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She died again tonight. I saw my sister, circling above me, sink into the ocean again and drown like she always does. There is nothing I can do to save her; this is just how our life works.
Philip passed me the flask, I took a long draught of the sour brew and began to gag. But maybe this drink would help me forget what had happened just a little bit. The wailing of the family invaded my ears once more as they sobbed over the death of their daughter. The girl I’d come to see.
I was born over two thousand years ago. To a woman whose name I don’t remember. The gods at the time told my mother that she had to kill one of her children, because the oracles said that one of us would one day overthrow the gods themselves. So when my sister and I were born, my mother ran away to save us from an awful fate. She disappeared soon after I turned fifteen.
My sister and I lived the best we could. We stole food, even tried to be farmers for a time so we could live off of our own profits. But the gods soon found us. We’d been running for years when they finally caught us.
“Alden,” Philip yelled to me, breaking me out of my thoughts. “Where’d you go, man?”
“To another time,” I replied, taking another drink from the flask. I could tell that my hazel eyes were flashing, by the way that Philip backed up slightly. We never asked personal questions, and he knew that.
Guinn put her hand gently on my arm. “It’s time, Alden. They’re bringing the girl’s body over for you.”
I sighed deeply, pulled my black leather coat tighter around me, straightened my dark tie, and my mussed coal hair. The chains that were dangling from my pockets and belt loops jangled as I stood from the bench of the church.
Guinn grabbed my arm as if to steady me, careful not to touch any of my skin. These things always tired me, and she knew it. As the casket barriers began to approach us from behind the doors to the left of the organ, my body began to shiver as it always did. The power was beginning to build up. Would this girl be the one? The men set the coffin down in front of me, and began to back up, not knowing what my power would do. I breathed in deeply once more, glanced at Philip, who nodded, and then at Guinn. She smiled grimly. “Think of her,” She whispered into my ear.
I opened the lid of the coffin, noticing the girl’s auburn hair and still rosy cheeks. “How long has she been dead?” I asked one of the men. There were fresh tears falling down his face.
“A day,” He hung his head. “Do you have the money we asked for?” He asked in a hushed voice, his head still down.
I motioned for Philip to move forward. He handed the man a wallet full of money. The man clutched the wad of paper like a lifeline…in this world, it truly was. Not like in the old days, where I come from.
I remember when the gods found us, they tied us up and didn’t give us any food or water, they watched us grow weak. Then they unbound us. They told my sister that if she followed the sacred task that they gave her, I could go free. She agreed, but didn’t know at what cost. By the time I found out what she’d done, I could feel the power of immortality begin to grow within me. I was forced to live forever, so powerful, yet so helpless. Doomed to watch my sister drown at the end of every summer. Unless I freed her.
I pressed my gloved hand against the girls forehead, feeling the errant traces of memories still floating around in her mind. A chain of flowers, a black dog, a broken vase, a smiling woman…endless, yet faded thoughts. I grabbed the thoughts and threw them to the floor of the church. Only Philip and Guinn noticed, they’d seen it before. She was now empty. I turned once more to the waiting men. “Carry her outside,” I said, my voice hoarse
The man that was given the money stepped forward, pocketing his money, and hoisted the girl in his arms, looking stiffly ahead. I walked towards the doors of the church, noticing that Guinn and Philip were right behind, ready to catch me if I fell. An angel mounted on one of the walls by the doors caught my attention. It’s face seemed to question me. Should I really do this? I asked myself. Would she approve?
The doors opened wide as I stepped closer, another hint to my power. Everything fears me. I brushed the thought aside like an errant beetle, and moved forward once more until I was out of the reach of the lights of the church. The sky was breathtaking. Every star was alight. Shining. Probably in pain.
I took the glove off of my right hand, noticing the cluster of stars on the back of it. Taurus. The cursed bull that is forced to roam the skies, never finding her way back to the earth. “I’m going to free you, sister,” I whispered.
“Lay the body there,” I said quietly to the man holding the girl. Was the money really worth this girl’s body? Was it his daughter? Maybe a neighbor. I wondered what the money was going to be used for.
The man laid the body at my feet, then began to make his way back to the church. I paid him no further attention, but looked down at the girl. She looked so peaceful. I knelt down beside her prone figure, moving the hair back from her face with my gloved hand. “Thank you,” I whispered to her lifeless body. Philip and Guinn stood several feet away, knowing what was to come. I didn’t pay them much attention. Hesitating just a moment, I lifted my naked hand and placed it on the girl’s forehead. Instantly, she screamed. “Stop, Alden!”
I was taken aback. The girl’s never spoke…and never in her voice.
“You can’t do this, let me live what little existence I can,” She was so peaceful. Her hair was now black, just like it should be. Her green eyes and olive skin penetrated my soul. “I became what I am to save you, Alden. You can’t throw it all away.”
“What kind of a life is this? Never ending, everyone dying…so far from the ones I love. I see you drown ever spring. I can’t live with this any longer.”
“Alden,” Her voice was gentle. “I can die a thousand, a hundred thousand, times more, if it means that you get to live. Put your talents to good use.” She smiled.
“I…can’t.” From somewhere tears began to form in my eyes. Actual moisture.
My sister smiled again. “The gods meant for it to be this way. Believe in me, Alden. Someday we’ll find an easier way to do this. But stealing people’s bodies, and trying to place my soul within them…” She trailed off. “You know it’s wrong.”
I was silent. My silence was all the answer she needed.
“I love you, Alden.”
“I love you…Taurus.”
I watched my sister die again tonight. She circled above, smiled, and then sunk back into the ocean, into her nearly eternal watery grave. There is nothing I can to do save her, but someday, I’ll find a way.
The violent dance the gods make constellations dance always ends with a splash.