[From my novel in limbo, now in 3rd person. Justin Latterly, in this instance in his capacity as tutor, responds unfavorably to one of his students--Macy, perpetual bemoaner of her circumstances who, in this instance, having just insulted Justin, is at her wit's end. Elisha, another student from whom Justin is failing to keep an appropriate distance, intervenes.]
“Don’t be a bitch, Macy.” There it was—suspended in the center of the room like a disco ball casting its many facets, leaving no aspect of its longitude or latitude unspoken, a hundred daggers from a hundred eyes—there it was.
Macy stepped into the room and the door eased shut behind her. A warmth kindled and grew, the winter air at bay. With her back against the door, Macy slid to the floor. Her arms, now pale, fell limp at her sides. She moaned and wept, hands knuckle-down against the cold, worn carpet, shoulders in sobbing paroxysm.
Fan-friggin-tastic. He had a teenager in tears, on his beat, just the two of them shredded by the mirror ball. But this is not your fault, Latterly. This is the culmination of circumstances in which you are a minor character. You are just the prick that burst the festering wound. To look on the bright side.
Meanwhile, back on the dark side, Macy started banging the back of her head against the door. Thunk, grunt, thunk, grunt, thunk.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” Justin jumped-up. She did not whoa. Anticipating the intervention, she added speed and force to her efforts. “Macy . . . oh god . . . stop.” He snatched one of her limp arms and yanked her away from the door. A sick little pop left her shoulder. She wailed. She cursed him. He squatted and crutched her armpits with his hands to lift her but she was too heavy and too slick with cold sweat. He sunk in front of her where they came face to face, her upturned hands in his lap. Cinnamon and onion breath. Patchouli scented flesh. His gut curdled. Slowly, she settled into pathetic sobs. Against all impulse and judgment, he stayed seated in front of her. To let her calm down or, if nothing else, to continue to curse him.
His cell-phone buzzed. He let it go to voice mail. The door cracked and bumped against Macy’s back.
“What gives?” Elisha asked.
“Hold on.” Justin stood and smoothed his clothes. Macy scooted away from the door to the nearest wall and looked up smiling. Smilingly. It made him nervous. Elisha came in. Her nose and her cheeks were red. Cold weather suited her. He had noticed the other night at the cemetery how she seemed to glow. How she wore the paltry starlight in silvers and wide-eyed blues. How now, adorably nonplussed in the doorway, she seemed to still be spangled by the residual light.
“Seriously, what gives? Is everybody ok?” She looked at Macy then back at Justin.
“Yeah, I think so . . . Elisha, do you know Macy? Macy, Elisha?”
“Of course,” Macy said. “We went to the same high-school.”
“Until Junior year. Then she disappeared,” Elisha said.
“I didn’t disappear, I graduated.”
“Nice. Way to go,” Elisha said, truly impressed. As much as her prettiness and charm, Justin admired the simplicity of her graciousness. (Also evident in the simplicity of her contempt; but in this case . . . )
Macy started crying again. He hoped that the head-banging would not follow. Elisha let her hand glide along his back as she made her way around him. Without comment, she simply knelt by Macy and hugged her sobbing shoulders.
They stayed that way for five minutes. Macy crying, Elisha rocking.