Home With The Fairies

I-Mushi

Chapter 002

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Writer's Note: I intend to use as much direct canon as possible. I like canon, and I appreciate stories when they stick to it because it is, in my opinion, more difficult to work with than making it up as you go. However, if there are any mistakes you spot, please tell me so I can fix it. I always appreciate meticulous readers.

To make a realistic girl-falls-into-M.E. story: Note that Tolkien says Westron/Common is not English, and therefore logically she shouldn't be able to understand a word of it.

Disclaimer: I make no money from this work. Anything recognizable from The Lord of the Rings belongs to J.R.R Tolkien. I also don't own any brands mentioned in this work.

Home with the Fairies

Chapter Two: The Medieval Times Show You Can't Leave

I was up before dawn and staring at the foothills where the lights had been. The sheep from last night was still with me, and I desperately hoped it was part of a domestic herd. One farmer, please…

Civilization proved to be farther than I anticipated though, and there was a pesky natural obstacle.

The river was directly between me and where the lights had been. The foothills were on the other side, and I couldn't possible cross it here. The water was now lapping at the top of the banks and moving swiftly, not to mention it was freezing cold. It was something formidable, and I would probably swim to my death if I tried.

But then, where did the sheep come from?

I ran wildly back up the hill and looked around frantically for a house, more of the flock, a bridge, something.

Ah ha!

On my side of the river was the dusty and dark line of a road, unique from the green countryside around it, and it continued on south into the horizon. There must be a bridge somewhere along that road, because otherwise how would people get to the town with those lights?

Excited, I was down the side of the hill, slipping on the dew, and rushing to the eastern riverside before I could even catch my breath. The sheep didn't follow me, and I didn't care. Somebody had made that path and for a reason. There had to be a town, a house, someone nearby.

My stomach growled angrily, reminding me there was no food in it and I was starving. There was nothing I could do about it though, so I firmly told it to be quiet as I jogged over.

It took me longer than expected to find the bridge, but I was just happy to be on a rough dirt path that is hardly mattered. The bridge, when I finally reached it, was a primitive wooden one, arching up faintly and fairly wide, unimpressive but sturdy looking. The river here was at it's thinnest though the current was still a little wild. On the other side of the water there was a wider dirt road winding away back in the direction I had come from.

What really caught me eye though was the flock.

A whole herd of sheep was meandering about like only sheep can just on the other side of the bridge. There had to be thirty of them, all together, and I frantically swiveled my head around for a shepherd or a sheepdog or something. The herd spotted me and several wandered over, but I had no food to offer them and they seemed to smell it. Or maybe it was just that I hadn't bathed in four days.

Regardless, I pushed through them and headed east. The wide dirt road I'd seen from the hilltop was closer now, and I grew more excited. I hadn't gotten far before I realized someone was heading towards me from that direction, the morning mist obscuring them to look like a sheep until they were hardly forty yards from me.

A person!

I sprinted to him as fast as I could; ready to throw my arms around him. As I drew closer I realized it was a boy, maybe twelve years old at most, and dressed in a very old-fashioned outfit. He had on what appeared to be a vest that might have been a tunic—I wasn't entirely sure I knew exactly what a tunic was—frayed at the edges with hand-done stitching and a button-up, dirty white shirt underneath. He even wore leggings and what looked like soft boots that were caked in mud.

I didn't question his outfit. If he was here, civilization was here.

"Hello! Thank goodness I've found you. I've been wandering for days following that river, and I've got no food and no service on my phone."

I was friendly as could be, overexcited that I was, but his expression didn't change, and I realized then he was giving me a very strange look, almost fearful.

"Excuse me, but do you have a phone I might use? Or can you direct me to the town?" I was nearly stumbling over my words, realizing that his blank expression was one of incomprehension even as I spoke. I could feel my heart drop into my stomach.

He opened his mouth to speak.

…It wasn't English.

The language he did speak sounded very rough. The cadences were familiar to me, and some of the words, the way they were formed, were similar to English. Maybe it was Welsh? Or Gaelic? Some very strange accent of English?

Where had he come from? How far could I have possibly been moved from my home that people didn't speak English? And he certainly looked Caucasian, so I couldn't be that far off the mark.

