The first thing you hear when you wake this evening is the rain. Summer rain. Heavy. The large windows light up with a flash. Thunder rolls in the distance.
“The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.” You hear yourself say.
You know that you should be excited to plan your trip with Alcina and the girls, but you can’t shake the feeling of dread that’s been brewing in you for the past few weeks. You pull your bat-like wings around you like a blanket and hook your clawed fingers together.
It’s not just the knowledge that you’ll have to hide yourself while you travel. It’s the sinking feeling that you’re being watched, almost. Like something is going to happen. But nothing ever does. Not here.
You think back to a few nights ago when you were convinced that there was someone in the cliffs below the house. You could have sworn you heard someone. That beep of a radio. Shuffling boots. You know you heard it, but there was nothing when you went to check.
Alcina Dimitrescu is as unflappable and steadfast as ever, reassuring you that nothing could possibly pose a threat, that you’re safe. You can tell she’s worried about you though. You haven’t been your jovial self lately and your anxiety has hung heavy on your shoulders. Maybe she just doesn’t want to believe that something could puncture your happy little home in the mountains of Spain.
“The rain in Spain.” You hear yourself say. You don’t even bother finishing the phrase. You don’t even know why you’re saying it. Comfort perhaps. The comfort of rhyme and the nostalgia of old movies. Who knows?
You hear Alcina’s footsteps ascend to the second floor and then down the hall to your shared bedroom. She stands at the door, the one you made taller for her, and you can feel her eyes on your bare back.
“Are you awake, my love?” She asks softly. You don’t answer.
You hear her approach and then the creak of the bed as she sits.
“Bela’s made breakfast.” She says softly, bringing her hand to your back. She rubs her large palm over your spine and up to the back of your neck, where the Cadou made its home inside you. She moves her hand further, up to your long, bat-like ears, and gives them an affectionate scratch.
You usually love it when she does that, but you find yourself almost unable to respond. Just a twitch of your ear.
You feel frozen almost. You can see the men in their military uniforms as they point their guns at you. The smell of gunpowder. Alcina’s roar. Blood. You shut your eyes, but the visions remain.
“Talk to me.” Alcina whispers.
Finally, you roll over. You let out a long sigh.
“Of what, my love?”
“I don’t know yet. Everything.” You whisper.
Alcina leans down and wraps her long, powerful arms around you. She pulls you up into her lap and places her hand on your cheek.
“What are you afraid of?” She asks again. There’s a weight to her voice, a strength you can only dream of matching. Quick and clever as you are, you often wonder if you’re strong enough to stand beside her.
“Those men we fought back in Romania. Some of them survived.”
“We don’t know what happened to that village.” She reminds you.
“We know it was bombed. We know it was attacked. If they knew that Ethan was at the castle, then they had been watching us! For how long, do you wonder?” You hiss. The weak vision of your eyes blurs from tears and the world come in entirely in vibrations.
You can see the beating of Alcina’s heart. It’s as solid as ever, but it picks up speed as you speak.
“And maybe I am out of my mind, but maybe I’m not. They’ll find us, Alcina, if they haven’t already.” You insist.
“Listen to me.” Alcina says sharply. Her eyes almost glow.
“Listen to me. If they find us, then that’s their mistake. They should know to leave sleeping dragons where they lie.” She growls. She wipes the tears from your eyes.
“Now, please. Come downstairs. Bela was quite excited about making you breakfast. I’m not the only one who worries, you know.” Alcina says with an air of conclusion, as if the matter is settled.
You envy her ability to shake off her nerves and carry on. You’ve likened her to a statue in your mind over the years, but even that falls a bit short. She is a tower, standing tall and proud against the darkness of your mind.
You unfurl your wings and let her lead you to your closet.
“Now, let’s get you dressed.” She says, leaving you for a moment to poke through your hanging clothes. You sigh, but you can’t help but smile, as you watch her hunch over to get into the closet.
“You’re too big for the closet. I’ll get it.” You say gently, pushing past her.
“I don’t mind helping.”
“I know. You don’t have to fuss over me though. I’m ok. Really. Just…anxious.” You assure her. You find the clothes you want and climb into them. She watches you for a moment, but can’t help herself from help you fasten the collar of your shirt.
