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The Sapphire Shadow by James Wake

The Sapphire Shadow by James Wake

Author:James Wake [Wake, James]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Amazon: B088QMZC4R
Published: 2020-09-05T23:34:11+00:00


* * *

The pain-killers were starting to wear off. Dim light poured in through the glass wall behind them, the ever-present nighttime glow of the city.

Nadia lay in bed, staring at the hideous bruises all over her ribs, even across her underwhelming breasts. She saw a troubling concentration of darker purple where her vest had stopped a bullet. Everything hurt.

“You okay?” Tess said, lying on her back and gazing vacantly at the ceiling.

It was the first thing either of them had said in some time. Nadia stared at the ceiling too, wondering what to begin to say.

She eventually settled on nothing. Her still-mobile hand snuck over to Tess, carefully and hesitantly, before resting on that still lovely prosthetic.

“That…thing you did with your hand,” Nadia said, all innocent curiosity. “Is that a built-in function?”

“Sort of?” She could tell Tess was blushing. “More like a side effect.”

“I’m surprised every woman in the city doesn’t have one.”

“Hey, you know what they say,” Tess said, “Once you go prosthetic, that’s your aesthetic.”

Nadia groaned. She couldn’t stop touching Tess’s arm, though.

“Can I ask you something?” Tess said.

She tensed up, felt any number of excuses and redirects present themselves, hating every second of it. Instead she managed to nod.

“What happened to you?”

“What do you mean?” She said, stalling.

“Well, we go our separate ways to college, and I don’t see you for years, and then when I do, you’re…uh…”

Nadia’s hand clung to Tess’s arm, desperately. “What are these?” she said, running her fingers over notches cut into the fibers on the top of her forearm.

“You’re changing the subject. Don’t think I don’t notice when you always do that.”

“I know,” Nadia said. “I’m sorry.”

Silence grew between them, long seconds of cold space. Tess sighed. “It’s okay. Not yet, I know.” She rolled over and propped herself up a bit, showing off her forearm. “These are…I mean, it’s kind of stupid, but…”

Nadia poked a large cut near Tess’s elbow, the spot where a smoking chunk of experimental composite had landed. “I know where that one came from.”

“Yeah that was stupid too.” Tess ran her other hand down a row of evenly spaced notches farther down her forearm. “These are, uh…I used to cut myself. When I had the original. Same place.”

Nadia pulled her hand away, apologizing over and over in her head. She carefully, subtly pulled the sheets up over her hips, concealing the neat rows of scars usually hidden by her underwear.

“Like I said, it’s…stupid,” Tess said.

“No! No, Tess, it’s…” Nadia scrambled to touch that arm again, anything to say with all her heart that Tess—or whatever she did—was anything but stupid.

“It’s okay. I don’t wanna, like, push you or anything. Whatever happened, I’m glad it did.”

Nadia frowned, unable to help herself. She wanted very much to scoot over closer, to curl up next to Tess’s warmth and hide her face and possibly but not certainly cry.

She settled on caressing that prosthetic arm instead.

“Even if it did almost get you killed tonight,” Tess said with a cheeky grin.

Nadia returned it.



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