ODO OF METZ — JOSHUA AELICK

Odo collapsed into his chair and stared at his desk. It was as blank as his mood. He wasn’t unhappy; not exactly. He didn’t know how he felt. He didn’t know how he was supposed to feel. He wanted to be bereaved. He wanted to be furious.
Instead, he was gray, empty, a clouded mirror reflecting himself.

The letter from the Emperor Karl had arrived only one week ahead of the man himself. At first, the missive had seemed like a death sentence. It should have been impossible to complete the Palatine Chapel in just seven days. Now Odo had nothing to worry about. He had achieved everything he had ever wanted and won the favor of the newly crowned “peace-loving emperor,” who was throwing a parade in his honor.

So what was wrong?

He walked to the window, hoping to see something that would inspire some feeling in him. Below, masons hammered and molded, rhythmically carving the ancient stone in the shadow of the greatest church ever built: the Palatine Chapel. 

The sounds of their hammers and working songs rang in a dozen different languages. Odo had heard these tunes a thousand times over the decade of work at the palace complex here at Aquis Granis, the Emperor’s capital. 

It inspired no emotion in him. Nothing did; not the music, nor dead winter air, nor the schematics of unbuilt structures that decorated his walls. Not even that terrible letter, its coarse parchment clutched in his hand, made him feel anything. 

How could he go to the parade in such a state?

#

A grungy courier had handed the letter to Odo. “For you,” was his only remark.

Recognizing the seal at once, Odo tore into the envelope. King Karl. He read through the letter three times in disbelief before sending for Leopold. They needed to act immediately. 

Odo was bent over his desk, scribbling plans on scraps of old parchment when Leo ducked through the arched doorframe.

Leo was a gaunt, pale man with a nest of curly white hair and a distant gaze. Children fled at the sight of him and called him a ghost, especially when he wore his white dean’s robe. He wasn’t technically the dean of the church—not yet. But when the chapel was completed, he would ensure its proper care. That was, if it ever was completed. 

As he scribbled and scrapped yet another plan, Odo grew increasingly fearful that the task before them might be impossible.

“Is everything alright, Odo?” Leo’s voice was tender. “Why did you send for me?”

Not wanting to waste a single second that could be used to plan a way out of this, Odo thrust the letter in Leo’s direction.

The clergyman read through it with incredible speed. Their years at the University of Metz had taught both of them much about the art of speedreading. “King Karl has been crowned Emperor? He’ll return in one week?” he said, touching the rosary around his neck. “I’m so sorry, Odo. I don’t know what to say.”

Why was Leo being so passive? Now wasn’t the time for apology and acceptance. They needed to act. “Well, we have to do something about it. I refuse to just sit here and be executed when the Emperor returns to an unfinished church.” An idea came to him. “I know. We’ll go before the Council of Aachen and demand they give us the money and manpower we were promised.” He stood, ready to march to the council house and speak his mind.

Leo shook his head. “Still, only one week. It wouldn’t be possible. Based on what you’ve told me about the design, the opus sectile in just one section of floor would take at least three.”

“Fine. Then we get done what we can. When Emperor Karl arrives, we tell him how the Council wasted his money and our time.” Even as he spoke, it was obvious how that would sound like an excuse to an accomplished man like Emperor Karl.

“It would be the word of the Council against you, a young architect with—if you’ll excuse me—little practical experience, and myself, a low-level church officer. As merciful as His Glory is, who do you think he’s more likely to listen to?”

Odo collapsed back into the chair. Leo was right. It was hopeless. “I can’t die, Leo. Not yet. I have to do this. I have to. Don’t you understand?”

“I do.” Leo placed a cold, pale hand on Odo’s back. 

Odo knew he didn’t understand. Leo was not a man of grand vision. He had always been content simply to be. How he lived like that Odo did not know. “Then what do you suggest I do about it?”

“Let’s pray together.”

“Prayer? What will that do? As if I haven’t prayed a thousand times already, and yet here we are.”

“Odo, you mustn’t—” Leo sounded more disappointed than angry.

Odo sighed, collecting himself. He shouldn’t have snapped. “It’s fine, Leo. Thank you for your help. I think… I think I’d just rather pray on my own.”

“If you need me, I’m here.” Leo’s habit swished across the stone as he swept from the chamber.

Odo sat in silence for a long time after.