Since I'd vetoed the dream explanation, I'd also rejected the TV show hidden-camera theory too, so he couldn't be an actor. I'd been in the middle of a field. There wasn't anywhere for a camera crew to hide, and I should know. I tried each night to find tall, thick enough grass or some kind of cover to sleep in, but there was nothing. I'd never felt that alone or vulnerable before in my life. I had probably the only person for miles. I had to have been kidnapped, driven out here, carried into that field, and dumped there. I had to have.

So why didn't this boy speak English? Surely he would recognize something.

"Hello?"

Nothing.

"Um… Coke? Do you like Coke? Coca Cola?"

He was totally blanked face, completely uncomprehending. I thought Coca Cola was universal.

"Starbucks? McDonald's? America?"

Still nothing. Not even a flicker of recognition at America. What no-man's land was I in?

He spoke up now, and I listened carefully, trying to deduce if it was some bizarre dialect of English that I might be able to catch a word or two of.

…Nope, still as incomprehensible as the first time.

He was asking a question, I could tell from the tone of voice, but about what I had no idea. My name? Where I was from?

It was going to be nearly impossible to communicate my problem to him, but maybe I could at least find out where I was. Why was he was dressed like that? A Renaissance or medieval fair? Some sort of Amish-like culture wherever I was?

I must have still look confused, because he carefully waved his hand to encompass my full body.

I glanced down at my dirty, wrinkled, smelly attire. My white t-shirt had grass stains, my jeans were wrinkled and loose, and my sneakers were terribly scuffed and dirty. He didn't look much better than I did, I couldn't help thinking, smudged with dirt and unkempt hair, and he even smelled, though I could hardly talk.

We both just looked at it each other in silence. If he really didn't understand any English, not even globally known words (which I wasn't quite able to believe), how was I ever going to get help?

The sheep milled about, baaing to each other on occasion, like some bizarre replacement for the proverbial crickets.

Deciding it was going to have to be charades, I pointed to him and waved my hand to include the sheep, then moved to point at where I'd seen the lights. I made sure to look questioning about it.

He didn't seem to quite get it, so I repeated it, using a "you" and "sheep" and adding the "baa" sound for extra measure. After another repetition he seemed to be catching on.

He pointed over to the hills I was indicating and said "Fornost". "Fornost"must mean town, I thought happily, and I nodded enthusiastically. I pointed at myself then mimicked walking in place before pointing to the town, trying to indicate I was going there.

He didn't smile, but for some reason pointed back east in the direction he came in. With fingers jabbing at both of us then east, I figured he wanted me to go with him back to his house.

Which was certainly fine by me, even if he didn't speak any English and apparently dressed the part of a twelfth century peasant. It was better than where I'd been, even if it didn't look likely he had a bath from his appearance. My stomach rumbled loudly and I blushed, hoping he hadn't heard that. He didn't make any comment if he had, just turned back east and with a quick call to the sheep, began to walk.


It turned out he wasn't taking me to his house.

We left the sheep to wander as he headed east with me. We crested a nearly invisible ridge—almost impossible to see with the slight mist on the horizon—and there, not a hundred yards away, was that dirt road I had spotted.

The boy took me right to the road and planted me on the nearest side of it, then pointed up the road to indicate where to walk. He repeated "Fornost" as he pointed, and I understood he meant the town was that way. I nodded and smiled beautifully at him. Even if I'd stumbled on to the most reclusive simple-living culture on the face of the planet, he was helping me, so brownie points in my book. He gave me a small smile back, and I could see his crooked yellow teeth, one of the top two was chipped.

I watched him scrabble back up the tiny ridge then started walking. I was half-skipping in the beginning, but quickly found I didn't have the energy for it. In the end I stuck to just plain walking and made it to the edge of town by noon.

I came up that road until I saw houses bloom in the distance. Some were farmhouses away from the road, but not far in front of the main cluster of the town were about four grouped together alongside the thoroughfare. I sped up my pace to these houses, excitement giving me energy.

They were distinctly old-fashioned and had an air of being continuously fixed up rather than being replaced. There were no wires I could see or pipes of any kind. Only one building was two stories high, and it had a sign hanging from the door I couldn't read. The characters might have been Romanized, some of the swirls and even one letter looked familiar, but I couldn't make any of it out. Next to the sign was a hand-painted picture of some kind of black bird. Strange.

I really did feel like I'd walked into a medieval village. There were wooden carts, oxen and horses in stables by the houses and next to this big building. Everyone had gardens in front of their homes, and there weren't even tire tracks on the ground, just hoof-prints and a couple thin grooves for the carts or maybe even carriages.

