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[personal profile] siren_echoes
Sorry in advance for any typos. It's late. I've been writing for about three hours. My pen ran out of ink, and so I've been writing in pencil. Not sure what I'll do when my pencil is gone. Maybe write in eyeliner?

Hope you all enjoy :)



____________________________________

The perfume of roses blended with the scent of the sea, the salted bite in the wind that swept through my hair and glided across my face. The sky billowed with clouds. I stepped forward onto the soft white sand, suddenly aware that my bare feet were now child sized. I was wearing the unicorn-graced jumpsuit, which I touched with hands so tiny and pale compared to what I had expected. Strands of silvery blonde hair, thick and wavy, whipped about my face.

I gazed across the blue-green expanse before me, and could see land in the distance, the faded sillhouette of cliffs, of forest stretching as far as I could see. I turned around, and could still see the gate, guarded inside by huge old willow trees. The scent of roses wafted from its depths.

I turned again, and saw then a tiny boat, set with oars, on the shore. I had not seen it before.

Already, the memory of adulthood was fading, and yet I felt as though I had lived for eons. I could feel something building within myself, a longing, a wildness of a falcon who has caught the scent of freedom.

I started towards the boat... And I was once again a thirty-two year old waitress, standing beside the mirror image of myself as a child.

I looked at her. "This... happened. It wasn't a dream..." The memory had become faded, obscured by a world that denied the existence of such things.

She nodded solemnly, and we were once again in my kitchen. She stood looking at me for a moment, then approached me, arms outstretched. I leaned down to embrace her, and felt her slowly dissipate, yet she was still there. A part of me. The child long forgotten.

I can help you see, I heard her whisper to my soul.

_________________________________________

I was flying, no, under the water, salty tinge clinging to eyelash, the world a green-blue of diffused light. Irridescent flashes of brilliant color swarmed and swept around me, flowing fins like hair and scales that glittered like precious jewels. They were fish... or underwater birds, cloaked in brilliant plumage. Sky and sea seemed to meet and meld here, not as sisters, but united as one entity. I breathed of the water as if it was air, swathed in billowing white silk, diving, diving, until I could almost touch the stars...

I awoke. Sunlight streamed through my window, a sight I had seen a thousand times before. A sight I rarely thought twice about as I would struggle free from the haze of sleep. The sunlight turned the room to gold, like the King from the fairy story, the one who eventually turned his daughter to gold. I looked at my arms, my hands, and saw that they, too, glowed in the golden light, as though lit from within. Why had I never noticed this before?

Beauty... I heard whispered in my mind... my own voice... Beauty is a reflection...

And then, my clock alarm blared obnoxiously, and the spell was broken.

I hit the clock to make it shut up, and stumbled out of bed and into the bathroom. I pulled off my sleepwear and turned the knobs on the shower, adjusting the temperature. As I held my hand under the spray, I remembered.

Floating, flowing, flying, diving......

I slid into the steaming spray and bathed. I dressed, my waitressing uniform. I poured a cup of coffee, fresh and hot from the timed coffeemaker. I grabbed my keys. Locked up. Walked to work.

The wind kissed my hair, my face, tinged with spring. The world was no longer made of gold, but, somehow, the colors seemed more... vibrant. Alive. I wondered if they had always been this way. Do colors breathe, do they feel and experience? Do they sing? It was as thought I was seeing them in a different light, light from... elsewhere...

A mile to work. I bore the usual traffic, and a rather persistant man who seemed intent on paying me to have sex with him. Maybe it was the waitressing uniform. I resisted the urge to punch him and made it to work about ten minutes early, as I preferred.

Do you see?

Work was busy, rushed, stressful. I dropped an order, which would come out of my paycheck. The manager was quite intolerant of such things. Quite a few customers were intolerant as well.

You're still not looking...

My manager, Bill Curtis, took me aside and gave me a typical vulgar and abusive tongue lashing for being too slow with the orders. I listened with much attempted patience, though I really wanted to just break his nose. A customer tried to stab my hand with his fork when I attempted to remove an empty-looking plate from the table. A woman came in with three screaming children who were old enough to know better. Another table demanded a refund because there was ketchup on a burger instead of mayonnaise. All in all, it was One of Those Days.

I took home far too little in tips, not enough to supplement the $2.75 an hour I made here. This is why we are ordered to report our tips-- so it appears we make at least minumum wage. Sometimes it's enough. Usually, it isn't. This is why I often work doubles. Small town life is rarely sustainable when one lives alone. It was this or the Hen House fast food joint. Or the perv on the street offering me money. This town has been dying a slow death for many years, but it is now little better than a slightly animated corpse.

I got off work and walked the two miles to the hospital. My sister, my baby sister with her startling blue eyes, who once had a head full of hair like a flaming gold sunrise, was ill. She had been ill for a long time.

I signed in, breathing shallowly as I often did in hospitals, trying to minimize the pungent scent.