“Really, my love. I’m ok. And besides, we’re hardly a threat out here. More people die in car accidents than to us.” You say, starting to revive a little. It’s hardly a proper joke, but it feels a little lighter.
“We’ve been careful.”
You finish dressing and go to her. She puts her hands on your shoulders and you lean into her waist. You bring your gazes to meet one another.
“Now, let’s not keep Bela waiting.”
The two of you head downstairs. The smell of sugar and cinnamon tickles your nose as you step onto the first floor. There’s a blood too and you feel the salivary glands in your mouth spring to life.
As you enter the kitchen, you see Cassandra and Daniella staring into their phones. Bela is at the stove. She turns off the burner and turns to greet you.
“I made french toast!” She announces proudly.
“Really? I love French toast.” You say as warmly as you can. There’s still a twinge of heaviness in your voice, but the girls do have a way of cheering you up.
“Now go sit down!” Bela insists. You and Alcina walk to the dining room and take your seats at the new table. It’s a nice table, much stronger than the last one.
You lean back against the chair, trying to find a little comfort in it. Alcina is smiling. Everything is right with the world. It is, you know it is.
A few minutes later, Bela brings out a plate of French toast. It smells great.
She places it in the middle of the table and then scurries back to the kitchen to retrieve a tureen. She places it on the table and then passes out some plates.
“This is wonderful, darling. Thank you so much.” Alcina says. You nod along.
“Yeah, it smells great.”
Bela sits at the table for a moment with a big smile on her face, then realizing her sisters are still in the kitchen she scowls. You can’t help but realize how similar she is to Alcina.
“Cassandra! Dani! Come on!”
The remaining fiends join you at the table. Once everyone is seated, Bela returns to her hostess role and serves everyone a plate. It’s all very sweet.
“Please dig in.”
You look down at the French toast. It’s beautiful. You wait a moment for a turn with the tureen and then ladle some of the sauce onto your plate. Blood and strawberries.
It’s quite good. Excellent, even. You eat quietly.
The rest of the table engages in friendly conversation. Daniella shows Cassandra something on her phone and they laugh. Alcina asks to see it, but doesn’t understand the joke. They laugh again. Despite the happy scene you feel your smile shrinking on your face.
There’s something painful hidden in the way they speak to each other. Something akin to longing or perhaps grief? You can’t identify the feeling inside of yourself.
“Are you ok, Luci? Did I cook it too long?” Bela asks you suddenly. You turn to look at her.
“Yes. No. It’s—it’s perfect.” You say too quickly. You return your smile to your face with determination and take another bite.
You remember suddenly, so vividly. Mornings before school. Mom and Dad staring sleepily at their coffee. Your brother gushing about his new model figure. Loneliness.
The fork bends in your hand and you blink hard.
“Sweetheart?” Alcina says softly. You can feel her hand on your arm.
“This is really, really good, Bela. I just didn’t sleep too well. The rain.” You say. Even Cassandra and Daniella are looking at you now.
Focus on the present. You bend your fork back to its original shape.
Their concerned faces burn your skin, but you take a deep breath and the visions of the past dissipate.
“Was there any mail this morning?” Alcina asks Bela.
“Hm. Still no word from Donna.” You observe. The mere mention of her name sends a ripple of varying reactions through the table. Alcina clears her throat.
“She must be having fun wherever she is.” She says diplomatically. You chuckle a little and genuinely hope that Alcina is right.
After finishing your food and thanking Bela for it, you break off from the group to head back to your bedroom. Alcina looks like she wants to join you, but Daniella is telling her an elaborate story about her latest trip to the grocery store.
You give her a wink that you hope comes off as playful and ascend to the quiet of the second story. As much as you don’t like it, your old life’s been on your mind lately. Your old family. You wonder what they’re up to.
It’s a strange series of thoughts. After all, you abandoned that life back when you accepted the Cadou. You made the decision to leave your old life behind a long time ago. It was so easy. Why does this hurt so much?
And It was easier back then to stop yourself from looking back. Then again, you’ve been living in a fairy tale for the past few years. The talk of traveling has awakened something in you though. Your memories are slipping through the walls like ghosts. Fine then.
