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It was the very secretary I had gone to war with decades ago. The very one who had staple gunned me. Needless to say, we had an aggravatingly specific bond.
A look of disbelief shattered her. A look which didn’t match the perfectly rolled sleeves of her white collar shirt, or the devastatingly attractive slit up the side of her pencil skirt. No, she blinked through her thick-rimmed glasses, as if the very request urged her to slap some sense into me.
Maybe it was in this defeat that Aria truly had strength. Knowing that nothing she ever did would be enough for herself or the world. That survival was not a thing. That every moment she stepped outside, into a city, suburbs, or country, or chose to remain still, all was equally life-threatening.
Death could not be masked. And if it were meant to be cheated, it would be cheated. But even the most adamant “survivors” were often taken by tragedy at one point or another.
Sometimes even more than once. Like her mother, for example. Who had survived cancer three times, and died in a car wreck. What was the point of that?
Maybe, in this sense, Aria’s agony was her greatest blessing. For it gave her the power to look the Devil in the eye, with a form of nonchalance no one had ever mustered.