Ichor, Ambrosia and Paparazzi

The first thing you’ll do when you find out I know her—or knew her, because she’s not exactly talking to me anymore—is ask me how it happened, how she ended up neck deep in shit like she did, and I’ll have to smile and sigh and pretend it doesn’t piss me off that you think you have a right to know, and that, even if you did, I still wouldn’t have a clue in hell what to say.

The second thing you’ll do is pitch a fit because I won’t tell you, or worse, you’ll have snapped me like a too-taut string and I will tell you, and then you’ll pitch a fit because it isn’t what you wanted to hear. And I’ll be sorry, but it’s not my fault your ivory-tower Rapunzel turned into a life junkie, decided living forever with a drug was better than dying. I’ll probably say you’re just jealous because the higher-ups decided it was bad idea and made ambrosia illegal, so it looks like you’re stuck with a normal life span and won’t that be dandy?—but I know that’ll just piss you off more.

Next—once you stop pitching a fit, I mean, and God only knows how long that’ll take—you’ll ask me how this ambrosia shit works. You’ll want to punch me when I say I don’t know, that I just deal immortality, and the mechanics are a job for Albertus Magnus or Nick Flamel. And like I said, it’s not even legal now—not that I think you’re stupid enough to try it. I know you wouldn’t plan on getting hooked or anything but, well, if she became a junkie, I’m not booking on anyone’s chances.

By now you’ll really have gotten an interest, and you’ll talk about how you saw her on television and in magazines and talking to brainy big shots who think they know shit but don’t. Maybe you’ll even quote a few headlines—“Addicted to Immortality,” or “First Forever Woman” from the Times—and say how they talked it all up, you didn’t think something as simple as a bullet could take her out. Then you’ll lie and say that you thought all that interest was getting to her—looking back on it now and oh my god how did we miss the signs—and I’ll stop myself just short of drawing blood and saying if you didn’t think it was good for her, why’d you keep watching?

You’ll start to cry then, big fake alligator tears, a predator tricked out of your prey. You’ll say it was all so sad, a nice girl like that, but she shouldn’t have turned to drugs, and what would her mother say? And I’ll know what her mother’d say, just like you do, just like any mother anywhere would say if she knew her little girl was into deep shit: she’d say we’re working it out, so mind your own damn business. But her mother’s gone, and now she is too, and you wouldn’t have minded your own business anyway.

Then you’ll say you don’t believe the shit people are talking now, how she stopped taking communion because she didn’t want to mix her meds, how she never said the Lord’s Prayer in church anymore because she didn’t think it was evil she needed delivering from. That’s probably when I’ll crack and say that I knew her and you didn’t, even though you think you do, even though you watched all those stupid shows and read those shitty magazines. I was her dealer—her deliverer—and she was a junky, and I’m the only one left who can say I knew who she really was, and I know she stopped praying a long time ago.

The last thing you’ll do is dry your tears, say you still can’t believe it, that you keep thinking you’re going to turn on the TV again and see her big smiling forever face on the screen. People like you always do that, always act so surprised when they kill. Then you’ll turn around and walk back in whatever direction you came from, leaving the blame in my lap because you think I can take it.

And I will. I’ll take that blame for you, so you can spend the rest of your life thinking your beautiful forever woman shoved the business end of a pistol down her throat, pulled the trigger and swallowed a bullet, and none of it was your fault.

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Megan L. Arkenberg  Megan L. Arkenberg's website is a student in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her work has recently appeared in Every Day Fiction, Dreams & Nightmares, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She edits the fantasy e-zine Mirror Dance.

Other works by Megan L. Arkenberg