Long Rifle Drive

Photo Shot by Kirsten Curcio.

:: previous – Gray Blue Eyes


I punch in the code to my front door and run inside when it opens, securing it shut behind me. The sight of Barasa Wolf’s split throat still haunts my heart and mind.

A great King and Queen… murdered.

How could you, Mark?

My eyes fill with tears.

He can’t get in here.

I jump when I see myself in the hallway mirror, making me check the lock again.

I’m losing it.

My hands won’t stop trembling, my stomach hurts. I hug myself to stop the feeling, but I can’t shake the sight of the soldier’s reflection above the water’s surface in the boat, watching the bodies sink.


Stop it. Stop thinking about him. Just wait for Mili to come home and—ugh… Do I tell him?

I should tell him.

Ah! My mind feels like it’s gonna explode with blood and words. I gotta tell Emilian, but only if… If I leave going to Mark’s house out of it, but that’s impossible with my car back at the library. Mili would wonder how I got home without my damn car!


Okay. Think, Misa. Think—

“Veronique?” A glowing, hollow white circle materializes in front of me. “Arrange a rideshare, one passenger. Pickup here and drop off at Black Mountain Library as soon as possible.”

“Certainly, Misa.”

While Veronique handles my request, I look at the lock again and see my diary lying on the floor.

I must’ve dropped it when I came in…

.     .     .


I’m sitting in my office, staring at the Redemption of the Accountant novel on my desk.

Inga was correct. There were several moments in the book reminiscent of mom—Khiana’s experiences at the crown, mainly the financial dilemmas. But the main character in this book is… a woman with poor ethics. She’s emotionless, deceitful. A murderer, even. Yet the author romanticizes her situation like a heroine’s tale. It’s absurd.

I flip the book over, reading the author’s info on the back.


Fuck this book.

I shoot it in the wastebasket.

Let the investigator handle Khiana’s case—assuming what the secretary said was true.


Winter Velia… and her earrings.

Misa doesn’t own square shaped gold earrings. And I don’t recall Tehanie, Lux or Khiana wearing them either. That’s no surprise, considering how clunky and ugly they looked.

I pick up the gold data chip on my desk and see the scratch on my finger from Winter when we shook hands. She traveled a great distance to request a ride to Earth without a word about the SkyGrim Inquiry…

We were prepared if she did.

.     .     .


I’m at home, watching the soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. Grim through their dining room window next door.

At the head of a long dining table, Emilian sits facing the window. His eye contact remains faithful to Misa sitting off to his right. Her hands are frantic, flying everywhere as she speaks, but with the direction she’s turned I can’t read her lips.

She picks up a book from the table, waving it in the air passionately.

Her diary.

I can tell by the tropical night scene on the cover. The essence of Misa.

A paradise.

As she flips through the pages, Emilian is stoic, listening more than he speaks. The longer I watch his dark glare, the clearer his mother comes into view. Once again, my heart plummets without Khiana’s presence near.

After a while, Emilian walks out of the room and Misa takes off in the opposite direction, wiping her eyes with a tissue stuffed hand.

Outside, Emilian’s truck roars out of the neighborhood.

.     .     .

Hours pass. As I sit on my porch reading, I glance up and see Emilian’s truck entering my driveway.

The headlights are off and the sun has set, making the windows difficult to see through from the outside. Unrelentingly, it growls and moves onto my lawn, like a predator hunting its prey. Closer and closer, flattening the grass with its chunky tires. He’s unhinged. I walk down the three steps of my patio and approach his truck to have a word. He’ll crash straight into the house if he continues.

I’m face to face with the truck when the headlights come alive, blinding me. Instantly, I see Misa sitting in an open window nook wearing her silky peach blouse and dark trousers, reading from a book. Light wind gently dances through her long, dark hair.

She’d be dead if not for me.

My eyes adjust to the penetrating spotlight, and I gaze at Emilian’s pristine lawn next door, a symbol of his debt. No doubt the fall of SkyGrim lingers in his mind… So does the harsh existence he’d have faced living a life without Misa if I hadn’t intervened that day—he speeds toward me, and I throw my fist on the hood, making it halt in its tracks. The truck revs mightily in response, breathing against my chest with a burning rumble.

This is it.

Beyond the obsidian windshield, Emilian’s anger is a potent boil.

I remain in place, fixated on keeping the truck still.

Seconds pass like hours…

Haltingly, a coolness blankets the heat at my chest, and I watch as the truck methodically reverses from my property and drives away.

Surging with adrenaline, I take calm steps back to my house pretending nothing transpired. No need to invoke the neighbors’ concern further—assuming any had seen. Hopefully not.

I resume my position at the window looking into the Grim dining room.

Emilian sets a large pizza box on the table. Misa joins him in a black robe and matching towel wrapped high around her hair. There’s a bottle of wine and plates in her hands.

Neither speak.

After Misa puts two slices on each plate, Emilian walks around the table and embraces her.

For a considerable amount of time, they remain there, linked, and silent.

Out of the blue, their sunflower hops into sight, capturing my gaze as it peers at me through the window. With a mischievous leap to the side, it clutches onto the curtain bottom with its dainty leaves and pulls eagerly, drawing it to a gentle and final feeling close.

:: to be continued

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