Welcome back to Eldritch Girl…
In Chapter 6: Strange Meeting, Wes finally finds out what’s really bothering Hugo and has a confession of his own; Katy goes back to college and gains a magical artefact. (In both the eBook and paperback version, this chapter follows a gorgeous black and white illustration, The Vote, by Thomas Brown).
CWs: In Wes’s section: under-the-influence POV, suicide ideation in context of reference to a deliberate car-crash, father/son estrangement, and references to cocaine and fictional designer drugs.
In Katy’s section: refs to historic animal cruelty, a toxic and manipulative friendship, and a bit of sexually-active teenage drama.
Hugo looked stricken now, twisting in his seat, bumping his ribs against the edge of the table. “That’s – that’s the other thing. What’s going on?”~ C. M. Rosens, Thirteenth, p. 157
“What are you scared of?”
“I…” He couldn’t. He couldn’t. He shook his head, lost, but Hugo wasn’t going anywhere and he wasn’t going to let him get away with silence. He winced, pulling himself up a little straighter, and studied his hands.
“Katy. I’m scared of Katy.” Wes remembered Uncle Marcus’s threats. “All of them, to be honest.”
Hugo knew a little about the various branches of his family, but he probed. “What happened this summer?”
The chemicals had kicked in enough to drown out his pride. Enough was enough. Fuck it.
“They… We voted to… to… to kill her.” He couldn’t look him in the face. “And I – I don’t know how to take it back, I don’t know how to help her, and I don’t want to die…”
“Good god.” Hugo breathed out, barely audible over the music. “She’s a kid, Wes.”
This was a fairly important scene (I think?) because it shows the dynamic between Wes and his other partner Hugo, establishes that different people experience Wes in different ways, and contrasts what the family think of as normal and acceptable vs what other people think. Hugo and Charlie are the main reason Wes has broken as far away from the family setting as he has. He left home at 16 because he fell out with his father, and moved in with Uncle Wayne (this backstory is not specifically mentioned in this book). After his Changes, he got Ricky to tell him the lottery numbers and share prices, and bought himself a fancy life in London where he mainly dealt designer drugs as a means of making friends and influencing people. Now he’s struggling with the life he thought he wanted, because he doesn’t fit into the circles of friends he’s established, and his family keep pulling him back.
As a character, Wes was hard to write in this book because his POV is drug-addled and incoherent a lot of the time, with the amount of cocaine and hallucinogenics he does. I had to make it less incoherent and fragmented than it was, and cut a whole trip he had after this scene. There’s also a reason why the only sex act you see him involved in, despite him fancying himself as Casanova, is cut short, and it isn’t just because Katy got in his head. It’s also because his lifestyle has given him bouts of erectile dysfunction, and that is made more explicit in The Day We Ate Grandad (2022). It’s not made explicit in this book, although it’s hinted at. It’s also not the foremost thing on Wes’s mind at the moment…
Meanwhile, Katy is trying to be grownup and self-rescuing, and Wes can’t get it through his head she’s not 12 years old anymore. Such is the lot of the youngest sibling.