Title: Salt and Honey
Summary: One hell of a flashback.
Word count: 1800 words
Warnings: Violence, swearing, mentions of drinking, mentions of smoking and drugs
Notes: Used to be a huge mess, now it’s a slightly less huge mess, and also like not trying to make excuses or anything….lol but I wrote this like two years ago so, it’s just a revamped version of my primitive writing skills.
“We’re innocent,” she whispers, holding up her hands, exposing her palms. “Please.” And drops to her knees. Tears skirt the edges of her cheeks and bruised jaw, her lip won’t stop trembling. No response.
He strides closer, heavily boots thudding, and rests the gun against her forehead, pulling back the safety with a fat thumb.
She need to find Lissa, Lissa needs her help, Oh god, she’s going to die–and this is when her life flashes before her eyes, the moment he tightens his grip, pointer finger curling around the trigger–and she remembers her childhood, the laughs, the smiles.
She remembers high school, lonely, awkward, and full of way more zits than she cares to admit. Her small group of two friends expanded to a family of six, all contrasting but fitting snug like a puzzle.
Flashes of college: drugs and booze not to mention a smoke or fifty when she’s really feeling the affects. She remembers vomiting in the bathroom of a hotel, then smoking in the lobby, googling the nearest bar to wash down the acidic burn in her throat. Lissa had joined her then, holding back her hair in the toilet stall while laughing maniacally and chanting, “You got this, Jess, come on girl just get it out,” like she was about to cross the finish line in a race, and later stealing the cigarette from her lips and taking a drag. They were both kicked out of the hotel (which really took until both of them had had one mouthful of smoke each) into the harsh rain in tight black club dresses.
Why now, Jess remembers this, she doesn’t know, but maybe it’s because after that night, they become inseparable. Screaming wildly and running through the storm in six inch stilettos, drunk and relaxed and drenched, and then battling colds and hangovers together in the warmth of her flat with Disney movies and copious amounts of food and ginger ale brought by Lissa. “Thank fucking jesus,” she recalls saying when she swung open the door to blinding light and Lissa’s blinding smile.
Her and Lissa are friends for the better part of six years, from college second semester of freshman year at that hotel party to getting jobs in local stores and retail (laughing and crying, with popcorn and vodka and blankets, about how useless their degrees were).
She remembers with cold, sinking terror the day she arrived at Lissa’s place to find blood dark (and too too real for her liking) spattered on the wood floors and further reveal Lissa cradling a bloody shoulder and swelling bruises on her neck and cheek slumped against the counter in the bathroom whining gently. She had burst into a panicked mess, sought out a first aid kit and cleaned all of the red, red, red. She stitched three gashes sliced deep into the flesh (guess that spring semester in general medical procedure paid off, she’d remark dryly as the two of them nurse beers) and bandaged without explanation. She remembers the clashing feelings of fear, worry, and alarm as the sink stained crimson with her best friend’s blood.
And then the shock, the cold horror when Lissa confessed. The words father and deal gone wrong and contract killer, made her blood run cool then freeze entirely when Lissa added, “Ever since high school, they have been after me. They want me to disappear,” and promptly curled up in her old university sweater, her red puffy face disappearing from sight.
So they up and run. She doesn’t know how they do it, they just lease their flats, rid themselves of their phones, and draw cash from both of their banks in a matter of days before boarding a plane and flying to– “Rio De Janeiro,” Lissa said, “I’ve always wanted to go to Rio De Janeiro,”–disappearing (almost) off the face of the earth in less than three weeks.
The past few months (“more than a year now,” she will say awed while at a bar with Lissa in Madrid) have been crazy, she thinks. Traveling from Rio De Janeiro to Sydney, then Bangkok (“It’s fucking hot as fuck, jesus christ,” she’d said when they stepped out of the airport. “I much prefer the snakes in Australia over this disgusting heat.” And Lissa had simply grinned and pulled her down the sweaty streets. Probably looking for a cold beer or something.) to Dubai. Sure, they’d hidden their tracks poorly but the only thing trackable was their passport activity. Money, you could say, wasn’t a problem for Lissa (and collectively, them), as most of the money is inheritance from her father, the ringleader of exactly what Lissa was running away from. Now, they withdraw only as much as they need and as undercover as possible but, “it’s just another way for them to track us,” Jess had sighed, slouching through in a large Dubai mall.
They moved on, working for measly tips in Madrid. “It’s fucking hot here too,” she’d complained at 10am on the balcony of their rented flat to which Lissa sidled over with an iced orange drink she said was called Agua de Valencia and that it was good. It was good. Good enough that she and Lissa had maybe three or four more within the next hour and then vaguely repeated the night of their bonding but ended up puking behind a dumpster and getting kicked out of a shopping mall instead. “And it wasn’t even midday,” Lissa had lamented the next morning, covering her face and pathetically dry sobbing because hangovers were a bitch.
