An Angel's Job
Author: Lyndsay Noemia

Chapter 18
He Was the True Monster

Ephraim's POV-
     I walked out of the nurse's office, and shouldered past Zander. He glared at me, a gesture that was promptly returned. The rest of the day seemed to blur by, even when Mr. Chadwick was talking to Zander and I about the fight. Jasmine was standing at her locker, and no matter how much big the urge to talk to her was, my hatred of Zander blanched it out as he stepped into view. When he put his arms around her, the anger that blazed throughout me was more intense than any hatred I had ever felt. But why did I care? It was like that night with Lilith what I told her, "I do not want her." Maybe I did, though. Even then, it was like someone was making me bang my head off of the wall, it hurt physically, and would affect me mentally.
     My car was parked at the edge of the parking lot, under the shade of the trees. Someone was leaning against it, and it looked like their arms were crossed. "Hey, freak," Kendall was staring at me intently. Well, staring wasn't exactly the right word- glaring, leering, glower- those words worked better.
     "Hey, caveman," I opened the door to my car and sat down, "I'd love to stay and talk, but I have things that I'd rather be doing."
     "Like what? Getting your ass beat by a sophomore somewhere else?"
     My jaw set, biting down words that wouldn't really help this situation. "No, on a list of things I'd rather be doing other than talking to you, the main things are putting salt in my eyes and burning alive."
     Kendall grabbed me by the front of my shirt, yanking me upwards. "I'm starting to hate you more and more, you know that? That kid, Zander, I'm real happy that he beat you up."
     "Why? Cause you weren't man enough to do it yourself?" That was a mistake. Kendall's fist connected with my jaw, sending a flare of pain through me. Still, I did nothing to retaliate;something deep inside my mind was saying that I deserved this. Kendall hit me a few more times, but it was all numbed. Every thought in my body went back to that memory, the one of my father, teaching me his ways. 
     "Ephraim," My father always seemed to growl my name, "Stand up, a warrior does not stay down unless they are dead or spineless."
     There were other boys around me there, Jason and Thate among them. We were all basically the same age, some of us five, the rest six or seven. Jasen and I were the oldest, each of us seven.
     I stood up and looked down as I spoke, "Yes, Father."
     The fiery heat of pain flared through my jaw. That cane, that damnable cane that my father always kept at the ready, was balanced beneath my chin. "You will look me in the eyes when I talk to you," He tipped the cane so that my eyes were balanced with his. "There, isn't that better? Now as I was saying, what is the first rule of battle?"
     Everyone chorused, "Never show mercy."
     He smiled; something that would forever haunt my dreams, or rather nightmares. He turned and tapped Jasen in the chest with his cane. "Jasen, choose your sparring partner."
     My body tensed, knowing that Jasen would choose me. "Ephraim," He said as cynically as a seven-year-old could.
     My father clapped his hands together once. "Very good. Everyone watch them, we will review them when they are done." He made it sound as if we were on American Idol, and he was Simon Cowell.
     Everyone stepped away from us, as we stood adjacent from each other. Next to each of us was a small table, covered in knives, swords, and other melee weapons. Jasen always chose the same weapon, as did I. He would choose a short sword, one that my father had made specifically for a child. I would choose a short sword, and one dagger. Always good to have a backup plan, I would tell myself. Father stood about five feet away, and after we had our weapons, brought his cane down on the hard ground.
     Jasen smiled at me, then rushed towards me with his sword. I ducked it, and he knocked the sword out of my hand. I pulled the dagger from my belt, and struck at Jasen. It cut him across his stomach. His hand immediately went to his stomach, his eyes bright with surprise. It was never tears with Jasen, just anger, and every so often, surprise. That was one of the things my father had taught us, any emotions besides hatred or anger, made you weak, and the weak were destroyed.
     And that was why he banished me. The memory seemed to fast forward to when I lost the fight to Thate. He probably would have killed me had it not been for my father. It wasn't an emotional occurrence, though. I was crumpled on the floor after Thate had cut me across my stomach and my back. "Ephraim, get up. A warrior does not stay down unless-"
     I didn't move. "Unless they are dead or spineless," My voice was tinged with tears.
     He noticed, "Are you crying?" His voice was closer to me, which meant that he was no more than a foot from me. His cane hit me on the back. "What did I tell you about emotion? Show none, for showing emotion would mean you are weak. No son of mine will be weak! It doesn't matter if you are some sort of hybrid monster!" And that's when it happened, a blinding light that seemed to burn me like an open flame illuminated the room.
     The last thing I saw after that was my father's face. His cropped midnight hair, his soulless eyes that were almost as black as his hair, and that expression that was fixed into a look of hatred. Only he could be capable of hating his own son, for he was the true monster, not me.
     Reality swam around me, as Kendall was finishing whatever he was saying to me, "...Worth it."
     He threw me against my car one more time, then stalked away. "Whatever," I muttered, tasting blood in my mouth. Again. There wasn't any time to fret over it, though. I needed to leave soon; she had to know. My only hope was that Zander wouldn't be there, that would be the last thing I needed.  


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