Icing Burns



Scene Title Icing Burns
Synopsis Odessa contemplates her circumstances and works to make peace with her reality.
Date July 4, 2020

Staten Island

Last week, he’d carried her to the bed and stayed with her until the painkillers kicked in and she fell asleep. This week, she’s exhausted from the walk across the parking lot and to her door. She nearly collapses when she steps into the door, her legs screaming to be allowed to just give up. Her arms too. Everything inside of her is fighting a paradoxical battle to keep moving and to simply stop all at once.

He’ll be sorry in the morning
You say he’s tender when you’re home
But if I was your man, I’d be more than just
A cure for being alone

When she makes it to the bed, it takes great effort to climb onto the mattress. Changing out of her clothes will almost certainly be out of the question. But… this is why, after the first session, she bought herself a maxi dress of comfortable cotton. The fabric is light and soft and does little exacerbate the feeling of her injuries.

You say you see some good in him
You can’t explain
And he’s somehow better
Than the way that he behaves

She doesn’t manage to put her head to the pillows or pull covers over herself. Instead, she simply lays diagonally across the bed, facedown with her legs hanging over the side. Last week, her ankles barely brushed the edge. Now they’re well beyond. It’s the last thought she has before she succumbs to the exhaustion and drifts into unconsciousness.

But the fact is that in practice
His love grinds you like a stone
And you’re wrapped around the axel now
Afraid to let the whole thing go

Her limbs are screaming at her when she awakens. The awkward angles and the missed dose of pills are a terrible combination. Odessa curls in on herself and cries, knowing that the only way she’ll find relief is to move and get her medication, but unable to bring herself to do it. This is where he would want her to call him. To tell him that she needs assistance. But that would be admitting weakness. It would cause disappointment.

But you can’t drain the sea
And stay afloat
You can’t take the knot
And leave the rope

The first day alone is always the worst, she reminds herself as she gingerly unwinds arms and legs, reaching shakily for the purse left discarded only inches away from where she’d lain. One favor she’d done for herself early on was transfer her pills from a bottle to a small pill case. Much easier for her aching hands to manage.

The water, it won’t ever run clear
Rinsing your heart out in the sink
Stay and all you’ll ever get, dear
Is a paler shade of pink

The pills are swallowed dry. Water can come later. What she wouldn’t give for some morphine now. Her phone has half-slipped from her purse, and she contemplates sending off a text to make such a request… but the fear of relapsing into old habits is too great. He would almost certainly cut her loose if she showed any sign of being a junkie.

But the fact is that in practice
His love cuts you to the bone
And you’re looking down to see the hand around
The switchblade is your own

She isn’t sure when the sun went down, but the loud pop and crackle of fireworks in the distance tells her dusk has settled in enough for festivities to begin. Inde-fuckin’-pendence Day. The bottle rockets and roman candles sound like gunshots, and she closes her eyes for a moment, as if that could help block out the noise. Or the memory it conjures. It isn’t the PTSD someone might expect from a veteran of either side of the Second Civil War, but one that elicits a melancholy sort of pain all the same.

But you can’t drain the sea
And stay afloat
You can’t take the knot
And leave the rope

Ever since that meeting on the rooftop, gunning down their own forces, she had been enamored with Ace Callahan. She’d put him out of her mind, certainly, because she’d made the terrible decision to continue her devotion to Michal — a choice she doesn’t regret for that reason specifically — but she had thought of him often in the intervening years. How things would have been different if she had discarded love and loyalty in favor of adventure and betrayal.

We’ve all loved liars
But most have learned
That those who play with fire
Spend their whole lives

This was supposed to be a second chance at that, wasn’t it? Change your appearance, he’d told her. This would help her shed the last fetters of her old life and allow her a new start. Now that the transformation is upon her… Ace has grown more and more distant, and Odessa can feel him slipping away. What does it mean for her if he decides she’s no longer worthy of his interest? The prospect of being owned by Gideon d’Sarthe without the umbrella of belonging to Ace is not a comforting one.

Icing burns

With effort, she pushes herself up to sit. The world swims in her vision for a moment, and she feels a wave of nausea brought on by pain. She just needs to hold out a little longer. A few more weeks, and this will all be over. She can do that for him, can’t she? For herself? If she can just prove herself able to withstand this…

Yeah, icing burns

She doesn’t remember hitting the floor. Only understands that it happened due to the awkward slump she finds herself in and the blinding pain in her face where her cheekbone collided with the threadbare carpet. Blindly, she reaches for the nightstand, grabbing the edge of it to help leverage herself to her feet.

Icing burns

The second attempt to get water is successful. Cane in one hand, a bottle from a case by the door in the other, she makes her way back to the bed. She drinks half the bottle before setting it down on the nightstand and carefully balancing her cane against the side of the mattress. She lifts her dress up and over her head, tossing it to rest on the end of the bed, rather than the floor where she’ll have to bend to pick it up later.

Yeah, icing burns

It’s with a bit more ease that she sinks back down onto the bed this time. She pulls a cord down from where she had it wrapped around the arm of a wall lamp and plugs it into the bottom of her phone. She sends a text message to Amanvir. Still doing fine. DNR. Do not reply.

Icing burns

Setting the phone face down on the nightstand, she picks up the remote for the television instead and turns it on. “Ah,” Odessa murmurs to herself. “Excellent. A marathon of River Styx reruns.” Christ she hates the Jenny Childs character. “I was the fuckin’ puppy,” she mutters at the screen. “Not this bitch.”

Icing burns

She feels a nudge back against her flare of irritation. She smiles and picks up her phone from the stand again. He’s obviously awake even at this hour, so she presses the green handset icon from the message window and brings the phone to her ear, waiting for the call to connect.

Icing burns

“Hey…” Odessa breathes out in greeting, a genuine sense of happiness and calm coming over her at the sound of Aman’s voice on the other line. “Yeah. I know I said don’t hit me back. I can change my mind if I fuckin’ want to, okay?” Tomorrow, the cycle will begin all over again. Pain. Regret. Loneliness. But maybe just for tonight…

Icing burns

“Wanna hate-watch River Styx with me?”

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