You go into the bedroom and shut the door. You climb into bed and grab your laptop. There is only one thing to do with ghosts. Confront them and their unfinished business. Simple. Then you can get back to your life.
You stare at the black screen in your lap, unsure of where to start. Who do you even want to check up on?
You turn the laptop on and type “Facebook” into the browser. Amazingly, you remember your password. You have hundreds of notifications. The realization makes your chest grow tight with anxiety, but curiosity spurs you on and you click the little notification icon.
“We’ll miss you.”
“She was an amazing person. I was so proud to know her.”
“I’ll never forget her.”
You stare at the posts on your wall with a dawning fascination, then you realize it. They think you’re dead. Of course they do. You haven’t spoken a word to anyone from your old life since you disappeared to a remote Romanian village. That village was blown up too. Someone must have filled in the blanks.
You scroll through the messages until you see your brother’s face, then click his profile. He’s gotten married. His wife is having a baby.
“Good on ya, bud.” You say softly. You keep scrolling.
You see a photo of your mother with a picture of you. She was my light. I miss her everyday. The date was for Mother’s Day of last year.
It hurts to look at. You fought all the time before you moved away. Then you barely spoke. How could she say that? But of course, she would say that. Death has a strange way of showing us how important life is, doesn’t it?
Was this what you wanted? To know that they moved on? And they did move on, didn’t they? Haven’t you? It had been so easy to walk away back then. Why does it hurt so much now?
You hear the door to the bedroom open and you snap the laptop shut.
“Am I interrupting?” Alcina asks.
“No. I was done. Did you need something?” You ask. The tension is noticeable in your voice. Alcina hangs back by the door.
“What were you doing?”
Alcina looks very unconvinced.
“Bank stuff.” You lie.
“Your heart’s pounding a mile a minute. Are we destitute?” She asks, almost a joke. You sigh and lay back against the headboard.
She finally walks over and sits on the bed.
“Darling, what’s wrong?”
“I really don’t want to talk about it.”
“Whatever it is, it’s eating you alive. Are you worried about the military men again?” Alcina asks. She reaches out and takes your hand, genuinely concerned. You shake your head.
“I mean, I am, but no. That’s not it.”
“Alcina, please.” You say, exhausted. This definitely plucks a nerve. It’s the tone of your voice, the way it feels like you’re dismissing her.
She thinks better of getting into it with you though and gets up. She moves for the door to have her final word on the matter.
“Well, when you decide you want to talk, I’ll be in the garden.” She says as calmly as she can. It’s mostly a hiss though.
Your temper flares. Bursting against the swelling pain inside of you. It’s slipping past your restraint, burning out of control.
“What part of ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ eludes you?” You snap.
Alcina’s temper flares in kind.
“And what am I meant to do? Let you brood about the house and pretend like nothing is wrong? You’re acting like a child.”
Gasoline on the fire.
“A child? And what are you? My fucking mother? Fussing over me and forcing your way into my private thoughts?”
The inferno burns on, tearing through the space between you, hungry to spread further.
“Forcing my way into your private thoughts? I was under the impression that you wanted me to know your mind seeing as you married me!”
“Well, I don’t!” You snarl.
“Then what, Luci? You would have me share my home with a stranger?” Alcina shouts.
“Why do you even care? Because I’m not making jokes and letting you have your way with me?”
You hear her laugh and it’s a cold, cruel thing, but you know it's masking her hurt.
“And what am I to you? A glorified scratching post? A mother to look after you and a whore to fuck you, but not worth your confidence? Hardly a wife at all!”
You can hear tears in Alcina’s voice. The pain in her heart threatens to spill from her eyes, but her jaw is set, poised to meet your lashes with strikes of her own. You look away, ashamed to be acting like this, but unwilling to relent.
“Don’t be dramatic.” You spit.
You know what you’re doing. It’s cruel and unwarranted. Petulant. You’re daring her temper and you know it.
“I’ll show you dramatic!” Alcina barks back at you.
Alcina grabs the closest thing to her, which happens to be a little table with a plant on it, and throws it all the way across the room and through the large bay window, shattering it. The plant’s pot breaks against the floor, scattering dirt.
The fight is on now and neither of you are backing down.
“Are you fucking insane? Who the fuck is going to pay for that? This isn’t your fucking castle!”