I was starting to think, after tapping on some of the aged wood fences and peering over a garden wall at a well-tended bunch of herbs and a positively ancient wooden bucket, that maybe I was closer on the mark with an Amish culture. Everything here was, well, used. And old.

I went nervously up to the doorway of the bird building, sensing it wasn't a private home but more likely a business of some sort. I had no idea what to expect, no identification, and I could be easily taken advantage of here. But I also had no choice, so I steeled myself for whatever was to come.

There was an inner courtyard with a stable but no horses. The courtyard seemed swept and fairly clean, with a couple empty barrels and some homemade tools scattered around. It smelt strongly of manure and animals, and I wrinkled my nose. There was no response when I knocked on the cracked wooden door the first time, and again silence after a second. I peeked in the window on the ground floor, but it was so dirty and the glass so thick that I couldn't see through it. Nervously, I gently pushed the door open, avoiding the rusty doorknob that would probably give me tetanus if I looked at it too long.

It wasn't locked, thank goodness, but there also wasn't anyone inside. Chairs and tables were strewn about, and the familiar shape of a bar counter was off on my right. The Black Bird, I dubbed it, was a regular English pub. Even in Medieval Town.

I called out for anyone, but there wasn't a sound. The chairs and tables were washed, the floor was a little dusty but otherwise clean, and there were glasses and bottles of liquor by the counter. Someone had to live here, or at least work here. But where were they? The floorboards creaked as I walked over them, and I was starting to sweat from nervousness. What if this was an abandoned town? Would I be able to find food, clean water? "Hello?"

There was a step upstairs. The wooden ceiling groaned under someone's weight, and I tried again, a mixture of relief and anxiety coursing through me at discovering I wasn't alone. "Excuse me?"

I headed towards the rickety staircase, hoping I wasn't going to be shot for trespassing before I could explain myself. Two scuffed shoes appeared at the top of the stairs, and I backed away so the wearer could come down the narrow staircase.

He had on a patched shirt rolled up to the elbows and another tunic/vest over it, along with a pair of pants that looked like riding breeches that went to mid-calf where his boots met them. He had washed out brown hair and a receding hairline, with wrinkly, rugged skin. He was quite muscular in a brawny way, with a beard and heavy brow that certainly cut an intimidating picture. In his hand was a knife, wickedly long, and I backed up instinctively. He was holding it out in front of him, but when he saw me he lowered it.

He asked a question in a guttural voice, which I didn't understand, and I assumed it was the same language as the shepherd boy. He seemed to take stock of me then when I didn't answer, and he blatantly stared. I took the image of him in too: a large-bellied man with a short beard smelling a little funny, in really medieval attire, staring down at me from the last step like I was an alien.

He shook off his shock faster than I did and repeated the same words. I gave him the exact same blank stare.

"Who are you?" I tried. He shook his head at me and gestured to my clothing like the shepherd had.

My heart fell.

Great, more people like that boy. How could a culture be so cut-off they wouldn't recognize someone from outside them? They couldn't be. Not in today's world.

But then…what could explain this? If it wasn't a dream, some bad hidden-camera show… No, it had to be a culture. I don't know how they could not know, or where they existed, but there had to be someone here who knew something about the rest of the world.

Right?

I took a couple steps back from the man and sank into one of the chairs.

I didn't really believe it, but I didn't know what else to think. Was I insane? Lying in a hospital bed somewhere totally brain dead?

The man seemed to read my body language well enough, and put the knife down on a table by him. He then came forward and, in a gruff though surprisingly gentle voice, asked me one word. When I didn't answer, he asked another, and then one more. Was he trying different languages? Why bother? I couldn't help thinking hollowly. You're probably just a hallucination, or crazier than I am.

When I didn't respond, he put his hand to his stained apron over his chest and intoned, "Bryce."

When he said it again, hand on his chest like that, I realized it was his name. "Bryce." I repeated back, pointing at him.

When he indicated me, I put my hand to my own chest, "Maddie," I murmured.

He repeated it back to me, before carefully gesturing at my whole body, then indicating upstairs. When I didn't immediately respond, he indicated my clothing again, gently reaching out to touch a stain on one sleeve, before pointing upstairs again.

Maybe he had some kind of dress he could give me, or spare tunic and pants for me to wear. While it probably wouldn't be clean—his clothing didn't look like it had ever seen soap before—it wasn't like my current clothes were cutting it either.

