Your Call -- fiction by Baoying Scott
From up here, the dark blue waves don’t look so menacing. From up here, they look almost friendly.
I could almost pretend they’re friends, you think. But you know better.
It hasn’t rained for several days now. The roof is slippery no matter the weather, and there’s nothing to see but the cloudy ocean beyond. Above you, the sky is like washed out paint.
Unimpressed with the faint clouds massed above, you turn. Intent on climbing back down. Better to slip back down through the window, and forget about all this.
Why do you spend so much time up there? friends used to ask. Before they, too, felt the calling of the great blue beyond. It feels morbid to stand up here, thinking of their lost lives.
“Yes, it is morbid,” you agree.
“Talking to yourself again?”
You start, and look up. There’s someone near the peak of the roof. It's a gently sloping one, which means you can walk up to her rather easily. Not that you want to.
“You heard?” you ask, and flatten your words into a seashell, as flat as a sand dollar. Something unobtrusive.
And yet she smiles at you. Condescending. Glimmering blue eyes like the ocean, though a touch lighter. She slides down to join you near the edge.
“Of course. How could I not, when-”
Your fingers itch to hurt her. Throw her off the roof. Some violent end she most certainly deserves. But you don’t. Not because of her disarming smile, or the fact she’s so high up. It’s the blood collecting on her shirt. Dripping down the pale fabric, vivid red almost like a broken heart. You squint at her, wondering what to say.
Is this all a set up? you wonder. Fishing for pity?
But for once, it doesn’t seem like she’s pretending.
“Ah, got stabbed again.”
“Again?” you ask drily. You didn’t expect that. Most others with her title don’t get stabbed, and never so dramatically. “Did you mess with the wrong people?”
“Again?” she asks, and laughs. Cuts like ice, for all the humor that it’s missing. Though now she falters and winces after speaking. Then she smiles, as if you alone can fix her. It makes you sick. “You could say that.”
“Couldn’t find a replacement-”
“You’re the best there is.”
Something you’ve wanted to hear for a long time. Finally all this sacrificing might actually make sense. But coming from her lying mouth, it means nothing. Like sand lost to the winds of time. The words linger and cut into you. Bitter and cruel.
Oh, the irony.
You look down at the tiles of the roof; pale and hard, almost like her.
Unbidden your thoughts whisper, I envy that, and you feel a sick swoop in your stomach. I envy the easy cruelty you emulate. Can’t I stop feeling, for once?
So you can only laugh, and it cracks through the air.
“You know that's not true-”
“Fine…then you’re the only one.” She offers you a hopeful grin. Sweetness veiling her deceit. You can’t meet her eyes. Can;t help tugging at your hair. You wrap the strands around your fingers as you try to see through her lies.
“You haven’t seen any other healers?” you mutter. The words come out bitter.
Backing me into a corner already? is what you want to snap instead.
“Maybe you should stop your chase after titles,” you add. Its a throw away thought, unimportant, and yet-
She scoffs, cutting into your deliberation. A sick twist in your stomach tells you that was the wrong thing to say. When you look up, her blue eyes have darkened, becoming steely and cold. Much like the ocean beyond.
“Stop my chasing after titles? And then what? Get murdered like the last Crown?”
A low blow.
Slowly, your gaze finds hers. The cruel glint in her eyes shouldn’t surprise you, but it does. Even though that's her. Relentless and tenacious, and very unwilling to die.
“That's not what I meant.”
Shut up. Can’t you just shut up? you want to snap…except. So instead, you let those words hang in the air, and fight the urge to run.
“What did you mean, then?”
“You’re getting people hurt-killed-for nothing.”
“Nothing? Nothing? Does the right to live here mean so little to you? You know without me, you’d be dead, you all would be dead. If it wasn’t for me-I am protecting people-”
But no, she’s just a disillusioned Crown. All she cares about is prestige. Control. Like all the other Crowns.
“Say that again.” Her words are deadly soft, and her eyes burn with blue fire. Your heart sinks, but you’ve already crossed the line.
“You’re not protecting anyone.”
“So-so what, you want me to…”
She steps towards the edge, trailing off as she glances at you. Her foot hovers over the open air.
“Wait-” You thought she was bluffing, you didn’t actually think…
“Wait?” she echoes, and her words are dry, almost amused. She stands there, suspended, waiting for you. The amusement in her smile doesn’t reach her eyes.
“Don’t. Don’t do it.”
“You think I have something to live for, then?” She touches the growing red stain on her shirt. Such a vibrant sign of life, it hars you for a moment. Nothing that vibrant should also signal death. “I’m just going to bleed out anyways.”
Life and death tangled in this moment?
A laugh wants to tear itself out, but it's caught in your throat.
“You have your friends,” you try.
Please don’t make me, you want to beg. Don’t make me choose.
“Who’d kill for my title?”
“You have the future-”
“To get murdered in cold blood, like the last Crown? Doesn’t sound much like a future to me.”
“What do you want me to say?” bursts out, finally, and the words cut through you both, through the space between. She spins, finally taking a step away from the edge.
“Nothing, nothing at all,” she says, taking another step and touches the blood. It;s so red against her fingers. “Except that you’ll heal me. You’re the best there is, after all.”
You can’t look away from the blood. But finally you do, and meet her eyes. She isn’t flinching. You’re forced to look away, There isn’t a choice in this.
“But it's your call.” Her voice finally holds some warmth. “You are the healer, after all.”
Baoying Scott is a fiction writer who enjoys writing and reading in many genres. They primarily enjoy the fantasy genre, and aims to tell stories that aren’t common in the mainstream. Taking walks with thier dog, worrying about the future, and creating fanficiton are some of thier hobbies. This is thier first publication.