d been her friend once, a long time ago.

Maybe it’s time for you to get the hell out of Roswell, he’d said, the last time they spoke before Isobel—no, the other alien possessing Isobel—killed her. You got better things to do than hang around this place.

Easy for you to say, genius boy, you got a scholarship, she’d retorted.

I want you long gone when I leave for college.

Don’t make fun of me, cabrón.

I’m not. C’mon, Rosa. You can do anything. You’re the most resourceful person I know.

 What d’you recommend then?

I dunno, buy a fucking bus ticket for starters?

Except she’d died before she could make good on that bus ticket, and he’d taken the rap so Isobel could sleep easy at night, and that was the end of their big dreams.

“What d’you want, Guerin?” she asked.

“Valenti—I mean your brother—half-brother—whatever—told me to give you these.” He tossed something over; reflexively, her hand shot out and she caught it. A pill bottle, the antipsychotics she was supposed to be taking. Because even though Max Evans had cured her of death, he hadn’t managed to cure her of bipolar disorder.

“Gee, thanks.” She glared at him. Guerin was one sorry-looking motherfucker. Cut eyebrow, split lip, black eye maybe a week old, the bruise faded a sickly yellow-green. “So you’re a borracho,” she said.

She didn’t feel sorry for him. Well, she did, because what she knew of his life was that it had been hard and fucking shitty. But she still resented him. Not because he’d thrown away his genius or whatever Liz always said, but because his issues were legal and mainstream and pretty much accepted. The alcohol thing, not the alien thing—there was nothing legal or mainstream about being an alien. But most people could relate to wanting a stiff drink at the end of the day; Guerin had probably spent the past decade hiding in plain sight. Hell, Maria had dated him. There were lots of movies where guys like Guerin got to be the hero—Rourke in Barfly, Belushi in Animal House, Cage in Leaving Las Vegas—and so their drinking became heroic, too; it gave them pathos. Genius and addiction were friends with benefits for guys like Guerin.

“Yep,” Guerin said. “Night, Ortecho.”

She lay awake in the dark for what felt like hours. She heard Guerin’s voice again, but it was just his, so he was probably on the phone. She wondered who he was talking to. Maria? By all reports theirs had been an acrimonious separation, so probably not. Maybe Liz was calling to check up on them. Or Kyle. The thought made her angry.

This wasn’t her first rodeo: she’d been through rehab, twice if you counted Jim Valenti’s little detox dungeon. She knew there was a way forward. She might start out slowly: doing her laundry, keeping her room clean, sketching at night. Then Alex would create a new identity for her, and she could start making herself part of the world again. She would go to job interviews. Liz and Guerin would help her catch up on schoolwork; she would apply to college. She would be one of those people at Bean Me Up, sipping a cappuccino, laptop open, looking serious and productive. She would take meds every day to keep her antipsychotic, and her second life would be simple, quiet, unremarkable.

Guerin was still on the phone. It made her jealous that he had someone to talk to at such length, but the low murmur of his voice was oddly soothing, and she drifted off before the end of his conversation.

She forgot to take her pills.

 

*

 

“So I heard your mom died,” she said the next evening.

She’d stumbled into the kitchen earlier, groggy and disoriented, only to find the cabin quiet and empty. Guerin had left a note on the fridge saying he was at the lab with Liz, which surprised her, because she thought they were under house arrest. His absence left her with fuck-all to do except pull books off the shelves and fail to guess the password to Alex’s computer, so she was itching for a fight by the time he got back.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Didn’t know you had a mama.”

“Me neither, till a couple months ago.”

“Can’t have mattered very much then,” she said, shrugging.

He didn’t say anything.

“My mom is gone,” she volunteered.

“I know.”

“She left.”

“Liz told me.”

“Good fucking riddance. Stupid puta.”

“If you say so.” He had his phone out, texting, barely listening to her.

