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The Rose Lady
Thin webs of light flickered across the shadowed wood. I stared at them, musing on their origin. Were they from a clawed raccoon? No. It was far more likely they were the product of splintered furniture and shifting car lights. Each wavering before me was accompanied by the flash of headlights in the window above my head, and the brum of a mechanical monster tumbling past. Life goes on. In whatever form.
How did I get here? That’s what people would ask, but I wouldn’t answer because they weren’t specific enough. If they don’t use details, I really won’t know what they mean. ‘How did I get to the house?’ is a better question. But there are so many other interpretations...
I shuddered, my head jerking prickly hair into my eyes. The webs stretched like cats, and I stood. It was time enough. Nothing was going to change, especially if I didn’t do anything. Sitting still has never been one of my strong points.
I stepped softly into the main part of the house. It was always best to make a minimal disturbance when entering the homes of the dead. Shards of gilded wood and glass spawned on the floor ahead of me, so I took a slight detour. Seeing myself was not high on the list of priorities, even if it was in a vague, piecemeal sort of way. Perhaps that would be even worse. It wasn’t a very pleasant image in the first place.
Something in the hallway pressed against my skin like the water of an ocean’s abyss, but it was better than the minefield in the sitting room. As long as I left the doors untouched I would be fine. My grandmother had told me the old stories every time we met. It wasn’t often, and then she died...but they were memorable stories. And the leeching spirits couldn’t take me if I did not come to them. They were behind the doors, lurking in the smell of wood and resin, waiting...
But I had other things to see to. Yes, I did. The Rose Lady was manifesting in the Little Turnway Park. A few of the old places had been preserved in the restructuring. I clung to them with all the ardor of life, the broken husks of creations. There was real power here. The sycophants in their glossy towers and gleaming cars could delude themselves with the gifts and distractions created by man, but I had heard the old stories. I knew. I wanted to see the Rose Lady.
One of the stories had her in it. She was a giving spirit. She could help me. I stood in the doorway of an old house, and laughed at the burn of ‘subtle’ security lasers on my skin. The Rose Lady would change things. Things are every, and each, and a multitude at once. And she could change them.
I left the old den for the river gutters of the road. (There is only one road because everyone wants to go to the same place). The walk was not a long one, but the acrobatics required when traveling via the waste rivers destroy all stamina. The Little Turnway Park sprawled ahead, and all I could do was pull in more treacherous oxygen. Now that I had decided it could not be stopped. Change would come. I had to see her...
I stumbled my body into the gates, and made for the fountain. No water ran, it had long since been rerouted. She was black copper and green tears. My Rose Lady. I looked at the statue, and called for life to color her eyes. But the emptiness, the vacuous black that engulfed my entire world, was all she could clothe herself in.
Soon, soon. All I could do was wait, hope as a fool for my change. Change is always better. It may take time to accept, but all change is good. There is no life without it. The Rose Lady...her statue carried a bouquet of her namesake, which would have sprouted water had the fountain...
I pressed my eyes shut. Lashes tickling my skin, I heard her wake.
It was a hum at first, then a crackle, and eventually it was warmth. I asked her for my gift. I stood and held my soul before her, exposed to crumbling petal and clawing thorn. And she stared deep into the ink’s shine to find it – hold it in her carved, created fingers.
A nod. And there it was, my change. Color unfurled behind me in a brilliant banner. The wind trickled through a maze of metal to snip at my skin. My eyes were open without ever having moved. My physical body was not me.
The Rose Lady stood before me in a raiment of pressed petals in all the color of things. The pink of her eyes lit my spirit, and my choice was made. It had been made since I had accepted that change was necessary. I was gone. I was no longer. Nor taller, nor warmer.
The Rose Lady took me away from it.
Port Pirie, ZZ