#

There was no point in putting off going to the parade any longer. Gathering his finest, warmest robes about him, Odo marched out of his chambers and into the frigid January air. Despite the weather, people of all kinds had begun to congregate along the short road that ran the distance between the chapel and the still-incomplete aula regia, the audience hall.

Odo slipped through the crowd, grateful to pass unnoticed. Unsavory rumors had begun to circulate about him after the chapel sprang up overnight. Some said that he had sought the help of a witch, others whispered that he was dabbling in dark magic. Thankfully, Leo had taken it on himself to proclaim that it was the power of prayer—not of the Teufel—that had raised Holy Emperor Karl's cathedral from nothing. Odo never spoke on the matter himself.

The parade was to begin at the great tent pitched outside the aula regia, now little more than foundations, the beginnings of powerful walls. It was scheduled for completion within ten years, but it had never been the priority. King Karl had always been clear that the chapel was the most important part of the palace complex. That was fine with Odo. The church, his magnum opus, was what he really cared about, anyway.

The area had been temporarily cleared of tools and half-finished carvings so that the royal guard could patrol the perimeter. As Odo neared the entrance, the guards moved aside to allow his passing. 

They recognized him as a great architect, an important person, Odo realized. Oughtn’t he be happy about that? 

But if they knew what he had done, they would never have allowed him in the same room as the Emperor. They would have executed him and pitched his body into the potter’s field. It was what he deserved. 

The inside of the tent was warm and welcoming. In the center, a table had been set with wine and lebkuchen, a wintertime delicacy in Aquis Granis. Two great fires had been lit at either end of the tent, sending shadows dancing in a hungry, orange light. Odo avoided looking at his own shadow.

“Ah! There he is! The man of the hour!” 

Odo jumped, barely managing to stop himself from crying out in surprise. 

Emperor Karl, a glass of wine in one hand, threw his arm around Odo. “Congratulations, my boy!” The Emperor’s cheeks were rosy with warmth and drink. 

Odo allowed himself to be held, trapped in the Emperor’s embrace like game in a snare. Emperor Karl did not hug, especially not people like Odo. People like Odo did not deserve to be touched or held. Emperor Karl should have hugged someone worthy, someone like… 

Leo stood beside the table of refreshments, staring down at his feet. Odo swallowed.

At last, the Emperor let him go. “Odo, my boy, what great work you’ve done. The Lord’s work, indeed. This chapel is something that all the Empire can be proud of.” He smiled wide. There was lebkuchen in his teeth.

“Oh… Well I never could have done it without Leopold.” Odo gestured to his friend. 

“Indeed?” Emperor Karl turned toward Leo, who perked up instantly. 

“Yes, well,” Leo said, taking a sip of wine and clearing his throat. “I mean, I suppose I did a little work. I prayed to God and, well, now the chapel stands, so I suppose—”

He was cut off by another avuncular hug from Emperor Karl. Leo did not hesitate to return it. He had never looked more delighted. He deserved this happiness, Odo thought.

After a long moment of slightly intoxicated hugging, Emperor Karl said, “Truly, the two of you must have prayed very hard. The rumors say the chapel sprang up overnight, as if by magic!” 

The Emperor didn’t sound angry, but that didn’t stop Odo’s breakfast from rising back into his mouth. Somehow, he managed to choke it back down. “I-It’s as Leo said, O Emperor. Prayer got us through all this.”

“Odo, my dear boy,” Emperor Karl said. “You’re shivering. Come and join me by the fire.”

Odo allowed the Emperor to place a drink in his hand and lead him toward one of the fire pits. As he stared into the shifting orange glow of the burning coals, all he could think about was Leo, standing alone by the refreshment table and picking at crumbs of lebkuchen.

#

Back when they were at the University, Odo and Leo often sat on the quad together if the weather was fair. On this particular day, Odo was reading De Architectura, the copy he had brought from home. It was his first time reading it straight through, and he was thoroughly enjoying the chapter on aqueducts, which he had only ever skimmed. 

Leo had an illuminated copy of the New Testament open in front of him, but he wasn’t looking at it. Instead, he gazed up into the boughs of the surrounding oaks, his eyes unfocused. 

“Leo,” Odo said, nudging his friend. “You’re dreaming again.”

“Oh, Odo.” Leo shook his head, as if trying to shake his thoughts from his mind. “Don’t worry. I am studying. Really. It just helps me to think.”

“Really?” Odo raised an eyebrow. He doubted anyone could “study” by doing nothing. “What were you studying up there?” He held back a smile.

