You, if you were sensible,
When I tell you the stars flash signals, each one dreadful,
You would not turn and answer me
"The night is wonderful."
What thing better are you, what worse?
What have you to do with the mysteries
Of this ancient place, of my ancient curse?
What place have you in my histories?
- D.H. Lawrence , Under the Oak Tree
"You may not know me,but I know everything about you."
"That's very conceited of you, but I do know you." Shaking her head, a frown of disapproval and a lingering persistence make way to her face.
Hearing the words, she chuckles at the other woman's visage of perplexity. Well then, there's a whole lot of hell for you to unravel, she thinks.
Zelena strode away from the well toward the party, glaring into every one of their eyes. "The curse is working now. I've warned every one of you, I always get what I want."
Before Regina could retort, green smoke had started sprawling out of the well, snaking down the earth like a deadly serpent. Reluctant to admit, The Witch was right, the countdown indeed had begun. And soon enough, that fine, green smoke would find its way to their bodies. Then it would carry them away to another realm, just like the last time with Pan. But the difference would be that not only they wouldn't remember themselves, they wouldn't even know they had ever existed. And Henry, the son she loved so much, wouldn't have existed either. There was no escape, but there wasn't any use to just wait for it to happen. It wouldn't hurt to try.
The Savior surely was certain of that. Emma rushed forward, Regina coming after her. Zelena clearly loathed her sister enough. With a flick of hand, Regina was flipped off to the ground, unconscious.
"Your enemy is here, witch!" As she said the words, Emma kept in mind of the magic lessons Regina taught her. She mustn't disappoint everyone now, this witch had to die, and she had to die now.
A blue ray of light surged out of her – she could literally feel the magic under her skin. It wrapped around Zelena, and it burnt her just like fire.
"You will see to a day to regret this, Emma Swan, just as the ones who strive to pull me down." Zelena gestures Regina before her eternal closure.
And that's it. With a shudder, she became steam; merged into the long streams of green smoke that now ran wildly and swiftly on the ground.
Despite the fact that Zelena was dead, the smoke poured out had not vanished. They didn't win. Neither did Zelena. And no, there's no escape, the row of Storybrooke's mightiest knew better. But at least they had each other.
The next thing they knew was that the world was enveloped by green smoke. Maybe they did win, just not with Emma Swan.
The first thing that crossed Emma's mind was the soft texture beneath her feet. Then it was the uninviting scent of dung that rushed into her nostrils. She sniffed and wrinkled her nose in disgust, regretting the action the moment she had committed it. She made an attempt to stand up from the ground of hay from prompting herself; instead her hand grabbed something else.
It gave out a snort. That startled her; she winced at once. Soon, she realized the creature she had just touched was a horse. She figured that she was in a stable right away. How did she get there, why she was there, she didn't know. However, it would only deem fit to roll with it as her options were limited. She was stuck in a stall with a horse, so the best she could expect was the horse wouldn't contaminate her.
She heard footsteps approaching the stall. No matter who was coming, she gathered that it was safer to stay undercover before considering the next move. The footsteps were closing in, and then she heard the door of the stall creaked as it opened. She ducked under as much as she could. Meanwhile, the horse uttered a neigh and then it broke into sounds of soft trotting. When she looked up again, her sight was unblocked because the horse had gone.
Emma let out a sigh of relief, glad that now the other stalls were vacant too. She crawled out of the stall tactfully and treaded the ground lightly, careful not to bring anyone's attention. There was light at the end of the hallway. Perhaps she could go unnoticed and sneak out of this stinking stable.
Right at the moment she was going to stick out her head behind the wall and peep, two loud bangs ringed. She covered her mouth, nearly screamed at its abruptness. On second thoughts, she decided to eavesdrop rather than spying. There were distant murmurs of conversations going on that accompanied the crackling sound of fire. It seemed like a somewhat peaceful night. The bangs probably had something to do with the wind.
Then a fretful scream penetrated the stable, suggesting something unpleasant. This time, she could not contain her curiosity and looked. To her astonishment, she gasped at the sight of horror.
Before her were three figures in medieval attire, a young man lied on the ground pass out, a young woman wrapping her arms around the young man, and a woman in black with a red, glowing heart in her brutal grip.
A sudden wave of chill wind sends shivers to Emma Swan's spine, awaking her body by stirring a tug from within. Those are the bad days with bad dreams. With another blow of the wind, she kicks, bounces up and hits the headliner of her Bug.
