“T, you make my cookies crumble,” said Lucky, kissing her.
She laughed, pushed him, and told him to get dark chocolate, next time.
“There’s a demon to see you, T,” said a young gang member, covered in paint.
“Thank you,” she said.
“I’ve been painting at the school two blocks away.”
“I like the colors,” she said.
He nodded and smiled.
“Gotta go,” she said, giving Lucky another kiss.
“Into the arms of a demon,” he signed.
“Hopefully, we’re just going to talk but one never knows, does one,” she snickered.
“T,” said the demon, when she walked into the room.
“Thx. How’s it going?”
The demon shrugged. “Hard to give up old habits.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Sometimes I just want to rip someone to pieces, you know?”
“I’ve felt that way about members of my family.”
“Everybody feels that way but you know what I mean.”
“I do,” she said, putting her hand on his arm. “Let’s get some coffee,” she continued, leading him into the kitchen. She poured his coffee into a large pot, gave him a dozen donuts, and sat down, with her mug. “So?”
“I like it here,” he said. “It’s nice. No one is trying to kill me and I don’t have to fight in the arena, torture anyone, or make humans insane. It’s a whole different way of life.”
“Huge change. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to deal with all that that entails.”
Thx nodded. “It’s kind of boring here,” he said. “All of us are used to constant action and danger and now…well, we don’t feel alive. Truthfully, I feel like a carrot.”
Coffee shot out of Toledo’s mouth and she started choking. She gasped for breath and tried to talk, which only made things worse. Thx, didn’t know what to do. She waved him away but continued to fight for breath. After a few minutes, she calmed down and apologized for getting him wet.
“You shooting coffee at me is the most exciting thing that’s happened to me in weeks.”
“It was the carrot thing,” she said, starting to laugh hysterically. “It’s not funny but what made you sat that?”
Thx looked at her and smiled. “Because I feel that most of me is buried. That you can only see the weak part on top, which lets you know that I’m there, when, in fact, the real me is completely hidden.”
Toledo got up and put her arms around his thick neck. He put his arm around her and held her. “That is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. Thank you for explaining exactly how you feel.”
“Am I interrupting something”? asked Lucky, staring at Toledo in the arms of the demon.
“Yes, you’re interrupting” said Toledo.
“Okay then,” said Lucky, closing the door.
“He’s very understanding,” said the demon.
“That’s why I love him.”
Toledo went back to her chair. “Is there anyone you love?”
“There is. She’s strong and independent. She’s a lot like you but bigger.”
“I’m happy for you.”
“How can I help you? How can I help the others, as well?”
“Nothing here gives us the rush we get in the arena. When you fight to the death and win, there’s nothing like it. It’s as if you beat death itself. You feel infallible, like nothing can hurt, or touch you. Your body is pumping hormones to your brain, you feel electric, huge, dangerous, like you could take on an army and win. You’re on fire, T, bigger than life itself. To beat death is the only thing that truly proves you’re alive.”
Toledo got up and hugged him again. “You’re a writer, a speaker and a poet. You make me understand and feel the things you’re saying. You have a gift, my friend. And there’s nothing here that will ever make you feel that way. Nothing at all. There is nothing here that’s like the arena, not even war.”
“What am I going to do, T?”
“I hate to ask this but do you want to go back once in awhile, to fight?”
“I do and I don’t. I do because I really want to feel all of those things again but I don’t because I can see there is more to life than killing. Each fight could be my last and now that I’ve been here, I care more about whether I live or die,” he said, looking away. “And there’s something else.”
“What if I’ve changed so much that I won’t be able to find…my rage, my…desire to kill… my bloodlust? What if that’s gone? Without those things, in the arena, I wouldn’t have a chance.”