He led me upstairs and to one of the doors along there, and I understood that The Black Bird was also an inn. Inside the room he pointed at the bed for me to sit on, then left. I wondered if I was supposed to sleep or something, and though it was sure to be wonderfully softer than the ground, I wasn't sleepy. I felt confused and a little angry, but not tired now.

I stood up to wander the room, looking at the roughly made furniture and even poking my head into the barren hall. There was only the bed and a simple wooden table in the room. Everything was made of wood and with only practicality in mind. It was probably hand-carved too, I thought as I fingered the rough edges. The window had a solid pane of thick glass, uneven and impossible to see out of, and no curtain. The sheets were scratchy, the mattress straw, and I thought for a moment I might have heard rats scratching in the walls. Truly medieval.

Bryce returned; I could hear him walking downstairs with another's footsteps. I wondered if he might be bringing the headman or the watchman to see me, but when he opened the door it was a woman.

Now, I had thought burly Bryce had been frightening, but she was truly an intimidating figure. Large, broad hips, graying hair pulled back in a no-nonsense bun, a stern leathery face that spoke of years of a hard life and no rewards; she was a real matriarch. In her hands was a pile of cloth, and she clicked her tongue at me the way a bossy mother does, before saying something to Bryce. With a polite nod, Bryce ducked out of the room and it was just she and I.

Her name was Ysmay, I found out quickly as I stumbled over the word. Bryce had already told her my name, and she seemed to have no qualms about pushing me around to do whatever she wanted me to do since I didn't understand verbal orders. She appeared total impatient with my lack of understanding, and I had not an ounce of leeway with her.

I quickly found myself shuffled around the room with a firm grip on my arm. She went to the bed and spread the dress she's brought out along with a comb and other odds and ends, including what looked like a pair of old suede shoes. Everything was a hand-me-down I could tell from the patchwork and quality of the old material. It was tough stuff though, whatever it was made out of.

Ysmay shouted something downstairs and Bryce returned the call. She approached me and without warning reached out and touched my hair, then rubbing the fabric of my clothes between her fingers like a greedy merchant, lingering especially over the hemming of my shirt, before exclaiming something over my jeans.

I realized, as I stood there and let this woman examine my clothing, that she had never seen anything like it. What person on the planet hadn't seen jeans and machine-done hemming? What kind of backwater, primitive place am I in? I thought again.

I examined her face more closely as she studied the hem of my t-shirt. She was tan, deeply tan, and her hair was coarse and rough. Each finger was stained, wrinkled, and marked with small scars, and the pinky bent a little strangely, like it had been broken once and never set properly. Her teeth, tongue sticking out just the slightest bit, were yellow, missing, and crooked. She was even murmuring under her breath in that language.

It was all so real.

I wanted to snatch the clothing out of her hands all of a sudden—perhaps a vain attempt to pretend I wasn't starting to think crazy things—but she seemed to be done looking at them and instead slapped my arm then pointed down to my shoes. Shocked at her rather abrasive demeanor even without language to communicate, I almost wanted to rebel on instinct. However, as soon as I caught her eye looking at me like she knew what I was thinking, I thought better of it.

She had me remove my shoes, shoes that she turned over and over, and my socks—she rubbed them too in her fingers—and put on the suede ones before trying to lead me out of the room. Before we left, I took out my cell phone, keys, pocket mirror, and my five dollars and a nickel, placing them on the table.

The floor was worn smooth, the shoes thin enough that I could feel the unevenness of the boards. How long would it take for wooden floors to become like that? The whole structure had to be made of wood, and I couldn't help feeling a little antsy on what appeared to be such a precariously made building. How much architectural technology did they have here? How long had this place been standing for?

I was taken to the back of the building, which wasn't so much a backyard as an open space behind the building. There was, literally, nothing but grasslands behind it going on and on into the horizon. And then on some more as far as I knew, considering how it looked. Where in the world was there this much open space? Especially unfarmed land?

Off to the side, as I looked around, I noticed a small shack that was taller than it was wide with a single hole on the door about eyelevel. After staring at it a moment, I suddenly realized it was an outhouse, and when Ysmay opened the door and showed me the hole in the floor I understood that was exactly what it was. Internally trying to swallow my disgust at the smell and appearance so as not to offend her, I backed away and politely shook my head. She shrugged.