“The past.”

“History?” 

“My past.” 

The university bell tower struck three o’clock.

“And?” Odo asked, suppressing a smile as he wondered how Leo could possibly consider remembering things to be the same as studying.

“I used to hate the idea of coming here. I used to walk past the university gates every day knowing that I had no choice. I used to feel like attending this school was as inevitable as death itself.”

Odo already knew part of what Leo was talking about. As the youngest son of a wealthy family, Leo would never inherit his father’s fortune. Study was his only real option. “So what changed?”

“When I came here, I was blessed to find the sort of people I had sought my whole life. Think of the irony, think of how foolish I felt!” He laughed, pensive. 

“And what sort of people were those?” Odo wished Leo would just get on to what he wanted to say and say it.

“People like you, Odo!”

Odo found his tongue suddenly useless. What was he supposed to say to something like that? “I— well—”

“I mean, people who want to learn. People with faith in the Lord and in King Karl. People with passions and dreams. My brothers back home, all they wanted was to compete and get rich. You’ve met them, you know.”

Odo did know. Leo’s brothers could be generously described as boisterous. “Yes.” He laughed, uncertain how vigorously he ought to agree.

“I’m very grateful that I met you, Odo. I think the Lord put us together for a reason, don’t you?”

“I would never claim to know the intentions of the Lord,” Odo said, searching for the right response. “But thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot to me.” He was genuinely touched that Leo had recognized his passion. “A whole lot. More than I can say.” Was he packing it on now? Was that too much?

“Well, whatever the case may be, I’m glad that God placed us in this moment together.”

“Um, yes. Me too,” Odo said, returning to his book. All this emotion was making him uncomfortable.

#

They mounted their horses and marched to the short parade route, which began near the front of the tent. From here, the tiered facade of chapel was already visible, as were the throngs of people that flanked the road. All were hushed, whether by the winter air or by the public appearance of Emperor Karl, Odo did not know.

Odo led the parade, a change in the program that Emperor Karl had made at the last minute.  “This is your day, Odo, my boy,” he had said. “And when we’re done here, what would you say to a dip in the hot springs? I’m freezing!” 

Leo had looked on in shock and awe. Odo had never seen any emotion so visible in Leo’s expression. He must have been terribly jealous. 

Naturally, there was no way Odo could have refused either offer, so he rode out in front, staring up in fear at his own creation. This wasn’t how he had wanted this day to go. It should have been sometime in the fall, near his birthday. The warm colors of autumn leaves would have complemented the chapel’s intricate mosaics as cool light streamed through the barrel vaulted interior.

His thoughts were shattered by a brassy trumpet blast. The crowd erupted into cheers as royal heralds blared triumphant tunes. Already they were nearing the entrance to the chapel’s open-air atrium. 

Odo glanced back. Emperor Karl followed behind and to his right, Leo to his left. Odo felt as if he were leading them toward their graves. But then, it didn’t have to be. There was a way to get out of all this without either of them having to die. It could be hisgrave. 

#

Days ago, Odo had woken to the sound of someone pounding on his door. 

“Odo,” Leo shouted, his voice muffled by the solid wood. “Odo, are you awake?”

“Now, yes,” he mumbled to himself before rolling over. Maybe if he drew the covers tight around himself he could go back to sleep and forget last night. Why did he want to forget last night again? But if Leo was shouting, it had to be serious. Sleep clouded his mind as he pushed himself out of bed and gathered his robe about him. “One moment, Leo.”

“Look outside, Odo! Look out the window,” said Leo from behind the door.

Odo looked. He blinked and stumbled backward, catching himself on the door. Scrambling up, he rubbed his eyes to be sure he really saw what he thought was there, silhouetted by the sun.

“Our prayers were answered, Odo! The Lord God has blessed us this day! Think of how happy—” 

Odo wrenched the door open. Leo stood there, no better dressed than Odo himself in a simple gray nightgown. “Ah, Guten Morgen, Odo. You’re looking… well.” Leo had never been a good liar.

Odo played with one of his keys. “Leo, I—” In that moment, he nearly told Leo everything that he had done. He nearly told Leo how he had prayed, and to whom, and what it had cost. Instead, he said, “I can’t believe it. Our prayers worked.” Even as he spoke, the grayness from the night before swept across his mind like a bank of thunderclouds.