"Shit!" She curses as she wipes the pool of drool leaks from the corner of her lips with the back of her hand.
She wakes up to the Main Street of Storybrooke. Everything seems to be absolutely frozen, except for the leaves being brought up to the air. Her presence seems like the only thing to pierce the peace of it. She can't quite fathom what it is that is hovering in the air, but it is certain that it is not pleasant. The sun has risen and shined but the clean streets are quiet, too quiet actually, and bizarre enough, the broken surface of the clock tower is now repaired. It is precisely six fifteen in the morning. Emma would love to go back to sleep again but the Bug clearly will not serve as a proper bed, so she shoves her hand into the pocket, searching for the keys to home, only to find the reason to give a grunt.
Sluggish and troubled by a severe headache, nevertheless, she twitches the keys and places her hands on the steering wheel. Storybrooke is a small town, so it took little time to get to the apartment. Emma pays extra effort to drag herself out of the Bug. As she did so, she is immediately overwhelmed by the gust of wind that flushes on her face. This is just ridiculous, she thinks, as she shakes her head and embraces herself.
Emma Swan may survive the exhaustion yet, but little does she know something even more appalling is just right at the corner, waiting to reveal itself.
Emma sprints through the streets and arrives on the doorstep of the apartment. She knocks the door for so many times than it is appropriate. An alarmed and drowsy David answers the door.
"Good morning, Sheriff Swan." David yawns the words out. "What brings you to my doorstep at 6am? Is Zelena back?"
Emma is struck by the expression of "Sheriff Swan". It is true that the town people have called her that but David is not any other residents. He is her father and he has never called her by any other title than her given name. It is obvious that something is wrong.
"Sheriff? Are you alright?"
Dumbfounded and out of words, Emma stares at David, her mouth wide open. "Uh - David, I - Sorry for bothering you, I should probably go." She staggers a few steps backward as she feels her head reeling like a wheel, and her body not herself.
David catches her elbow before she falters, and braces her "Sheriff, you don't look so good. Maybe it's the best you come in and have a cup of tea before you go back to the station."
They enter the apartment, and he settles her on the couch.
"Wait here, I'll get you a cup of tea." Emma nods stiffly.
Emma scans around the apartment made up of cream white peeling wood and bricks, the strange thought of it no longer will be her home hovers overhead. She scolds herself promptly for even think about it. Something is up and she is determined to look into the end of it.
"Here you go." David returns with a cup of tea and hands it to Emma.
She takes a sip of the tea and swallows it nervously. Silently, she is reconsidering Zelena's words, which give a bitter essence to the tea. Like her sister, she is not one to make idle threats. If something bad is going to happen to her, then it will.
Awkward silence hangs in the air, Emma registers her presence must've been a disturbance to him. He shrugs and yawns.
"Sheriff Emma?" A bewildered Henry emerges from the stairs. "It's six in the morning. Is it the wicked witch?"
Henry seems happy to see her but doesn't show any intention to rush into her arms. Of course, it's Sheriff now. It wrenches Emma's heart. He doesn't remember either.
She manages to squeeze out a smile, "Hey, kid. Why does everybody think that Zelena is back from the dead? You guys gotta have a little faith in me."
"Of course we do. You really are The Savior of this town, Emma. I heard that you killed her with a bucket of water, that's totally awesome! But you know, she's cunning." Henry grins.
"Yea, but she's dead for good." Just not killed by a bucket of water. Emma herself knows it better than anyone that she killed the witch with her magic. But she doesn't raise her voice to correct Henry.
"Well then, why are you here?"
'I want to come home but you guys don't know that I am your family' doesn't seem like a good reason at all. After a beat, she stutters the words ,"I - I just ... ugh..um...I just wanna to make sure you guys are okay, you know,um,after Zelena."
"Thanks Sheriff, we are pretty good." He pauses, "But you don't look very fine, and mom isn't doing so well either..."
"I - I'm fine, kiddo. Wait - " Emma is genuinely perplexed. "What do you mean Regina isn't doing very well?"
He scrunches his eyebrows, "Well, she's in a coma at the hospital. The doctors said that it would take a while for her to wake, they aren't very sure when, but they're optimistic."
Emma has no idea what he is talking about. "Yea, yea, I mean Zelena hit her pretty hard. Sorry Henry, I think I have to get going, sheriff business," Emma stands and pats his back. "I'll see you around."
