I’m staying with Julilla now. She’s been so nice to me, even though all I do is cry and act like an idiot. I wouldn’t even go downstairs to eat the first day, so she went down there herself and made sure I got a meal brought up. Then she spent the day listening to me cry and babble until I fell asleep.
When I woke up I found her sitting at the window, trying to knit from some instructions in a book. Her knitting is droopy and uneven, but better than anything I could do. She says it’s something to keep her busy while she recuperates. Her arm is better, but she still gets tired easily.
Since I was no longer crying this afternoon, we talked. She didn’t seem surprised by what I told her and said she doesn’t know why I’m shocked by anything a Kevork does. She also said drugs and alcohol don’t usually change a person’s personality and that she’s seen enough of it to know. This depressed me, since I had been hoping someone would tell me Jay isn’t really a scary and violent person but just a victim of drugs and circumstance. Instead, it looks like he only puts on a good show.
So why am I still in love with him?
He came by after dinner, knocking at the door all polite and with a plate of food for me. I refused to see him, and Julilla told him to take his food and go to hell. I was ready to start crying all over again. The sound of his voice pulled at me until I thought I’d be torn to pieces. And when Julilla slammed the door, I felt it in my heart like a wound.
Then I got mad. Who does he think he is? How dare he lie to me and pretend to be so loving, honest, and peace-minded? If it was all in the past, maybe it would be different. I could maybe even consider forgiving what he did to Trina. But it’s not past—he begged to lead the attack on the Christian Soldiers. He shot the cousin who saved his life. He works as a forager, stealing and scrapping with other kids for food and trade goods. He’s all talk and good looks, and idiot that I am, I fell for it.
I told Julilla this, getting angrier and angrier, until I found myself pacing the room while she just sat and listened. Finally I stopped in front of the punching bag she has set up in the corner. I wanted to hit something and I was about to take a swing at it when Julilla stopped me, saying I would hurt my hands. She took some long bandages and wrapped my knuckles, then put big boxing gloves on me. Then she told me to go ahead.
I felt foolish in those big gloves, as if I were wearing clown shoes on my hands. But I hit the bag anyway. Julilla laughed.
“What’s so funny?”
“You. You don’t know how to hit, do you?”
Julilla gave me a few pointers, and my next hits were more satisfying. It felt good to throw my weight into each punch and feel the bag move, even if it was just a little. I went at it as long as I could, until my arms were trembling. Then Julilla pulled the gloves off me and I lay down, still breathing hard.
Oddly, I did.
“You know, Alex is short of guards since the whole Christian Soldiers thing. You’ve got what it takes, and there’s nothing like a hard training session to boost your confidence during the day and help you sleep at night.”
“When would I have the time?” I said, thinking of the clinic and the garden, both of which I had neglected all day, not to mention the goat and my other assigned chores.
“If there’s no one around here but you who can water a garden or take a temperature, we’ve got problems.”
Her meaning was clear. And since during that time I was hitting the bag, I didn’t think about Jay, I told her yes, I would be interested in training to be a guard, as long as none of my training was with him. Gardening and making herbal tinctures is too quiet for me right now. I need something that will shut up my brain. I need to forget I was ever in love.