Ysmay directed me over to a tin, circular tub full of water. Forgetting the outhouse completely, I squatted by it and dipped my hand into the water. Lukewarm, but I would take anything at this point. Seeing my smile, Ysmay said something to me, then pulled on the hem of my shirt.

I was a little afraid she might take it away from me to see how such even stitches were done, but when I didn't immediately do something she pointed at the tub and then at my clothes. Was this tub for washing clothes only?

When I touched my own clothes and then pointed at the tub, she shook her head and pointed across the yard where I suddenly noticed the clothing lines and another bucket with some clothes hanging over the side.

Oh, she was going to wash my clothes while I bathed.

Smiling even though I felt a little stupider inside, I looked at her steadily for a good twenty seconds before realizing she wasn't going anywhere. I shifted my weight, wondering if there was any good way to express my embarrassment at stripping down before a stranger outside, but after looking at her expectant, if a little annoyed, expression, I decided that it wasn't really possible. I glanced at the back of the building then automatically for Bryce, unable to stop myself from seeing some of the knotholes that almost looking like peepholes, before dragging my eyes away.

I pulled my shirt over my head, shuddering at the light wind that touched me. Ysmay took it almost right out of my hands to examine the stitching on it while I took my jeans off, unbuttoning and yanking them down my legs. The dirt and long dried sweat made it a little more difficult than usual, and I was careful not to rip them anymore. With just my undergarments on I was freezing and I carefully bounced on my bare feet and rubbed my thighs together in a vain attempt at modesty.

She made a demanding noise in the back of her throat, and I knew she was expecting my undergarments. Feeling incredibly self-conscious and more than aware of the complete lack of cover at the back of the building here, I slowly took them off. I regretfully passed both into her outstretched hand, and thankfully she didn't examine them. I immediately got into the water.

I sunk into the bathtub as best as I could. I'd never taken a bath outdoors before, but now that I had the chance to relax I found I couldn't. I could hear Bryce humming inside faintly even through the walls—clearly no insulation—and see Ysmay beginning to scrub my clothes clean in another basin a couple yards away. The sky was a clear blue now that the hazy mist of the morning was burned away, and the weather was still a little cool, but I imagined it might be the beginning of spring here. A little sparrow landed on the clothesline nearest to me, cocking its head and dancing about a bit.

None of this made me feel much better. I shifted in the tub and tried to find a comfortable position, but with a tub built only to fully wash a five-year old, it was supremely difficult.

I could feel something horrible welling up in my eyes as I tried to get comfortable. I began to switch positions again to find a way to submerse my whole body. My arms were starting to tremble and I very much wanted to cry, but I wanted even more to jump out of this tub and break it. This was horrible; everything was horrible. The tub was too small, the people didn't or refused to speak my language, nothing made sense anymore.

I shifted around again, even turning over, the burning behind my eyes getting stronger as my arms and legs began to shake. I wanted to kick the tub, dump all the water on the ground, scream. Why was it too small? Why couldn't I just fit? Why couldn't one thing make sense here?

The upset inside me turned into anger, and I grew more and more frustrated at how everything was just wrong: the house, the tub, the river, the grass, the world. It was all just not working in my favor and what had I ever done to deserve this?

I started to cry. It quickly escalated into a full-out breakdown. Snot was coming out of my nose and my eyes were puffy and red, my whole body was shaking with emotion. I just cried and cried and cried. I gripped my thighs and dug my fingers into them, pushed my bare feet against the far side of the tub half-hoping I'd break it. Before I knew it Ysmay was right there saying something to me, brusque and curt and clearly annoyed.

I didn't care what she said; it didn't matter. I turned away from her as best as I could and wiped away the new tears at her coldness to my plight, but the tub was too small and she grabbed my shoulder and shoved the bar of soap at me.

Even the bar was terrible. It was full of minerals I couldn't identify, didn't really smell of anything in particular, and was rough to hold. It would hurt to rub this on my skin, but Ysmay shoved it in my face, and when I tried to push it back at her she very nearly made me eat it.

She angrily said something and boxed one of my ears. I'd only read about such a thing happening, and it hurt. It made my ears ring, and I clutched it while shouting at her about callous and cruel women, and couldn't she see I was having a hard time of it? She didn't look the least bit regretful though, if anything she looked satisfied, like she was scolding a child. I began to hiccup, working my way slowly back to relative calm as the pain registered more fully and the tears subsided while she watched me with a part smug, part compassionate expression on her face. When I finally looked up at her again, still a little reproach in my eyes though I knew she did it because I had been hysterical, let out a little hmph and stalked back to the clothes.