"Do I have to come with you, Emma?" David asks.
"Oh - no, no, I can handle this on my own. I'll see you guys later."
Emma walks out the apartment and swings the door close.
Exiting the apartment, Emma races down the stairs to her car before she has another spare moment for thought. She makes a mental note to remind herself to check up on Regina. But before heading to the hospital, there is another person that she has to see first.
Storybrooke is a curious town with magical wonders, and there are two people who are mingled in it. One is apparently in an altered state; however, the other one is obviously very much alive and ready to be questioned. And Emma is going to pay him a visit. She demands for answers, and he's going to deliver them.
Gold's pawnshop is located on the Main Street, driving from Mary Margaret's apartment takes less than five minutes to get there.
Emma storms in, pulls the door open. Damn the imp, damn the witch.
The Dark One stands behind the glass counter, in his usual attire of pure black, from head to toe. It is unusual for a shop to be opened so early in the morning. It has taken Emma a little while to realize that it is only about six thirty in the morning as she takes a glance at the clocks on the wall of the pawnshop.
"My, my, what's with that dramatic entrance?" Gold clicks his tongue, "Say, did you notice any loss of property?"
Emma approaches to the counter, wrinkles her nose, "Cut the crap, Gold."
"Dearie, you are one lost, confused lamb." Gold lifts up a finger, to Emma's surprise, no purple smoke comes out from the tip of it.
She indeed is lost and confused, unknowing of what tricks he plans to play on her. She goes with the flow.
"Miss Swan, you left your apartment's keys with me after signing the contract." Gold bends down and takes out a pair of keys from the drawer of the glass counter. "I am a legitimate and trustworthy businessman. And I surely won't make a young woman homeless when she has paid for the flat. I take it that you stayed in your car for a night? That would've explained you're... why you look as white as a sheet."
Emma has always disliked the man's sharp wit and his keen eyesight. Nothing escapes his grip. She doesn't feel particularly comfortable with the fact that she is dealing with a dangerous person but neither does she actually mind. At least this tells her something – She's in the right place with the right person.
She takes another step closer to the counter, picking up the pair of keys skeptically.
"There you go. 15 Mifflin Street, so close to the Mayor." The end of Gold's lips quirks in a sly grin.
"Is this remark suppose to mean something?" Emma presses, speaking of Regina, which reminds her of the purpose of her visit, "But this is not why I'm here."
"Then why you are here, Miss Swan?" He raises an eyebrow, while scrubbing a plate with a cloth.
"Something's up, there's- there's something wrong with the town."
"Curious words, coming from the resident of a town with fairytale characters." That's where it goes wrong. In normal circumstances, the phrase of "daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming" will be applied, not anything otherwise.
Emma's eyes goes wide, the last straw is burnt in the fire of Zelena's curse.
"Who am I?" Emma's inquisition falls through her gritted teeth.
"Is this a test? What are you trying to get from me? Tracing your heredity? Remember, all information comes with a price." Gold answers, seemingly still oblivious to the current situation.
She has no time for games, and she is running out of patience.
"Just answer the damn question!" Emma slams her palm on the glass counter; she herself winces at the loud pang internally. But Gold stands still, cold as stone, not remotely intimidated.
"Who are my parents?" Heat creeps from Emma's feet to the top of her forehead.
"How am I supposed to know, Miss Swan? You arrived here for like… a year? You and I aren't particularly friendly." Gold throws his hands up, his expression ridiculing her sudden outburst.
Emma shakes her head, "No…"
"What is going on, Miss Swan?"
"This is what I should be asking you, not the other way round. There is something wicked in this town, like… a curse."
Gold glares at her with a suspicious look.
"Don't give me that look, Gold. I bet you felt that too. And don't you think it's weird that I'm not … magical but somehow I just showed up in this town? Have you ever considered that I may be dangerous?"
"Yes, I concede that I sense something strange, something I cannot quite grasp but everything seems to be absolutely fine. The witch's sorcery can't possibly go beyond her demise. Regarding the matter of yours, every curse has its own fault, the magical barrier has a hole, people from the outside get in, it happens."
"Well – well, don't you have a problem with it?"
"Now you're just being hysterical." Gold points a finger at her. "It appears to me that, Miss Swan, you have a problem."
