Authors: Abra Ebner
BOOK OF LIFE
By Abra Ebner
Published by Abra Ebner at Smashwords
Copyright © 2011 Abra Ebner
Lacy laid Stella’s dead body on a rock, her feathered head broken by the Devil herself—Avery. “My Missy,” Lacy whispered.
Stella heard her but could not reply—she was dying. All she ever wanted was to be human. All she ever wanted was the chance to finally meet
Since the day she saw his picture, her animal instincts had driven her to long for one thing, and one thing only—love.
She faced many challenges, but was determined to find a way around them. Stuck in a body that she never felt was her own, however, she now realized she was about to die inside it. All her hopes were lost.
Lacy left her on the rock with a kiss, her guardian and friend for so many years. Slowly, she felt herself leaving this borrowed body, the closest thing she’d had to finding him. From above, Stella watched as wind tickled the feathers she once possessed, stirring feelings she once felt, and hope she once believed in. Her soul lingered for a while over the body she once called home, now filled with nothing but emptiness.
Just then, as she floated above a world she was destined to leave, a blue light drifted toward her through the air with no direction. It was a strange and enticing blue light. It drew her in, all the while still above the lonely body she once owned. She watched it curiously, danced around it until the light no longer danced back. Staring longingly at it, Stella was no longer able to avoid its beauty.
The two collided.
. . .
Alone in the woods, a new life was born to a human girl named Stella, left lying on a rock where a friend once left her. Opening her eyes, the world seemed foreign, and quickly, the past faded away until all there was was now. Slowly sitting up in a human body suddenly so natural to her, she ran her fingers through a bed of brown and white feathers that were scattered about. Her soft, human skin was in strange contrast to these brittle-tipped feathers she felt she knew, but something inside her forgot how it was she knew them.
She tried to say something, but nothing came. Her mind a flutter with thoughts, she found each thought just as elusive as the next. Speech had left her.
At last, with all her might, she managed a single line—perhaps the only line she could.
“Who am I?”
she asked out loud, voice cracking. The words sounded foreign on her tongue, but words she knew and understood nonetheless.
The world whispered back, but it was too quiet to hear.
am I?” she asked again, this time clearer. While she awaited a second answer, she gently plucked a feather from the rock and inspected it. Still waiting, she pulled her knees to her chest against a chill. On this chill, the world whispered back, but still she did not understand.
Twisting the feather in her hand, a strange sensation overwhelmed her. Stella, was the only thought on her mind—perhaps an answer, but she did not know why. The sensation grew, trickling down her spine to her fingertips. At first it burned, but soon it gave way to a rush of cool. In a second her body had changed. Feathers now covered her shrunken frame as she struggled to fight the air with wings she hadn’t been expecting. She did not understand how or why she had so quickly changed, but again it did not surprise her—it felt natural.
Flying there as though it was something she had always done, she decided to test a theory on her mind. She quickly imagined the soft human skin of before, and in another second, she found herself back on the rock with human hands that were full of even more lose feathers—still warm. Her long locks of dark brown hair fell about her surprised face.
A Natural Shifter had been fused to two lives already worn—one of them was Jane, and one was Stella.
I pinched my finger along the crease of paper, concentrating on the task of folding it into a series of very straight and precise lines. I hadn’t felt this nervous, this close to feeling in weeks, not since Jane had gone. Existing in the way we did now seemed like torture. She was there and I was here, right where I had been for nearly eighty years—the In-between.
One last crease and the origami was finished. As hard as I tried, I simply could not bring myself to look across the river at her. I sighed, not wanting this task to be done and dreading the look on Jane’s face. I felt alone—alone in Seoul and the In-between. This was once a place I cherished for the simple beauty of seeing Jane’s face, charismatic and pure against all the dying there was around me. But now, seeing her just out of reach reminded me that I’d failed to keep her in this world, failed to save her life. Across the river my toes now touched, her soul dwelled in the one place I had run from all my life—the Ever After.
Releasing another breath, I feared that I had stalled long enough. I lifted my head. With an anxious gleam on her face, Jane smiled. Her tiny silhouette seemed tangible as she sat on the opposite shore. It was hard to convince myself of the fact that nothing about her was tangible, not anymore. She was a Glimmer now, a reflection made of nothing but dust and memories. As far as I knew, there was no way of bringing her back—at least not in a way she would remember me or who she was, but I would not lose hope.
Without her, what would become of our world? More importantly, did I even care if she wasn’t in it? With all the horror there, at least here I knew she would be sheltered and safe. Here she could be protected from all the things that had caused her pain to begin with—but the turmoil it has created! With Jane gone, the Black Angels were free to stretch their wretched black wings upon the many priories left on Earth. None of this was right. None if it made sense unless the prophecy Srixon had spoken of was somehow false. But, the prophets were never wrong, so why?
I studied Jane as the river reflected light across her face. I saw her as the sweet girl I always had. It’s funny to think that such a simple being could be feared to the point of a near truce between the shadow and light within the human world. If only I had saved her, that fear could have lasted a little longer. But as I said, this false hope had been based on a prophecy that clearly was never meant to come true, but why? Never before had the prophets visions failed so miserably. Something had gone horribly wrong, and I needed to find out what, or why that was.
