Kasin's Real, I Promise
Author: Kassandra

Chapter 11
The closet artist.

Drawings and paintings decorate the entire room, which isn’t as small as I expected. It’s just the doorway that is low; the room itself is rather large. He must be a closet artist. Literally.

I hobble gracelessly around, peering at every drawing.

I see a colored pencil sketch of a man, surrounded by a thin layer of light, reaching out to a baby. I remember Ash telling me that he sees a veil of faint light around people who are dead, so the man must be dead and the baby must be alive. There is a woman in a cloud of darkness staring at me with cold black eyes. She must be a demon, like Kasin. There is a painting of a man with a little boy on his shoulders. They both seem to be alive. I cock my head. That little boy looks familiar, but I know I’ve never seen him before. The man looks just like him, minus the eyes. He must be the father.

 There is a man, again in the cloud of darkness, grasping a teenage boy by the throat. I look closer at the picture and gasp.

I know that face…

Those bright, green eyes…

That thick brown hair…

That’s Ash.

He looks… scared. Not just scared, he looks petrified. His eyebrows pulled together, his eyes bulging, as if he couldn’t breathe, his mouth contorted in an expression of pure terror.

I turn away, unable to look at the picture anymore, and stop in my tracks as I am about to exit the little room.

On the opposite wall, there is a drawing that stands out from the rest.

It’s me.

I am wearing the same maroon sweatshirt, green cargo pants, and black converse shoes that I was wearing yesterday when I met Ash, and my hair is sopping wet from the rain. I am lying down on his bed with him. He holds a blunt in his left hand, which dangles off the bed. We look like we’re having a great time, our faces smiling brightly. Ash is a beautiful artist, every picture is drawn excellently, and undoubtedly from memory. I study the picture of us more closely. He is probably the most perceptive person I’ve ever known. He got everything right; The two freckles on my nose, the same exact thick glasses, the precise curve of my face, the lazy curl of my wet hair, I might as well be looking at an actual photo.

“Rose! You alright up there?” Ash yells up the stairs.

Panicking, I totter out of the room and shut the door silently. “Yeah, I’ll be right down!” I finally answer him. I gingerly descend the stairs and shamble back into the kitchen.

“What took you so long?” Ash asks me suspiciously.

“I was looking at your CD collection,” I lie.

Ash nods and pulls up my pants leg. All I can see is my own dark red blood smeared around on my knee from my jeans. Ash takes a brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide and pours a little bit of it onto a paper towel. He presses it into my knee and it stings faintly. He then wipes the blood away so gently, I can barely feel it.

Those pictures linger in my mind. “So, uh, what do you do in your spare time?” I ask him slowly.

His brow furrows and he asks, “What the hell kind of a question is that?”

I bite my lip. “Just curious. Trying to make conversation…”

He shrugs, focusing on my kneecap. “I’m usually home alone all day after school, so I’ll sit around and just chill, or I’ll go to a friend’s house, or on the weekends I party… sometimes I’ll sit around and… drink, or smoke,” I can tell that he doesn’t like admitting that, “or sometimes I draw and paint.”

Bingo. “Really? What do you like to draw?” I probe, as if I wasn’t sneaking around in his private room.

He shrugs once more, as if it was no big deal, but he confesses, “Well I recreate all the deceased people or demons I’ve encountered and what they wanted me to do, some of my visions, and my favorite memories.”

My breath hitches in my throat. “Which memories are your favorites?” I press.

He wraps my knee in gauze. “Well most are when I was little because my mom was still alive and my dad wasn’t an asshole,” he answers bitterly. I chew on my lip some more. He continues unexpectedly, “There are some others too, but, I don’t know, I don’t really remember each one.”

He is lying.

“Well where do you keep them? I didn’t see any on the walls in your room.”

“I keep them in a separate room.”

“Would I be able to see some of them?” I request tentatively.

He frowns and shakes his head. “Nah, they’re not really worth seeing.” He rolls my pant leg down after wrapping it thickly with gauze.

“What is that supposed to mean?” I question gently. I can tell that not many people know about his hobby.