Leo stepped into the room. His gaze was turned toward the window. “Think of how happy the Great Emperor Karl will be,” he mused. “You have truly done great things, Odo. Great things, for the Emperor and for the Lord.”

“Yes, I— For the Lord.” He wondered why he had done anything at all, what the point had been.

“You don’t seem particularly happy about it,” Leo said, turning from the window to face Odo. He looked concerned. “You’ve worked so hard on this, Odo, and for so long. Aren’t you glad to see it bear fruit at last?”

“I—Yes, of course. What am I thinking? Of course I am.” He forced himself to show teeth and smile. Why wasn’t he glad? He haddone it, after all. It was his own ingenuity that had led to this outcome. Even if there had been a cost… Well, nothing came without a cost, right? That was just the way of the world. “Thank you for all your help and support along the way, Leo,” he said, embracing his friend. 

“Of course, Odo.” Leo laughed. “Of course. And might I say, I’m glad that when next we see the Emperor, he won’t be coming for our heads.”

#

The atrium was moments away. With each of the horse’s footsteps, the chapel loomed ever closer, ever higher. 

Odo slouched in the saddle, knowing he would never be brave enough to sacrifice himself.

If only there was a way to call it all off. Maybe he could declare that some minor aspect of the church—some part most people wouldn’t even know to look for—was incomplete. They would have to reschedule. By the time the day of the new parade came around, Odo could be long gone. 

He knew that would never work. If he tried anything, the Emperor would be furious. After all, he had travelled all the way from Rome just to see his new chapel. Odo had to come up with something… 

“Odo!” Leo called from behind. “Listen!”

The people were chanting. “O-do! O-do! O-do!” they cheered. 

Odo looked back. Emperor Karl wobbled on his horse, chanting along with the crowd, a glass of wine still in hand.

Leo looked from the Emperor to Odo and smiled. “Congratulations, my friend! You’ve earned this.”

#

Following Leo’s suggestion, Odo did pray that night. He prayed on his knees beside the windowsill, looking up at the apathetic winter sky and begging it not to take his life before his magnum opus could be completed. 

“Why create me at all,” he said. “If you won’t allow me to do what gives my life meaning? Why let me live this life just to take it away at the moment of my greatest victory?”

Snow swirled by the window in meaningless spirals.

“Don’t you know that this is all I have?” He was distantly aware that he was crying, the hot tears burning his cool skin. “Don’t you know that if I die without this it will all have been for nothing?” His cries tumbled out the window and over the muddy pit where the chapel should have stood. He felt as if he were looking down into his own grave. “Please,” he whispered at last. “I’ll do anything.”

“Anything?”

Odo turned at once to face the direction from which the voice rang. There was no one in the room save for himself and his shadow, a dark reflection kneeling against the opposite wall. “Hello?” he said. Was he hearing things? Had desperation driven him mad?

“You’ll do anything?” His shadow stood. 

The room swam before Odo as he rubbed the tears from his eyes. “You—you aren’t there,” he said. “I need to get to sleep.”

“Fine, sleep.” His shadow shrugged. “But if you do, I won’t be able to help you.” 

It was speaking to him, really speaking to him. He could see its mouth move, a hollow in the middle of its face. “What are you?” Odo whispered. 

“Does it matter? I can help you. I can build your chapel.”

“What? How did you know about that?” Odo fingered the ring of keys at his side. His shadow did not follow. It only shook its head.

“Odo, enough with the small-minded questions. We both know this is real. Now, do you want to hear my offer or not?”

“What? But…” 

“Odo!” The shadow reached out, its arms stretching across the wall and over the vaulted ceiling. Odo found he was unable to move as the being’s icy hands closed around his throat, cutting off his breath. For a moment, he could only kneel there in the slanting silver moonlight, totally at the mercy of his shadow.

Then it let him go. 

Odo’s hands flew to his neck. The skin was streaked with frost where the shadow had touched it. There was no mistaking it. This was reality. “Don’t kill me,” he whispered. “The chapel. I still have a week. I have to—”

“Aren’t you listening to me? For one of the world’s foremost architects, Odo of Metz, you strike me as extraordinarily dull. I’ll build the chapel for you. Now. If you’re willing to make a deal.”

Odo thought for a moment. If this was real, and this being could offer him what he wanted, was there any reason to say no? “What do you want?”

“Oh, you know. Nothing, really. A pittance.”

Wind whistled through the arched window. 

