My locker was empty. I was done with high school. I had decided to apply to do some fashion design courses – the plan of moving to New York was contingent on Kanesha getting the financial aid to allow her to transfer to a university up there.
For the first time, I was imagining that we’d actually be able to do that. To pretend to be normal people for a while. Well, not normal, but at least not living in fear of Surtur showing up any moment.
He still might, but even the small amount by which it was less likely was helping me feel better about things. About life. Taking the last of my stuff, I walked out the gates for the last time.
It felt like leaving prison. It felt like adulthood, although I suspected I was rather further from that than my so-called peers.
Or not. Maybe we grew up exactly as fast as we needed or wanted to. It wasn’t like it affected anything.
I wasn’t expecting to see Tyr outside. He was the last person I was expecting to bump into. “Hi.”
“Hello.” A pause. “How are you doing?”
Small talk? “What do you want?” I quipped. “To check on me.”
“To warn you,” he admitted. “Don’t think he’s gone.”
“I don’t. I’m hoping he’ll be busy for a while.”
Tyr laughed. “Oh, he will be. But he’ll be back, and if he can prove his people still respect him…”
“…then any reason to treat me honorably as opposed to just trying to drag me back to his cave by my hair is gone.”
Gravely, Tyr nodded. “He is afraid.”
“Of? His political opposition?”
A pause. “Of me? Maybe I should tell him I’m not the one who will kill him. Would make him paranoid, too.”
“Of you. That is why he wants to keep you so close. Unfortunately, what he knows I don’t.”
“There’s a prophecy.”
“Which Odin keeps very close. I believe only he, the Norns, and Loki know the full wording.”
So, my father knew. And knew better than to tell me. “I think they’re afraid if I knew it, I’d mess up.”
“Likely. But…he will be back, and he may not care how he reaches his goals.”
“I’ll be careful.” I almost asked him why he cared. No, he didn’t care for me as a person.
He cared in the abstract form about a woman not being forced. That was Tyr, I understood that now. He cared a lot, but it was never personal, never intimate.
Or maybe he needed that distance to do his job. I hoped I would never have to live like that.
I hoped that whatever job I had would be something designed for me, for my strengths, my weaknesses, and my joys.
Parts of the universe choosing their own path…