– The Path of Daleth. The Black Brothers.1 –
“If I could be the light that lights your way, I wouldn’t wish for anything more of this finite passage over this lost world. And not even all the shadows I carry, nor all the thorns that torture me,
would be strong enough to pull me away from my destiny.”
“Mari, are you sure?”
“Of course. Nothing bad will happen,” I stated in my most convincing tone as I walked to school next to an annoyed Alexander. The morning wasn’t as cold as the day before, I noticed happily.
“You’re pretending to be something you’re not,” he openly declared. “The truth is that you do have doubts, and that you’re scared.”
“I trust you.”
“Even so, you know I was watching over you yesterday, and I couldn’t stop what happened,” he reminded me with a bitter tone and I recalled his panicking expression when he’d leaned over me. His face had been smeared with blood, but since there were no traces of an injury anywhere, I’d completely forgotten about it.
“Yesterday ... it was all too fast. Today it will be different,” I guaranteed.
“I understand why you’re doing this. I guess you do too. But please don’t place yourself in any unnecessary danger. Losing you, right now, would be a complete disaster. No one would be able to control the chaos that would engulf this city.”
I didn’t answer, although I was quite aware that what he’d said was true. Last night I’d seen it firsthand and understood the delicate balance that was required of me. On one hand, I couldn’t be daring to the point of risking my safety. But, on the other hand, if I just cringed in fear, hiding somewhere, it would prove that I wasn’t able to deal with this situation without falling apart.
As soon as I saw the school gate at the end of the road my heart jumped anxiously. To my relief Michael was waiting by the entrance, waving at me with an especially bright smile. Not surprisingly, Alexander disappeared immediately within a soft rain of black feathers, reminding me of his deep and unjustified intolerance to Michael’s presence.
Bewildered, I had to recognize that seeing Michael was enough to cut my anxiety in half, and I went to him with a feeling of relief. It took me a while to notice the small, blue motorcycle he was leaning against, and I immediately understood the reason behind his proud look and radiating happiness.
“Wow!” I exclaimed, reflecting his happiness, and he stepped out of my way so that I could see it better.
“You like it?”
“Of course! It’s amazing!” I raved, although I didn’t know all that much about bikes, and Michael shrugged unable to stop smiling.
“To tell you the truth, it’s not all that special. It’s secondhand and it already has a few years on its back. But she runs well and, best of all, doesn’t consume much,” he declared and I nodded, touching the black leather seat.
“It’s great! Was it Father Jorge?”
“Yeah. It’s my birthday present. I really didn’t expect anything like this. It’s the first time I have something really mine!”
I felt as if my heart had just stopped. With all the things going on I had completely forgotten what he’d told me the day before, and what we’d arranged for that afternoon.
I made myself smile and blushed up to my ears.
“I have nothing to give you,” I confessed, feeling guilty, and he placed a warm hand on my head smiling gently.
“Having you here, with me, it’s all I can wish for,” he told me and immediately went on so that there wouldn’t be time for any kind of awkwardness. “When I called you yesterday and you didn’t pick up, I was really worried. But then I thought maybe you’d gone to sleep earlier. So, when I saw you coming up the street today, I was really happy. I had already decided that I’d go knocking on your door if you didn’t show up.”
I felt embarrassed and the warmth of his hand was enough to make my heart beat faster.
“I’m sorry. I was really tired yesterday,” I excused myself and he nodded.
“What do you say if we take her for a ride after school?” he asked, his expression coming alight. “I want you to be the first to try her out.”
I’d already agreed to spend the afternoon with him the previous day and, right there and then, I just couldn’t bring myself to disappoint him. I told myself that, with some luck, nothing strange would happen that day and, if a Deiwos did really attacked, that everything would be over quickly enough to allow me to be able to go back to my everyday life.
“Okay then,” I accepted and his delighted smile made me extremely happy. “And we have to get some cake! Celebrating birthdays without cake is absolutely forbidden! I’m sure Father Jorge will also like some,” I added, trying to persuade him faster, and Michael held my hand, kissing it on an impulse.
“Thank you.” My cheeks caught on fire and I felt even more embarrassed knowing he could clearly see me blush.