Check out Parts 1, 2, and 3 of Tristessa's narrative to get caught up on her journey. -m
The package on the table taunted me. I could hear it: "Triiiiiisteesssssssaaaa.... I'm waiting for yooooouuuuu. Just waitiiiiing. Open me....open meeeeee..."
In any other circumstance, those words would be creepy, even terrifying. But instead of being worried, I was strangely comforted. I was not the only peculiar thing in the village. If I could hear the voice of a brown paper package, then surely there were stranger things than me. For the first time in months, I could feel my spirit lifting.
And then I realized that the shadows on the edge of my vision were not normal things.
The realization came one night when I snuck out of the house. Ravigie was sleeping. I still wasn't supposed to go any further than the front stoop, but being outside at night was the only freedom I had left. And with the package taunting me, outside was the only place that the voice stopped whispering in my ear.
I'd been outside before, on other nights, but this night felt different from the moment my right heel touched the other side of the threshold. I shivered and cleared my throat as my stomach tightened. Something was wrong. Adrenaline beating like drums in my veins, I looked inside, back into the shadows.
Dark smoke poured into my peripheral vision, clouding things until the only thing I could see clearly was the package on the table. Something like the sound of feet scrunching on gravel happened behind me, and I turned back around to face the outdoors. The smoke followed me, taking on the shape of a young man.
The darkness poured first into his shoes, then up to his knees and waist. It was only a nanosecond but it felt like I watched for hours as this person was formed out of the night. When he spoke, I heard my name. "Tristessa."
"Who are you?"
His face was clearer now; I could even see that he had a sort of a nose and broad shoulders on top of a rather lanky frame. "I'm...a shadow."
"I can see that. Is it parts of you I've been seeing?"
"Parts of me?"
"Sometimes there are dark things over here," I said as I motioned with my hands near my temples. "Like shadows." The smoke was making me feel light-headed, though, and I accidentally scratched myself on the forehead.
The man shook his head slowly, and then nodded. "It's possible. Ravigie can sense when I am near, so why wouldn't you see parts of me?"
"What's your name?" I asked. His skin was solid now, and was taking on a tint like the men from Italia. "Why can Ravigie sense you?" I added as an afterthought.
"Ambreel," he said after a moment's hesitation. And then, without warning: poof. The smoke that had poured into the smoke-man Ambreel seemed to shrink, like it was inhaling. With one great explosion, the smoke exhaled and Ambreel disappeared.
My hair was blown back and tears were pulled from my eyes. I held my breath. In a moment it was over, and the shadows were gone, leaving only the blank darkness of the night. I grinned, unexpectantly feeling powerful. My nerves were jumping in my fingertips and my blood was pumping hot through my chest, though it felt different from normal adrenaline.
I stretched my hands, looking in wonder at my palms. They even looked different. What had that smoke done to me? Tiny swirling designs played on my skin like a kaleidoscope. I turned my hands over and looked at the backs of my fingers. Smoke curled around them like tattoos of vines, then sunk into my skin with tiny electrical shocks.
For the first time in almost a year, I didn't miss my mother.