Maybe, just once, Jess considered the idea of love, back in high school, holding hands with a senior jock behind the decorative curtains at junior prom and making out like no tomorrow, but that, she’d convinced herself, was a phase. Love actually came later, in her best friend’s golden hair and bright laughter and grins that softened her hangovers. Perhaps, she had come to love Lissa while nursing that major hangover in Madrid in sweltering heat and lousy metal fans and thin translucent curtains. Maybe this love was simply friendship love, maybe something more. But for now, she had Lissa by her side and that’s really all she had ever and would ever need.
She remembers Lissa’s wide smile and high pitched laughter that she had always teased her about (to which Lissa would reply with a squinty look and, “Shut up, you love it,” cracking a smile). And, she remembers watching the light fade from Lissa’s eyes as a shovel comes crashing down on the back of her head, and then so much red, red, red.
They were walking home, from buying groceries and more beers. She looked over and saw the shovel come down swiftly with a dull crack that chilled her very bones. It makes her think, how Lissa had gotten away with only three gashes and not fifty broken bones the first time around was unfathomable as she sees the brawn of the contract killer sent after them. And she knew it was only a matter of time. But before she could contemplate much further, what with a limp Lissa and a trained killer at her neck, she was boxed in the jaw and out cold in a second, collapsing next to Lissa.
She awoke, and she was alone. In a room of a old house, the attic or some upstairs room she supposed. Lissa surged in her thoughts but the door snapped shut and she squeaked. Which brought her back to now, hands up, knees on the ground, pleading for her life and praying to a god that her Lissa is alright, and–Just. Not. Dead. She’s crying waterfalls now, having relived the greatest years of her life in all under a fraction of a second.
The past comes to a staggering stop as the finger tightens almost agonizingly slowly and she waits for the bang, the pain, then the nothing.
A ring, no gunshot. She hears harsh orders and a tight, “But I–I have–” a brief pause “–alright sir.” And he’s gone, shooting down the stairs, pausing in the living room before she hears a car drive off in a whirl of dust. She follows with the same frantic speed, skipping the rooms and heading straight for the living room where sure enough Lissa is lying, unconscious, perhaps dead. Jess telephones the police in record time, screaming the address through the burning tears.
And she stumbles to Lissa’s body on the floor, gently brushing back the tangled hair, feeling for a pulse. There is the faintest skip of a beat, erratic and weak. She sits there wracking her brain and scattering tear drops everywhere because general medical procedure didn’t cover head wounds that huge and Lissa never really knew how much Jess loved–loves her and the police are too fucking goddamn slow and shit she really needs a drink of water because all this crying is very suddenly making her dehydrated and lightheaded.
The Madrid police find two American women, Jessica Halot, 25, and Lissa Poss, 25, both unconscious in an abandoned house after having been assaulted. Nothing has been confirmed of their current condition. If you have any information on the assailant, contact your local police, the Madrid new says briefly before moving on.
In the end, they’ll survive. Their leased flats are still there, but they’ll sell one because once they’re discharged from the hospital they’ll be roommates again, like college junior year, after having lived with each other nearly fifteen months while traveling the world. Or so Jess likes to think while sitting beside Lissa, staring forlornly at her motionless hand. Her fingers twitch and she opens her eyes after days and days of steady unconsciousness and eerie quiet.
“Hi,” Lissa breathes through her oxygenation mask, blinking up at Jess. “So–” her voice cracks from underuse. “So, um, how about one of those Agua de Valencias?” She says, pulling a weak grin but a grin all the same.
Jess’ breath catches in her chest. “Hi,” she breathes, and breaks down in more tears until a nurse finally finds out that Lissa had awoken because of her horrid (“It is not horrid!” She protests) sobbing.
For the record, they do move in together. They reminisce like an old couple about their trip. Wonder why the contract killer left when he did. Get two cats to keep them company and scatter cat hair everywhere. Drink more wine and Agua de Valencia’s than probably healthy but who fucking cares when you’ve already seen the world with the one you love. (“Helsinki!” Lissa yells from her MacBook at the kitchen counter, “I’ve always wanted to go to Helsinki!”) Well, almost.
“You’re definitely going to hell,” Lissa had joked when Jess had stolen a car back in America and smashed the side mirror accidentally. “Theft and mirrors, tsk, tsk.” Funnily enough, she had been sitting shotgun the whole time.