“Weird that your mom was so old when you met her,” she reflected. “Do aliens age slower than humans? Or did she look, like, super old?”

“She’d been tortured for seventy years, Ortecho. She looked like a POW,” Guerin said tersely.

Something knotted in her stomach. Kyle had told her that Jim, their dad, had been deep in all that shit with Jesse Manes, before he got cold feet and then Jesse killed him.

“Did your mom—”

“That’s enough.” When he finally looked up from his phone, his amber eyes were sharp, focused. “If you’re trying to make me blow my top, it ain’t gonna work. After all the shit I’ve seen and done, it takes a lot more than sticks and stones, mami.”

Guerin was an alien; he could kill her right now if he wanted to. But reading between the lines of what Liz had let slip over the past few months, Guerin—unlike Isobel, unlike Max—didn’t kill people. He was more like the undertaker; he dealt with the bodies and the mess and the aftermath and took the blame for his siblings, who were too chickenshit to look themselves in the mirror. He was plenty dangerous, all right, just not to her.

“You’re fucking boring,” she said.

His mouth twitched. “I’m trying.”

“You called me mami.” She bit her lip so she wouldn’t smile.

“You used to call me papi, back in high school,” he reminded her.

“Did you miss me, after I died?”

“Hell, Ortecho.” Guerin massaged the bones of his left hand absently. “It was fucking lonely, if I’m being honest, ’cause nobody knew we had history, and then I had to act like you were just some girl I killed by accident.”

“Oh.” She felt a rush of anger; she also felt a little like crying. “Do you have any weed?”

“Nope.”

“Liar.”

“Uh-uh.”

“We used to smoke up all the time.”

“That was years ago.”

“Not for me.”

“Whatever.”

“For old times’ sake, Guerin, c’mon.”

She kept after him; as it turned out, he did have a joint tucked away in the glove compartment of his truck. They sat on the porch to smoke it. “If Liz finds out…” Guerin trailed off ominously. “I’m s’posed to be setting a good example.”

“Good example, you?” she scoffed. Her eyes watered and she coughed; being dead had really fucked with her tolerance. She took another puff on the joint. “What kind of borracho are you?”

“A mean one.”

“You get into fights?”

“Bar fights, mostly. And with Max, when he tried to arrest me.”

Rosa still hadn’t figured out if she was meant to feel guilty every time Max’s name came up. Sure, the guy had died bringing her back, breaking Liz’s fucking heart, but like, she hadn’t asked him to. She’d just been minding her own business, being dead, before Max Evans got involved. “Who won?” she asked.

“Well, he usually had the advantage of being sober,” Guerin said. “But I’m quicker, I’m telekinetic, and I fight dirty. I didn’t always fight back, though.”

“Why not?”

He hunched a shoulder. “Taking a beating feels good sometimes, and Max—… Love can misfire in a million different directions, y’know? Like, I’m beating you up ’cause you did a wrong thing, Michael, ’cause your behavior hurts our sister, Michael, ’cause I can beat sense into you and addiction outta you even though that’s impossible, Michael, ’cause if I don’t beat you somebody else will beat you to death, Michael, and that would destroy all of us—” his voice cracked.

“Michael…” She captured the joint from his trembling fingers and cuddled into him a little. She was remembering the day Liz found her stash and turned it over to Arturo, landing her ass in rehab. When she got out, Federico was waiting for her, and he helped her right off the wagon again. Then Jim locked her in his cellar, and… Guerin was right. One fucking misfire after another.

She tugged the frayed cuffs of her sweatshirt down over hands and rocked back and forth. Guerin’s fingers prodded her arm, then he tentatively wrapped his arm around her shoulders.

“D’you remember that time in detention…” he began, and then they were off, the weed was hitting and she was convulsed with giggles, they finished the joint and she wobbled off to bed sometime later, floating on air because she couldn’t feel her legs, and she fell asleep listening to the rise and fall of Guerin’s voice in the living room as he talked to somebody on the phone…

She forgot to take her pills.