The taste of bitter dread filled Odo’s mouth. “What is it?”

The shadow leaned close, its cold voice whispering into Odo’s ear.

He recoiled, chilled. He could never give that up.

“What did you think I was going to ask you for?” the shadow paced against the far wall. 

“Is there really no other choice?” Odo considered the keys at his hip. In a week, they would open the great bronze doors to the chapel. That is, if the chapel was ever completed. The fact remained that without his shadow’s help, it would be impossible. He had no choice but to give him what he wanted.

The shadow slipped over Odo’s desk, darkening the organized stacks of books and scrolls. “I’m being easy on you, Odo. I could ask for anything, and you would do it. You would kill the Emperor for me, if I wished.”

He was right, but Odo would never admit it.

“All I’m asking for is the soul of the first person to enter the chapel. Anyone could go inside. Anyone at all. A builder, a peasant, a foreigner; somebody no one would miss.”

“But it doesn’t work like that.” Odo buried his face in his hands. “The first person to go in has to be the dean. The chapel must be blessed.” Leo must bless it,he thought.

“Not my problem.” The shadow shrugged. “Now, let’s make a deal, or I’ll be going. What do you say?” Reaching across the floor, he held out a hand to Odo.

“The chapel is completed by morning. In exchange you get the soul of the first person to go in.” The words were not at all heavy in his mouth. They were light and gray. They were empty, unreal. 

“Yes,” the shadow hissed, its open mouth curling upward.

Hesitantly, Odo reached out and shook its hand. At once, as if he had lowered a curtain over a stage, a great gray emptiness draped over his mind and nothing mattered. 

Odo awoke later that night in his own bed. When he remembered what he had done, he sobbed. He cried not because he felt, but because he felt he ought to cry.

#

Odo, Leo, and the Emperor dismounted at the entrance to the atrium. At this point, they left the common folk and the rest of the parade behind, entering into a rectangular colonnade. Nobles, as colorful and lavish as the atrium itself, filled the exedrae that ringed the space, giving it a theater-in-the-round quality. Behind them, the trumpeters stopped, and for a moment the only sound was the bubbling of the pinecone-shaped fountain that sat in the center of the courtyard. 

The nobles’ gazes weighed heavily on Odo’s mind. There was no way out of here without being seen.

The trio moved towards the heavy bronze doors of the church, their footsteps echoing through the silent city and into the vaulted hollows of the colonnade.

“Your Holiness,” Leo said, turning to Emperor Karl and kneeling. “With your permission, I will now enter the doors and bless the chapel. Will you permit it?” His words were purely ceremonial.

Odo’s mind clawed at the inside of his skull. He had seconds to find a way to divert all this. He couldn’t call off the event. He could never go in himself. Were there any other options? He had had nearly a week to figure this out. What had he been doing that whole time? He couldn’t remember. He didn’t care.

“No.” Emperor Karl said. His voice boomed in the silence. “I don’t think that will be necessary.”

“My Emperor?” Leo looked up at him, glancing between Karl and his drink.

“If this is to be my chapel, it is only right that I be the first to enter it.” He was not joking. “I have waited too long and come too far to be delayed in my prayers a moment longer.”

Odo observed the conversation as if from a great distance, as if he were watching actors on a stage. Which character would die? Which would live? 

“Odo,” Emperor Karl turned to him. “The key.”

Without thinking, Odo untied the key ring from his belt and handed it to Emperor Karl. “Of course, O pious Emperor.” 

“Hmpf,” said Emperor Karl, examining his empty wineglass. 

“My Lord, I—” Leo was silenced by a single glance from the Emperor. “Yes, My Liege. But if you would at least allow me to utter a blessing over the door?”

Emperor Karl sighed. “Be quick.”

Odo’s mind was still as Leo chanted a Latin prayer. Inside his head was nothing but that still, gray emptiness. He knew that even if he had wanted to move, to run away, to warn Emperor Karl, he could not have. If this was a play, he was completely uninvested in its plot. Nothing mattered.

When Leo was finished, Emperor Karl twisted the key in its great lock. With a clang, the lion-faced doors swung open, revealing the domed structure within. The Emperor gasped audibly as every noble seated in the exedrae leaned over the railings, hoping to catch a glimpse of the church’s interior.