"Don't try to change the subject- "
"Hush now, dearie, and get the hell out of my shop. You are not behaving like yourself." Gold keeps pushing her to the entrance, like the way a proud, rich man scorns at a beggar. He says, not unkindly, "Now go home. Don't make me repeat myself. "
At that point, anger rushes to her head, she wants to scream at him. Don't you think that I know that? Don't you think that if I could, I would've? She freezes, horrified and shocked by the sudden realization - All these years, she has been running in circles and circles.
Emma Swan has found a home, and has lost it again before she gets to keep it. Try as she might, she'll always, always be the lost girl.
Crossing from a ward to another, Emma is led to a unit that separates itself from most of the other wards. Through the transparent windows of the hallway, she notices the unit is mostly empty. Making her way to Regina's ward, her footsteps echo in the unoccupied void.
Finally, she comes to Regina's room. She places her palm on the cold, metallic door handle, twists it, and pushes into the ward.
The harsh, uninviting smell of chlorine rushes into her nostrils. It is evident that it's just been cleaned.
Regina is lying in the bed, her eyes closed. Messy tubes connected to her body to machines here and there, giving her a literal touch-me-not appearance, as if she were Edward Scissorhands.
She knows she shouldn't be making this about herself when it seems that Regina's put her life on a line battling her half-sister. She wonders curiously what it is that she's dreaming about, whether she's in pain. Regina looks peaceful enough though, a smooth face.
Emma walks to the side of Regina's bed, sits down in the armchair next to it.
Her chest rises slowly, and it falls as evenly as the former. Suddenly, she remembers something that she's learnt a long time ago - That the human heart will beat slower and slower as it gets older. And one day, eventually, it will cease its contractions. For whatever reason, the thought frightens Emma very much.
She listens to the heart monitor's unusually slow beeps and the thin but flat breathing of Regina's as she makes out an involuntary hum. Her breathing comes in soft, ethereal gasps. Each inhalation clouds the oxygen mask that is fastened on her face, covering her nose and lips. Emma leans closer to study Regina, careful not to touch the wires and tubes that surround Regina's bed. Normally, Regina's complexion has the tone of dusk and a tint of red to it that light up the shrewd, acute perceptiveness inside her, which slashes, whips the world with her sharp wit, demanding it on its knees. But the woman who now lies in front of her is not like the one she knows.
Regina's keen, penetrating eyes now shut tight in deep sleep, her fierce, majestic features now softened and airy, and her complexion now paled by the lack of vibrancy of life.
The brunette's head is wrapped with bandages, which outline the contour of Regina's fine head perfectly. Regina truly is a queen through and through; it isn't until this moment Emma has given a careful consideration to it - A queen's head, a queen's posture. Even draped in the aqua green hospital gown, she's the ever so regal Regina. The only difference is that she's just sleeping.
Emma takes a step back after her close examination, and scans the room. It is a lonely vast of pure hues of blue and green and white, the tiles under her feet ice-cold too. So she pulls back the curtains of the windows, letting the sun in. After that, she sits back in the armchair. The sun is fully exposed in the chilling ward, yet still Emma is unsatisfied, unable to figure out what is wrong with the place.
Like the rest of the unit, other than the noises of machines, the room is deadly quiet. So, she takes a deep breath and starts talking to her, "Hey, Regina, there's a new curse in the town, and um nobody remembers me?"
Without admitting to anyone, Henry Mills is worried.
It is not an emotion that he is used to. Most of the days, he's dedicated to his belief, possessing an unalterable faith towards it. Just like the first curse, his unfaltering faith of has led to the town's restoration. Ever since then, he has instilled himself with enough confidence to almost everything. It has been a source of strength to him. Yet somehow, that empowering feeling is now nowhere to be found.
There is something, something that he can't name, is wrong with the town. It's like a… a curse. However, with Zelena's defeat in mind, and the fact that time is working perfectly fine, there's nothing seems to be at the wrong place.
Anxiety is getting the better of him, he tells himself. Mother in a coma, laying in a hospital, with round-the-clock care, yeah, anyone who happens to encounter the situation is entitled to being worried, they should be. He is concerned about Regina's recovery, which is very much of an understatement. He wants her back, and he wants her to be well. After all, they have been through so much together, it is only fair to say that they deserve a fresh start more than anyone does.
However, what worries him more is the root to his ill feeling. It's as if there's a hole in his heart, a part there's once there, now it is not.
