I pause as I reach the kitchen sink, my attention caught by the view of the city outside the open window. A light breeze flicks past me, cooling my naked body. I continue to stare, the lights dotting the skyline reminding me how alive this place is. Hopefully, soon I will be in charge of all that’s before me.
“What are you doing here?” For a second, I’m certain every patron in the café goes quiet at Aphrodite’s words. She stays firmly seated on the beige sofa, her attention only briefly flicking to the sweet treats I’m offering.
I take in a deep breath, enjoying the intoxication of the moment. I stood in front of that huge crowd and loved every second of it. Who would have thought that the great trickster, the god so used to staying in the shadows, could have so much fun in the spotlight?
She really is wonderful, and things have never been so good between us. It’s almost like the unpleasantness of being accused of killing someone dealt with that awkward moment between Kinnesberg and me a few weeks ago. We’re closer than I ever expected, and it feels good. Right. Like we were always destined to be like this.
“I cannot imagine your pain.” I can. He’s mourning for someone very special, and, in my own way, so have I been. “But what I can tell you is that I am not the person that caused that. I do not know who took your daughter away from you, but will you allow me to help you on that quest?” He says nothing.
“No.” It’s the hardest lie I’ve ever uttered. I loved her, and yet I took her life. I was trying to change for the better, for her. Instead, I did the worst thing imaginable, and I still don’t know how I did it. Clearly, these thoughts, or some version of them, cross my face because Kinnesberg stands and pads across the carpet. She gets so close I can feel her breath on my face. It’s hot, heavy.
I no longer want to be the obsessed planner who will step over anyone to get what he wants. Who lets his doubts and criticism manifest themselves into voices that do more harm than good as they did that horrible night when I killed the woman I loved.
I feel tiredness sweep over me. I was hoping for a peaceful night, a chance to listen to my records, enjoy a drink, and sleep. That’s all gone, replaced by uncertainty. I have so much more to think about now, but I can’t help but yawn.
“Good lad. You do your bit on the stage. Tell everyone off the bat, and I’ll sort everything straight after with you.” He points his finger at me and mimes a firing motion as he clicks his tongue. “The opposition won’t know what’s hit them.” Then he’s gone, and the flat feels oddly quiet, and a little violated.
I have trouble focusing, though. Tonight has been a sharp reminder of where I am in my life. How difficult it has been for me recently. I am trying to be better, even though my past actions still haunt me, especially because they still do.
In some cases, the ease with which I give a dishonest answer is always going to serve me well in this race. But, of course, there is some level of accountability. If I tell lies all the way to city hall, then when I try to do anything I want to, people are going to notice. I am trying to do something good here, and I would like to get elected on the back of that if I can.
With everyone still in the game, the process of discarding cards commences, and I set my expression accordingly. Grim determination that my luck is going to change at some point tonight. It’s fooling some. Others aren’t so convinced, but I need that too. If my gambit is to work, I need a healthy mix of scepticism at this stage of the game.
She hadn’t thought of it that way. I represent redemption. If she could take an independent from unknown to a winner in less than four months, imagine what she might do with another crack at her own career.