Though I knew this fate had already been written, I could not bring myself to admit it to Jane. She needed to believe that I could still save her. The more I lied to her, however, the more I began to believe my lies. Telling her I’d bring her back convinced a small part of me that maybe this really wasn’t over. Like every day, that’s what I wrote in the letter. I was promising Jane life, and when I made a promise, I kept it, no matter how impossible it seemed.
He stood there looking solid and sure, his air of confidence infecting me even from such a distance. I yearned to be back where he was, back in life. The Ever After was not as I expected. Though it teemed with beauty and happiness, that happiness was short felt as I stared back at the life I once lived and still wanted to. Why was I to be tortured this way? No matter the place, I always yearned for someplace else. I wondered if I possessed the ability to be happy at all.
Max knelt toward the water, gently nudging his origami boat into the current. It sailed toward me on an invisible breeze, defying the flow to reach me. I plucked it delicately from the water, having learned to despite my transparent figure of dust. It took concentration as I focused on my hands, forcing every ounce of energy to my fingertips. I could feel the paper, a reminder of a world I should have forgotten. Already feeling exhausted by its physical weight, I unfolded the paper boat. Max promised me the same thing he always did, but it never got dull. Somehow his promise felt like a contract that could not be broken. He would bring me back. I would live again. This was what kept me going.
Completely taxed, I gave up as the note passed through my fingers and fell to the ground. I tried to collect my energy, but I had used far too much already. Looking up, I could barely give Max a smile of reply.
The look on his face was far more pained than I’d ever seen it before. He turned away from me. It broke my heart to see him do that. I knew he was blaming himself. It wasn’t his fault, though. I should have been smarter. I should have been able to see who Navia, or rather Avery, really was. Shame on me.
Max looked back and nodded one last time. It was his signal that he was leaving. I never wanted him to go. His time here was always too short, but I could understand why. Knowing him as I did, having shared my emotions with him, I knew he was a driven man. As much as he loved me, seeing me here only made him angry.
I leaned into the bank as I watched him disappear into the distance of the In-between. I was able to feel the ground and the cool grass behind my back. Anything aside from the other Glimmers could be felt as long as it lived or was created within the Ever After. Anything from the world I once lived in, however, was like lead in my hands. Looking now, the origami note had already sunken into the ground, gone forever. I closed my eyes and listened to the river, trying to let the anxiety sink away as the note had.
“Hello.” A small voice interrupted my concentration.
I opened my eyes. Above me stood a figure, silhouetted in the obscure rays of our world’s sun. “Hello,” I replied, sounding surprised. Aside from my father, who came and went in forgotten wave-like dreams, I hadn’t met very many other Glimmers. I suppose I just wasn’t ready. Accepting the fact that I was now a part of the Ever After meant forgetting my old life, at least that’s what I felt it meant.
“It’s not,” the girl replied to my thoughts, matter-of-factly.
I rolled my eyes away from her figure as she continued to hang over me, blocking the sun. The idea of her hearing my thoughts reminded me of Emily and I couldn’t help but be annoyed. Learning of Emily’s abilities was haunting me even into the afterlife. Just remembering all the things I had thought, and all the things she then heard in return? I felt embarrassed.
“You won’t ever forget your previous life as long as you’re here,” she added, as though to taunt me, reminding me of the fact that my guilt would stick around.
I sat up, wanting to see this girl’s face more clearly. I wanted to know how to despise her that much better. Twisting to face her, however, my anger quickly turned to surprise—she was younger than I had originally thought. She wore her blonde hair tightly pinned to her head, her yellow dress imitating a look worn during renaissance times.
“And you are?” I asked, brow arced. My hands dug into the ground I was propped on for support as my energy was still low. Because of this, I also lacked the ability for manners.
“Eliza Catherine Bourgone.” She smiled.
She couldn’t be any older than eleven, but the way she held herself—back straight, neck long and chin up—suggested obedience and age. No wonder I’d thought she was older at first glance.
She laughed delicately—I presumed at my thoughts. Quickly, I employed the tricks Max had taught me to block her from my mind. She only smiled wider.
“I figured you were different.”
“Different?” I tilted my head.
“Not human,” she replied sharply. She released her hands from behind her back, grasping at the billows of her dress and fanning them out before sitting in the grass along with me. “You’re Glimmer is different than the others.” She narrowed her eyes, looking at the air around me. “More experienced. If I had to guess you’re already quite familiar with death.” She blinked her bright blue eyes rapidly. “And if I’m not mistaken, you’re the very same girl I’ve seen before—many times.” She pointed across the river to the other bank, suggesting she had watched me from a distance for who knows how long. “So, I guess you don’t really have to guess that I already know a lot about you.”
“You’ve been watching me?”
Eliza nodded. “It’s very entertaining. You always looked so lost and confused. I couldn’t understand why you couldn’t eventually figure it out on your own and just cross the river to this side, where you rightfully belong. As you know, you should have died long ago. You were cheating.” She giggled, acting so sure of herself. “And the man I always see there with you—well, that was quite exhilarating.” She blushed in juxtaposition to her otherwise overconfident behavior.