“Don’t I know it? We’re practically living in a hovel! Not one servant! Living like fucking peasants!”
Alcina almost never says curses in anger like that. Her rages, though few and far between these days, are always more flowery, like poetry. But not now. She’s furious, grasping at things to throw at you both figuratively and literally.
Before she can throw anything else, you dive for the window. You just need to get out of here. Fuck this.
“Don’t you dare run away from me!” Alcina screams.
You’re gone though, out the window, and into the night. You land in the front yard, but much to your surprise, you hear something heavy hitting the ground behind you. The rain falls hard.
You turn and Alcina is there. Her eyes are wild. Her hair is messy. Pure, white-hot fury burns in her, galvanizing her into a powerful stance. She so rarely exerts herself or her impossibly large figure. Alcina rises to her full height and clenches her fists.
Where this display would have cowed you all those years ago, now it pulls all of your muscles taut. You glare at her defiantly. You're not afraid of the woman or the monster.
The sound of the front door hits your ears and you hear the buzzing of Alcina’s daughters, but both you and their mother shout simultaneously.
“Stay out of this!”
The buzzing recedes.
“Don’t you dare raise your voice at them.” Alcina growls.
You throw your wings out and screech your ear-splitting screech. Alcina lunges for you and delivers a painful slap to your face. It’s hard enough that your vision swims for a moment, but you’re quick to recover.
You leap onto her and scratch at her wildly with your claws. The damage is thorough, but it heals just as quickly. You feel her hands grab your arms and stretch them wide. You fight her grip with everything you can. Hissing and snapping your jaw.
She kneels and slams you onto the ground, then climbs on top of your legs. You feel unhinged. The pain and rage inside of you spilling out wildly after months and months of quietly collecting inside. Your voice sounds foreign to you. Manic.
“What now? Gonna punish me? Please, Countess Dimitrescu! Punish me!” You howl. Mad laughter rocks your throat.
She slams you against the ground again. This one hurts. Your rib might be cracked.
“Harder.” You grunt.
She slams you again, then releases one of your arms and puts her hand around your neck. Her eyes are angry, yes, but there’s so much pain in them too. She’s crying.
“Do it. Make it hurt.” You whisper.
You feel Alcina’s grip loosen. The rage fades from her face. She brings her hand to your cheek and you feel her tears on your skin.
An ugly, raw sound bursts from your mouth and quickly becomes a sob. You wail out in agony, finally letting go of the dam holding back all of your feelings.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry, Mark. I’m sorry I missed your wedding and my niece. I’m sorry mom. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry you had to have a funeral for a fuckup like me. I’m such a fucking monster. I’m sorry I yelled at the girls and I’m sorry I –”
“It’s ok. It’s ok.” Alcina whispers.
You continue to blubber, barely coherent. You feel Alcina pull you up from your place on the ground and wince. Something is definitely broken. It’s almost funny. Something is broken alright.
Alcina lays you back on the ground and you sob into the dirt. She waits a few moments for you to wear yourself out and then puts a hand on your arm.
“I think we need to go on that vacation.” Alcina says gently. You chuckle. It still hurts a little, but less so.
“I’m sorry we don’t have any servants.”
“Yes, well. I’m sorry I broke the window.”
You look up at the second-story window. Absolutely shattered. It’s going to be a nightmare to clean up and get fixed. You thank all the stars that you have a guest room.
Finally, after a few more minutes you sit up. With the storm gone from within you, the words loosen and flow out. Water from the rain pours off of your hair.
“My family thinks I’m dead.” You finally say. Alcina puts her hand on your knee. You feel like you might cry again.
“Which like, that’s fine. I just feel horrible for putting them through that. And it’s kind of ironic because I was pretty sure I was going to kill myself after my trip to Romania, so…It’s almost like I did. And I’ve been so happy here with you, so ignorantly happy. I didn’t want to think about the consequences. But all that talk about traveling and I don’t know, it reminded me that there’s a whole world out there beyond our little bubble and I have a history there. And it all just came crashing back at once.”
Alcina pulls you into her arms and holds you tightly.
“I’m sorry.” You whisper.
“How many times have you told me not to shoulder all of our burdens on my own, darling?” Alcina replies.
