My one foot was pushed against Tommy’s ribs, the other against his shoulder. I had his arm stretched out straight between my legs, pulling up on it. The look in his eyes was of one of mixed hilarity and pain. He slapped his left arm down three times to signal a tap out.

“I give up, man. Got me,” he said.

But right where I was looking, through the mesh, stood Elizabeth. The lie she had told to Sally, to turn Sally against me came back into my head. It created a fire there and down my throat and that fire seared and coated my stomach, turning it to black coal and ash. I was angry at Elizabeth for having told such a lie, angry at Tommy’s brother Derek for violating Elizabeth, and angry at myself for letting things with her get so out of hand. Handn’t this been the very reason I had collected her sorrow? To block anger like this out? To block the hurt?

I looked back at Tommy and for some reason, to punish Elizabeth, Derek, and myself I took it on my friend.

His eyes widened as I increased the pressure on his arm. He shook his head. “Dude what—”

His words were cut short as I felt a pop, like when you pull chicken bones apart. The sound and feeling was preceded by a scream that traveled on and on and quieted the milling crowd around us. I scrambled to my feet as other people began to climb into the castle. I pushed past Frank who was looking down at Tommy’s broken arm and slide from the castle. I walked over to the edge of the yard, under the trees and vomited. People were yelling, I could still hear Tommy moaning. I didn’t know what would happen now. I didn’t care. I didn’t even care that I had hurt Tommy. The cold purpose I possessed after collecting Elizabeth’s sorrow had returned. It was only muted by a drunken haze.

I woke up on a couch. My mouth tasted like sour milk and was as dry as cotton balls. My head felt like someone had hit me over the head with a stack of science books in an attempt to cram all that knowledge in there. It was raining outside. I could hear the low static of it slamming the roof. Even the dull light of the clouded early morning hurt my eyes.

There were feet near my face. I sat up slightly to find Sally laying the opposite direction the couch. My feet must have been just inches from her nose. I felt guilty for putting her sleeping mind through that. She must have had some of the strangest dreams of her life provoked by the stink of my drunken feet.

I crawled from the couch. Beer cans, chips, wrappers from chips littered the floor. The coffee table was strewn with half full beers and mixed drinks. Some cups held water–or vodka, I couldn’t be sure which.


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