I had two really weird conversations today. I appreciate that this used to be a fairly standard slenderblog, but that chapter of my life is over, and so fuck it, this is a personal blog now.
The first one was with Natalie. We were wandering down the main road, where they're setting up for the parade - it's in a few days, on the evening of the 22nd, for the winter solstice. There's banners between the buildings, shops taking in stock. It's a good few days away, but already the hotels are pretty full. Fiona's having to serve to people she doesn't already know for the first time in her life - she gets incredibly nervous. On the night, she'll be working in her mask - she's decorated it by embroidering blue flowers onto it. Maybe it'll help, hiding behind something. She told me she thought so.
Even without the very good reason to stay here that the five of us have
Christ, I almost wrote seven there.
Even without it, I'd stay for Fiona. She looks so incredibly cute when she laughs, and she holds my hand, and it feels so good when she does. Having someone in my life who isn't tied to me by a certain long-limbed necessity for the first time in a while is weird. I told her about the Slender Man incident, but only like some scary story, like an urban legend passed around bonfires deep in the woods. Since then, I've even had a few others try and tell me the story again, and I know Simon and Natalie have too. Word gets around fast here.
So Natalie and I are walking down the road, looking at the store owners festooning their shops with decorations, and Natalie says "If you could have anywhere else be the one place we're safe, for whatever reason, where would it be?"
I thought about home. I thought about my family, who I know are still scared for me at home, and about my friends, and I thought about Nona, and whether I could live with being fine while she had died, at home surrounded by my loved ones while hers still mourned. I don't think I could. Here's the only place I've been to in months that has had anything for me. I shook my head, and Natalie smiled.
"My brother was killed by the Slender Man. My mother started drinking, and hasn't stopped. I don't want to go back there."
The second was with Shannon. We were talking about the citizenship - Roland's been talking with his guys - and I made a joke about how she was basically the mum of the group. She fell very quiet.
I asked what was wrong.
It was never Richard and her who were the original targets.
A long hospital corridor, and at one side, through a door, a tall, misshapen man standing over a crib, looking down at a new born baby, sound asleep.
One of the few memories she has of her child. Too much exposure to the Slender Man has damaged her mind enough to get rid of most of them. I've only seen her with the headaches once, but they were worse than any I've ever seen. She's been doing this too long. She's lost more than any of us.
Still, the festivities are coming up, and we're hoping to get out and about for them.
Though the masks are still creeping me out. Old habits die hard, I guess.