Friday, 14 March 2014

Tethered

by Lyra Reyes


Find me.

I am dreaming.

Find me.

I am still asleep and I am dreaming.

No, you're not. Come find me.

You did NOT just answer me. It's just a dream.

You always were stubborn. FIND ME.

She opened her eyes to stare at the sunlight streaming through the gap between the curtains of the glass door. They left the door open the night before and the curtains billowed every few minutes, giving her a quick view of the backyard before slapping back on the screen again. She had been adamant on replacing the blinds that had been there when she moved in, saying that, "it's hard to be dead inside when you always have glimpses of life." Simon didn't argue with her.

Simon.

She lifted the arm wrapped around her and turned around. Half of his face was squished on the pillow, his thick, dark hair mussed up in sleep. She pushed her face against his neck.

"Good morning, love."

She looked up and smiled at sleepy green eyes. "Good morning."

Those sleepy green eyes narrowed, "another one?"

Sighing, she nodded. "It's everyday now. I can handle it when it's just dreams but, now...even when I'm awake...I thought I was free from this."

Simon was quiet. He didn't understand it, this connection. But he understood that there are many things about the world - and about her - that he was not meant to understand.

"Simon, what do I do? How can I make it stop?"

"Did you ever think that maybe you're not supposed to?" 


***************************

After Simon left for work, Regina sat in the backyard with a cup of coffee thinking about what he said. Though she wanted to go back to her paints, she opened herself to something she shut off five years ago. She decided she wanted to talk.

It's about time.

A little warning would've been nice. I almost dropped my coffee. 

You said you were ready to talk.

I was saying that to myself, I didn't know you were listening already.

Oops. Well, I've been keeping a close eye. Or ear.

How close?

I'm no Peeping Tom. I’ve always respected your privacy.

Gee, thanks.

You're welcome. But five months! I started talking to you five months ago!

I was angry. I am angry.

I'm so sorry.

What is with this mysterious "find me" crap?

Find me.

There. That. What is that?

I want you to find me.

I was desperate to find you six years ago. Why now?

You're ready now.

For what? Why don't you just come here?

I can't.

You're the one who left.

I never did.

What are you talking about?

Just find me.

You’re still as bossy as I remember. How do I find you? A specific address please.

You'll have to paint it. Think about me and paint the first place that comes to your mind.

See? Bossy. You leave, won't come back, and now you want me to work.

Well, you could always sell it after.

There is that. Now, leave me alone so I can get to it.

Regina stood up and walked across the backyard to a shed that served as her studio. Getting a fresh canvass, she went to work.


***************************

"You painted that directly on the canvass? No sketches first? Amazing."

"Simon, focus."

"I'm trying, but that's the first time you did a direct-to-canvass. It's beautiful."

"Yes, and I'm feeling giddy inside about it. But." She tapped the canvass.

Simon stamped down on his amazement and looked at the painting closely.  "Honey, that looks like the woods behind your old house. Helena's there now?"

"The woods behind our house."

"Yep. That's what you painted, isn't it?"

"No, I...I didn't know I was...she just told me to think of her and paint whatever comes to mind."

"When do you want to go back?"

"Tomorrow."

"I'm coming with you."


***************************

The night Helena ran away was hot and muggy with not even a single breeze for relief. Regina ran after her, calling her name, but she never saw her again. She barely remembered anything that happened in the year after Helena left. All she remembered was that she kept trying to talk to her but never received an answer. The detectives gave up after six months, saying that they can't find someone who doesn't want to be found and who probably is already out of the county. 

Simon was there when the police came. He was also there a year later when a horrendous car accident claimed Regina's parents and the lives of five more, including an unidentified man burned beyond recognition. Simon remembered her desperation as she begged Helena to come back, her sadness when there was nothing, and her steely determination to free herself from her connection with Helena.

Now, Simon found himself walking toward the house with the blue doors – they had always been blue - where he’d spent many summer days and had been welcomed like he was family. And he realized that as much as he worries that seeing Helena again would tighten the tethers to sadness that he has been painstakingly helping free Regina from, he, too, needed to know where the girl he considered his sister had been.

"There's no one here, Simon. It looks just like it did when I left it."

"Let's walk through the woods. It’s what you painted, not the house. Maybe that's where she is."

They walked deeper into the woods. For Regina, nothing seemed to change after all the years she had been there. She can still point out the exact tree where Helena almost fell, the exact thorny bush that caught her hair. Where is Helena? Where had she been?

"Doesn’t this look like the place you painted?"

Regina looked around. "To the last leaf." She walked forward slowly, trying to feel a sense of Helena, and caught Simon's worried look. "I'm sorry. Am I creeping you out? You're probably starting to think I'm going crazy."

"I've always known you were crazy." He gave her a goofy grin.

She had to laugh. "I know this is not something a normal grown woman would do."

"Look, I may not understand how this thing between you works, but you can't turn your back on Helena."

"She did to me."

"Maybe she had a reason. Why don't we sit down for a minute and rest?"

They sat down against the roots of a large tree. Regina leaned against Simon and closed her eyes.

Oh, goody, you're here already.

Why here? Where are you?

Keep your eyes closed and watch.

Nothing. Then Regina saw a girl of eighteen with a face identical to hers walking briskly through the woods. The stars are out and the sky is beautiful but she didn't see it, her dark eyes glittering with anger. She's an adult. No one can stop her if she wanted to try out her luck in Paris. 

Then the vision shifted and she was running. Not me, Regina thought, Helena. Helena was running. But the images in her head began to jumble until she felt that she was Helena. She felt the metallic taste of fear in her mouth. This is their woods, she was always safe here. But not now, no, not now. Now she has to run. Now, she has to go back to her sister. She felt her foot get caught in a root and the ground came rushing up to her. The flash of a knife. An unbearable pain. Then, nothing.

Regina felt Simon's arm around her, his worried voice cutting through her jumbled thoughts, "Regina, what's wrong?"

Regina shook her head, her eyes still closed.

Why just now?

When I was strong enough to talk to you again, it was the year mom and dad died. I knew you couldn’t handle knowing. Not yet.

Who was it?

No one important. I mean it. Just a drifter, someone who already got what he deserved.

I'm so sorry I've been so angry at you.

Don’t be. I would be if I were you. What’s important is that you’re strong and happy. And that you stay that way. This is the last time we'll talk for a long time. I just needed to let you know what happened.

No, keep talking to me. Please.

And have you risk getting sent to the nut house? Nah. Besides, you have Simon. Always. Tell him I’m happy for you, will you? Oh, and can you do something for me? If I show you where I am, will you find me? Please bring me home.

I will, I promise.

Oh, and another one.

I can’t believe it. You’re still bossy even when dead.

What makes you think death changes people? I’m sure you’ll still be stubborn when you die, which shouldn’t be too soon, okay?

Alright. What’s the other thing?

Live free.

Regina opened her eyes. The sun filtered through the trees, bathing the woods with surreal mystic light. A couple of meters away, a bright ray of light hit the ground.

She took a deep breath, wiped her tears. She gripped Simon's hand.

"I know where she is. Let's bring her home."





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