Burn.

She looked at the burning tobacco in the paper held between her index and middle finger. Beyond the concentrated orange glow she saw the outlines of wet, broken blacktop, reflecting the various light sources nearby. The newly budded leaves sprouting from the fallen branches shook in the unusually cold wind. Definitely no bugs tonight, she thought, then took another deep drag on the robust, dried tobacco, tasting the saucy breeze of grass amongst the leaves. She looked at the spacious, wanna-be highway down the steep hill, watching a few cars drive by, counting a fraction of the amount that passed during the day, and braced as she heard another distant roar of wind approach, feeling it sweep across her less than 10 seconds later. Wind was always making noise, always whispering and talking, especially to anyone that listened. This was different than the earth, that only grumbled if it had too, and would otherwise remain silent, at least to a mere human’s ears. The same for the water, but the water would never let you forget it was there, always trying to lull you into her depths and let her sing to you. And the fire, the fire would cackle gleefully, in absolute delight to be in existence, feeding off of the given energy, and hissing at those that tried to put it out, angrily reminding them that it would be back eventually.

Arya knew all of these aspects well; she had spent many of her nights and days outside, enjoying the company of these acquaintances, these friends that people distance themselves from and expect to still be friendly. Her people had exiled her long ago, much like they had done to the elements, and she had since learned to take comfort in the non-human. They understood her because of who she was as a form, not who she was as an individual. And she preferred it that way.

She took one last drag on the cigarette, watching the trees spin slightly around her as her body took in the large dose of nicotine and drug. Then she spit on the ground, as custom said, and put It out in the small mound of shifting saliva. That’s probably not very feminine, she vaguely thought. Then again, she wasn’t very feminine, for a girl; after all, she was raised by men, men of a society of only males. To this day, she was still trying to find out why.

ÀÀÀ

Carlev ran as fast as he could down the cobblestone street, chucking the newspapers against the many damaged and a few broken doors with practiced accuracy, all the while having a minor panic attack. Just get it done, you’ve got this, he encouraged himself. He was late, very late, for his regular newspaper delivery routine. Thankfully, the guy who ran the delivering business was never actually up during these particular hours of business, so if Carlev hurried, he could finish before the old guy woke. He kept running as fast as he could, projecting the paper missiles straight to the doors of the slums he carried out his job in. he ran through the alleyway, knowing this to be the best shortcut in town, so the only one he would be willing to take. Then he saw a curious shape at the end of it against the wall. It was someone, but they seemed to not caret that he was running full tilt. Then he got closer…was that, a girl?

 

Arya ran, doing her best not to trip, doing her best to keep sprinting, doing her best to keep track of him behind her. She shouldn’t have done this, this was an awful idea! Why did she decide to do it now, like this? There had to have been an easier way, or she just shouldn’t have done it. Not yet, not tonight, she would have been okay for another night, and maybe he would have been in a better mood… maybe, whatever, it doesn’t fucking matter now. You’ve royally screwed up this time, Arya. You’re an idiot! A goddamned idiot! Fuck-! She felt her left foot loose grip, and slid into the damp, brick wall, slamming her shoulder and head into the cement below. Seeing stars and hearing not much else other than ringing silence, she clumsily twisted over in the mud and gravel, preparing herself to keep running, when she saw a combat boot slam down in front of her, and felt a gloved hand slam against the back of her head and neck. Feeling the jagged rocks and grimy wetness too well on her cheek and ear, she knew in her heart she had been defeated, but her spirit refused to believe otherwise.

“What do you think you’re doing, you filthy little swine?! Eh? Think you’re going to get away from me? Nope, not today, bitch. Not today, at all!” and with that, Vic lifted and slammed her head into the ground, hard, but not the hardest he could do, she knew. Arya stayed silent, except for the clacking of her teeth against one another from the impact. She was not broken; there was no need to make noise and beg. Not yet.

“You, do NOT get to leave! You have cursed our family, and will therefore serve your sentence here, with our guardian, doing what you are told, and ONLY what you are told! Do you hear me, bitch? Do ya? You are NOTHING, nothing compared to what I am! Right? Right?! Arya, you better fucking answer, cunt!” Vic shook her head and body with this, chaffing her face and exposed skin against the ground, bringing a want of tears to her eyes.

“Answer me, goddamnit! Don’t make me get meaner with you! That’s what you want, isn’t it?! You want me to loose my temper!” He was starting to shake at this point.

“No, I just wanted to tell you that, to tell you how I-“ Arya protested, but didn’t really have the air to continue once he wrapped his hand around her neck, shoving his thumb into her windpipe. Why did he have to know what she was doing?

“You did not want that, you wanted to upset me and our guardian! Thankfully I’ve stopped you from telling the guardian, so you’d better be fucking grateful I’m doing this to you!” Vic said, not afraid to lay the guilt on heavy and subduing her. He knew her too well. But Arya was not going to give in this time. She was so close…so close indeed.

“This talk of ‘women’ in other p    

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