Part 26

Muse went out in the early morning sun and stood on the rock by the Lake.

The sun rose to its peak and began to drift back down, and still she stood, overlooking the calm expanse.  A wind blew up every now and then, rippling the surface, but Muse did not move.

She had first gone to her cottage, and looked around it, thinking, I will never call you home again.  She knew what she must do.  But she would not jump lightly.  She would stand there till the sun went down, till it was time to wake again.

Twilight fell over the world of dreamers.  In the dusk the Lake looked like a sheet of black glass, a mirror reflecting Dream’s sky.

Finally, Muse dove into the water.  It was cold, an icy shock, but she swam on, pushing herself down, down, down toward the bottomless middle.  Everything was dark, she saw nothing, and being numb with cold, felt nothing.  She swam for what felt like a lifetime, barely knowing if she still moved her arms and legs or if she had gone slack and merely floated along, drawn down by the unseen current.

Eventually her mind emptied and she was nothing . . . .

 . . . .Till she woke.

She was in the guest bedroom in Beauty’s house.  A warm morning sun poured through her window, but she felt icy cold.  There was a lingering dampness, though when she reached to touch her hair it felt completely dry.  It was as if the watery chill was all inside her.

Gradually though, it faded.  She sat up in bed and let the sun warm her.  She half expected to feel different, older, weaker perhaps.  Mortal.  But at the moment all she felt was morning hunger, intensified by not having eaten all day in the other world.

She got out of bed and put on her clothes, then went downstairs.  Love slept on the couch, the perfect gentleman.  Beauty still slept upstairs in her room.  It felt odd to Muse that she alone should be awake when the sun was up, but then it was still just rising . . . and she had torn herself away from the world of dreamers just as night first descended.

She look down at Love, and half wanted to wake him.  To kiss him, or touch his shoulder,  but she didn’t.  She didn’t know what to say to him, how to tell him what she had done.

Instead she left Beauty’s house and went walking.  Hunger still gnawed at her but something else gnawed harder.  She knew her way around this town, now, all memory of her mortal life here returned.  She knew the path she walked, and where it lead, even though she didn’t understand why she must go there.  Not fully.  She thought she knew, a little.  Ghosts, they say, are drawn to haunt the place where they died.  Muse wasn’t a ghost . . . was she?  No matter.  It was the same.  She had to stand there, to see it in the light of day, even if she didn’t know what it would accomplish.

Years had changed the neighborhood.  It was still the richer part of town, but the trees had all grown up, new houses had been built, some trees were torn down.  She stood at the foot of the hill below the house where the boy had once lived.  He wouldn’t be a boy now, wherever he was, he’d be an old man if he lived at all.  He didn’t concern her much, though, not anymore.  It was like yesterday, and yet, the feelings were dulled with decades of forget.

And Love.

She had been struck at the base of the hill, where the long driveway curved down and met the road.  She’d been propelled several feet away, to the side of the road, and there’s where she’d faded away and died in her puddle of blood.  This was the spot.  She stood in it, and looked absently up at the house.

Poor silly, stupid, mortal child.  Jocelyn, you sad fool.

With that she turned away and went back to Beauty’s house.

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