Prisca loved her new power. It was pretty much the second-most awesome power she could have gotten, as far as she was concerned. The only thing that could have topped Gilgul would be something to truly fix her up, some powerset that got rid of this wretched piece of shit Dusu had made altogether.
But after spending the better part of a decade bedridden and in constant pain, just having the ability to sleep painlessly would have been an improvement – and now she even got to live while sleeping painlessly.
If only Basil would finally give in have sex with her, she’d probably even stop caring about having to return to this body… for a while. But no, he has to be all… moral and sweet and all that crap! And it’s not even like there’s any risks involved!
The machines started to beep, and Prisca forced herself to calm down. Basil had… he’d really done miraculous work. The doctors had been putting her through scans and tests for more than a week, and they still could barely understand half the procedures he’d performed on her to save her – and that didn’t even factor in the machines that her life now depended on. Sure, she was blind, couldn’t risk getting worked up, in constant pain while awake and could barely move her hands, but she was alive. When the doctors said she should be dead.
And the girls wonder why I put up with Basil, she thought, amused. Even putting aside the fact that he’d stuck with her for weeks before she ever got her power and actually became attractive, showing interest in a crippled scarecrow of a girl, he’d now saved her life twice over. She could take him being scatterbrained, or blowing up on her once. He’d earned more than enough BF points to last him a lifetime by now. And then some.
She heard her tablet’s ringtone – Basil had reconfigured it remotely, for her, reworking it to work acoustically, now, and with signs drawn on the screen. The ringtone now announced a call. A clear, pleasant woman’s voice – a little like Eudocia, but stiffer – announced ‘Basil Blake’ to her. Tapping the screen twice in succession, she accepted the call.
<Hello, Prisca,> he said, more subdued than he usually was. <How are you doing?>
Slowly, Prisca wrote her reply on the tablet with one finger. She couldn’t talk much in this body, not anymore. And it sounded like a toad croaking, anyway. <Hello, Basil,> came the synthesized answer, modelled after her old voice.
There was a short pause. <I just wanted to apologize for blowing up at you all earlier. Especially you.>
<Why me, especially?> she replied. That was mean. She knew the answer, she just wanted to hear him say it again.
<Because you are my girlfriend. I like you most of all of them,> he replied as if it was completely obvious (it was), giving her a warm feeling. She was a horrible person for being so needy, but she wouldn’t miss it, either.
<Aha. So, are you going to tell me why you’re in such a bad mood?>
<Not over the phone. We can talk about it the next time we meet. There is also another matter I wanted to discuss with you today, but well…>
She wrote her reply quickly. <Didn’t go so well.>
<Let us talk next time. I need to call the others and apologize, then… well, then I need to start working on the reason for my mood today.>
<Thank you, and goodbye. I love you.> And with that, he hung up, without even giving her a chance to reply in kind.
Sometimes, he really was a jerk.
She loved him anyway. And she couldn’t wait to actually be with him again.
* * *
Ten minutes to midnight
“I’m ho-o-ome!” she sang as she slipped into their flat, locking the door behind her.
After a few seconds, during which she started taking off her boots, a reply reached her. “Wellllllcome ba-b-back,” came the stuttering, slurred reply.
Dalia frowned, throwing said boots off along with her jacket. “Mom, have you been drinking again?” she asked, stalking to the living room – it was really more of a penthouse, all things considered. She’d won another lottery since winning her powers. A small one, only a million bucks, but still. Enough to set them up for life, along with everything else she’d won so far.
You couldn’t tell that from looking at the state of the living room though, much less her mother. The room was seriously messed up, worn clothes, dirty underwear, half-eaten pizza and Chinese takeout lying around.
Also, lots of empty bottles. And stains on the expensive carpet, where contents had been spilled. She didn’t smell any vomit, though. That was an improvement, at least.
And, of course, her mother. Jana Fitzhampton had, once upon a time, been quite the beauty (some of her older pictures made her look nearly metahuman). Dalia could, barely, remember a time when she’d dreamed of someday being as beautiful as her mommy.
You couldn’t tell that from looking at her, though. She’d put on some weight. Not really overweight, just enough to make her look a little shapeless, a lot unkempt. Her red hair was tangled, dirty and lacked any luster and her cheeks were red and constantly puffed up. Her fingers were covered in bandaids, from disastrous attempts to make food, or from shattered bottles or glasses, or from slipping…
Well, from lots and lots of bad luck, really. It was… disgustingly ironic – Dalia got all the good luck in the world, and her Mom stumbled from one dogpile to the next.
There’s something there…
Some days, Dalia felt like there was something there that didn’t click. Something she should get, but didn’t.
For now, all she could do was clean up the place, talking with her mother all the while.
“How was your day?” she always asked, just so she’d know what had gone wrong this time.
“Shitty,” Jana groaned, turning on the couch. “Ow, not again,” she sighed, twisting to pull an empty bottle out of the cushions, where it was sticking out just so it’d dig into her back when she turned. “I tried to cook, but I just burned myself.” She showed a cooling patch she’d slapped onto the underside of her right forearm. “Ordered some Chinese takeout, but I think it was spoiled, because I spent an entire hour vomiting into the toilet.” She fumbled around, trying to find a bottle she hadn’t emptied yet, but Dalia was faster, taking them away. “Hey, let me… Let me drink! It hurts without it,” she complained, slurring her ‘s’ sounds.
Dalia ignored her, went to the fridge and got a cooled water bottle out, then helped Jana up, holding the bottle up to her lips. Her good luck usually cancelled out her mother’s bad luck whenever they were together, but any time she went out…
Either way, she could help her drink, and then she ushered her into the bathroom, taking a good long shower along with her. Safer that way, for Jana.
“Nice girl… you’re such a nice girl…” Jana whispered, already half-asleep. She rarely slept anymore, unless Dalia was with her. Too much risk of something bad happening in her sleep.
“Let’s get you fixed up momma. I got no school tomorrow, so we can sleep in.”
Her only reply was a sigh of relief.
Guiding her mother through all her bathroom ministrations was quite the role reversal compared to the year she spent in depression, before she got her powers. Towards the end, she had even needed her mother’s help to go to the toilet, on the bad days.
On the good ones, she’d been able to eat one meal a day by herself.
Don’t go there, Dalia. Don’t go there. Look forward.
She dried her mother’s hair – Jana flinched when she turned the hairdryer on, probably remembering the occasion where it had actually gone up in flames in her hand a few weeks ago. Then she worked on her own, put them both into pyjamas, reapplied creme and bandaids to her mother’s wounds and walked carefully to bed, keeping an eye out for anything sharp her mother might accidentilly step on.
Yeah, it had been that kind of week. Jana’s feet showed more bandaids than skin by now, especially below.
“C’mon, let’s go to sleep,” she whispered after checking the bed over. She lay down with her mother, clapping her hands to turn the lights on (it never seemed to work for her mother) and went to sleep.
“Sssssuch a good girl,” Jana whispered, hugging her. Dalia replied in kind.
If only she knew why her mother was being haunted by so much bad luck.