“I was a really fucked up person before I met you.”
Alcina laughs a little and then releases you.
“Honey, I was kidnapping and torturing maidens in my cellar for years before I met you. I’d call that pretty fucked up as you put it.”
“Yeah, that’s pretty fucked up.” You admit. Your emotions are settling now though. Cooling off.
The two of you sit on the ground and talk for a long while, not minding the rain.
The fight is gone from you both and you chart a course back to one another with admissions of secrets and an open understanding.
Fucked up or not, you get each other in a way that no one else possibly could. There’s so much fire in you both. A violence that cannot be snuffed out entirely. Never for long, at least. Though it manifested differently in the past, you and Alcina have always been cutting something up to answer some deep, fundamental pain within you.
You tell her about your stint in the psych ward. She tells you about Mother Miranda’s manipulative cruelty masquerading as love. Though you are so different in so many ways, the one thing that unites you is control, the fight for it. Feeling helpless under the power of something more powerful than you and exerting your control where you could. You turned that fight inwards and she turned it to the world.
How strange that you and Alcina compliment each other so perfectly. Kismet.
“Let’s go inside and wash all this off.” Alcina says. She looks half-drowned. You certainly feel like that yourself.
As soon as you enter the house, Cassandra buzzes up to meet you.
“What the fuck, you two?”
“Cassandra, we were working some things out.” Alcina says gently.
“Yeah, well you scared Bela and Dani half to death. They thought you were going to kill each other.”
“Well, we didn’t and we’re not going to. Your mother and I just let our tempers get away from us.” You assure her.
“We’re going to go up and shower, but I’ll be back down later.” Alcina adds.
Cassandra does not look happy, but she lets you go without another word. You ascend the stairs together and walk back to the bedroom. There’s broken glass everywhere and dirt from the broken plant, but you’re both careful to move around it as you go to the bathroom.
You turn on the water and let it warm up. Then you both undress and get in. It’s a custom-made walk-in shower with several showerheads mounted on the wall and the ceiling. No, it’s not her castle, but this place has been modified to suit Alcina in so many ways.
You lean against one of the walls and sigh. The water is nice. Alcina steps in with you.
“I’m sorry I made you feel like my mother or – anything other than my wife. I love you and I’m sorry I pushed you away.”
“I want to know you. All of you. Even the parts you want to forget.” Alcina says gently. You swallow thickly and do your best not to start crying again.
“You’re always doing for me. Thinking about me. What do you want? What do you need?” You ask. You go to her and wrap your wings around her hips, holding her tightly.
She wraps her arms around your shoulders.
“Darling, I have what I want. I have you and my daughters. What I need is for you to stay with me. And if you need some space, then tell me. Don’t just shut me out. I have lived so much of my life in loneliness. Even with my daughters. As much as I love them, they can’t know me like you do. It’s different. I can’t lose you.” She explains.
“You haven’t. I’m here.”
“You were such a bold little thing when I brought you to my castle. Daring to stake your claim in a world you couldn’t possibly understand. You were so brave. So, unapologetically present. I married you because I love you and when I face the challenges of my life I want to know you’re on my side. This is a partnership and I feel like I can count on you. Have I not shown you that I am capable?”
“Of course you have. You are the most formidable woman I have ever known.” You insist.
“Then why didn’t you want to talk to me? I know I shouldn’t have pushed you so, but—”
“I was being terrible. I’m sorry.” You admit. She reaches up and holds your face.
“We both said things in anger, my love. I’m sorry too.”
You reach up through the water on your toes and she leans down to kiss you. It’s good and by the time you pull back, you start feel better.
“I think I just didn’t want to feel what I was feeling. I’ve changed so much since Romania. I couldn’t bear the thought of you seeing the person I was before.” You say. It’s hard to admit it, but you know it’s true.
Alcina leans in and kisses you again.
“All of it is you and I love you.” She says softly.
You reach up and wrap your arms around her neck. She pulls you up with her and you kiss her again.
“I love you too. I love you so much.”
Your kisses become more plentiful, more reaching. It’s like you’ve been pulled from the sea and you can finally breathe. Even after all this time, there’s so much more to discover. There’s so much to learn.