That's what he has been thinking about though, his mind never quite at every lesson. The teachers may not have shown it, but he knows they are clearly indulging him simply because he has just got back. Therefore, once the bell that indicates the dismissal of school has rung, Henry stuffs his books and pencil bag into his backpack as fast as he can; ready to run to the hospital to visit Regina.
When he gets to the door of the classroom, a calling of his name stops him – It's Paige.
"Yes, Paige?" He turns his head.
"Are you okay?" She crosses rows of desks, a white handbag with her.
"Yea, sure. Why?" He lies.
"You look weary." Paige wears a concerned expression.
"Well um," He licks his lips, and gives his hair an involuntary scratch, "I just need a little time to catch up."
"Oh, where did you go during the curse?"
"I went to a boarding school in New York."
"Did you like it? Did you make any friends?"
"Well, it has a really huge campus but it's nothing interesting." He pauses and shrugs, "I've missed home."
"Welcome back, Henry," Paige smiles gently, she puts a hand on his shoulder. As if she can read his mind, she says, "And your mother is going to be fine."
Speechless, he replies with a weak smile.
"So you're the Mayor's son?" It sounds more like a statement than a question. The nurse asks Henry as they pass through the wards, her shoulders tensed and her eyebrows frowned.
Henry understands her anxiety, because he has seen the same posture for too many times than he cares to count.
He has little memory of his childhood years, but even amid the vague images of events, he still remembers the first day of school as if it were engraved in his mind. It was the first of September, a day with fine, merry weather, soft winds of autumn blowing on his face. His mother had driven him to the school's entrance; bent down to her heels, and had given a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Go ahead, sweetheart," She said with a smile before she waved her goodbye and stepped back into the car. He waved back. It was going to be a lovely day, he thought with anticipation, he could not wait to meet some new friends. Then he turned on his back, and started walking to the hallway. As he proceeded, he could tell Regina hadn't left yet, and with that, his heart felt safe by her reassuring presence.
However, as it turned out, school wasn't as pleasant as he had envisioned in his idealistic thinking. He walked into the hallway, saw children of his age running and hopping with joy, some were crying, wiping their tears with the back of their hands, calling out for their parents, and some simply wore expressions of bewilderment. But at the very moment he entered, all of these hectic scenes stopped. Henry felt uneasy by the thought that he had disturbed them, a tingling sensation on his back. They were all looking, staring at him. "He's the Mayor's son." He heard their whispers, their giggles, their gasps. But no matter what, they all draped in the same posture – shoulders tensed, lips part in surprise, eyes wide, and their bodies shrinking back a bit. From fear or astonishment or awe, at that age, he couldn't tell. They were all the same, except one. Except the one figure that stood behind the crowd, a woman with a pixie-cut hairstyle and a kind face who dressed in white. She approached him, introduced herself that she was Miss Mary Margaret Blanchard, and asked him how was he. He smiled awkwardly and he said just fine.
"Please call me Henry," He said as he pushes another door.
"Very well then, Henry, here we are." She manages to squeeze out a tight smile before she goes. "Anything goes wrong, press that red button." She points at the button on the wall.
Henry says thank you politely then strolls into the ward.
Arriving precisely at the moment the visiting hours start, there is plenty time to waste. He has come alone, and it is for the best. Mary Margaret has a baby to take care of, and is surely in no time free to spare. On the other hand, David is already busy as the deputy of the town, who can barely wrap himself enough in the joy of new life. And Robin, who he has scarcely conversed with, is definitely not on Henry's list of ward-visiting companions. Once again, he has to remind himself, visiting his mother is not like visiting a zoo, and you best don't bring any friends with you.
It isn't the first time Henry has visited a patient in coma. Therefore he has expected the sharp smell of disinfectant and chlorine, but as he walks in, none of these scents reek of the ward.
He sits by the bed, mindful of the tangled tubes; even it isn't a remotely comfortable position to be. He has brought something special for his mother. From his backpack, he digs his hand into his backpack, reaches out a book.
It is a book from the shelf of Regina's study – Romeo and Juliet. He wasn't aware of it until he has now taken it out of his backpack. Since Regina is in a coma, there is no reason for him to stay in an empty, big mansion; so instead, he is now staying at Mary Margaret's loft. As a result, he has to beg and coax and pout in order to let David drop him off on Mifflin Street, so that he can take a book that Regina might actually enjoy reading with him. In the rush of the hour, he had little time to consider his selection, grabbing the book closest to him then jumped on David's truck, nearly getting them both late for work and school. And Henry is inwardly sorry for the trouble he caused.
