The story continues today…
Speak into the Air
They didn’t stop Lily.
It wasn’t a question of how powerful they were, or how determined Lily was. It wasn’t that their weapons weren’t strong enough. It wasn’t that Lily was able to resist them. It had nothing to do with force at all.
The power wasn’t in Lily herself; the means to pass was the note she held and the need that came from it. In that need, in that wish, she could pass, could overcome, and they could do nothing but bluster and threaten and belittle her.
It wasn’t enough. Lily left them behind her. She did hold a question in her thoughts that she could not take away: Was she really, after so long, really prepared for what was coming next?
She paused at the edge of entering the place where she had been called to. She wanted to appear dramatically, powerfully, desirably … but it didn’t turn out that way. The shift didn’t feel right. Something was different, but she wasn’t exactly sure what it was. She could sense her clients nearby, felt them: their emotions, their needs, their desires, their … fantasies … She also felt her own fears, her worries, the overwhelming sadness that surrounded her. It was, Lily realized, so very familiar because it was the same feeling that she had been living with for so many years herself. The light was gone, and in its place was … emptiness.
She drew a shuddering breath and tried to wipe away the tears that were pooling in her eyes. Blinking them clear, she noticed that the darkness that hid the space around her was, ever so slightly, pushed back by the wish she now held like a lifeline. The despair was returning, pushing against her, but the wish had formed a halo around her that the gloom couldn’t quite get through. Lily hoped that it would be kept at bay …
Her eyes could see now, and it was clear that she was standing in a house of some kind; more accurately, she was in what looked to be a sparsely furnished family room … but there was no family: no sounds of laughter, of joy, of anything that said that there was life here.
She worried now, the ache within her deep and mournful as she feared that she was too late, that her own worries, uncertainties, and more had delayed her far too long. Her stupidity must have cost her subjects … everything.
Lily dropped to her knees, hands covering her eyes, and she was overwhelmed by the realization of what her own selfishness had cost her. It had been everything. It was all happening again … “I’m sorry… It’s all my fault …” Lily spoke to both the one who summoned her and the one she had lost so long ago.
“I don’t deserve to be. There’s nothing for me anymore …” The images of her own loss, her own folly, came to her now, each and every moment—and, most of all, the instant when she knew, fully, that there was nothing for her anymore …
But Lily snapped back to the here and now as she heard the voice again … “Lily …” not in her thoughts now. No, it was … here?
She scrambled to her feet and called out in reply, “I’m here!”
The answer, after a short time, was, “Lily …”
She moved now, guided by the small glimmer of hope in her that it wasn’t too late, that she could make a difference. The house wasn’t large, but it felt to Lily like it took ages for her to pass from room to room, look inside, and then move onwards. The call of her name came from everywhere and nowhere. She thought the voice was in one place, but then it wasn’t. Lily’s searching became more and more frantic the longer it went on, until she tripped on a rug and fell once more.
And then she noticed something. The wish! It … pulled her ever so slightly in one particular direction. If she had been paying attention, if she hadn’t lost herself to despair she would have felt it tugging as if wanting to return … home.
Lily stood up, took a deep breath to calm herself, and moved in the direction that the wish desired. She soon found her destination …
Lily called out to her summoners when she entered the room, but she wasn’t heard. The darkness, the loss, the despair around the three of them swallowed up her words completely. She tried to embrace them, but her hands passed through them like she was a ghost. She couldn’t understand why that was. It had never happened like this before.
She looked at the wish she held and unfolded it, traced her fingers over the words, and tried to make sense of what had happened to her. Was it that they didn’t believe that she would appear? Was that why she couldn’t comfort them?
She tried to touch them, comfort them, but she was mist, etherial, without solid form. All she could do was call out into the air, sobbing softly with the words in reply as she listened to their voices in the darkness …
“I’m here …”
“I’m here …”
The wish dropped from her fingers and fluttered towards the carpet below …
“Please … I’m here …”
Then a flash of both light and darkness came …