“Yep, I am. Now I am going to take care of the community center, and I am going to make sure Antwan will get the best treatment possible. He’ll get all the therapy that he needs to finish growing up as a functional adult, so I swear on the river Styx,” I said with a warm smile. I felt the bonds of my oath wrap around me, but it wasn’t a problem. Trust funds go a long way.
Maxine watched him scramble out of the room, smiling placidly, then spoke in a slow southern drawl, “Gerard, darlin’, you simply must learn to mind your manners. When a lady says no, she means no. I could do with a nice cup of tea, however.”
One by one, I laid the lilies at the eternal resting places of my friends and comrades in arms. I only spoke in my head, not yet comfortable with letting Kimmika hear what I had to say.
I’m sorry. I miss you all. We were supposed to save the world together. How the hell am I supposed to do this alone?
I dive over the counter to escape whatever these things are. My medication must be failing. The prescription amount must not be right. I am having another break from reality. I land on my face as the room begins to fill with more and more of these phantoms. All of them yell things at me, their voices overlapping. I look under the counter to find a gaunt-faced boy staring at me.
“Look, I’ve been your doctor for a good number of years, and I know it wasn’t easy finding your twin brother’s body. The way that Henry took his own life was such a shame. I am really sorry, Tom, but you have got to stay on your meds. Any problems you call me day or night, understand?”
Wait. Two hands, with five fingers each. Two arms… Two legs and two feet? The sheet covering my lower limbs raised and bumped unevenly, showing the lack of symmetry beneath my torso. I threw the covers back, wanting to know what was wrong with my leg.
A few hours later, we were home, and I was curled up on the couch with a large bowl of chicken noodle soup. I had a warm blanket around me, and Revan was fidgeting. I could tell he was trying to phrase how to break the bad news to me, so I put the bowl on the side table to take his hands. “Just say it.”
I watched how you handled everything that came your way with dignity and grace. I saw your tears, and I saw your joy. I wanted to grant you these Victories today. The first a life worth saving, the second for the lives you saved, and the third for what gives your life true meaning, your family. Thank you. You’re a true hero and champion in my book.