Saturday, 27 December 2014

What Sin

By Aline-Mwezi Niyonsenga

The screen yawned like the cavernous mouth of a black hole, pulling Jun into its vacuum. She let it drag her there, away from thoughts and worries from a past life that threatened to stain the white furniture of her apartment red. The doorbell rang. The screen spit her out and Jun leaped over the back of her couch to get to the door.
“Who is it?” She asked as she pressed her eye to the peep hole. Pale blue-grey eyes stared back, framed by ghostly strands of hair escaping from a messy bun. Unlocking the door, Jun grimaced for good measure, “Ew. It’s Psycho Psyche.”
Psyche rolled her eyes. “I’m here to check on you.” Her eyes flicked around the room, a split second flash that Jun caught with practiced ease.
She narrowed her eyes. “’Check on me’, huh?” Leaning on the door frame, she crossed her arms. “You sense some Unseen here? You’re looking at one.”
Psyche shook her head. “You’re half-Unseen.” Crossing her own arms, she added. “Mind telling me why there’s so much Unseen activity in and around your house?”
Jun threw her head back. “Oh! Oh you think I would definitely allow Unseen to party at my place.”
Pursing her lips, Psyche replied, “I know you wouldn’t. That’s why I’m worried about you.”
Averting her eyes from the ashen blue of her teammate, Jun walked back inside, inviting Psyche to follow. Making her way to the kitchen, she took out two mugs and started heating water for tea.
“Earl Grey, right?” She called as her hands grasped a tin box. “Have a seat on the couch.”
“Yeah,” Psyche replied absently, eyes lingering on the plasma screen television before her. “Interesting d├ęcor,” she commented. “Because everything is white, all eyes are drawn to the television screen.”
“Yeah, well,” Jun leaned on the counter, focusing on the low rumbling of the electric kettle. “It’s how my mom likes it.”
Psyche turned her head around to meet Jun’s. “And your mother is…?”
“Not here,” Jun turned away, grasping the kettle to pour hot water onto the tea bags within each mug. Honestly, she thought. Could this girl have any less tact? She handed a mug to Psyche who took a deep whiff of the steam and exhaled with bliss.
“How did you know I like Earl Grey tea?” She wondered.
Jun shrugged. “It’s what you always have at Mr. Kyle’s office.”
“Ah,” Psyche nodded.
Noticing the way her hands shook as she held tightly onto her own mug, Jun set it down, hoping Psyche wouldn’t catch the one drop that landed on the glass top of the coffee table, though its brownish shade is hard to miss. Leaning forward, she let her hair hide the profile of her face as she rose to retrieve the cream and sugar from the kitchen.
“I like my tea black,” Psyche called.
“Yeah, so?” Jun snapped. Her lips trembled. Mine is too red, she thought. I need to dilute it.
Coming back with a white tray, she scooped up a spoonful of sugar to drop in her mug and quickly added cream, stirring it all into a calmer caramel colour.
“Jun, are you okay?” Psyche asked.
“I’m fine!” Jun snapped.
Psyche put a soft but firm hand on her wrist as she attempted to lift her mug. “You’ve made a mess of your table. Look.”
Indeed, the coffee table was littered with white sugar crystals and milk spills. Jun took a rattling breath.
“Why am I sensing so much Unseen activity in and around your house?” Psyche pressed.
“None of your business!” With a jerk of her arm, steaming tea spilled onto the white carpet, giving it a seeping brown stain. Like dried blood, Jun thought. Her stomach contracted.
“Jun? Jun, I’m sorry.”
“Look what you’ve done!” Jun cried. She grabbed her hair in helplessness. “My mom’s gonna kill me!”
“You wrote on your application form that both of your parents are dead because of an Unseen attack,” Psyche replied evenly.
“My mom isn’t dead!” Jun covered her ears.
“Then where is she?”
“There!” Jun pointed.
Psyche’s eyes widened as she saw the plasma screen television as if for the first time. They swept across the apartment’s main room one more time and it clicked.
“Jun, you have a portal to the Unseen realm in your house.”
“It was my mom’s,” she explained. Tears rolled down her eyes. “She went home from time to time.”
“How many Unseen pour out of there-”
“None!” Jun cried. “It’s so heavily fortified even I haven’t figured out how to use it!”
“Then how do you deal with the Unseen waiting to break into your house and use it?” Psyche yelled.
“They wouldn’t dare,” Jun assured. “No one messes with my mom or her property.”
“Jun…” Psyche bit her lip. Her teammate wore an expression that even the coldest heart couldn’t continue questioning. It was that dark-circles-under-the-eye, red-rimmed sunken face, as if Jun’s life wasted away in front of the television screen, as if its darkness took everything for the sake of remembering nothing, nothing of the horror imprinted in those dark brown eyes.
She pressed on despite herself, “…it’s illegal to keep a portal to the Unseen open.”
“It isn’t open,” Jun whispered.
“It is,” Psyche insisted. She reached for Jun with outstretched arms, hoping to soften the blow of, “If Mr. Kyle finds out, you’ll have to destroy it.”
Jun flinched away, slapping her arms down, eyes wild and glistening. “What’s wrong with wanting to see your mom again?” She yelled. Her voice increased in pitch. “Is it a sin to want to see my mom again?” Her lips shook out of control. “Mom…”

As Jun sank to the floor, sobbing like a lost four-year-old, Psyche wondered what on earth she could do for a friend who broke the rules to keep herself sane.

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