The night was drawing late and the bottle's weight was all that grounded her now. A giggle bubbled up in the woman's chest, a warning of the tears that would be coming on soon. Same as every night. A half-heard mumble draws her out of her well-run machine of a nightly ritual, forcing her to dash away the dampness around her eyes with the back of her hand as she turns on her stool. A tiny girl, no older that six, stands beside the rather excessive statue of a traditional wizard in the entranceway of the kitchen. The woman clears her throat quickly.
"What was that, Rose?" she implores, making a great effort to sound alive. To sound like she wants to be alive.
The girl looks up with eyes that are wide and bright, their lilac hue a blatant reminder of her origins. "Mommy, why are you awake?"
"I could ask you the same thing, Rosy," Mom replies, stepping down from the stool, bottle abandoned on the counter, yet firm in its knowledge that its drinker would not be gone for long. The woman crouches low to scoop the small girl into her arms. "What has you up at such an ungodly hour?"
The girl mumbles something into her mother's chest as she is lifted. It sounds suspiciously like "Nightmares."
Mom grimaces, giving her daughter a shaky pat on her thin shoulders. "Was it about Jaspers again, Rosy?"
"I'm Rose!" the girl insists sharply, pushing away from Mom, leading to the brief and terrifying moment where the woman nearly loses her grip. It passes and Mom breathes again, fingers digging into her daughter's side. "But, yes..." the little girl continues in a whisper, none the wiser.
With a shuddering sigh, Mom begins to walk back to her daughter's room, the buzz having been shattered by that moment of terror. "It's okay, honey, everyone has nightmares."
The woman pauses, and the memories come to her the way they had through the cracked glass of the viewports in her lab. Her death followed by her daughter's attempt at revenge, followed eventually by the death of her daughter. The memories of events still to come, of events unavoidable. "Yes, even me."
The girl looks up at her mother as she is laid down atop her purple comforter, disbelief in her similarly colored eyes. "Why?"
There is a moment of silence as the woman chews her lip, turning away as she sits on the edge of her daughter's bed. When she faces her child, there is no trace of anguish. "Sometimes there are things you know are going to happen and there is nothing you can do to stop it."
Rose looks up, obviously confused, but holds her silence as he waits for her mother to continue. Waits for some explanation of what can be done.
"I'm sorry, sweetheart, I can't explain it too well. Sometimes, sometimes you have to be away for a long time for the betterment of the people who need you to be close more than anything else." She looks to see that nothing has really sunk in. "Maybe when you're older you'll understand why some people act the way they do."
"Like why you always drink the distasteful water?" Rose implores.
Smiling at the misuse of the word, yet trying not to let the message behind it strike too deep, Mom nods. "Maybe, though in a way I certainly hope you don't."
Rose's eyebrows knit together in a moment of childish exasperation before heaving a sigh and laying back against her velvet pillows. "Do you miss Jaspers, too?" the girl asks, softly. She is losing the fight against drowsiness rapidly.
"Yes, but I know that someday you'll," a sob nearly escapes unexpectedly and Mom struggles for a second to contain it. "I know someday we'll see him again, though it might be a long time. A long time," Mom trails off, looking down at her daughter. After a moment of quiet contemplation as the pause between Rose closing her eyes and opening them grows longer, Mom unfolds beside her. Rose doesn't complain as her mother puts a gentle arm around her and if she notices the silent tears, she does not say anything. Ten feet below, the bottle waits patiently.