A week into August, and life was, well, life. The coffee shop had become my second home, even when I was alone. That was where I was sitting, quietly typing away at my laptop, when Katie sat down in front of me.
“I thought Sionis told you not to talk to me…” my voice got quiet as I looked at her face. A dark ring of black surrounded her eye. “Katie, did Sionis-?”
“No, he didn't do this. He's never hit me." I noticed she was quick to defend the man. "No, your former friend Sam did this, but that's not why I sat down here.”
Sam hit her? That didn't sound like him. He had never struck me as the violent type.
“Why are you here then?”
“It's-it actually had to do with Zoey.”
“Well, not her. Kind of. The cop who told you about her, his name was Quinn O'Malley, right?” she asked. How had she known that?
I needed to stop asking that question when it came to this girl. She knew everything.
She shifted in her seat. “He's my two friends', former friends', stepdad. We… broke things off a while ago, but they both approached me to give me their condolences. They told me their dad had visited you,” Katie explained.
“That's good." I had no idea how to respond to that. Did she expect me to ask about why they had broken things off?
“We're still not friends again, not that I wanted or expected to be, but it still felt nice, you know?” she asked. Then, in a quieter voice, she added, “I miss them both.”
“Talk to them again,” I offered. Whatever had happened between them, I was sure it could have been fixed by talking. Communication was important.
“I can't. I'm… not allowed to have friends,” she mumbled. Then she perked up. “Not that I would ever want to be friends with them again.”
Sionis didn't allow her to have friends? What else did this man restrict Katie from? What else did he do to her?
“Is… that all you wanted to tell me, Katie?” I asked cautiously. I didn't want to be rude to her, but I didn't know what else to say to her. She shrugged. “Does Sionis know you're here?”
“No. Probably not.”
That was not reassuring to hear. Sionis had explicitly told me to keep away from her, and that was not what I was doing. If he had her followed, I was screwed. And I was scared of Sionis. I'd heard the stories about the man.
“I wanted to talk to you, though. I came for coffee, saw you and wanted to talk to you. I have no one else to talk to. Roman isn't great for these talks. I feel alone,” Katie explained. That I understood. The feeling of isolation and loneliness was a feeling that was not about to forget anytime soon. And she was still a teenager. I remembered feeling that way when I was her age. It was an awful feeling.
“Alright, then. What do you want to talk about?”
She rambled for almost twenty minutes. She talked about nothing in particular, just about her life, and things she wanted to do in the future. I smiled when I heard her talk about her goals. Katie wanted to own her own studio for photography and run the business herself. It was ambitious, but I had faith she could do it. She had the heart for it, and the passion. Every time I saw her, she had a camera with her. Even during this conversation, she had a camera sitting next to her on the table. It was endearing to see her have such a passion for photography.
Katie was a good kid. She deserved a better life than the one she had.
“Have you ever considered leaving Sionis?” I asked during a pause in her speech.
“Sometimes. But I would never go through with it. If I did, well, he wouldn’t be happy. There’d be hell to pay if I ever left,” she admitted. That must have been such a miserable existence.
I had fleeting thoughts about asking Katie to come back home with me. The key word was fleeting. She would never agree. She was too scared of Sionis. Katie deserved so much better.
“Some things don’t change. Some things shouldn’t change,” she continued. She was twisting a strand of blue around her finger.
Blue, like the sky.
“Thanks for listening, Ms. Connery,” Katie said.
I smiled at her. “You can call me Amber, Katie.”
She smiled back, such a shy smile.
“I should get going, though. Have a good rest of your day, Amber,” she said. She picked up the empty cup and her camera.
“If you ever need to talk again, you know where I live,” I offered. She nodded her head, then walked out the door. I watched her walk across the street.
The sun was shining. It was easy to spot her and her blue streaked hair in the crowd until the sea of people swallowed her.
I worried about her.
I got another coffee and sat back down at the table to start some actual work. This story was an easy one. I hoped I would never have to write about the asylum again, though I was unsatisfied with how I left the most recent one. Strange was still the head, when it was most definitely him who had been committing the atrocities.
Jonathan’s warning still rang in my head sometimes. Who I was a target for, I never figured out. Had it been Strange targeting me? The people Sam had been working for? Edward? All were possibilities, but I suppose it didn’t matter anymore. Sometimes things just didn’t get fixed. The worst thing that had happened was Zoey’s death, and I was sure that had nothing to do with me.
I missed her.
I stared at the sky. It was blue. Not very common in Gotham.
“Sometimes it’s green,” I muttered. Sam had definitely been right about that. Someday it would pass. Until then, it was best to be wary.
Someday, my sky would be blue again.