This is the final chapter in a series of 8 posts. I hope you've enjoyed the others. -m
My mother was so weak she couldn't stand on her own, so Ambreel and Ravigie picked her up by the arms and carried her into the house.
The imaginary children followed me like puppies, their eyes trained on me as though they were afraid I'd leave them. They made me uncomfortable. Such wide, scared eyes. And such blank features.
I didn't even have enough imagination to give them faces, I thought without much amusement. But even as I thought it, the children's faces grew even more interesting with different sized noses, freckles, acne... any little thing I could think of to distinguish them, I planted it on their faces. When I was satisfied, I pulled away from them, feeling faint.
Mama was lying on the couch, and Ambreel was brushing the hair away from her forehead in a way that made me feel like an intruder. I wanted to go to her, but I felt suddenly shy. She had not even called to me, so I stayed where I was, waiting. Ravigie came in then carrying a tray with a bowl of hot water, a towel, and a glass of goat's milk. I don't know where she found the water, but I remember feeling very angry with her for wasting it on a towel.
"Feliciterra, can you hear me?" Ambreel whispered into her ear.
Mama's eyes were closed, but she swallowed and nodded her head. Her mouth worked for a little bit, like she was practicing words with her lips still closed. Ravigie set the tray down and began to wet the rag, but my mother didn't look at Ravigie or Ambreel when she opened her eyes. She looked at me.
"Tristessa," my mother whispered hoarsely. Ambreel turned and beckoned to me, so I went to them. My mother touched my hair and tried to smile.
"You released me," she said, finally succeeding in her smile.
I looked at Ambreel, eyebrows raised.
"It's true," Mama said. "Thank you for putting on the necklace."
"I'm confused," I said. "What did I do?" I reached up and touched the cool stones of the necklace. They felt like droplets of cold water on my hand. I smirked, wishing I was touching real water, so I could drink it.
And then, suddenly, I was.
My hands were wet, the floor was wet, everything was a flood of water. It was coming out of the necklace. My mother smiled at me through the torrent. As every wave of the water hit her, a bruise seemed to be washed away. Soon there was so much water, so many waves of rushing water, that I closed my eyes and turned my head away.
Ambreel stood strong through the deluge, his arms around Mama, keeping her safe. Ravigie was gone, and I was thrown against the wall, drinking it all in. The water was blue with my electricity, and I didn't want it to stop, but then my mother put out her hand.
"Fermati!" she yelled. The waters heard her and stopped their throws. Her black hair was like a shining blanket over her shoulders, and her smiling cheeks were pink and wet. No more bruises, no more weakness. She stood on her own and came to me, giving me the biggest hug I'd ever had, and have ever had since then.
"Oh, Tessa. My girl. Thank you for bringing the water back," she said into my hair. "Thank you."
Ambreel's hand was on my shoulder, a warm connection to the real world. He knew I didn't understand. He knew I didn't know what was happening. "She is the land, and you are the rain," he said.
Like that explained anything.
But then, just as I realized that Ravigie and the children were all gone, I remembered a day when I was flying over everything, and my mother was with me, and the land below us was green with life. I looked around me with new eyes, and I could feel the weight of the necklace my mother had given me as it hung around my neck. I knew in that moment that I had almost killed everyone in the world, depriving them of water while I mourned my missing mother.
Ambreel squeezed my arm. "I didn't think you'd believe me if I'd told you. You didn't even remember your magic," he said to me. It almost sounded like an excuse, but it was so true that I couldn't deny him.
"Mama, can we fly again?" I asked. It was the only thing I wanted to do. I didn't want to think about what I had done. I didn't want to think about Ravigie and the children. So my mother and I left Ambreel standing on the green hill around the house, squinting up into the sun at us as we flew over the hills, my mother checking her land, me making sure that the rain fell on everyone and everything.
Sometimes I think about that day and I wonder: How much of any of my life has been real?
I suppose I'll never know.