by Emily Hunt
Oddly, it wasn’t even the first time that Lissa Arnold had sold her soul. Back when she was at Princeton, she’d sold it for a crowbar from a townie named Charlie. She had been in a bit of an activist phase, and when her plan to start an anti-war movement using Lysistrata as her game plan fell flat, she’d resigned herself to the far less highfalutin protest technique of petty vandalism. But that was nearly 15 years ago, and now living abroad in London, she was fairly certain that Charlie wouldn’t mind the resale of used goods. She couldn’t even remember Charlie’s last name and amazingly, none of the random townies from back in the day had ever bothered to find her on Facebook. Different worlds, she supposed.
She stared at the ceiling, and contemplated the light fixture above her bed. It was better than trying to figure out how exactly she’d gotten into this mess. And far, far better than trying to figure out how to get out of it.
On the bed next to Lissa, spread between pillows, plates, two BlackBerrys, an iPad, a laptop and ridiculous number of books, were a half dozen pieces of completely crumpled paper. She’d been trying for hours to find the perfect words – all more or less a failure. Too much emotion in some versions, too robotic in others. Nothing quite captured the horror of what had happened, and no version of her speech seemed worthy of the fact that she had sold her soul to a guy named Black to secure the specific audience for what she needed to say. John. Super senior executive in her company. So high up the chain that he breathed different air. So high up the chain that what he did would never matter.
Pressing the screen of her phone, the time popped up. 12:45. Definitely time to get up. Black would be by in half an hour with his uncle’s Addison Lee. She needed to look at least mildly presentable before the confrontation and the speech. Maybe she’d find the right words in the car. Or maybe she would just wail like a Banshee. This had all seemed like a better idea when it was in the abstract.
Silent in the car, Lissa stared out the window. London was the same as ever, grey and damp. But for her, everything had changed. Since the John incident in October, she’d just transformed. She’d had to. Nothing was ever going to be the same. She’d only ever worked. All the time. Long hours, big job. Coming home to an empty one bedroom flat, falling over still dressed half the time. Building a gorgeous wall of shoes with her earnings. With six months off work, paid, and now a tidy settlement coming her way to keep her quiet on the subject of John, she had thrown fabulous dinner parties.
It was more than that, though. She’d met new people. Started reading more. Went to book launches and had seriously interesting conversations with people all over London that she never would have met before. She even went on a holiday with reformed cult members and laughed at their gong bath mediations. She breathed more. Smelled the proverbial roses. And actually, when she really thought about it, she had to admit that she had started smiling more lately.
She was transformed, but still stuck with this need to yell, rend her garments in an old fashioned way, holler, bring down the sky with her voice. She needed vengeance or retribution or maybe even redemption. She’d sold her soul to Black so that he would pick up John in front of the office. Black would be driving his uncle’s Addison Lee. The plan was to lock the doors to keep John in, let Lissa in the front, and then walk away for half an hour.
Black pulled up behind the office. They were early, but so was John. His hand was on the handle and the door was open before Lissa could get out. The plan was clearly fucked.
As John slid into the car, somehow everything changed again. Lissa turned away from John before he even registered her, had her door open and a foot on the ground before Black hit the lock button. Black looked at her in the rear view mirror, confused. Suddenly, Lissa quickly turned back from the street, facing John. His cheek began to twitch the minute he realised who was in the car with him. Lissa looked him squarely in the eye, leaned over to him, whispering so Black wouldn’t hear. This was private.
“I forgive you.”
She kissed him gently on that quivering cheek, spun around, hopped out, slammed the door and ran across the street without looking back.