i will not die like this, the girl said.
and so, she didn’t.
the black wolf’s voice hung in the air, the char emanating from his fur melting the snow in a tiny pure circle around him.
she said she would not die and so she didn’t.
the girl was silent.
ragged from crying.
someone pressed their breath into a ram’s horn miles in the distance.
this is a choice i don’t have anymore.
she remembered his words.
how long had she been walking in multiple worlds?
two years had gone by, trying to bleed out the wound or tie it off, sometimes simultaneously.
she felt entirely mad, most days.
the other days, she wasn’t sure.
her stomach felt hollow, sick.
the all-familiar headache that comes with unrestrained tears.
the ghosts were carrying her weeping through the woods, wisping around trees.
she wished they would just bury it.
the horn sounded again- a pure tone against the crying.
all untruth is rooted, child.
just as the truth is.
a house made entirely of fogged mirrors appeared to the right.
the black wolf motioned.
following the root always goes..
somewhere. sometimes. here.
* * *
i walked the perimeter of the house. where was the warmth, what was the memory?
you haven’t wanted to look.
find the way inside.
my anger nearly doubled me over.
collapsing, i grasped a stone and hurled it towards the structure.
suddenly i was a little girl.
or at least that’s who i saw in the bathroom mirror. sitting perched on the sink, a faraway moment, blue walls between the color of sky and sea.
i never really look at you, do i? i said, running my palm down my face. i never do. i never tell you anything- ever.
just look right past you.
i was supposed to protect you.
a voice i couldn’t tell came from inside or outside.
i watched the girl in the reflection’s mouth move and i was holding the stone again, this time on the inside.
i raised my finger and wrote in the humidity, words i couldn’t place, prayers i had never learned.
the little girl was beside me. i took her hand.
why are you so afraid of this place? i asked her, the letters slowly dripping in the heat.
because no one has told me i shouldn’t be.
my heart clenched.
no one has ever told me i would be okay.
i just have to keep moving, we said in unison- the words slipped to the ground and collected at our feet.
i didn’t want to cry anymore that night. i couldn’t tell whose voice, mine or hers.
we stood, looking at each other, infinite reflections in unfogged glass.
i lit a candle.
it pierced the endless like a burning star, streaking.
i placed her hands beneath mine on the wax.
you are okay. i am okay.
we are safe.
we are safe.
we are safe.
the horn blew again and i was outside mid-hurl with the rock. startled, i stopped, dropping it into the snow.
the house had dissolved and there were letters all over the ground. the little girl was picking them up.
i rushed to her.
we will make a new home, i said, kneeling. and the black wolf smiled softly in the shadows, stark against the landscape.
don’t be scared, i whispered, my hand on her head.
we will put these words up somewhere else.
we will make them say beautiful things.
the little girl nodded, a slight glow returned to her face. i turned and looked for the black wolf, seeing nothing.
the ghosts were burying the cries, returning them to earth.
i took her hand.
i will not die like this, i said into the air. laughter of young ones and animals curled in the distance.
and so she didn’t. the little girl squeezed my hand. we began to walk.
[see the previous parts of this story]
* * *
happy winter solstice.
happy return of the light.
in this night of seemingly endless darkness, i offer this.
a beginning, a discovery.
see you, here.