Chapter 33: Leofric

Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Leofric doodled idly in the margins of his history notes, trying not to think of being stuck in Eriko’s room as boring. It helped a little to think of it as being grounded; it made him feel more like a typical rebellious teenager, and not like a horrible, awful, worthless, why couldn’t he do anything right

The tip of his pencil snapped, rolling gently off the page and landing on the floor with a quiet tic. He watched it go, then pulled out a pencil sharpener from his backpack and started sharpening his pencil for the third time. Not that he needed it sharpened, since he’d already finished his homework. But he hadn’t been ordered to stay in his mistress’ room until he finished his homework; he’d been ordered to stay there and finish his homework. So now he was only under orders to stay in the room, and he had nothing to do.

The problem with boring was that he didn’t have anything to do but think, and thinking meant thinking about being bad, and thinking about being bad meant hurting. There wasn’t anything he could do about it when Eriko was there yelling at him, but the time he had to himself? Those times, he could at least try not to think.

Tapping the pencil shavings into the trash can, Leofric settled himself back onto the floor with his notebook and started drawing a smiley face, one with too many sharp teeth and long pointy ears.

Zita, he’d been told, Belonged to Sheba, now, who was in Magnolia’s crew, who was Keeping Howard. It was good. She was happier. She didn’t keep doing that thing, where he could tell she was working her way around an order just to talk. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t been able to help at all. It mattered that she was safe.

Useless. The pencil tip snapped again. He reached for the sharpener again.

What he needed was something to do. Leofric methodically counted the number of rotations to sharpen his pencil. But Eriko hadn’t given him any instructions, which left him with no guidance on what else she wanted him to do – just what she didn’t want.

He placed the pencil tip against the paper and paused. What she didn’t want him to do.

Stupid. It had been right in front of him the whole time. He was bored because he was still trying to be good. But he wasn’t a good Kept at all.

Eriko didn’t like people messing with her things. Glancing around the room, Leofric’s eye fell on the closet. He could mess up her clothes.

He thought of Zita, tearing Taro’s shirt to pieces with her teeth.

He could destroy Eriko’s clothes.

Putting his notebook and pencil away, Leofric went over to the closet and started pulling things out. The green dress she’d worn to that first dance, a turquoise sweater she liked to wear with skirts, a sequinned denim jacket; the list went on as he emptied the closet of everything he’d seen her wear. Then, trying to think of it as some weird kind of home ec project, he took out a pair of scissors and started cutting the fabric.

It was surprisingly relaxing. He started just with random angles, but somewhere in the second dress he started cutting out shapes. They were almost abstract, but it was fun to look at the fabric pieces and see what they resembled. Like watching clouds. Not that he’d done that in a while, of course. Leofric had never been the outdoorsy type, but even he appreciated little things like the sky through a window. If only the school had even a fake window, he–

Eriko walked into the room.

Leofric froze; even knowing what he was doing, knowing what was going to happen, it never made the actual moment of discovery any easier. And this time, looking at the expression on his mistress’ face, he knew he had really, really fucked up.

“What.” She didn’t even sound angry, like she was too shocked to absorb what she was looking at. “Are you. Doing.”

He swallowed, resisting the urge to apologize, to grovel and beg for forgiveness. This is what he wanted; this was what he was supposed to be doing. Being a bad Kept. Good Kept don’t talk back. “What does it look like, mistress?”

“How dare you?” Her voice rose in a panicked, furious shriek. “How dare you?! Those are mine! You’re mine, you–”

“Worthless little rat!” A voice rang out through the room; a woman’s voice, with a tone like Eriko’s but not her. “You useless waste of oxygen, can’t you do something right for once in your pathetic excuse of a life?”

Eriko turned pale and was backing towards the door, looking frightened. “Stop it, Leofric, this isn’t funny. Stop!”

The order twisted at him; he knew what she wanted him to stop doing. He wasn’t the one doing it. She was frightened and he wanted to help her but he couldn’t. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m an awful Kept, I’m sorry. Leofric put his hands over his ears, as if that would help somehow, and stayed quiet.

I’m sorry, mistress, please–“ That was his voice, but it wasn’t him. Leofric wasn’t saying it. It was just like the hallway, with Cya.

“Do you think sorry is enough? Look at what you’ve done! You can’t even fix it, can you? You good-for-nothing bratty piece of trash!”

Eriko grabbed him by the hair. “I said stop it– oh departed gods, Leofric! What are you doing?!

Someone – something – was scrawling letters across the walls, in dark blood red.

get out Get Out get Out Get Out GET OUT

Eriko turned and ran, slamming the door shut behind her.

Leofric backed up into his corner, watching the door. This was what he wanted. He wanted to prove he was a bad Kept. If he was miserable, if he felt guilty and awful and worthless, that meant he was doing it right. He was being a bad Kept. He was a bad Kept. She’d realize he was a bad Kept and throw him away and it would all be over.

Curling up into a ball, he cried.

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