Continued from The Truth in Dreams.
I woke suddenly. Something hard and cold was in my ear, pressing slowly. “Why are you here?” The voice was familiar, and I smiled slowly as recognition set in. “Stop grinning, and tell me where Keifa is!”
My laughter filled the room, and I spread my featherless wings. “You’ll not find her. I gave her a present, and if you see her, you’ll not recognize her!” I cawed in victory.
I heard more than felt the cracking as the blunt-tipped metal slammed through my ear. For a few moments, I lived in a strange state of pain, pleasure, and a sense of both being present, and being asleep and far away. Once more, I cawed in victory, screeching my win to the heavens beyond the roof; how I longed to see them one final time!
The next moment, I woke and began to dress. It was just a dream. I slid my sports bra on. It felt loose, as did my underwear, pants, and my shirt. I undressed and put on some clothes from a few years ago. They fit, though some of the elastic was rotten.
Finally, I pulled on my too-large grey jacket. I was swimming in it. My shoes were on the floor, and I put them on. They felt slightly loose, as well. I would have to live with it for a time. It was almost a month since my brother’s two snipers found me on the road, and life seemed normal, save my clothes stopped fitting so well. I kept a dream diary now, with a black feather glued to the front.
Always, I wore my necklace under my clothing. Drep became upset when I didn’t wear it at all, so I simply avoided the conflict.
As I entered the kitchen on automated feet, I looked around. Empty. I walked in and began to seek out some breakfast. As I searched, I turned up some Fruity Pebbles. Immediately, I overfilled my bowl. With a guilty twinge, I slowly put some back in the box until my bowl held a more reasonable amount. This cereal always came out fast. With practiced ease, I folded the inner bag down, one corner, then the other to make a triangle-shaped tab, then folded that in half and down before I shut the box and slid it back into place. I poured my milk and grabbed a spoon.
I yawned and stared at the cloudy window at the muddy back yard. The sun was hidden behind clouds, and a squirrel was chewing on nuts. I paused as I looked at the old willow. The familiar raven was absent. I frowned and looked around, then stepped outside into the chill breeze. Even without the window of the door in the way, I couldn’t see that black-colored bird. My heart slowly sank. He was gone. I finished my cereal and drank the colored milk before I walked inside and rinsed my dish.
My brother was there. I stared for a moment, then loaded my bowl and spoon into the dishwasher. He said good morning, and I nodded numbly in reply.
“Get breakfast?” he asked. Again, I nodded. “Sleep well?” Once more, a nod. “Well, I have to go soon. I’ll be back late tonight.” He smiled at me, then walked out.
As he walked away, I looked away. His words from before still stung. Did he still consider me a fat, pregnant cow with a gut that looks like it belonged to a beer-hound instead of a girl? I watched his back for several moments. He was skinny as he’d always been. I was both jealous, and admired his form
Aimlessly, I wandered back to my bedroom and played on my phone for a time. I didn’t feel social enough to seek out anyone. For several hours, I played stupid phone games until I fell asleep again. There, I saw a raven who looked like a man. He sat beside me, and stood always a step behind me. He was dark and shimmered with blues and reds, and was very handsome.
He spoke to me. “Now, now. Don’t eye me with the same manner you eye your brother.” I looked away suddenly and reddened. He simply stroked my hair. “It’s ok, Princess. I tease. I’m flattered, really.”
I slowly looked up. I wasn’t a princess, was I?
“You’re heir to your brother, who is the River King, yes? Thus, you’re the princess.”
He had a point, but it seemed strange to me. Surely my brother expected to marry, right?
“That doesn’t mean that if something horrible happens before then that you won’t inherit.”
I paused. Was he reading my mind?
“You speak to me with your thoughts.”
I stared at him. He was in my head!
“In a few more ways than one, Princess.”
Nervous fingers fidgeted and wrung each other as I bit my lip nervously. I felt both comfortable and violated with this arrangement. I looked up at him, silently begging for an explanation.
He tilted his head and gave me a warm, reassuring smile. “It’s simple. I’m dead, and since my spirit is cursed to live forever, I decided to live with you, as your servant.”
Dead? I stared at him for several moments. Dead people were supposed to disappear forever, not reappear after a month… Wait, was this even the same man I thought I met on that wagon? He didn’t look the same, but something about him was familiar.
“Yes, that was me, and yes, I am dead, though only in body.” He spoke slowly. Even I could tell he was struggling to remain patient.
My trembling fingers reached out and touched his hand. He didn’t withdraw. His skin felt smooth, but cold and only half there, like if I pressed hard enough, I would simply stick my fingers through. I stared at his hand for several moments, then looked up again at him.
“I’m essentially a ghost of a raven, Princess.” He chuckled. “That doesn’t frighten you, does it?” He leaned forward slowly, his eyes staring into mine.
I shook my head, and suddenly woke up. My heart was beating hard against my ribs, and I was panting. My palms were sweaty. Outside, I could hear my brother on the phone.
“What do you mean, you found his body? Where’s the rest of him?” A pause. “Fuck. Now who’s going to protect her? Where are those two who found her?” The conversation continued, and I listened in quietly until he walked away.
Was he talking about my Raven?