More words. Want to read from the start? Here’s a Google doc with the entire story (so far).
And now Frieda is standing in a daze, looking from Sebastian to her phone and back to Sebastian as she presses numbers with clumsy thumbs. Her hands shaking so badly she can’t dial the simple three digits without messing up.
She cursed. Cursed again.
“Why did you get out of the fucking car?” she yelled. “I was just trying to help. You should have let me help.”
Sebastian reached up to steady her hands. “I am grateful,” he said, a small smile forming. “You have been most kind. Most generous.”
“You need an ambulance. You could be hurt. That car flipped you really hard. You should dead.”
“I’m not,” he told her. “I can’t.” Though strictly speaking that last claim was uncertain. The times before Sebastian had known himself to be invulnerable while traveling in this realm, this body and mind unbreakable. And yet, this was all new experience. He was no longer traveling through this realm. Now he belonged here. Certainly, his body had limits. He had no idea what they might be.
“I’m not hurt,” he said again, although that was not strictly true. His entire body pulsed head to toe as if licked from inside by an angry flame. The pain was dull, pervasive. “I’ve had worse.” And that also was true. His body still wrecked from his punishing fall.
“I’m calling an ambulance,” she said again, opening her phone.
“Don’t,” he said, taking the phone from her. “You were right before. I’m not from here.”
“Undocumented? They still have to look at you. They have to fix you.”
“No. I’m not from here.” Sebastian tried to stand but his legs collapsed under his weight. Frieda caught him, eased him back onto the pavement. Realizing they were still standing in the middle of the road in the dead of night on the edge of town, she looked around for other cars. A few passed here and there along the interstate but the side loads and ramp were empty.
“Come over here.” She guided him to thin patch of gravel and grass on the road shoulder. “I shouldn’t be moving you. If you have internal bleeding, moving is very bad.”
“I’m not from here,” he said again, lifting his shirt. “I have suffered much worse.” He turned to show Frieda his bare back. “See.”
Even in the dim sodium light, Frieda could see the raw, jagged scars of flesh where Sebastian’s wings had recently been. The scars rose from Sebastian’s back like cold, purple mountains.
Frieda leaned in closer to get a better look.
“What are you?” she asked.
“I’m not from here,” he said again.
“Where exactly are you from?”
“Much farther than Europe.” He smiled and then actually laughed. Laughter was a feeling he had forgotten in his previous home. That high, cold ceiling was not a place of laughter. It was a place of serene thought and reverent reflection. It felt good to laugh. Once Sebastian started, he did not know how to stop.
Frieda was staring, her eyes wide, mouth open, as Sebastian gained control of himself.
“I don’t understand,” she told him.
“I can explain,” he said.
Frieda looked down at the place where Sebastian had recently lain. There was glass and a bit of shattered plastic from the car that hit him. There was no blood. There was no sign of injury.
Sebastian smiled again. Strangely enough, he looked to Frieda as if he might actually be happy.
“I will. But not here. Further up the road.”
Sebastian moved toward her car, but the first steps were unsteady and he nearly pitched over. Once again, Frieda caught him.
“Does it hurt?” she asked.
Sebastian shook his help. “No. Not pain. Balance. It takes a lot of concentration here to stand or walk. I lose focus.”
Frieda nodded, not understanding.
“Help me to the car,” he said.