I stood in the backyard, toes barely grazing where the grass grew over the floor of the garage. My mom was back at work and my uncle was inside fixing the washer or the kitchen sink or something else that probably wasn’t really broken.
He could never sit still doing nothing and after a week at home, I realized I couldn’t either. I took a few steps into the shade of the garage, examining my sculpture but not quite ready to touch it yet. After eight weeks of being frozen it looked strange and ugly and I hated it.
The summer breeze ignited the dust revealing the rust underneath. I could tell it had rained, the humid air stripping the metal until it looked like it was rotting. I reached for a sunflower petal, wanting to move, to grip the metal, to twist it and bend it, giving my hands something to do besides cradle my prescribed medication or a glass of water or the television remote because my mom wouldn’t let me do anything more. I wanted to fix it. I wanted to finish it even though I knew it wouldn’t matter.
My grandmother was right. Despite Roman waking up and despite not seeing the shadows since I’d found him in the real world something was still attacking me from the inside. I was still sick and weak and I was still in danger.
It’s not over.
Her words played over and over in my head as I grabbed the hammer and started swinging. It clipped the edge of a flower, igniting a small spark. I kept swinging, knocking stems to the ground, petals hanging limp before finally shaking off. Pieces scattered at my feet, hitting the ground like bells, landing against my empty worktable, scraping down the walls.
I dropped the hammer, trying to twist off the ladybugs and the fireflies, some of the metal already brittle and snapping off in my hand. I kept twisting, sharp ends biting into my palm.
It burned but I couldn’t stop. I snapped off leaves and tore down vines, a thorn ripping through my thumbnail. I bit down on it, switching hands, scraping everything clean down to the base.
“Bryn?” He said my name and that’s when I finally felt the sting. “Bryn. Bryn, stop. Bryn, breathe.”
I stared down at my hands, my skin dark with blood, flakes of it already thick and drying beneath my fingernails. I looked up and saw my dad holding my arms back. He freed one hand, tearing off the hem of his shirt before wrapping both of my palms.
The kitchen door opened into the garage, my uncle almost tripping down the steps when he saw us.
“She’s hurt herself,” my dad said, never taking his eyes off my hands.
My uncle disappeared back inside and I heard kitchen drawers opening and crashing closed on the other side of the door. Blood trickled down my wrists and onto my forearms and my dad gripped my fists, holding them tight. My cheek scraped the pocket of his denim jacket, traces of sawdust and cigarettes pinching my eyes closed. And I didn’t mean to. I didn’t mean to cry. I didn’t mean to collapse in his arms. But I did and he caught me. We stood there, my face buried in his chest, the smell of him igniting new tears, and he just held me.