 

*

 

Liz came by at lunchtime with takeout from the Crashdown, and things went south quickly. Guerin had the shakes that day; he was keyed up, sweating, his hands trembling as he chugged glass after glass of water. He didn’t touch his food. Meanwhile Liz kept shooting her these skittery little glances, like she was afraid Rosa was gonna do or say something crazy.

She didn’t have to wait long.

Liz started chiding Guerin for some lackluster performance in the lab, pertaining to Operation Resurrect Max Evans, and that set Rosa’s temper off like a stick of dynamite. She accused Liz of wishing Max had never brought her back, that he were still alive in her place.

Liz yelled and gesticulated. And then she started crying.

“Jesus Christ,” Guerin said, and put his head down on the table.

Rosa felt like utter shit but she wasn’t gonna fucking apologize so she stormed off into the bedroom and left Guerin to comfort Liz and probably commiserate over how much they both wished she were dead instead of Max fucking Evans.

After a while she heard a car start outside and felt a queasy sort of relief that she’d driven her sister away.

Guerin knocked. Grudgingly, she bade him enter, and he flopped down at the foot of the bed.

“You can be kind of a bitch sometimes,” he remarked. He folded his arms behind his head and she could see a sliver of golden abdomen where his shirt rode up. He probably wasn’t trying to be sexy or anything, but that exposed bit of skin made something flutter in her gut. “She’s just doing her best, y’know?” Guerin said. “People like us aren’t always easy to love.”

She sucked her teeth.

“We’re…” He turned his head to the side and shot her a lopsided grin. “We’re the bad kids. Even after all these years.”

“Why stop drinking, then? If nothing changes.”

“Oh.” He fidgeted, a shifty expression coming over his face. “Well. Some things change, I guess. For me. Something changed. Yeah.”

Why was he so fucking sketchy?  

“This sucks,” she told him. 

“Yeah, but no way this sucks harder than rehab,” he said.

“What d’you know about rehab?”

“Not a damn thing. They can’t put me in an institution ’cause I’m an alien.”

He’d caught her in a remembering sort of mood, so she told him about rehab.

How there was a points system. You got points for finishing your food. You got points for participating in therapy. You got points for making art in art therapy. When you got a certain amount of points, you got to make a phone call. When you got a certain amount of points, you got to check out certain things from your own stuff to use during free time.

How the windows were tinted, and it always looked grey outside.

How they weren’t allowed to have razors, or candy, gum, anything with caffeine. How fucking hairy her legs got, how thick and furry, and how she fantasized about how nice it would be when she finally got to shave it off.

Guerin was a good listener; he laughed and winced and sighed in all the right places, and he never interrupted. So she told him more.

How once Liz and Arturo came to visit her, but they just ended up fighting. How she tried and failed to explain, without screaming, how awful this place was. Arturo said it was good for her to be there. She told him he had no idea what the fuck he was talking about, this place was not good for anyone, he’d never known what was good for her because he didn’t know her, he had an imaginary daughter he had mistaken her for, how could she be someone she wasn’t? She nearly spilled the beans, right there in front of Liz, about Jim being her dad, but she managed to stop herself, which had to count for something.  

How Liz and Arturo never visited again after that.

How in therapy you had to go around the room and say how you felt. How you couldn’t say “fine” because “fine” was not a feeling word. They had a chart with feeling words beneath faces expressing the feelings: Anxious? Optimistic? Enraged? Excited? She wondered what there was to be excited about in a place where each day was exactly the same. They probably increased your meds if you said that.

How sometimes she cried and begged the nurses to let her go outside and take a walk: Will you please just take me for a walk?

How she saw people freak the fuck out. How one time someone screamed at her: a girl stood right in front of her and screamed her head off, and she just stood there staring, wondering what to do. The girl could kill her. But then the men in white came and took the girl away.

