Sunday, January 08, 2017

Zoe Bleak #11

“You can’t kill me,” Joshua wheezed. “I am forever.”

“What?” Zoe was confused.

“He’s right. If you kill him, he will just come back. Like Christ, his soul and presence will just transfer to someone else,” Felix explained. “It’s why he hasn’t been stopped before.”

Zoe lessened the pressure on Joshua and then let him go. “Then what are we supposed to do? Keep running? Keep fighting? It’s not fair. It’s not fair that Winnie has to live her life in fear. It’s not fair that any of the Christchildren had to live their lives in fear. And all because, what? Why does Christ have to die, Joshua?”

Joshua coughed up blood and looked up at Zoe. “Without Christ, there is no hope. Without hope, people are easier to control, more willing to follow. Without Christ, evil wins.”

“Have you seen history?” Zoe walked over Joshua and kicked him down onto the floor. “Evil wins all the time. Chaos reigns all over the world throughout time. It always will. Is it always permanent? No, but it is always there. You don’t need to murder an innocent child to make evil and chaos happen.”

Vanessa and Winnie walked over to Zoe and looked at Joshua. “So what do we do?”

“Can he be imprisoned or something with Grandpa and Rhona?” Zoe asked Felix.

“As soon as he get better, he’ll be back out here, hunting down Winnie. Don’t you think we’d do something if we could?”

“I have an idea,” Zoe said and looked hard at Joshua. She raised her hand and began performing some sort of spell on him.

“What are you doing?” he asked and then his eyes rolled to the back of his head, he made a sickening gurgling sound and then collapsed on the floor. His fingers twitched but he was quiet and immobile.

“What did you do?” Vanessa asked.

“Um, I...I lobotomized him,” Zoe said. “He’ll spend the rest of his existence in a lifeless shell. Not dead, but he probably wishes he would be. Felix, can he go with Rhona now?”

“If not, I’m sure she can place him somewhere.”

“How did you learn to do that?” Vanessa asked, a hint of nervousness in her voice.

“I told you that I wasn’t a good girl,” Zoe said, taking Vanessa’s hand.

“That was cool,” Winnie gasped, still staring at Joshua.

“Okay, we’re going to get out of here,” Zoe put her hands on Winnie’s shoulders and began leading her out of the theater. “We’re going home. If you need anything, you know where to find us.”

“I’m not sure I’m okay with this,” Zoe said. “She’s only a freshman.”

“It’s the spring formal. She was asked. Besides, it’s mostly just going to be friends hanging out. Also, if we don’t get some time alone, I will set something on fire,” Vanessa said. Heather’s mom pulled up to the bookstore with Heather and her and Winnie’s dates in tow. Vanessa opened the door a bit. “Winnie, everyone is here. Get down here.”

Zoe and Vanessa talked with Heather’s mom until Winnie came down nearly a minute later. Her hair, now longer, was styled, dyed a reddish-brown, and in loose curls. Her dress was a simple pale gold with little brown accents on it. Everyone awed when they saw her.

“You are the most beautiful girl in the world,” Zoe said, hugging her girl. “So who are these young men?” Zoe eyed the two boys.

“My date is Ian Von Bargen,” she pointed at her date.

“Hi, Ms. Bleak. I’m Ian,” the young man extended his hand to Zoe. She shook it and smiled at him.

“Nice to meet you, Ian. I’ve heard a little about you. You got Winnie in trouble a few weeks ago,” Zoe said.

“We really like to talk to each other in science class,” Ian blushed.

“Hey, Ms. Bleak, I’m Chris Marcelli,” Heather’s date extended his hand.

“Nice to meet you, too. This is Vanessa Spader, Winnie’s other Mom,” Zoe introduced. “Are you kids going to dinner?”

“Yes. We have reservations at Xanthippe,” Ian said.

“Ooh, reservations. You kids should get going but first, a picture,” Zoe pulled her cell phone out of her pocket. The kids all lined up, Winnie on one end, Ian next to her, then Heather, and then Chris. Winnie tilted her head as she smiled and they all put their arms behind each others backs. They all smiled big as Zoe and Heather’s mom took pictures of the four of them. “All right. We’ll see you kids later.”

They all piled into the car and Zoe and Vanessa watched as they disappeared down Cottage Grove. “She is such a wonderful young woman,” Vanessa said.

“She really is,” Zoe was tearing up. “God, I wish we could’ve had her when she was a baby. I would’ve loved to see her as a little girl.”

“Well, I’ve been thinking about that,” Vanessa took Zoe’s hand and they walked back into the bookstore. “Now, it won’t be Winnie, specifically, but maybe could have our own child and see them as a baby and a little girl. Or boy,” Vanessa began, closing the bookstore door behind her.

“Will you be back next year?” Leah asked Felix as they chaperoned the spring formal. “I know you aren’t technically a teacher but I kind of like having you around.”

“No, I will not be back next year. Like you said, I am no teacher and these students deserve someone better than me,” Felix said. “I will be sticking around though. I’ve kind of started seeing someone and it’s getting pretty serious.”

“Is it?” Leah gave Felix a look.

“Yeah. And I’ll prove it to you,” Felix noticed something across the gym. “Right after I say hello to someone.” Felix patted Leah’s stomach as he walked away over to Winnie, Heather, Ian, and Chris. “Ms. Bleak. Ms. Gratts. Boys,” Felix nodded.

“Hey, Mr. Sullivan,” the girls answered, the boys following a second or so behind.

“Having fun?”

“We just got here but so far it’s cool,” Chris said.

“I don’t need to be protected anymore, Mr. Sullivan,” Winnie said.

“I know. I’m just saying hi. Also, I’m telling you that you are my favorite student,” Felix smiled at her.

“I thought teachers weren’t supposed to have favorites,” Winnie grinned back.

“I’m not a teacher,” Felix shrugged. “You kids have fun. Responsible fun,” he corrected himself and pointed at each of them.

“We will Mr. Sullivan,” Ian said and put his arms around Winnie and started swaying.

Felix rejoined Leah and took her hand. “Would you like to dance?”

“Oh, I’m not a dancer,” she giggled and shook her head.

“You don’t have to be. Come on,” Felix pulled her into the crowd and they began dancing terribly with each other.

“I’m gonna go make pancakes,” Vanessa said after she slid her underwear back on. “That’s not weird is it?”

“Not at all. Help yourself. Make me a couple,” Zoe said, still lying in bed, enjoying the post-coital ambiance. “I’ll be out in a minute.”

Vanessa grabbed a shirt she used for a pajama shirt and left the bedroom. Zoe stretched then slowly sat up on the edge of the bed. She rubbed her eyes and sighed heavily. She reached down to the floor to pick up her underwear. She stood up and began getting dressed. When she turned around, there was a book on the bed with a note attached. She picked up the book, a photo album, and read the note. Rhona and I may not have been conventional parents, but we were still parents. Wish you could’ve watched her grow in real life. Grandpa.

Zoe opened the album and saw it loaded with pictures of a tiny baby girl with wide brown eyes. As she turned the pages, the girl grew up with beautiful brown hair and green eyes. In the middle of the album was a single picture of Winnie. She was in front of a brick wall, on brick steps. Her elbows were resting on her knees with her right hand in a fist on her right cheek. Her left hand was on her other cheek, fingers curled down. She was staring off into the distance with a lost smile on her face, her brown hair nearly white in the sunlight and blowing in the wind.

A tear landed on the page. “Vanessa, take a look at this. Look at our little girl,” and she ran out of the bedroom.