101 - Chicago
SEVERAL WEEKS AGO “You.” It wasn’t the most cogent response I could have uttered, but quite frankly I was surprised to see Alex. I wasn’t quite sure why, he had made something of a habit of appearing and disappearing without so much as a moment’s warning.
“Me,” he said. I guess I deserved that.
“What are you doing here?”
He looked directly towards the door through which Mrs. Claire and Amanda had disappeared. “Oh, no reason.”
It wasn’t like I couldn’t tell when I was being lied to. “So Mrs. Claire is right? You are disrupting her business?”
He waited a moment before nodding. “It’s only fair.”
“How is it fair?”
“She’s the one that brought me back after all.”
I blinked. “And that gives you right to terrorize her? I would have thought that being given a second chance at life would have been cause of celebration.”
He smiled a bitter smile. “A second chance?” With a movement almost to quick to follow, he took a step forward and swung a fist at me, hard.
Of course, it passed right through me.
Or I through it. One of the two.
“What makes you think this is any sort of second chance?” He sounded bitter. I guess I could see that.
“Well, perhaps there’s something that you need to do yet on this Earth.”
*Like confess to your suicide.* I thought to myself, although of course he’d already done that, or at least started to. Perhaps actually finish it? But I felt like if that was it, he would have to come to that conclusion on his own.
He just shook his head. “How can you still believe in all of that Father? After seeing all of this?”
I blinked at him. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, here I am, come back from the dead. You say there has to be a reason for that, but if there is, who’s behind it?”
“God,” I said without a moment’s hesitation. Truth be told, I wasn’t quite so confident as I projected, but who else could it have been?
“God bring back a suicide?” he asked, shaking his head. “You honestly believe…”
Whatever he had been about to say, I never heard it. There was the sound of an opening door coming from off to my side and Alex’s words stopped coming, his full attention riveted on that doorway.
First Mrs. Claire came through the door, followed closely by Amanda. They were chatting about something, Mrs. Claire turned back to Amanda as they did. So it was the latter who was the first to notice Alex.
“You!” she cried out. Apparently it was the thing to say.
“Amanda,” Alex said. I had to turn and stare at him. His tone wasn’t harsh or melancholy or angry–or really any of the emotions I’d heard from him since we’d first met. This was softer, almost…
“Do you know her?” I asked him.
“Know me?” Amanda’s voice wasn’t soft at all. Instead, she sounded furious. “*Know me?* Perhaps in the Biblical sense of the word.” She stalked across the room, taking impressively long strides for such a relatively petite girl until she was standing face to face with Alex. She may have been the shorter by a decent margin, but the way she stared at him, I surely wouldn’t have been the first to volunteer to tell her that.
“Oh, Amanda, I never meant…” Alex started, but he was cut off by a sharp blow across the jaw. Or he would have been had he been any more corporeal. As it was, Amanda’s open palm slid right through the air where his chin should have been, sending her spinning.
She let out grunt of pure frustration, taking a step to right herself. “Don’t you ‘oh, Amanda’ me buster. Not after what you did?”
“What did…” I started, but the two of them turned as one, both glaring at me with nearly identical expressions on their faces. I snapped my mouth shut, but up my hands, and started edging towards Mrs. Claire who was watching the exchange with her own mouth open in a half surprised, half bemused sort of expression.
Alex and Amanda were glaring at each other, not so much as saying a word, as I shuffled sideways step by step. Once I was out of their immediate field of vision, I took a chance and turned to Mrs. Claire to cover the last few steps. As I did, I hissed to her, “do you know what’s going on?”