Thalia sat on the threadbare rug of her apartment and sobbed. She leaned one elbow on her makeshift coffee table, assembled from two wood planks stolen from a demolition site and spread across apple crates. An orangish-brown Texas Longhorns flag drooped from it in disarray, just like her love life. Empty beer bottles and consumed wax candles resting atop it, containers no longer bearing a purpose.
Sorrow soon turned to anger. She turned to the little machine hovering beside her. “Ken was my BOYFRIEND, Icarus! How could you?”
The alien, arrowhead-shaped machine shrugged. Thalia could never figure out how those mechanical arms fit into the device’s thin, aerodynamic cross section. Further, she never understood why it always wore white gloves on its metallic fists. Slowly, it spoke in a voice that only she could hear. It was warm and masculine, normally reassuring, but on this day it sounded whiny. “I’m sorry Thalia. He was getting rough with you.”
Unconsciously, she probed the fresh bruise on her arm. “Icarus! You still don’t understand humans. Sometimes we’re passionate in anger. It’s just emotional release. You have to let it play out.”
“You were crying. I thought you needed help.”
“You didn’t need to punch him! Now he hates me. I finally got a good-looking one, and now because of YOU, he’s gone!”
“I’m sorry, Thalia. I…”
“You know…just forget it, Icarus.” She pointed toward the door. “Get out. I mean it. Just go!”
Icarus’ arms drooped down. It turned and slowly hovered out the door. For the first time in twelve years, from the time she was eight, Icarus wasn’t beside her.
Ken was the best-looking guy she’d ever dated. Finding a boyfriend wasn’t easy for her. After spending six years under psychiatric care, her social skills failed to develop. Oh, that was Icarus’ fault too. Thalia’s minor eye mutation meant only she could see past his security screens. No one believed in her “invisible protector.” She kept insisting on Icarus’ existence until she landed in Piedmont Asylum. Eventually, she gave up and lied about Icarus’ existence. Back in the real world again, she proved woefully unskilled at dating.
After entering the UT at Austin, her romantic life involved a series of disasters. Ken came along and Thalia decided her luck had changed. The rugby player took her out and she experienced the “in crowd” for the first time. Those first weeks were heaven. Later, she realized his volcanic temper arose quickly, but he hadn’t directed it at her. She convinced herself he’d never do that to her. When she found him flirting hard with a curvy waitress, she confronted him. He responded flippantly. She wondered if he saw her as just booty call. More arguments and volcanic anger followed.
She hung her head. Who was she kidding? Ken was a jerk, and he really was getting too rough with her. Icarus only protected her with his metal fists like he always had for twelve years. Like a real friend would.
I am an idiot!
She raced outside, calling for Icarus, but she couldn’t find him anywhere.
After a week of evenings searching for him, she lay on the sheet covering her beat up sofa. Biology homework sat unattended on the ersatz coffee table. Her door suddenly unlocked itself and opened.
Thalia jumped upright. “Icarus!”
“Who?” said Ken, walking in as though he owned the place.
“Ken?” She’d completely forgotten about him.
“Yeah, me. The guy you punched.”
“Ken. Let me explain.”
He produced a long knife and pointed it at her. “Nobody. NOBODY punches me, especially no skinny-butt geek-ass bitch like you. Now you gonna pay the price.”
Thalia started to speak. Then she saw something.
Ken screamed at her. “What you got to say now? Huh?”
“I know I’ve said stupid things,” said Thalia. A tear slid down her cheek. “I’ve always admired you and looked up to you. You supported me when I needed someone.”
“Yeah, that’s right!” grunted Ken.
“I never want to lose you.”
“Yeah, keep talkin’.”
Thalia glared at Ken. “I wasn’t talking to you.”
“Huh?” Ken turned to see a white gloved fist approaching his face at Mach 8. He lost consciousness eleven milliseconds later.
“Icarus!” Thalia jumped upon the hovering machine. “You’re back! I’m sorry I yelled at you.
“No apology needed,” said Icarus. “I thought you needed a break.”
Thalia pointed at the swelling in Ken’s shattered jaw. “Yep. That was exactly the break I wanted.”
I’ve edited this as of 4:47 on Friday. I didn’t like the finish. It didn’t have the “oomph” I wanted. I like stories to finish with a bang or at least a well-deserved, snarky comment. The old version simply didn’t have that in my opinion. This new version, with a new title that better matches the finish, feels more complete to me.
These are characters I wrote about long ago. They’re making a comeback now because the scenario is perfect for them. Previous story is here: https://momusnews.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/a-bunch-of-newtons-trifecta/
This week in Grammar Ghoul Press’ Mutant 750, the word prompt is: Volcanic. The media prompt is the award-winning animation a the start of the post. Look here for more stories based upon the prompts. http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-19/