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A red sea of poppies surrounded Mage’s mangled body, protecting them. Glassy eyes darted around and landed to their hand, where a shriveled poppy sat, almost turned to dust. They knew poppies immediately died after they were taken out of the ground. The petals wither and hide from sight and stem curves in defensively as a last resort to survive.
With a shaky hand, they slowly buried the delicate poppy. Mage laid their head back and let the thoughts conceal them. Usually they ignored them, music, whispering, laughing or reading aloud were perfect ways to block out their constant arguing and yelling. It always started slow and quiet.
“The cave was a good idea. We like the darkness, it consumes and hides us, the pits of darkness are where we belong” A voice stated, sharp and clear. The voices aren’t usually this clear.
“I know, I picked it specifically for this. If this choice is our last one, it’s best we complete it here, alone and hidden.” A whisper followed. The cave was hidden. It stood far from any city, with only a small hole in its wall to shine on the bright red poppies and Mage’s tainted and weak body. They would be left alone for a while.
“This is our last choice. After this there’s nothing, we’re done. No more strings attached, no more confusion and suffering.” Tears of pain fell on small purple acidic berries on their chest, some were crushed or mixed with drips of sweat and saliva which fell uncontrollably from Mage’s mouth. Only a few berries were left, still attached to their lime green stem. They remembered loving to look at them, small but deadly. Now they made Mage want to vomit.
“We never suffered. She was right, we can’t discuss this, we never did. Not with Mother.”
The word rang, a deafening crash and shut the voices down. It was quiet, their face started to ache and their throat clogged. Mage closed their eyes and tried to remember.
They opened their eyes, separated into two shadows, connected to what seemed like hands but were more of an involuntary mold. An eye right in the middle of each one’s face, both bodies were small and bony, like unfinished wooden sculptures. Sharp looked around and Whisper followed their gaze. It was a living room made up of three walls. One was missing, leaving an untouchable void of darkness to replace it. The clean and bright furniture stood uncomfortably around the room, one a bit too far away from the other, the couch too disconnected from the coffee table to be used correctly. The walls dripped, fell down slowly to the ground from a never-ending source and the weak yellow light above dangled with nothing pushing it.
“Eyes show someone’s true self, you know that?” Sharp whispered, but the other ignored them.
“Where are we?” Whisper turned to their connected shadow. The place seemed to get bigger and bigger, the walls went apart further and further.
As soon as Sharp spoke, the unnatural movement of the walls stopped:
“We’re in a botched memory. One of the few in our head.” Sharp’s gaze, after mechanically calculating the surreal surroundings, sat on another being, an intruder.
They stood tall, their body a blanket of shadow, with only a smile to separate them from the rest of the darkness in the room. The grin was hard, pins held the edges of the mouth and bled, attached to their invisible face. The small dots of blood dripped heavily to the ground, creating a small pool. The creature did not bother to wipe it away. It stared back at them, the absence of eyes on the creature didn’t soften the hardness of the stare, it made it worse.
“Mother” Whisper cried out, scared. We love Mother, they thought. Is this what she’s like in our head? Mother whispered lovingly, words of comfort. They were beautiful words, the most loving confession of motherly love. Her voice begged to differ. It dripped with discomfort and impulsivity; the speech didn’t mean anything. Whisper started to shake, disturbed. As soon as Mother noticed this, her words became desperate and loud, reaching for trust.
She always loved to call them crazy, it was her favorite nickname for them. Sometimes it was comforting. It hid their doubts, their guesses about sweet Mother. When it came out of her mouth, they knew she was right, she knew what was best. Whisper didn’t like denying the nickname, did not like saying it was rude or wrong. Because she was always right, wasn’t she?
Sharp glanced at Whisper quivering by their side. They held the scared shadow back, forcing them not to move, to understand. Sharp knew this Mother, the real Mother. Whisper, after 15 years of living with her, always fell for these words of support. Sharp remembered everything clearly, unlike Whisper. Whisper’s memories were ruined and broken, pathetically put together in a desperate attempt not to forget their childhood and innocence. They always left out the parts where Mother wasn’t perfect, where Mother ruined these memories with no remorse. She liked making up stories and sweeping others under a rug, a rug too soft and too fluffy.
After a few minutes, Sharp stopped staring at Mother to look at Whisper. The other shadow’s eye was focused on the ground, realization hitting them strong, with no filter to help them accept the reality. Mother was loving, Mother was kind and Mother was gentle, just not to them. Slowly, the short ends Mother left, those doubts and fears which were always hidden, got dragged out, the rug now a piece of cardboard there to create an illusion, a persona. They didn’t have time to accept it. Sharp dropped an arm around Whisper, and gently pulled them in the darkness, though the fourth wall of the broken memory, leaving Mother’s shadow to bleed out from her pierced cheeks.
Their silence was extremely apparent to Mage. What were once small droplets of tears, were now leaking faucets. In a desperate attempt of comfort, Mage tried to reach out for a poppy, for the simplicity and familiarity the flowers always offered, but their body was paralyzed from the high dosage of belladonnas. Tears rolled down faster, they begged their body to move, even an inch, enough to pluck the delicate flowers and hold them close. But nothing moved, despite their frantic pleads and attempts.
“It’s going to be over in a few minutes. We will leave so much behind and so much unresolved. We should have done something, told her something or even yelled at her.” Whisper muttered. Sharp curled up next to them, in the darkness, staring at the poppies through Mage’s eyes. They didn’t answer, for they knew the other shadow was right, they should have done something, they should have been better. But alas, here they are. Pathetic.
“At least we have ourselves” Sharp finished.
Mage closed their burning red eyes and exhaled slowly, trying to calm themselves. The only thing they could feel now was the breeze in cave. It was light, running around the cave and making the flowers flutter. It passed through Mage’s hair, taking away the voices and their headache.
After that, dead quiet, perfect. They exhaled one last time and smiled, knowing the end was near, and everything would fade away. Goodbye poppies.