"A thousand times we die in one life.
We crumble, break, and tear apart
until the layers of illusion
are burned away and all that is left,
is the truth of who and what we really are."
Location and Time: Epping Forest. March 20th, 1901. The Spring Equinox
Truly, March 20th, 2008.
"Calm yerself Traveler's Daughter, " the soothing voice of Madam Sophia barged in on their constructed silence. The beckoning, spoken in the softest volumes for an Old Crone who had a voice marred by too much smoking, although welcomed, did nothing to soothe the nerves that rattled Evelyn where she laid; rocks pressed into her bare back through the rug they had set out in the worn tent.
"I know. I'm trying." The response is met with the slap of Madam Sophia's hand against her collarbone, as the sea foam of green eyes opened wide in surprise while she softly shrieked.
"Not hard enough. Go ahead. Get it off yer chest. Can't have them thoughts troublin' ya while we do tis."
"Uh huh. And Ah don't know me head from me arse." A rasped chuckle mused forth from Sophia, the kind that shook her shoulders and made her shake her head of white hair when she put down the hand-carved, wooden bowls. A small breeze filtered through the gateway of the tent, the flames of the candles danced threatening to go out with the still cold wind as if it was about a ghoul's frosting kiss urging to steal the life from her bones.
With defeat Evelyn sighed and nodded, her fingers sprawled across the smooth planes of her stomach to straighten out the black-lace fabric over her naked form. "Adam and Bash have decided that we are moving."
"Are ya going with?"
"I have to."
"No ya don't. Way Ah figure it, you've got a mind of yer own. You're a grown woman and all." Sophia beckoned to the naked girl while mixing the contents of the bowls before her. It's the third night in a row Madam Sophia deemed fit for this particular occasion, an opportunity to make amends with a 'God' that Evelyn has abandoned, one that had equally left the blood pumping through her veins cold and the chamber inside her head deadly silent. Two full nights of a cooling embrace from another world has left her shaking and screeching in her sleep only to awake her feeling as if she were one of the dead.
The monsters inside her head hadn't left her alone since Nicolai's death, but she's accepted it as a punishment for her wrongdoing of sending a better man to the grave before his time. The ghosts that haunted her now were the nightmares she's given birth to with an overactive imagination and a sinner's denial for forgiveness. The confessions could pour forth from lips like wine but she'd be damned if she allowed redemption.
"I have to."
"Those two can hardly stand on their own let alone feed themselves. They're going to make a mess of the world if I'm not there to pick up the pieces." The truth of the sentiment, at least when it came to that of a younger sister, is reinforced in the gentle smile that touched her lips. In between the cracks of the tent's wood, she caught a glimpse of a darkened, cloudy night sky. Beyond the stained, brown cloth a world continued on in the mundane routine Evelyn's been able to get used to.
A delivery to the Moon Man made it's scheduled appearance. Anita, the caretaker of the Gypsy Vanner's fed the horses. Icaria, the caretaker of the children, scolded with the softest voice of a mother for little Kaden to stop pulling Irena's hair. Siblings will be siblings. A fact that Evelyn was aware of, as reckless as her brothers were, Eve knew that despite their convictions about being able to take care of her, she's been the one to take care of them. She could illuminate the world with colors they'd never seen before while giving a healthy dose of blunt truth through their thick skulls. At least that had been her hope.
"Men will be men and they find ways ta survive without a woman, as uneventful of a life as tat may be." Another cackle as Madam Sophia slapped her hands together. White powder dusted the air in a sudden cloud. Evelyn coughed and turned her head away groaning. "But tat isn't what's bothering ya. If ya feel like it's yer duty, ya wouldn't be hav'in this hard of a time with it. So?"
"It's home...and I don't want to leave it yet." The tremble in her voice betrayed her, her hands clenched around the fabric covering her. The wind howled for a moment outside, yet everything between the two women fell silent.
What could she say? She couldn't leave it behind. There's a ghost of a relationship she hasn't been able to depart from for seven years. She envisioned Nicolai and her in the kitchen cooking while she sat on the counter and he stood between her legs with his arms wrapped around her waist convincing her that she wanted to spend her life with him. Memories of his touch haunted her while she stood beneath scolding hot water in an old shower that's bared witness to a union she’s never dreamed of being broken. She smelled him while sleeping in their bed, dreamed dreams of a happily ever-after when the world threatened to cave in. How could she say she wanted to stay in a place that tormented her with bittersweet memories? That, in and off itself, was a suffering that clung to her heart as her own penance for her sin.
"And?" Madam Sophia eased the question as she silently placed the bowls on either side of Evelyn's head, over a pillow of coppery strands sprawled out beneath her, teasing through the exposed flesh like red rivers. Old habits die hard and it'd certainly be true of the bottom lip Eve took in between her lips to nibble once again. The thing would be red as an apple if she continued on like that.
"It's where I lived." True tastes of freedom never felt as good as flying on the wings of a love birthed in the aftertaste of losing a brother to war. Nicolai took her in his arms and reminded her what it was like to let the floodgates of emotion open, to feel again beyond the numbing shield she'd place around her heart; even if she’s tried desperately, after his death, to not lift those walls back up again, but brick by old brick they were being built regardless.
"Ah see." Madam Sophia sat at the crown of her head with her knees tucked beneath her. Old wrinkled hands began to massage the muscles in Evelyn's shoulders. Despite the Crone's age, warmth ebbed from her touch. The strength surprised Evelyn but nonetheless was able to draw a heavy sigh out of her. Instinctively, she closed heavy eyelids ready to let worries fade by a touch that felt so much like she imagined her mother’s would have.
"Yer boy wouldn't want you holding onto that kind of past." Deep kneading into her shoulders with cracking knuckles had the knots fading in no time. "One it's not healthy for you. But two..." There’s a pause as the Crone switched to run magic fingers along Evelyn's brow. "It's not who ya are girl. You're meant for more than dwelling on something ya shouldn't feel guilty for, let alone couldn't control. "
"You make it sound easy, but it's not. Not with the way I lived with him. He invigorated me in ways I never dreamed possible."
"Ah not saying that doesn't make it hard, but seven years? Ya been holding onto something you don't need to. Remember, yes. But everyone deserves ta move forward, not be stuck in ta past. It may be yer strong suit, but it's not where yer meant ta live."
Hands traveled over the corners of her eyes, smoothing the lines of anxiety that had etched themselves there. Breath by breath the tension faded. Moment by moment the smell of a hickory and pine incense filled her nostrils, numbed her senses and tempted her to begin her drift. Small streams of dancing smoke rose into the air hovering about her face, each inhale took them deeper into her lungs until the heaviness of her exhausted body was no longer felt.
Gravity may have her body bound, but her spirit started to take flight.
"Let it go child." Foggy eyes hesitantly drifted close.
"I...don't..know if I can."
"Yer God, Father Time, has more planned for ya than you're willing to admit. Let go. Let him take ta reins." The warm breath of a Madam Sophia brushed against one temple. "Take flight my dear and have safe travels."
Pollarded trees fell silent. Birds ceased singing. Sounds of a lively camp made home fell into the background as a soothing white noise. What once was there is gone like the wind. Come morning light the Traveler's Daughter laid in a tent, a vacant body with a spirit caught somewhere in between the Afterworld and this world. She's in that sacred, veiled space that is her Otherworld, tucked within the warm embrace of the Patron God she thought dead to her, and slowly the fragmented pieces of her heart were mended, put back together so that she no longer chipped at her own soul.
OOC: A special thanks to Kot's player for the second look over. You're a lovely, beautiful woman.