Even Henry has no interest in reading Shakespeare; he knows what it is about. For it is infamous for its tragic nature, a reputation that runs deep and long in the pages of history. And Henry, a big fan of happy endings, isn't particularly fond of the writer's devastating perspective of the world, that hope is perpetually lost. But then again, it is not his world that is written about, and that can really differ. More and more, Henry starts to realize that perhaps, this is Regina's world – always dark. Because like the story of Romeo and Juliet, the ending is written right from the first page and every twist is merely leading to the inevitable at the end of the book.
He clears his throat, looking over to the table on the other side room. The bright red color catches his eyes; he puts down the heavy book and slips down from the bed to the floor with the agile movements like a cat. He stalks to the table, as if afraid to wake Regina, even knowing that his mother is sleeping soundly, her consciousness astray.
Oh, that would've explained why the ward doesn't smell of disinfectant, Henry thinks as he gazes upon the fresh, red roses that fill the room with fragrance.
It appears that he's not the only one who has brought something for Regina.
Emma Swan is having trouble sleeping. Her long night is punctuated by wakefulness. So she blinks herself awake, and starts thinking.
In her newfound apartment, Emma collapses on the bed in exhaustion, feeling dizzy of what has happened. Shutting her eyes momentarily and opens them again. This isn't so bad; she comforts herself, even knowing that is futile.
The apartment is as large as Mary Margaret's loft, and strangely, her belongings are all in it, as if this was her home.
After the visitation to Regina's ward, Emma has gone back to the station. Work is frenzy. In the aftermath of Zelena's retribution, the destruction it has brought is catastrophic. Windows are shattered, cars are damaged, and Emma wonders why the curse hasn't reset all the collateral damages. But mostly, the commotion lies with Zelena's decision of casting the revenge on her, instead of Regina, the target itself. If Zelena is so readily to risk everything just to push Regina to damnation, why pinning this curse on her?
For so long, Regina has struggled with Emma over the custody of Henry. Regina is a possessive woman, thus unwilling to share. And when they have come to terms that Henry is "our" son, it is one huge step. Now, it appears that Regina is on the victory side, not the losing side. She has Henry, all to herself. Henry won't even remember that he has ever seen his birth mother, even she is right in front of him, and he will still be oblivious. On the contrary, Regina's longing wish has been granted. Even counting in the fact that she is in comatose, it is still a war won to her.
Emma believes Zelena is determined to destroy anyone that was in her way. And anything that stops her is only another reason to strengthen her resolve of her vengeance. But what revenge can she possibly get out of this? What revenge can she possibly get by taking Emma out of the equation? There is little impact on the residents because she's still the sheriff, and no harm will be brought to Regina, Henry, Mary Margaret or David since they have absolutely no idea of her existence. It disturbs her because Zelena's intention is truly a mystery, there's no resolution.
She takes a glance over her shoulder, the red digital numbers of zero-three-zero-zero glow in the room. Plenty nights like this are yet to come, she tells herself bitterly, and you better get used to it. But even back in Boston, back in Portland, it doesn't matter where; she has been running, and not once, she has stopped and looked back. Not until Storybrooke.
A sigh is all the words for the emotions she can muster out, as she flops on her back, her hands under her head, and eyes stares dully at the ceiling. She stares, and stares, eyes fixed on the ceiling for so long until she cannot bear it anymore, she turns her body.
It is an unwise turn.
"Shit!" She cusses with a shriek.
Unaware that she is already on the edge of the bed, she rolls over and hits the ground with a loud thump. One of her hand, reaching out mid-air for something for support, but it does exactly the opposite. It sweeps off objects from the shelves violently, clatter along her falling motion, landing on her head.
"Ahhhhh!" She shrills as another object smacks her head.
When the tumble is over, Emma props herself, her hand gripping the edge of the bed, she helps herself up gracelessly. She turns on the light, glad to know there's no fragile object of the sort has fallen from the shelf. If she is to be wrapped with a big hat to cover up the bumps on her forehead, god knows how stupid she would look!
She bends down, prepares to retrieve the objects back to the shelf, only to see a thick, old book with a brown, dusty leather jacket on the floor. Emma picks up the book, scraping off the dust on the surface.