It took me a good ten minutes to fully calm down. My eyes were still threatening tears, and I didn't feel anywhere near a hundred percent, but at least my total meltdown had been stopped in its' tracks. I would have rather had a shoulder to cry own than a boxed ear though.

She could have been a little nicer about it, I thought moodily, then erased the thought. It was already working me back up. My ear still stung though.

It took me a while to lather up the soap, whether because I was feeling lethargic after my pity-party-turned-tantrum, or whether just because it was more difficult than anyone gave credit for it, I wasn't sure. I used the same soap for my hair after realizing this was all I had, and though it didn't feel clean to dunk my hair in my own dirty bath water, there was nothing for it. But by the time I was done, Ysmay was standing over me with her hands on her hips, clearly asking me what took so long.

The soap bubbles still floated around me a bit, but I was starting to shiver. Even if the weather was warming up, it was still too cold to be soaking wet and naked outside. When I stood, Ysmay handed me a threadbare towel, fraying on the edges like an old dishrag. I quickly wrapped it around myself, but when she kept looking I realized it was to dry off with. I rubbed myself down as best as possible, trying to avoid flashing more skin than possible, before wrapping it around me again while Ysmay rolled her eyes. In her hand was the dress she'd put on the bed earlier.

Without any undergarments she handed me the petticoat first. It had a vague line of support for the chest, but it hardly looked practical. Nervous, I glanced around before indicating my breasts, trying to ask her about. When she pointed to the thicker hem in the petticoat, I pointed over to where my old clothes were drying.

After a couple of tries, I realized she thought I wanted to wear those clothes again. She gave me a firm negative and shook the dress in her hands. When I went over there she tried to stop me, but I held the towel wrapped firmly around me and grabbed only my undergarments.

They weren't dry at all, but I waved them out for a bit and rubbed them down with the end of the towel before deciding I could bear it. I pulled them on under her skeptical eyes with a lot of finagling of the towel (she was obviously highly skeptical of the scraps of cloth from the way she was looking at me), before taking the proffered petticoat and slipping that on. She tied it up in the back, and I started to get a little inkling of what it might feel like to be a fairy tale princess—of the Cinderella scullery-maid sort. I squashed the thought ruthlessly. I wasn't going to be here long enough to give in to that kind of fanciful thinking.

The dress she offered was of a scratchy material that I knew immediately would be uncomfortable and itchy. Still, I pulled it over my head where it fell a little above my ankles. She tied it tightly up in the back and turned me so she could see.

The dress was a dull brown and rather drab, but it certainly made me blend in a lot better. The off-white sleeves were puffy, with a neckline around my collarbones. Ysmay nodded her head before directing me back inside the building.

Bryce looked up from the bar to the two of us, smiling at me for the first time. It was only a half-smile, and his teeth were horribly crooked I couldn't help but notice, but I smiled back all the same.

Upstairs Ysmay gave me stockings and the shoes. They were simple slippers with a tough sole and actually quite comfortable, though the heel was a little ill fitting. Then she handed me a simple leather belt, which she tied around my waist, pulling it until it was quite snug, before buckling it and letting the extra material hang in front.

She then took the rope of my wet hair she had wrapped in the towel and deftly began to braid it. Now in one braid, it dropped between my shoulder blades, still a little wet but fine. She fingered my hair, and I noticed then that it was considerably shorter than hers. She had hair to her waist; mine was only a little past my shoulders.

Dressed finally, Ysmay gave me a partial smile too, one the people here seemed to frequently use, before suddenly leaning around me to the dresser.

My pocket mirror was a small metal one with a switch on the top like a pocket watch to open it. She exclaimed over the simple blue flower pressed on to the top, before turning it over to look at the smooth back. Here she cried out again, this time in awe I sensed, at her reflection. Her expression was genuine; I knew it immediately. She'd never seen her face that clearly before.

She stared for several moments before carefully putting the mirror back on the table, looking almost a little fearful. She recovered quickly though and started bustling around the room gathering up anything she'd left behind or was out of place. In those moments as she stared at herself though, I could imagine her as a teenage girl in some way wondering about her own beauty.

I felt like something was starting to make sense, even though I was definitely losing my mind.

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