Tears on the woman's face, even as she enters her high. What happened to all those dreams she forgot? She was going to be famous, she was going to be loved like her parents never loved her, and every screen, every page she looked at, her own face would stare back. But she had turned away the ones that cared for her, and in turn was abandoned by those she cared for. Alone in the park, she closes her eyes, desperately trying to believe that it was still morning, that she could wake under the sun again next to Damon, moons in her eyes, and stars in her heart.
She wakes at dawn. It's autumn, she'd like to think.
Footsteps shattering on an infernal river of crimson leaves, and a blue umbrella prancing into view over the bridge.
'Mama, I told you never to come here.' The girl has a floral dress, dimples and a mole to the right of her chin, and even as she speaks, she skips merrily on the spot, a song under her breath.
'I'm sorry, I don't understand. Are you lost?' Katy quickly stuffs her used needle into her handbag, and wipes the tear streaks off her face.
'No, mama. I'm just tired. Papa told me to bring you back home.' Realizing there was no need for the umbrella, the girl closes it and holds it by her side, still looking dreamily at the dappled sky, humming quietly.
'But I don't have a...' Katy stops herself, and tries to steer the conversation in a more useful direction. 'What's your name?'
'Anna!' The girl smiles, and Katy can see that she will grow up to be a beautiful woman. Thick, smooth strands of brown reaching down between her shoulders, and every part of her body in tandem to create a harmony of joy. 'Come on. Papa wants you back before moonrise, and we don't have much longer.'
The park is silent but for the running of the nearby river. That was partially why Katy had come here - there was no risk of running into someone she knew. The weight of looking into another soul she betrayed would be too much.535Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡjzgSUQWD62
She had no where to go. No where to turn. And here was a child, placing naive trust in a stranger. Or was she?
'...okay.' It comes out as a whisper. The girl begins running off, stopping only at the horizon to hark for her to follow.
Leaves around Katy's feet drift aimlessly along the cobbled path, and she, too, can feel herself being carried away by the wind, dancing and dashing along the moist grasses seeping through cracks in stone.
It's summer. The girl takes her hand as they pass by the fountain at the center of the park, cherubs watching with empty eyes and a cold touch.535Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡCr0Gj5TQfP
Darting in and out of the water, men so graceful they were perhaps just streams that deceived the eye. Katy can't make out their faces.
'Don't look at them, mama. You know what happened last time.' The girl shies away from the fountain and tries to bring the older woman with her to the edge of the path.
'What happened?' But Katy was already entranced by the movement of the limbs in the water, the way the flashes of flesh scurried away from her glances, always eluding her line of sight.
'Ma'am.' Anna's voice has changed, and she sees that Anna has changed as well. Small pimples lining her forehead, hills and valleys in the contour of her body that were not there before. The change distracts Katy for only a moment, the splashing of the fountain growing almost frantic as she tries to see the creatures inside.
'Ma'am, you can't sleep here. It's a public park.' A woman with scraggly curls in a halo and a well-worn uniform fades into sight. The sound of a rushing river nearby, and footsteps shattering on glass dreams.
'...Right. Sorry.' Katy picks up her bag and drowsily realizes that she's been crying. She must look terrible. What must the woman think of her?
She hurries off along the path, head down. Nowhere to turn.
'Katy!' Damon? She looks up. And there, at the horizon, stands her last chance.
They run towards each other. 'Damon!' An embrace, broken too quickly. 'Look, Damon, I'm so sorry about what I said, I wasn't thinking right - '
'Hey.' He holds the woman's shoulders. She's crying again. 'It's okay.' He draws her close a second time, and she doesn't draw back. She's learnt from her mistakes.
She breathes him in, male musk and washed hair, but there's no comfort in the smell - there never was.
'I love you, Katy.'
She's learnt from her mistakes, and she says the lie she should have said a long time ago. 'I love you too.'
'Katy!' Damon? She looks over the shoulder of the man in her arms, and sitting on the edge of the fountain in the distance, is her last chance.
She looks confusedly from one to the other - same face, same worried look in their eyes.
'Didn't you say you loved me?' Voices in unison, and together they peel off their faces to reveal a marble bust beneath. Katy screams in horror as she backs away, the identical creatures advancing with outstretched arms, Damon, Damon, what are you doing -
'I told you not to look.' The woman pulls Katy out of the water, and with a start she realizes that it's Anna - how has she grown so fast? 'You should get yourself dry.'
It's spring, and the cherubs are covered in ivy vines, a pretty type with purple flowers gently wavering in the wind, threatening to loosen their grasp on the plant and fall into the dangerous fountain of desire.
'What - what happened?' Katy wrings her hair and grimaces at the splashing of water against the ground.
'It doesn't matter. You're safe now.' A dark and musky voice that strangely complemented Anna's beautifully formed figure. 'It's almost moonrise, we should hurry.'
The sound of the river up ahead begins increasing in intensity, drowning out the fountain as they pass through the gardens of the park. A dazzling array of colors and shapes, plants adorning the side of a hill, where at the peak the sun was setting. Silhouetted in the light, was a throne towering over the park.
'Keep going.' This time, Katy follows the woman's advice, and hastily looks away. But in the glimpse that she had, she thought there was someone - someone she knew - sitting there, watching.
Footsteps, footsteps, each one taking her further and further away from a past she wants to forget.
A chill passes over them as they reach the bridge over the now still river, only a slit of gold on the horizon, and stars awaking in the night sky.
'It's too late now. Papa will have to eat alone.' Anna says mournfully as she sits on the edge of the river bank. 'He misses you very much, you know.'
Katy looks down at the elderly woman, whose frail body was heaving with exhaustion, closing her eyes as the moonflowers open their petals, their luminescent pollen lighting up the glade.
'Go on ahead. He'll be glad to see you, even this late. I myself will take rest here.' Anna's body slides silently into the water, not a single ripple splaying on the surface.
Katy walks to the center of the bridge, and looks over the edge into the river - and looking back at her is the most beautiful thing she ever saw. Perhaps, she could have called it a person, but it was far too perfect for her pathetic race. She leans over to get a closer look at the golden-bronze waves of hair in the water, at the shining eyes that stared so eagerly up at her -
Katy falls into the freezing river -
And her reflection falls upward into the stars, where she always wanted to be.
It's autumn, she'd like to think.535Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡICZ58rasRQ
A broken song playing over and over in her head as they lift her off the park bench.535Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ9EbT0gwBRT
I don't want to be saved, she thinks, as she falls into the embrace of her daughter, the one they said she would never have -535Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡKpsAs4UCco