Part 24: City of Orphans
Ugh. How the hell is it still raining?
That's Rhoan for you. Doesn't rain often, makes up for it when it does.
When I arrived home, I found Rex standing at my door, looking even more sullen than normal.
...were you waiting for me? What's wrong?
"Just a storybook"?
Oh. That. What was I supposed to say? You know you'd never have believed me.
Should've told me anyway. Then it'd be my fault for not buying it, 'stead of yours for lying.
C'mon. Wanna show you something.
This is my house.
...er. No it isn't.
Well. Guess it stops being "your" house after you get evicted, but...
No. I think it happens earlier than that. When you walk in the door and see your family lying cold in their own blood.
I dunno if you've been through anything like that. Out of nowhere. It takes a while to...to click. I must've spent a whole day going around town, asking if anyone'd seen my folks. Thought it was just some horrible joke they were playing. If there hadn't been visitors that week, I might still be waiting for the punch line.
I remember after the funeral, I said..."Please, can someone come by and clean the floor? I can't stand the blood anymore." And they said "What are you talking about? It's been clean for days."
That's when it wasn't my house anymore.
It was me, my sister, mum and dad. And we lived here, in this big, beautiful building. Can you believe that? Me. One of the haves.
And my sister. God, she was so smart. You'd have liked her. Knew how to count before she could walk. Hell, she could nearly do sums before she could walk.
And she'd look up big words in the dictionary so she could beat me at I-Spy. Every single time.
She had a crush on that...that red-head. What's his name. With the stupid hat.
Yeah. Always chasing after him, giving him flowers. He saw her more than I did.
What brought this on?
You've never wanted to talk about your family before. Why now?
I want her back.
Can you do that?
I want you to use the book to bring my sister back.
I can't. I'm sorry. I can't raise the dead.
Why not? You can do miracles, can't you? That's what everyone saying.
I'm not asking you to bring my whole family back, am I? Just her. Just one person. You have to be able to do that.
I wish I could, but...
...alright. What do you want?
I see where this is going. I'm not stupid. What do you want from me? What do I have to do? Tell me.
Whatever it is, I'll do it. I don't care. Do I have to do something to make it work? Do I have to trade my life for hers, or what? Or do you just want paid? I don't care. I won't get angry. We'll still be friends. Just tell me.
I can't bring her back.
Bullshit. That's bullshit. A little girl was slaughtered in her own home, you can't put that right? You're standing there with your book of miracles and telling me there's nothing you can do?! What the fuck is the point, then?! What's the fucking point of you?!
He might have been crying. Impossible to tell with the rain pouring down his face
I opened my mouth to say...something, anything. Some comforting platitude to fill the silence. Words came, but his bitter dismissal choked them away.
See you later, hero.
I'm sorry. I wish we could help.
I couldn't go home after that. Not yet.
"It's not your fault." Easy to think, not so much to believe. I needed time to reconcile that I did deserve a warm bed, that I had no cause to sentence myself to the looming storm.
I arrived at Duran's house through no conscious intent to visit it.
It seemed apt. He knew Meenya, according to Rex. Perhaps he could offer closure, though to what I didn't know. Any closure would have been welcome. He could have said "Yes, Yumil, you are as useless as you feel" and I'd have settled for it. As long as it put a full stop on the night.
Yumil? Bit late to be calling round, isn't it?
I know. Sorry, but I really need to talk to you. You used to be friends with a girl called Meenya, right?
Who told you?
Her brother did. Just now.
How did you know her?
I just did. She wasn't exactly shy. Anyone she liked the look of, complete strangers, she'd run straight up and start chatting away. She liked the look of me, and...that was that. It was like I'd fed a stray cat. Couldn't get rid of her afterwards.
She filled a little hole, I think. I always wanted a sister. Or a brother. Or anyone who felt like family. It was like, with her around, I wasn't an only child anymore. You know what I mean?
Better than you might think.
...this is stupid. I shouldn't be dredging this up just because I'm curious. Sorry to bother you.
Did Rex tell you what happened to her?
...I have to...there's something I need to tell you.
I know who did it. The whole family. I know who killed them.
Who? Duran, who was it?
You think Gustav did it?
I was there when it happened. I saw him.
You watched him kill them?!
No! I mean, I saw him afterwards. He was running away.
What were you doing there?
Bringing Meenya a cake.
It was her birthday.
Okay, no. That's ridiculous. I don't even like him and I still don't believe he'd do that.
I know what I saw.
Wait, you don't like him?
It's a long story. Sorry. I know he's your dad, but...
But he never shuts up about you! Every time I get shouted at, it's always "Why can't you be more like Yumil? Yumil's responsible, Yumil has a backbone, Yumil's this, Yumil's that."
Well he's never said any of that to me.
Whatever. I don't know what my dad's thinking, whoop-de-doo, big surprise. That's not the important thing right now.
Alright, so you think he killed someone. It happened years ago. What do you want me to do about it?
I want you to be there when I ask him. I've been trying to bring it up for so long, but I can't...
I can't do it by myself. I need someone there with me. Please.
You realise he'll just say no. Even if he did do it.
My dad doesn't lie!
But he does murder children?
Look, if that's what you think, just come with me. I'll ask, he'll deny it and that's that. You can go.
Fine. As long as he knows I'm not there to back you. Because this is ridiculous. I don't know if I mentioned that.