“They’re not very good.” And with that the conversation is closed. I utter a weak thank you and he grunts in response. We are silent for a bit when he says, “Rose… I’m really sorry for the way I acted yesterday.”

I wait for some kind of explanation but I don’t get one. He suddenly asks, “So what do you do in your spare time?”

“Why?”

“Just making conversation,” he mocks.

“Well, I dunno. I just kind of do my thing.”

He raises an eyebrow. “Oh please, I know you don’t think that’s an appropriate answer.”

I roll my eyes. “Well I’m on a rec swim team, and I like to play video games, I like to sing, and I’m a huge bookworm.”

He smiles slightly. He’s got quite the breathtaking smile. “What do you sing?”

My cheeks redden. “Uh, I write my own songs sometimes. Or I’ll just sing in the shower where no one can hear me.”

“Really? That bad?” he jokes.

“Well I don’t know, I’ve never sung in front of someone before.”

“Serious?”

“Yeah. It makes me nervous.”

“I’ll have to hear it some time.”

I don’t answer him. It’s a huge maybe.

“So why were you walking across that tree anyways? Death wish?”

I bite my lip. “No, Kasin asked me to.”

Ash’s eyes widen hugely. “What?! H-how did you even… why, Rose?! What would possess you to even agree to do something like that?!”

“Well he-”

“Like, is he trying to get you killed?!”

“No! Ugh, just, listen for a second. He said he really needed me to do something for him but it was just beyond that ledge.”

Ash shakes his head. “Rose, you’ve known him for three days and you’re already doing anything and everything for him! Do you know how sketchy that sounds?!”

“Ash, it isn’t anything and everything! Look, he has never asked anything of me, so I figured it wasn’t a big deal!” My voice becomes shrill and it cracks slightly on deal. Why is he freaking out like this?

“Rose, that was really fucking stupid. You need to learn how to distinguish situations that are okay from situations that are going to kill you.” His face is inches from mine. I can feel the anger boiling up inside of me. I was born with many things, but the ability to tolerate assholes isn’t one of them.

 I get closer to him, close enough that I can see the little folds of his green irises. “Well you need to learn to calm the hell down! What’s your deal, Ash?”

“My deal is that I may not always be around to catch you next time you fall,” he snarls, roughly shoving past me and trudging moodily up the stairs.

I look down, my cheeks hot with anger. Not sure whether or not to count that as a threat.

I grab the first aid kit. I walk into the tiny bathroom and flick the light on. I gasp when I see my own appearance. Scratches and cuts decorate my arms and neck from all the thorns. I turn to the side and spot a two inch cut on my cheek.

“Perfect,” I mutter as I pour some of the hydrogen peroxide on a balled up tissue. I dab at the scratches on my tan skin and then attempt to smooth out my rat’s nest. With no avail, I sigh. I hear a banging noise and realize it’s Ash quickly stomping down the stairs. He enters the bathroom and I feel claustrophobic. This bathroom wasn’t made for two. Hell, it’s barely made for one.

My stomach turns to ice when he says, “Did you go into my art room?”

My lip trembles as I try to come up with something, anything other than yes. When I say nothing, Ash glares at me. I feel paralyzed under his gaze. “That was a very private area, Rose. I knew there was a reason you were so interested in my pastimes.”

The heat festering in the small room becomes too much for me and the tension created by the dreadful silence is suffocating me. I feel extremely uncomfortable. I try to look anywhere but his eyes, but it’s like he’s got mine glued to them. I see a lot of anger etched in the depths of those emeralds. “Get out of my house,” he mutters, his voice dangerously low.

I am finally allowed to look away. My chest hurts. I push past him and pull on my boots and run out the door. Fury and confusion and sadness all bubble up inside me as I start my car.

All the way home I try to think of anything other than Ash. I think of the nice weather I’m about to enjoy, the makeup work I’ll have tomorrow, even the stinging of the tiny cuts on my body. I manage to keep my brain preoccupied until I arrive home, but as I roughly kick off my boots and collapse into my bed he fills my mind until I drift off to sleep.

 

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