It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Actually, no. Dickens couldn’t have been more wrong. There was no “best of times.” Not anymore. And this… this was the worst of bad times.
A week ago, Brendan got plastered and destroyed his piano. Once again, Moe helped Aida clean him up. But she’d have to go it alone in the future—while Brendan was sobering up, they’d fought… and just like that, it ended. All while Moe was standing there awkwardly, trying to keep a steady hand on him while he shivered and sweat the alcohol out of his system.
But now there was no music anymore.
The heat and light of the sun pounded down on Moe, caught between her clothing and her skin as if together they made some kind of oven, sending sweat dripping from her matted hair, tickling down the sides of her face, and getting caught between her shoulderblades, developing into an annoying, hard-to-reach itch. In frustration, Moe took off her shirt and threw it down vehemently in the dirt, leaving it behind as she swept back towards the homestead like a wildfire.
Why the fuck was Sofia locked up tighter than an iron-clad chastity belt? It’s not like it was fuckin’ difficult to just say what the hell was bothering her. ‘Moe, you’re being a fucking cunt and I can’t deal with you right now,’ would have sufficed! Not that it would solve anything, but at least she’d know what was wrong.
Already the sun was beginning to bake her skin and her hair, further adding to the boiling that filled her from big toe to little finger. There was just no winning here. There was no winning anywhere, really. The world had gone to shit, and this isolated hellhole was the shittiest.
By the Morrigan’s legendary libido, what the fuck was stuck in Sofia’s craw that she couldn’t just talk about it? Was the stupid fucking sun melting her brains? Was she cramping? Did she need a fucking nap or something?
And what the hell was Moe supposed to do now?
Sweat stung Moe’s eyes. Or maybe it was tears. She stopped and tried to send a glare to the sun, to pierce it with her razor-sharp resentment. Instead her eyes burned more. She had to clench them shut while she cupped her hands around her mouth.
“LUGH, YOUR GLORY AND BRILLIANCE ARE MATCHED BY NONE!” she shouted at the blazing white hole in the sky, her voice catching a little. “NOW CAN YOU PLEASE TAKE A FUCKING BREAK!?”
A couple birds took flight, startled.
That was actually a little satisfying. It would’ve been more satisfying if he’d been around to actually listen to her, or if the sun’s rays had at least dimmed a little.
Looks like she’d have to wait until night time.
Not that it would be any better. The darkness brought mercifully cool air, but its stillness and silence also made Moe feel just how empty the air was outside her skin; which only accented the roiling, boiling fullness within her that whirled from toes to scalp, sending shivers whistling up her spine even as sweat broke out over her. Not even sleep eased this feeling—instead it brought fever dreams of flesh on flesh, heartbeat on heartbeat, fingers winding through hair. And this was interrupted every hour by a deep ache and a restless in-between of wakefulness and sleep.
“Such a graceful, elegant tattoo! It should see the light of day more often,” said Coyote, from somewhere to Moe’s left.
What grand fucking timing.
She rolled her eyes. “Yes, I’m sure it’s the tattoo you’re looking at.”
Briefly, she spared a glance at Coyote. He was lounging in a tree nearby, his hands behind his head and one bare foot dangling idly over the other. He wore little else but a necklace and jeans, revealing smooth, sun-darkened skin which provided a very appealing landscape for light and shadow. She quickly looked away and kept heading back towards the homestead.
“Among other things,” Coyote confessed. “Can’t I appreciate work of art?”
Moe kept her eyes on the path ahead. “Sure. From a distance. A long distance.”
“That would be doing the medium an injustice.” This time his voice came from somewhere to the right of her. She refused to look at him. “Food’s artistry isn’t just in its presentation—it’s in its taste, its texture, the varied ways it delights the tongue. It’s a sad waste for a good meal to just be looked at.”
“Nice. Comparing me to food,” retorted Moe, letting no small amount of venomous sarcasm drip from her tone. “You sure know how to make a girl feel special. No wonder we just can’t get enough of you.”
“You’re right, you’re right, a terrible metaphor,” Coyote admitted. He appeared to her left again, this time walking beside her. Moe still chose not to look at him. Not that it helped. She could smell him—a light, yet overpowering, distinctly Coyote scent that was sweet and smoky all at once. “Music, then? Yes… I think that one’s better. Just listening to music can be fulfilling, but when you let it in, let the rhythm set your pounding heartbeat, drawing your breath from you faster and faster as you fall deeper into the melody; giving over your body as the music builds and swells to the point where, once you let go of that last inch of yourself you’re suddenly scattered among the sun and moon and stars themselves… now that’s truly sublime.”
Moe could feel her pulse burning through her. Somehow Coyote had pulled her fever dreams forth from the dark. Just when she thought the heat of day couldn’t get more unbearable. He couldn’t have known, could he… ?
… Of course he could have. That little shit was probably the brains behind them.
“Fuck off, Coyote,” she said, turning sharply away from him.
“What, no sarcasm?” he asked, tilting his head. “No criticisms? No acerbic wit?”
“Get the fuck out of my dreams,” Moe growled. “I’m having a shitty week and the last thing I need is you fucking with m—with my head.”
Suddenly he was in front of her, hanging upside down from a branch, his arms crossed. Even upside down, it wasn’t hard to see that he was wearing that shit-eating grin of his, which was just inches away from her face.
“You dream about me?” he asked.
More heat steamed into Moe’s face and rang in her ears like a tea kettle. That asshole.
“I said fuck off, Coyote!”
Without giving him a chance to respond, Moe whirled on her heel and stormed away.