How she could no longer muster up a sense of outrage.

How one time a man came and told them to write poetry. She plagiarized a Counting Crows song and everyone was very impressed.

Guerin chuckled appreciatively. “Which one?”

She told him, it was the one that went like

We’ve waited so long
For someone to take us back home
It just takes so long
Meanwhile the days go drifting away
And some of us sink like a stone
Waiting for mothers to come

Guerin sighed. If she had to name the expression on his face she’d have called it wistful.

Then he told her he was heading out for a bit, there were leftovers in the fridge, and not to wait up.

She spent a long time looking at herself in the bathroom mirror after he left, twisting this way and that, sickened to her soul at what she saw reflected back at her.

A fucking corpse.

She had trouble falling asleep without the muffled sound of his voice through the door. So she stayed awake until she heard him come back.

She forgot to take her pills.

 

*

 

She dreamed of Guerin’s head between her thighs.

It had been good between them, all those years ago. He was younger than her, but he was the best she’d ever had. Eager to please, eager to get her off. Even after she got with Federico she thought about him, because honestly he gave better head and she didn’t even have to ask, he just offered. And he’d been her friend, even if they both liked to pretend it was only about the benefits. Federico was her boyfriend, and it was serious—as serious as it could be, when there were drugs in the mix—but he was never her friend, not like Guerin had been.

So she dreamed of Guerin’s head between her thighs, his hands kneading her breasts, his warm weight on top of her as he fucked her in her bedroom above the Crashdown with all the detritus of her childhood strewn around them. And when she woke up alone in Alex’s bed in the old Valenti cabin she was sweaty and out of breath and tingling with something she hadn’t felt since she came back to life. 

Half-tranced, she left her room and slipped down the hall like a shadow.

Guerin slept with his feet hanging off the couch, which was too short for his rangy frame. The blanket was tangled around his knees. He wore nothing but a pair of black boxer briefs.

So she looked.

Everyone had grown up after she died; they had all changed and gotten older. Guerin was no exception. There was stubble on his cheeks, permanent grooves etched onto his forehead. His shoulders had broadened and he had muscles all over. The hair on his chest was new, too, and she wanted to scratch her fingers through it.

Guerin shifted a little, angling his pelvis up, and that was all the invitation she needed to clamber over him and straddle his hips. His hands came up to grasp her thighs, bare under the oversized t-shirt she slept in.

Then he opened his eyes and she found herself dumped unceremoniously to the floor.

“The hell, Rosa?” he rasped, sleep-hoarse, glowering down at her. “What’re you doing?”

“Jumping you,” she said honestly, because why the fuck not. “I got bored waiting for you to try something.”

Try something?” he echoed. He switched on the lamp, and she shielded her eyes.

“Y’know, like we used to—”

“I’m twenty-eight,” he said, staring at her like she’d grown an extra head. “You’re still nineteen. I’m—I’m too old for you now.”

“I’m older than you are,” she argued. “I’m like thirty—

“And by that logic, I’m in my late seventies,” he countered sharply.

“Lo que digas, papi. We used to—”

“When we were teenagers. You still are.”

“That’s not fair.”

“What’s fair got to do with anything?”

“The Guerin I remember would never miss an opportunity to get laid. Neither would the Guerin of the last ten years, apparently.”

He shook his head. “It’s taken me way too long to figure out that sex doesn’t solve, like, any problems. It only puts off the inevitable.”

“Which is what, exactly?”

He just shook his head again, lips pressed firmly together.

“Guerin. Michael.

He dragged his hands through his hair, making the curls stand up wildly. “There’s something you should know, that—that I—”

“It’s okay, Michael.” Reaching up to smooth his hair, she said reassuringly, “I’m not in love with you, either.”

His eyes had always been completely transparent in their sudden mood shifts. The years fell away, and with every passing second, he looked younger. “But I am in love with someone, Rosa, that’s the thing.”  

