There was a certain contentedness I had when Jealousy was near. It was comforting. I would never let him know that, but I couldn’t deny having him around made me feel close to whole.
It’s true, so I could find what I was looking for, I left him and home behind, but I couldn’t deny feeling somewhat empty. I loved my solitude. When I was alone, I could hear myself think. When he was around, he complicated things, especially my thoughts.
Hatred was even worse. She drove me to inflict violence on others. That was why I left her behind. Why I did everything I could to prevent her from being summoned. I didn’t need Jealousy’s reminders, but it helped me stay focused on keeping Hatred in the dark.
He’d been sulking for hours. I forced him into the backseat so I could focus on driving. His mouth hadn’t stopped moving. It never did.
I placed a cigarette in my mouth, lighting the end with my match. I cracked the window a hair, allowing the smoke to suck out through the small opening.
When I looked through the rearview mirror, his eyes stared back at me. They called to me, begging me to start a conversation. Maybe I had punished him long enough. Truthfully, I was becoming bored with driving in silence. Besides, I needed some answers.
“A few days ago,” I said, breaking the silence, “I was confronted by a man with a gun. Were you there?”
“I was,” he answered with a nod.
“Why not make yourself known?”
“I was curious,” he replied.
“You left us at home, commanding we stay put,” he explained. “But, you had to know walking with mortals would allow us to catch up with you. That had me a bit intrigued. I wanted to know what you were doing.”
“Are you satisfied?” I questioned.
“Not really, Din,” he said. “What are you doing here, if not to create havoc? Are you using the jealousy and hatred of mortals to fuel your soul?”
I took a drag, gripping the steering wheel tightly.
“My entire existence has been to rule over you and Hatred,” I explained. “It’s been my only identity. Where has that gotten me? I’m invisible to my own family. I’m unable to succeed in their eyes, no matter what I do. So, I thought it best to come up here and travel the land as one of them. I’m hoping during my time up here I receive some kind of sign showing me an alternate path.”
“You don’t like being the God of Hatred and me?”
“I don’t like feeling the way I do,” I declared. “I don’t like constantly feeling the same way with nothing changing. I don’t intend on doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. That’s the definition of insanity.”
“And you think that me being with you, or close to you, hinders your progress?”
“Yeah, I did at first. I’m not sure anymore,” I said, taking another drag of my smoke. “When I left you behind, I was still approached by men who were jealous of me and what I had. I thought I would somehow escape it if you weren’t around. But, between that altercation and you being summoned to the bar, I see this is inevitable.”
“Maybe I can help,” he replied, leaning forward and resting his arms on the seat. “Did you leave to escape how you feel? Or did you leave to understand how you feel?”
“Okay, that’s not much help. Are you hoping to become seen and accepted by our family?”
“I don’t know.”
Jealousy leaned back against the seat, exhaling so hard it made his lips flap, mimicking the sound of a small motor. “You know, you seem like you have yourself together and things in order, but I can see now that’s not true,” he groaned. “The least we could do is drive around with the music up loud, stop at every bar we can along the way to drink, and have maximum fun.”
“You’re lucky I let you stay,” I snarled.
“Oh, am I?” He chuckled. “Well, I’m honored, sir Din.”
“If I need your opinion or want your advice, I’ll ask.”
“Can I, at least, ride up front?”
“No,” I snapped, flicking my cigarette in his face.
He laughed hysterically, retrieving the smoke from his lap, taking a long drag, and flicking it through the narrow gap in my window.
I raised my eyebrow at him through the rearview mirror.
“I’ve been waiting a while to do that,” he said with a smirk. His gaze shifted from my mirror to the road ahead. “What’s going on up there, I wonder?”
I looked out the windshield to a car on the side of the road. The taillights flashed. The hood and driver’s side door were open. Initially, I couldn’t see anything, so I slowed down.
“I don’t see anything. Do you?” I asked.
“No. I don’t see anything, but I feel so much,” he answered.
I knew exactly what he meant. Something was going on in the area. It was strange to see a vacant car with the door all the way open. I could feel the growing tension within. It was giving strength to Jealousy and making my heart beat a little faster.
“I say we stop. Investigate a little,” he urged.
I complied and pulled over. When I got out of the car, I could smell blood in the air. Whatever happened had happened nearby.
I walked to the car and felt a strong pull to the snow-covered field at my left. I looked down, noticing two separate sets of footprints. I followed them for a few feet before I saw the blood. It had pooled in a concentrated area, melting through the snow to the cold grass underneath.
I followed a blood trail from there, going another fifty feet until I reached a man’s body in the snow. He was breathing rapidly and soaked in his own blood.
He must have heard my heavy footsteps crunching in the snow because he turned to look up at me. Someone had beaten him half to death. I couldn’t quite tell if it had been with an object or if the individual had used their fists.
“Please…you have to…you have to help me,” the man pleaded, covering the wound on his torso.
“Yes, help him, Din,” Jealousy urged with a chuckle. “Show off your magic trick.”
Keeping my eyes on the wounded man, I ignored Jealousy. I felt sorry for the mortal. My strong attraction to his position and my minion’s interest in the situation could only mean one thing. He had been attacked out of jealousy.
“Who did this to you?” I asked, kneeling next to him.
“Help me,” he groaned.
“If you want my help, then you will need to answer my question,” I insisted.
“My brother…my brother did this.”
He coughed, groaning in pain with each jerk of his torso. “What does that matter?” he replied.
“It matters,” I said. “You want my help? Answer my questions.”
“He’s in love with my wife,” he advised. “He thinks…he thinks if I weren’t around, she would….that she would marry him.”
“Is there any truth to that?”
“No…zero… He’s not right in the head. He’s troubled. He needs help.”
“His brother attacked him in a jealous rage,” Jealousy stated. “That kind of sounds like our thing. Don’t you think?”
I stand up, turning to Jealousy. “Yes, so what?” I growled.
“This man is hurt and dying as a result of the very thing that gives us purpose,” he explained. “You said you were searching for something. Maybe this is it. The pull to this man is strong. I know you feel that.”
“Of course I do,” I snapped. “But I didn’t come here to meddle or get involved in mortal conflicts or problems.”
“Okay. Fair enough. You have to be the one to tell the suffering man there’s nothing you can do for him. He’s going to die cold and alone.”
Once again, Jealousy was right. I knew I couldn’t ignore this man in his need. I have never been able to turn my back on anyone in distress. It was my biggest soft spot.
“Who are you talking to?” the man managed to ask.
“Don’t worry about it,” I snarled, kneeling next to him once again. “Close your eyes.”
He complied. I placed my hands over each of his wounds, healing one at a time until he was in full health. He kept his eyes closed the entire time without moving a muscle. When I finished, I helped him to his feet.
The man stared at me in disbelief. “I can’t believe,” he said, pausing to feel for the injuries that were no longer there. “Is this real? You must be an an—”
“That’s enough,” I interrupted him. “What’s done is done, and yes, it’s real. Now, where can I find your brother?”
“I guess because he indirectly committed a crime in my name,” I answered with a smirk, glancing at my minion.
“Are we really doing this, Din?” Jealousy chuckled.
“We are,” I replied to Jealousy.
I turned to the man I’d just healed. After watching me carry on a conversation with someone he couldn’t see, he stared with a blank look on his face. I leaned in close, letting him know I was serious. “Take me to your brother.”