She was sitting up, reading. She had covered her head with a cap that flared with many offbeat and mismatched colors, which I knew she had knitted herself during her long stay here. She scorned television, but often read, sketched, embroidered and knitted, wrote poetry and stores, and long ago, before she was too weak to stand before an easel, painted. I used to tease her, that she had been given all the creative talent in the family, that there had been none left for me. She would look at me with eyes that glinted with an otherworldly light in their depths, and tell me that I had it-- I had just forgotten about it

She was thinner than when I last saw her, skin loose on bone, pale and discolored. Her eyes were the only thing that even slightly resembled the Alicia I knew, but they were distant, as though gazing at me from another world. I swallowed slowly and held a choked breath for a moment, not wanting her to see my tears.

"Deirdre..." she said, smiling. She opened her arms. "I'm so glad you came..."

I leaned in and gave her a hug. She smelled like the hospital, and lilacs, and... decay. I ran my hand over the cap, where I used to smooth her hair, before the chemo destroyed the root follicles.

"How are you feeling, allie?"

She shrugged. "I'm still here."

She looked at me conspirationally. "I can feel my wings, De."

When we were children, Allie was convinced that when people die, they transform into birds and soar to the heavens, free and joyful. I couln't hold back my tears with that comment. She wrapped her arms around me and stroked my hair. "Don't be afraid for me, sis. I'm not afraid."

"You're all I have left..." I realized, even as I said it, how selfish that sounded. "Allie..."

She framed my face in her hands. "Deirdre. You know I didn't choose this. To leave you."

"You have so much to offer the world. So much that will be lost..."

"You have more to offer than me, now. It seems my work is done." She glanced at the drawing pad next to the bed, the enormous one that almost looked to big for her to handle. "Well, almost done."

"Alicia," I said, "I'm a waitress."

She actually laughed, shoulders shaking, voice like the silvery tones of a harp. "No, you're not! Sheesh! Okay, allow me to switch roles. I'm Big Sis now." She let me go and leaned forward, shaking a finger in my face. "You. Are. Not. A. Waitress."

I shook my head. Then, so did she. "You don't get it. You don't know who you are. I suppose you wouldn't know you have anything to give to the world if you don't know who you are."

I gave a cheeky grin, trying to look casual, though my heart was slowly shattering. "Okay, Swami. Who am I?"

"I can't tell you that! Get with the program, girl. You gotta figure that one out on your own." She yawned. "Meds kicking in now. Time for bed." She peered at me. "Promise me."

"What?" I asked earnestly.

"Promise me you'll recover yourself. Promise me you'll remember."

"Remember what?"

"Just... remember." She laid the book on the nightstand, switched off the wlal lamp, and slid down into the hard hospital mattress, fluffing the pillows brought from home to provide some level of comfort. "Goodnight, sis."

"Goodnight, Alicia."

"I love you."

I choked a little. "I... love you too."

She closed her eyes, and I slipped out. I called a cab home because I was too drained physically and emotionally to walk.

I stepped into my apartment and slipped into my bathroom, looking at the tear-streaked face in the mirror.

Remember...

Remember what? Recover myself? I was right here, an empty shell of a person, staring at my own reflection as if I had never before seen it. My eyes looked hollow. When Alicia died, I would be truly alone. I had no lover, only a few casual friends who cared more for... well, anything, than for being what a true friend should be. My parents... I cringed, without meaning to. That was not a subject I wanted to breach, even with my reflected self.

I turned around, and saw her, the little girl with the ancient eyes and golden hair. I dropped to a crouch before her.

"You're me."

She giggled, so like the silvery harp-song of my sister. Silly! You've just figured this out?

"No... I just..." I sighed. "Mmmm. I must be hallucinating. Stress. How could I not see this last night..."

What is Time? she asked.

"What?

She suddenly had a look that belonged on a tenured physics professor, not a young child of indeterminate age. There are those who say that time is not linear. That it can be like a sphere, all existing at once, the only seperation in our minds. She gazed at me. And, there are some who say you can slip outside the stream of time altogether, observe it from a distance, like watching a river in a valley from a cliff high above. She smiled.

"So... you're a... time traveller."

No, silly! I'm a time... Looker.

"Then why can I see you?"

Because you called me.

I was baffled. "When..."

Alicia. You... we... are afraid. You wanted to know if there was more than... what you see, in this world, with what your perception has become. Has been reduced to. So, you called me. She looked at me for a long moment. You truly don't remember. You don't remember me.

I remember my childhood. I had tried very hard to forget it. Was this the child I was?

You can go back, you know, she was saying.

"Go back... where?"

I suppose you'll see when you're ready. We have always walked between worlds, you did once anyway. Time loses meaning over there. I have lived longer than you think you have. She tilted her head. Do you think they were dreams?

I slammed my fist on the sink, frustrated. "Do I think what were dreams? The Gate? The ocean? Last night? What else could they be?"

Not only last night, Mother. Many times, so many. Her face was drawn in sadness. You've forgotten. I wanted never to forget... it's so easy to do, in this world. She sighed. You lost it, didn't you?

"Lost what?"
She pulled something from her pocket, a glint of silver chain, irridescent blue. A pendant, a transluscent brystal orb the color of her--my--eyes, hovering inexplicably within a gilded teardrop of silver vinework.