“You’re so beautiful. Please, let me take care of you.” You whisper into her ear. She lets you down onto the floor and you look up at Alcina with a heart bursting with love.
You kneel and she spreads her legs to let you inside. You reach up with your neck and find her tender sex. You run your tongue up the inside of her thigh and plant a kiss at is peak.
Your arms reach up, tracing the length of her body, touching everything that is Alcina. You take your time memorizing each moment of her skin. The curve of her waist. The lines made from expansion. She is vast and wonderful.
You part the lips of Venus’s altar and you worship. You feel the outside of her sex with your tongue and then press yourself in deeper. You kiss her. Once, twice, and again. Every kiss is a promise, a vow.
Alcina reaches for you and you weave your fingers together, never ceasing in your loving prayer. You hear her breath hitch and you slow your movements, savoring her, venerating her.
She lets out a pleased sigh.
You can feel the muscles of her hands tighten and soften, still interwoven in yours. Her gentle sigh becomes a quiet cry. Rhythmic in time with your tongue.
As the water from the shower pours over your head and back, you feel baptized by her, and you are preaching what it truly means to make love.
You feel her tense around you. You push her further to the precipice, insisting on and proving your devotion.
The orgasm takes hold and it’s both powerful and delicate. You look up at this woman who embodies the best things about life and you plant one final kiss at the apex of her thighs.
She leans back against the wall of the shower.
“Exquisite as always, my love.” She murmurs.
But you’re not done. You need her to know how you feel. You need to share everything because you know that she will cherish it. She has created a haven for you in her heart and you need her to know that you are taking up the naked residence she deserves.
You take the bodywash from the little dish and you take your time rubbing it over her skin. She takes some too. It’s almost ritualistic the way you shower together this time. You’re purging the fight from your relationship, purifying it, and you feel so close to each other.
When the shower is over, you both move wordlessly to the bedroom. You know the broken glass is still there on the floor, but it doesn’t worry you. You move past it and into the bed.
You have submitted to Alcina so many times over the years, but this time you long to surrender. Let the curtain fall on the mask you wear for other people. You gave her your heart years ago, but now you offer your soul.
She brings her fingers to your sex and enters you slowly. Your hips rise to meet her, bringing her into you. She takes her time and fills you completely. The world around you falls away.
“I love you.” You whisper.
“I love you.” She whispers back.
She works her fingers in and out, every thrust an affirmation. I love you becomes a shared chant. The hymn of your love.
You feel yourself getting closer to the edge, but you’re tense. Thick knots emerge from within you, bundles of anxiety and of sorrow.
Alcina brings her free hand to your lower back and holds you. She pierces you so directly to your core.
“Let go. I’ve got you.”
Tears rise to your eyes and you let them fall. She moves with you, watches you, listens. Her fingers guide you higher and higher until you have no choice but to let yourself fall.
Alcina leans over you and touches her lips to yours, meeting you where you are, and staying there with you until you return to the world.
You spend a long while in each other’s arms after that. It’s nice to be together, truly together, sharing your moments fully. You snuggle into her. She’s the best big spoon.
“Do you miss your castle?” You ask.
“Sometimes, but truth be told, it was never my castle. It was my father’s, then Miranda’s. If anything about it was mine, it was the effort to preserve my father’s legacy. No, this is my home now, something truly mine, and made better by you and the girls.”
“As many times as you’ve mentioned your father, you’ve never talked about your mother.”
“Neither have you.” She reminds you. This is your chance to try again with Alcina and show her that you take her trust seriously.
“My mother was—is a complicated woman. She was always so hard on us, my brother and I, but I think she meant well. We were forged in the flames of a hard world. If nothing else, my mother gave me so much of my strength. I think she had a difficult time loving us the way we needed it, but she gave us what she could.” You explain.
It hurts to talk about your mother, but Alcina’s supportive arm around you and her steady frame behind you make it easier.
“My mother died when I was born. I used to think that, had she lived, I would have never gotten caught in Miranda’s plot. I would have known what a mother’s love truly felt like.” Alcina says.
The pain of the past is clear in her voice, but she continues.
“But it doesn’t matter now. I do know what a mother’s love feels like. It’s what I feel for my daughters.”
“Of course. That makes sense.”
You hold each other for a little while longer, then Alcina pulls away and sits up.