Odo didn’t need to look. He had memorized every stone, tile, and groin vault. He had designed it, after all. The inside was painted in byzantine shades of yellow, red, and forest green. It was a great, tiered structure that seemed to extend further upward than was possible from the outside. Every surface was decorated in intricate detail, drawing inspiration from half a dozen early Christian civilizations. It was the greatest building ever constructed.

And oh, what it had cost.

#

One night during their senior year, they had just finished dinner and were sitting in Leo’s dorm. Odo was studying De Architectura,Book Three. It was his seventh time reading it, but its well-thumbed pages held new excitement now that King Karl had selected him to design the Palatine Chapel in Aquis Granis. He was set to begin work as soon as he graduated at the end of the semester, and nothing could have pleased him more. Soon he would be working towards achievingsomething.

Odo glanced up from the text to see Leo looking at him. His usually distant gaze was focused, almost intense.

“There’s something I want to tell you, Odo. I-If that’s alright.”

Odo closed the book. “Certainly,” he said. 

“It’s about… about my mother.”

A few days ago, Odo had been invited to Leo’s family home for dinner. His father and brothers—lawyers, all of them—had been there. In the foyer hung a framed portrait of Leo’s family, his mother markedly absent. When Odo asked where she was, Leo had promptly asked him to leave. Odo had gone, feeling flustered and that he deserved an explanation. 

“My father allowed my mother to have a room in the house to herself,” Leo said. “No one but her ever went inside. She had it since before I was born though, so growing up I never found it strange at all.”

“And?” Odo asked. Something truly terrible must have happened to make Leo so dour. 

“She died when I was ten. A week after the funeral, we decided it was finally time to clean out the room.” Leo gazed off into a corner as if the stones there revealed some dark secret. “It was empty except for a single wooden chest.”

“What was inside?” Odo whispered. He couldn’t take this kind of suspense.

“At first, nothing of importance. The top was full of clothes and jewelry. But as we dug deeper, we found a fake bottom.” Leo stopped. His eyes fixed once more on Odo. “What I am about to say, you must never repeat.”

Odo nodded, nearly ready to grab Leo and shake the conclusion out of him.

“Under the fake bottom we found—” he bit his lip. “We found talismans. There were red candles with odd symbols on them, and—”

“And?”

“And a skull.” He shut his eyes.

Odo reached out a hand and touched Leo’s knee. “Are you alright?”

“I never, ever—” He choked back a sob. “I never want the Teufel in my life again, you understand? He took my mother from me. That’s why I’m here, that’s why I study. To keep all that away; to purify it. Do you understand?”

Odo nodded. He did not understand.

#

Emperor Karl stepped over the threshold. A great shadow swept out and enveloped him. His wine glass fell to the stone and shattered. Without so much as a scream, the Emperor was gone. The whole world seemed to be holding its breath until at last, Leo let out a gasp.

The sky broke open and it began to snow. 

Nobles spilled from their seats and poured into the open section of the atrium, forming a semicircle of sound and chaos around Odo, Leo, and the empty doorway. No one seemed to want to get too near.

Odo barely managed to tear his eyes away from the door. But when he did, he allowed his gaze to go where it wanted—to Leo. 

His friend stood, his hat and spectacles askew, staring open-mouthed at the chapel. Then he turned to Odo. “The Emperor… You prayed…”

Behind them, the guards had gained control of the situation and driven the people back, away from the deadly doors. 

“You prayed, Odo.” Leo said, his eyes locked on some distant point in the sky. “You did pray, didn’t you?”

“I did.” The words were light and sparkled like the freshly fallen snow.

“To whom?” Leo’s voice was a whisper, barely audible over the cries of Emperor Karl's court. 

“You know.” Odo looked through Leo’s eyes and into his very being. He watched as the same great grayness that had enveloped his own mind swept through his friend’s body, shattering his heart, replacing it with a howling wasteland. 

In that moment, Odo knew that he and Leo would never again be friends. When they passed each other in the street, it would be as strangers: silent, pretending not to notice, pretending not to long for the past. In time, one or both of them would move away, far away, and that would be the last time they ever saw each other. And Odo knew above all else that it had all been his fault; that it all could have been avoided. 

For the first time in a long while, Odo felt something again. He felt it, and he did nothing.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

Joshua Aelick writes from Raleigh, North Carolina, where he is currently a student at North Carolina State University studying English and German. He is also social media manager for NC State’s English club and a volunteer on the literary committee for Windhover Literary and Arts Magazine.

https://www.instagram.com/joshua_aelick_writing

@AelickJoshua