She held out her hand, the pendant dangling from her fingers. I reached for it, but she pulled back. Where did you lose it?

"I... I don't remember this."

You had it. For many years.

I shook my head.

Find it, she said, and was gone.

_______________________________

My alarm did not go off the following morning. I arrived at work twenty minutes late, after calling to let them know. Mr. Curtis met me at the back of the restaurant before I could even get fully through the door.

"You're late."

"Yes... I know. I called. My alarm didn't--"

"Really not caring to hear excuses. You've already fucked up how many times here?"

I took a breath. "Mr. Curtis--"

"Don't want to hear it. You're just really not that bright, are you? Do you think I'm in this for charity, that I'm just letting you get a free ride?" He eyed me up and down as he said this, and I felt a familiar surge ofrevulsion. Images of my father loomed in my mind, and I quickly pushed them down.

"No, sir," I said.

He leered at me. "So why you acting like you think I am?"

"I..." My father leaned over me, breath stinking of stale whiskey, as I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to shrink back. He struck me...

"Why? Huh? YUou think this place is run just for your worthless ass?"

I shuddered, trying to block the images of my father.

"Look at me when I'm talking to you, you fucking cunt!" Mr. Curtis screamed in my father's voice. I'm not sure if that's what he really said. All I know is that my head snapped up, and then so did my foot. Bill Curtis doubled over and dropped heavily to the floor before it had even registered what I had done.

I turned and left like a gale-force wind.

I walked to the small excuse for a park that graced the town, and found myself leaning face into a tree, just breathing. I sank into the browning, prickly grass and closed my eyes, lying spread eagle on the eart.

All I could do was thank whatever there was to thank that Alicia's hospital expenses were covered by her insurance and savings. As for myself... I didn't know what would happen.

Find it. Remember.

I rolled to my side and stood. My phone rang. It was Alicia's doctor. Something in his voice made my heart skip several beats as he told me I should come to the hospital.

I called a cab.

I ran, gasping, footsteps echoing on sterile tile, and they stopped me in the doorway. They were trying to revive her. She looked... peaceful. Angelic, as though not a skeletal, graying figure on the bed. I saw through a veil of salted tears... so like the sea... diffused light and soft shapes moving about in a liquid world.

She was standing beside me, watching them struggle to bring her back. Her hair glowed like the sun, and she wore her favorite skirt, colored so brightly, but somehow more vibrant than before. Her eyes were cerulean, lit with blue fire, and life.

"Don't be afraid for em, sis," she was shispering. "Give them my last gift." Show it to the world. And then, you better do what I told you. Don't wanna get where I'm going and find you've been slacking off..."

And then, she was gone.

I was numb. Cold. I waited in the hallway. Someone walked up to me. He held a box, and handed it to me, saying something that did not register. I looked inside, saw books, sketch pads, pencils. The multi-colored hat she had made. A journal, bound with leather that was embossed with a massive tree that stretched across front and back covers.

I went home. I stripped down. I slept.

I dreamed. I saw Alicia, sitting up in the hospital bed. She was writing in the tree-journal. She looked up at me and smiled. She was beautiful, not the emaciated skeleton she had been in recent months, but healthy, glowing, hair cascading over her shoulders. She wore a flowing skirt in the colors of the sea, and a light violet cami. A lapis bracelette graced her slender, delicate wrist. She saw me, and her whole face lit up.

The bed... metled. We sat on a hilltop, forest stretching endlessly below. A cospe of willows shaded us. The colors were... alive, brilliant, the scent on the wind like heaven. Somewhere, perhaps within the earth itself, the wind, the trees and grass, I could hear a song. She laughed and tossed her wild hair, her face cherubic, a child. So small, so young, but not.

To the east, endless forest. To the west, the ocean was visible. We could hear its song, the cry of the gulls. The scent of roses wafted on the wind.

"Do you remember now?" Young-Alicia asked me, and then I was awake.

I stumbed from bed in the dark, fumbling for a robe and switching on my lamp. My eyes felt swollen, like they had been rubbed with sand. I dug through the box of Alicia's personal effects until I found the tree-journal.

I started to read.

Deirdre, this journal ismy last letter to you. I want you to know what I think you have forgotten. I want you to remember the time we had, the wonderful things we experienced. The worlds we explored. I want you to know how much you meant--mean--to me.

The tears began to flow, and I grabbed a tissue, determined to read.

Perhaps I should have started this sooner. I have so much I want to say, and so little time left. I want you to find peace with my passing. I have. I know the seperation will be hell, but it will not be permanent. I am finished with... whatever purpose it was that held me here. Perhaps I will understand when I cross over. But this I know. You have only just begun. You have so much to offer the world, so much to give.

Do you remember, dear sister?

Do you remember walking between the worlds?


I closed my eyes, unable to stop the tears. Through the watery veil, I could see two children, sisters, hand in hand, passing through a gate surrounded by roses, overgrown with ivy, shaded by willow trees. The sound of the ocean echoed from beyond. Behind them, the garden, and the beautiful house of nightmares and torment.

I dashed the tears away, and saw my dimly lit bedroom again.

I knew I had to return to my father's house.

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January 2014

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