“I should go tell the girls everything is ok.” She says. You get up too.
“I think I’ll stay here for a bit. I still have some things to think about.” You say. She nods and you both carefully maneuver around the broken glass on the floor to get dressed.
“I should probably get the broom and clean this up. I’ll call someone out to get the window replaced.” You say. Your words are without anger or resentment. This mess is just the fallout from a much needed session of catharsis. In the end, it was worth it.
“I’ll help you.” Alcina offers.
“No, it’s ok. I’ve got it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. Your daughters need you.”
“Ok.” Alcina says with a little nod. She kisses your forehead and then turns to head downstairs.
“Yes, my love?”
“For our vacation. Let’s go to New York. I want to show you where I used to live.” You say. Alcina smiles the warmest smile you’ve seen in months.
“I’d like that.”
Once she’s gone, you look at the damage. It shouldn’t take too long to clean up. You head out of the bedroom and down the hall to get the broom, then return, and start cleaning up.
Yes, you’ve always had a hard time letting yourself feel your feelings when those feelings are not the curated experience you’re looking to offer everyone. You’ve struggled with your ugly parts. How sweet it is to be loved not only in spite of them, but honoring them. How sweet it is, indeed.
You turn around and see Cassandra leaning in the doorway.
“Hey. I’m so sorry about earlier. We didn’t mean to scare you.”
Cassandra, the middle child. You’ve never really talked to her much beyond teaching her the guitar. Little conversations perhaps, but nothing deep. You’ve always believed that Bela was the most similar to Alcina, but you realize, as Cassandra looks at you with her penetrating glare, that they’re all like their mother, aren’t they? Bela, her duty. Cassandra, her depth. Daniella, her ferocity. You wonder what traits you inherited from your own mother.
“Yeah, well, you did. I need you to understand that your personal bullshit affects other people.”
You almost laugh. You are well aware of this today.
“I’ll be more considerate.”
“Yeah, you better. Now come up to the attic. We need you for something.”
Cassandra doesn’t wait to see if you’re following her. You put the broom down and make your way after her to the attic. You find Bela, Daniella, and Alcina all waiting there.
Cassandra picks up your guitar and thrusts it at you.
“Listen. I don’t know what you’re going through, but just play. You know the words. Just go with it.” She says quickly.
You take your guitar and sling it across yourself. Alcina raises an eyebrow at you and your shrug. The girls take up their instruments and Cassandra pushes you in front of the microphone.
She strikes up a series of familiar chords on her guitar. Dani picks up the beat on her drums. You do know the song. It’s one of the first songs you ever taught the girls. You always have them play it when they get homesick for the castle or don’t feel like they make sense in the world around them.
Your throat tightens as you and Bela come in together. When you sing out the words, you really hope they’re true.
“I backed my car into a cop car the other day
Well, he just drove off, sometimes life's okay
I ran my mouth off a bit too much, oh, what did I say?
Well, you just laughed it off, it was all okay
And we'll all float on, okay
And we'll all float on, okay
And we'll all float on, okay
And we'll all float on anyway, well
A fake Jamaican took every last dime with that scam
It was worth it just to learn from sleight-of-hand
Bad news comes, don't you worry even when it lands
Good news will work it's way to all them plans
We both got fired on exactly the same day
Well, we'll float on, good news is on the way
And we'll all float on, okay
And we'll all float on, okay
And we'll all float on, okay
And we'll all float on, alright
Already we'll all float on
Now don't you worry, we'll all float on
Alright, already we'll all float on
Alright, don't worry, we'll all float on
Alright, already and we'll all float on
Alright, already we'll all float on
Alright, don't worry even if things end up a bit too heavy
We'll all float on, alright
Already we'll all float on
Alright, already we'll all float on
Okay, don't worry, we'll all float on
Even if things get heavy, we'll all float on
Alright, already we'll all float on
Alright, no don't you worry, we'll all float on
Alright, all float on"
Cassandra provides backup vocals and where your voice breaks, she sings louder. By the end, you’re all singing out the chorus as it repeats. All of you.
It’s going to be ok. Though life has thrown so much at you and you’re scared, you press on. You have to. For the ones you love. For yourself. You have love to strengthen you. You float on.