Tuesday, November 30, 2004

chapter 6, part 1

The house was still alive after all this time, defying the passage of the years and the decay of the old city. Miriel had last seen her childhood home some fifteen years ago. She had promised herself that she would no longer visit this place that had given her immeasurable joy yet even more overwhelming grief. It was no longer so much a place as a space behind her face, something that existed inside her mind, where memories could temper what reality could not.

Her older sister had been surprised by her sudden return, but she had greeted Miriel with what joy she could muster considering they had no seen or spoken to each other in almost 10 years. Her sister was aged beyond her true years, a broken down woman steadfastly keeping watch over their old home, refusing to let go of the past. This was her kingdom, and if others could not see past the age and the ugliness and the rot that was devouring her palace from within, that was their problem, not this proud monarch’s.

"So," her sister said as she offered Miriel a chipped cup of instant coffee, "you’re looking fine. You did not find it difficult traveling?"

Miriel shook her head. "No, Ate, it was fine. It’s good to see you again."

The older woman gave a mirthless smile. "Ah, well, I’m sure. No, I didn’t mean that… it’s just, well, you came out of the blue."

"I know, and I’m really sorry for that, Ate. But this is important and I had to see our old house."

Her sister sighed. "You… still have these visions?"

"Not visions. They’re real. These spirits, I mean."

"Miriel…"

"I’m not crazy, Ate. I told you all the truth years ago, and I’m still telling you the truth now." She paused and bit her lip. "If only you could see Esperanza right now sitting next to me, and Mama and Papa standing behind you, nodding and listening to our every word..."

"Stop it!" Her sister had stood up, shuddering and making the sign of the cross. "I’ve been living here alone for many years and I’ve never seen anything or felt anything or heard anything. I don’t need this, my little sister. You, coming back here and…"

"Please forgive me. I… I just need to stay the night. That’s all I’m asking. Please."

Hot tears filled the eyes of Lucia, and she felt them streaking down her hollow cheeks. Fear and indecision vied for control of her face. She nodded slowly.

"All right. You may stay."

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