“You still hung up on Maria?”

He hesitated. A muscle twitched in his cheek. And he said: “Not Maria. Alex.”

“You’re in love with Alex?”

“We’re sort of together.”

Her lips felt numb. “Since when?”

“Since… forever ago. Off and on from the end of our senior year. Off, mostly. But now we, we’re…”

Rage spiked inside her. It felt like giant burning pustules were breaking out across her skin. Without a word, she turned back to the bedroom, Alex’s bedroom, where she pulled all the drawers out of the dresser and methodically dumped their contents on the floor. In the jumble of clothes she could see Guerin’s things mixed in with Alex’s, the signs had been there all along, Guerin had been fucking living in Alex’s cabin, why the fuck hadn’t anyone told her? She hated him and she still wanted to make out with him. Why was he doing this? she wondered, beginning to ransack the closet, where she found Guerin’s denim jacket nestled cozily beside Alex’s leather one. Why couldn’t they just fuck and be happy?

She looked up and saw him standing in the doorway, arms folded across his bare chest. He’d put on a pair of jeans, so he probably meant business. But he didn’t tell her to stop what she was doing. He just watched.

She rifled through the bedside table, where she found condoms and lube in the top drawer. She hurled them at his head, but both missiles froze, immobilized mid-air. Fucking telekinesis. Fucking aliens. Fucking… She was fucking horny as fuck. All her stupid hormones surging back to life, making a hormone stew inside of her. She wanted—. All she wanted to do was fuck. Fuck and touch herself and fuck and—

“Er, okay,” said Guerin.

She must have been talking out loud.

“Thought you said you missed me, papi.” Feverishly she tore through the remaining drawers, innocuous findings of aspirin and tiger balm and A&D only adding to her fury.

“I did.”

Why was he so fucking calm? She flung another pill bottle at him, which he caught neatly. “You’ll regret me,” she warned. “I’ll make you regret me.”

“I already do. Every moment of every day. I’ll always have to wonder if I’d just gotten to that cave a minute earlier—”

“Motherfucker, you lit me on fire.” She held out her arms so he could see how his fire had ravaged her body, leaving weals of shiny scar tissue. And not just the burns. She pulled up her shirt, not to flash him her tits but to flash him the livid red autopsy scar that ran between them.

Guerin made a sound like he’d been punched.

But she didn’t really give a shit about him covering up her murder anymore: far worse he was keeping secrets while they lived under the same roof. “I hope you drink yourself to death,” she said distractedly, beginning to tear the covers off the bed.

“Yeah, I’m completely miserable and live in constant regret,” Guerin said with infuriating calm. He was such an asshole.

Now her mind was teeming with half-formed images, Guerin and Alex naked on this very bed, slotted together like puzzle pieces—

“Do you fuck him, or does he fuck you?”

“None of your fucking business.”

“Does he love you back?”

“You’d have to ask him.”

She stripped the sheets from the mattress. “Too bad you ruined a good thing, asshole. You’ll never get another chance with me.”

“I don’t think I could live with myself if I lost you again,” Guerin said, “so it’s better for both of us if we don’t go down that road, huh?”

“What level is your sarcasm meter up to?”

“It’s so high it’s almost full-circle back to being earnest,” he said. 

She howled in frustration. “You—you fucking piece of—” Except she couldn’t think of just what he was, her thoughts were racing too quickly for her to keep up. 

“Ortecho. Rosa.” When had he gotten so close? He was right up in her face now, close enough to kiss. “Remember how you used to get sometimes, when you got manic?”

“I’m not manic,” she said.

