The morning came faster than I had hoped. Couldn’t there be one night that lasted past dawn? The sky was still dark. I looked to my clock. It was just past sunrise. I rose. The sky was ominous. I prayed for rain. I loved rain. While blue skies were nice, the feel of the sun on the skin, nothing beat a good cleansing rain. Add some lightning and how it makes me feel can’t be beat.
I opened the window and then closed it when the wind nearly knocked me to the floor. Peeling off Rose’s bandages, I saw that the cut was healing. I felt weak but some time with the trees and I would be able to survive the day. In my email was a response from Rael ‘Are you okay? I got the com links all situated, we should be able to visit today. Please call. Love Rael.’ I closed the computer. I wasn’t ready for that. I wasn’t sure I was ready for anything.
A hot shower and clean clothes put a little pep in my step. I ran down the stairs and out the front door to avoid everyone. I leaned against a sturdy cedar. The wind had stripped away all the remaining flowers from the vines. Small black nodes had appeared in their place. I wondered what they would be when they were finished. I sat between the roots, pressing my palms into the soil below. The world stilled.
I sat for a minute and I sat for a lifetime. When I consulted my watch, I had been there for nearly twenty minutes. The cut on my hand remained raw and scabbed. I longed to heal it. Even if I could in my current state, to heal it completely would have caused speculation. Few of our kind could heal themselves. Most had to rely on a circuit of at least one other. The healing was imperfect but there were a few who made it work. The Gargoyles had success with circuit healing. My mom’s people could do it alone with an energy source but they tired quickly. I could heal a hospital’s worth of beings on my own when I was “on”. Off days, I could circuit heal quite well.
Even with all that, Nona had insisted I learn the plants. “Better to use convention than magic when you are different,” she would say. I couldn’t believe all of that had failed me the day before. I stood, dusted off my hands. I had to stop hiding.
Rose embraced me before I was completely into the kitchen. “Oh girl, I was so afraid. You were so pale and then you weren’t in your bed this morning.” She held me at arm’s length and shook her head. “Let’s look at that hand.” She praised the healing, scolded me for taking off the bandage, again for letting my hand get dirty and then went about nursing my wound. She stuck a thermometer in my mouth as she bandaged my hand. “Have to make sure there’s no infection. You were nearly delusional last night. So glad to see you back to normal.”
After all the fussing, she handed me a cup of tea and returned to her work. Moments later, Jane and Sophie came in from the back yard, each carrying a basket. They smiled at me as they came in. Sophie handed her basket to her sister and came to sit by me. “Are you going to live?” I nodded. “Good. Who else was going to get me the next issue of Scientific America?”
“Remind me to put a subscription in my will,” I retorted. She laughed, until Miranda came into the room from the hallway. Miranda was disheveled. She adjusted her shirt and ran her fingers through her hair. Her smile was devious. She scoffed as she walked past me. I took the cue and left for the dining room.
Thomas came in behind me. “Glad to see you are feeling better.” I nodded. I couldn’t explain here.
“You are awfully pale,” David jumped up from his seat to pull out my chair. “Are you sure you are right enough to be up?” I took my time sitting, trying to think of how to explain what had happened.
“Can you believe this weather,” Vivica said as she entered the room. “When did we move to London?” She took her seat. “David, you’re from London, does this remind you of home?”
He had given her his attention when she said his name but sighed his response, “it’s too clean.”
“Ah, come now,” she said, “can’t be all that bad?”
Before he could response, I jumped in, “how’s the plan coming along?”
Vivica rolled her eyes. “I can’t believe we are expected to work in these conditions.”
Meg attempted to get my attention around David. “It would help if we had a map or pictures of the island. We’ve been trying to do it ourselves but the lines aren’t connecting. It’s frustrating. I don’t suppose you have found anything like that in the library?”
I shook my head, “nothing yet, but I’ll see what I can do to get you some.”
Edward entered the room, the girls behind him carrying trays. The conversation at the end of the table shifted to include him.
“Are you sure you should be up?” David set his hand on my leg. My skin burned under the weight and fabric. I closed my eyes.
“I’ll take it easy. I’ll be right as rain before you know it.”
I sat down at the desk, opening my laptop. The sky growing more grey, my time with Rael could be cut short. With a silent prayer, I started the call as I put on the headset.
“Hey beautiful, I was hoping you’d call. How are you? What happened?”
I told him everything, swallowing the rising wave of tears. “I don’t know if I can do this. How can they not know?” I resisted setting my head on the desk.
“It happens,” he reassured, “you’re gonna have to teach them.” I shook my head. “Lanie, dear, this is why you are there. They hired you to teach them about their past, that’s what you have to do.”
“I can’t,” I said, trying to keep the growing whine out of my voice, “I can’t, I’m not you, I can’t.”
“Have you found Beatrice,” he asked diverting my attention.
“No, I’m not far enough in the journals.”
“Then you can’t give up. And in the meantime, you teach them what you have learned. Start with Edward.”
I wanted to argue but he was right, my job wasn’t anywhere near completion.
“How’s the business plan going?”
I shrugged, another failure, “it’s not going well. They are getting discouraged and the team doesn’t understand what they are doing.”
“Shit,” Rael took a deep breath. “We need this to succeed.”
“I’m doing what I can but I’m not involved in the process. I can’t do that and keep up with the journals. Oh, speaking of, the team would like sat pictures of the island, do you think you could get some?”
Rael rolled his eyes. “Really,” he said shaking his head, “I’ll send them once we’re done.”
“Thanks,” I said. I sighed, “how am I going to survive this?”
“You are a smart, strong, amazing woman. You are my favorite being on the planet. You can do anything. Tomorrow, this will all feel different. You are going to close the door on this pity party and listen to your instincts. They are never wrong. Just remember, we sent you because you are perfect for this assignment.” He smiled. I wanted to cry. I was betraying everyone. “Where’s your heart, baby girl?” I couldn’t stop the tears. “Oh,” Rael remarked.
I shrugged. I had no answer for him.
“Look, the connection is getting spotty. I’m there if you need me, you know that, right? I will move through time and space to be at your side. In a heartbeat.”
“I know,” I replied. We said our goodbyes and logged off. As I waited for the pictures to come through, I washed my face and attempted to look less morose. My eyes were rimmed in red but my color was better. Rael was right, the cycle would start over again. I would wake and all these feelings would be a distant memory. Had I not sliced open my hand, I might have avoided this altogether, the melancholy was suffocating.