From the exterior, it has an otherworld appearance, just like Henry's storybook. Bent around the cover, is leather that straps the book. Emma undoes the knot. On the reddish-brown cover, a flower and a hummingbird is carved, with exquisite craftsmanship. Curiosity propels Emma to continue exploring the book in her arms that has chosen to emerge untimely. She opens the book, the parchment, for bizarre reasons, is still fresh and has not been tarnished by the ages.
A name is written in black ink across the center of the first page. Sasha. Every letter written in capital and in a medieval fashion, with swirls around them. There is no last name. Beneath writes A journal in cursive ink.
She flips to the next page of the journal, her heart jumping restlessly, feeling nervous.
And there, runs long paragraphs. Emma begins to read.
She was the first person I saw, and it wasn't a scene that I would ever forget. I knew it was foolish, a figure of speech, because memory and history was not an option to a life like mine.
I doubt I had ever looked upon such a distraught person. Her eyes were filled with tears, yet vacant underneath, washed away by astonishment. Her hair was as dark as a raven's wing, her visage elegant and dazzling, but an air of everlasting, lingering sadness clung to it. From where I stood, I could hear how her heartstrings plucked, the collisions between her restless thoughts. And there was more, I ventured closer, approaching her. Her voice was hoarse, perhaps from screaming, and thick with despair. I wish I could comfort her, but she could yet notice my presence. So I stood and watched.
"What have you done?" The accusation was clear, and there was no turning back. There, she let out a wail, an excruciating pain in her chest. She shook her head, hands red from clutching tightly, and then buried her stricken face that contorted in the lukewarm embrace.
In the cool, deadly quiet night, the sole sound was her palpitating heart.
For a couple of weeks, I followed her, and I watched her from afar and near. I felt like a dirty old woman doing so. I would like to think of myself as a guardian angel that watched over her, but then I'd be giving myself too much credit. Out of everything I am, I know I am not an angel, far from it actually. And on that day she suffered the great loss, there was nothing I could do to save her from sorrow, I stood and stared blank-eyed. If I were any angel, I would have fixed that, and had the power to.
But I didn't have a choice. This is what I do. I am a different breed, I reside when people believe I reside. She couldn't see me. So, like a ghost I wander.
And wander I did. The halls were mostly empty, almost deserted. It was a huge castle, and in them resided so few lives, but too much agony. I roamed them all, my fingers sliding through the walls. I counted the rooms as I went, watching busy, diligent servants rushing by my side yet oblivious to my existence. They came and went quickly, too quickly to notice anything, to think about anything.
Except one, one that always had something on her mind, distressing her.
One night, I ambled just the same, but the difference was there was a sudden sense of direction in my steps, like a force pulling me closer to it.
I heard music of harp coming from the tower. It was soft but not without the powerful tug of a heart. Like a tide, pulling back and forth, the tune was ethereal. I accelerated my speed.
I came before a great door, opened it, and closed it behind me with care. I walked into a bedchamber.
She was there, the girl with raven black hair. A harp graceful as she was sat by the side of the window, the remains of summer's warmth caressed her smooth skin. Her presence of grace was more than enough to capture anyone's heart.
Her long, delicate fingers were working effortlessly between the golden strings.
I stood behind the pillar and watched her play. The tune was beautiful and sweet, but there was a bitterness coated under the sugar above.
When she was done, I almost clapped with exhilaration; the piece was very well played.
Just as I was going to exit, I heard her.
"You don't have to hide in shadows anymore. I saw you."
Static in the darkness, I took a deep breath as my heart skipped a beat. I stepped out of the shadows, showed myself. The candle that lit the room was dim and gentle.
"Come closer." She spread her arms, I drew to her.
She held her hand up, placing it on the hood of my cloak. Slowly and carefully, she unveiled me.
A gasp escaped her lips. I winced back inside, afraid of what she saw. But her eyes were calm, varnished with pleasant surprise and intoxication.
She traced my contour with the tip of her finger softly, her eyes wide with wonder, and in that moment, that everlasting sadness was gone.
"You're here. You're actually here."
I nodded with a smile. "Yes."
That night, we sat on the side of the bed, and she told me her histories. She brushed my hair, gave me my name, and told me to address her as Amice, which means "friend", and that we were to be friends forever more. Hearing that, I shifted my head, avoiding her hopeful glance.
Because I hadn't the courage to confess that, from the day I was born, I knew my purpose – It wasn't to stay, but to perish.