But then she looked at the pill bottle in his hand, and she remembered. “I forgot.” She was still vibrating with static electricity, it felt like there were millions of ants running around beneath her skin and there was something wanting to erupt from her chest. “I just forgot,” she repeated, and her voice came out small. “I just…”

She reached out, and he pulled her into him. She felt his arms around her, strong, and when she reached up she felt the coarseness of his chest hair under her fingertips. She stroked it absently; fear was rapidly overtaking desire as that word rattled round and round her brain. Manic. Manic. Manic. And its cousin: Psychotic. Psychotic. Psycho—

“You’re gonna be okay.” Guerin’s voice rumbled deep in his chest as he held her. “It’s just one of those episodes, like you used to get ’em in high school. It’ll pass, mami.”

“Me prometes?”

“Yeah. I promise. It’ll pass.”  

 

*

 

It did, and it didn’t.

The longer she was alive again, the more she found herself in a familiar world, one she remembered with a nostalgia that felt jarring and confusing. She didn’t know how to fill the hours. Liz got her a new cell phone, an iPhone, and she often found herself staring at it, alternating between real fear and scary excitement knowing someone out there would contact her. Most often Liz and Kyle, or Guerin, but sometimes and increasingly Maria and Alex and even Isobel.

Alex came back, and they were a tight fit, three people squeezed into a cabin meant for one. Alex and Guerin were nice about it, but she knew she’d have to go back to Kyle’s soon, because she couldn’t keep clinging to Guerin like a child to her mother’s skirt, not when he was one half of a couple desperate for privacy. She slept on the couch now, and all night she had to listen to them trying to be quiet in the bedroom, which was almost worse than if they’d just been loud. She walked in on them once, which was pretty memorable, because they’d been sixty-nining or whatever, sucking each other’s dicks, but then she saw Alex’s damaged leg for the first time, the shock of the stump where his calf should have been, and she reeled away with the sense this was the most egregious violation of their intimacy she’d thus far perpetrated.

She would go back to Kyle’s any day now, but she was still drifting in and out of the lethargy of depression. The antipsychotics only did so much. There were bad dreams: she was trapped in the cave, and Isobel was reaching for her with a red-glowing hand, eyes cold and vacant. Sometimes she thought about aliens and space and Max and being dead for ten years and panic choked her throat and she would start thinking about drugs. But then she looked over at Guerin, and he would shoot her a sly little wink, and the panic slowly abated. She closed her eyes and opened them, and the ceiling was right where it had been a moment ago.

She looked forward to Guerin’s company in the evenings. Just to sit in the living room and watch a movie with him and Alex. Alex was awkward with her after she interrupted them having sex and saw his leg, but slowly he warmed up again. One night, while Guerin was in the shower, she teased Alex about how obviously in love he was, and he blushed a beautiful rosy pink.

“He wants me all the time,” Alex confided, apparently incredulous that such a thing was possible.

Rosa, eavesdropper to their nightly activities, witness to the thousand little touches exchanged between them, did not doubt it.

“Like,” Alex dropped his voice, still blushing furiously, seventeen again, “like I’ll just be standing in the kitchen making coffee, and he’ll be up my shirt pulling me into him with one hand, grabbing my ass with the other, and he kisses me like he’s trying to—fuck, I don’t even know—scoop my soul out with his tongue, or something.”

Guerin wandered in with wet hair, a towel around his neck, and Alex flushed redder still.

She was happy for them, even as she envied them. Sometimes she couldn’t look at Guerin without blushing either, because she’d tried to jump him and that was embarrassing, even though he hadn’t treated her any different after. 

Guerin—Michael—told her she would get to have a life again soon. That she would go to work or school and come home and have friends to call. That she would have boyfriends, if she wanted them, or girlfriends. Whatever she wanted. If she was bisexual like him it was okay, it wasn’t that complicated.

The skeptical part of her didn’t really believe him, because who was he to promise that the dread and sadness and emptiness would ever end? He was only just pulling his shit together, and he’d spent more time alive than she had. But Michael said she had to believe it wouldn’t go on like this forever. Because she was stronger than before. She had to try. Not everybody was lucky enough to get a second chance like she had, like he had, like they had.