An Act of Kindness
Fiction by Cassandra Olivas
Art by A. Quinn
The night is cold, and clear. I unlock the front door and slide in, trying not to wake my roommates. I head upstairs, past their rooms. Some are skyping, some are snoring. Good. I snatch a few bags of gummy cats and dogs, chocolates, and a case of Bonita. Her favorite candied cherry and lime drink. La Catrina dances on the neon green bottle. I hate this drink now.
Quietly, I slip into my room. I plug in my pink lights, and place my backpack next to the bed. I plop the snacks and drinks onto the sheets, and from the side table, pull out a white slice of chalk. Sitting on my bed, I shift towards the motivational cat poster adjacent to me and remove it. I think I’ve memorized most of the symbols by now. It’s been about a month.
I start the circle. I didn’t think it could happen. I just wanted to get rid of my loans. I dot a few lines atop. I didn’t mean for her to appear. Even though I’m still a bit scared, I call her to help normalize the whole thing. She isn’t terrible, and confided that relieving me of my debt was an act of kindness. I draw several sharp lines darting outwards from the circle. I think about how she can’t hurt me. Not really. Unless, I request more. For the second act of kindness, she’ll need a few pieces of me, like a finger or some teeth. Not too awful. She said I was lucky. Others may dig a scar shaped x over the heart, or bite off a hand for the first act. She mentioned I could ask for as many acts as I required, as long as I always had something to give. Which works out, since I may only want a few things. I rush to finish the last shape, and summon her.
“Psst, hey, Susan.”
I knock a few times, “Susan, are you there?”
The round circle brightens, and begins to hum. The walls within it crack, giving way to a black void. It looks soft, like a pool of velvet. I wanna dive in, but Susan warns me it’ll burn my skin. I still wanna try it.
A large clear glass eye pushes through the pool and opens, immediately shifting towards me. Her eye glows a sweet pink underneath the lights. I can see myself.
“My Elena… shall I guess,” she asks in a low voice, “You’ve done… nothing.”
I sigh and lay back, “She’s so pretty, and I get nervous.”
Susan rolls her eye, “Don’t bother unless you’ve actually done something.”
I bring out my phone, “I’m sorry… I need your opinion on some things.”
I open up an unsent text I’ve been picking over the past few days.
“I keep telling you, I know someone, someone who can simply have her fall in love with you. That way you don’t need to keep doing this, and that way -” I hear Susan’s jaws crack open with loud yawns – “I can actually get some rest.”
“One last thing, I promise!” I begged, “After tonight I’ll finally send this text, and then go to bed. Also, it’s not love.”
Susan said nothing. Her eye disappears into the dark, and numerous white hands come creeping up in its place. She held her fingers tightly together as the hands reached through the circle. The pale fingers bloomed out to grab some sweets, looking like flowers pushing their palms through dark earth. Rings clicked against the Bonita cans. I remember one antique claw from the turn of the century. On the fifth night, I asked her where she came from. She never told me. I asked why her name was Susan. She didn’t say.
“What does the message say?” Susan asks, as handfuls of snacks fade into the dark ripples.
“Okay, um, Hey, Farrah, I think you’re really smart and cool and I like you a lot and you’re also really funny, also so do you wanna go on a date sometime?”
Susan gulps down some Bonitas, “You want this woman to fall in love with you, my Elena.”
Hands plop empty cans of soda onto the bed. I put them on the side table.
“What does she like, again? Perhaps a gift.” Susan asks. Her eye reappears.
“She’s a huge D&D fan, we’re actually in the middle of creating a campaign. She’s playing a paladin, and I chose a wizard.”
“Give her an ancient sword, and confess to her.”
“I’m not doing it!”
“Get on one knee, bestow the sword, and say, I love you.”
“I don’t love her! It’s just a like… I just like, like her.”
“Weak.” Susan withdraws into the circle. A few minutes pass by.
“Hey? Are you still there?”
Suddenly, an old sword rises from the darkness. Hilt like an unfolding marigold, the gilded layers of gold pool over the blade. The object takes about five pale Susan-arms to carry through the portal.
“I can’t give her this!”
Susan stops. The hands clench the sword. Susan doesn’t bleed.
“I’m sorry, I can’t… I’m not … giving her that.”
The arms withdraw the gift. “It once belonged to a Cartel King, you know,” she tells me, “A gift, after our final act of kindness was fulfilled. He was so very thankful.”
I cannot see Susan in the pool.
“He said it belonged to a Priestess, although I’m not too sure. I was too young to know.”
“I’m sorry Susan, I don’t want to carry it to school.”
“You called upon us, and no one answered, but I did. I answered.”
The glass eye remerges. It shines under the rose lights. “You needed your loans gone, and I ensure it is so. Yet, I can give you more. I only desire a little bit from you.”
I feel my fingers. “I know.”
“Your Father continues to work, no? Doesn’t his body ache?”
I lay down on my back, afraid to think about him, “I know, though he’s actually doing okay. I guess.”
I can feel her jaws smiling.
“Well, if you long for anything else, I’m here because of you.”
The black pool drains and hardens into the wall once more.
“I love you, my Elena.”
The white symbols dissipate, but little by little they become a more permanent fixture. I delete the text, and place my phone away on the side drawer, staring at the ceiling.