Have you ever remembered something? Something that was important to you as a kid? You can see it in your mind’s eye; recall the conviction, the importance behind it. You remember the whispered conversations, the silent laughter heard only between you and the wind. You try and find it out again, you try recreating the memory. Try so hard to remember the importance, to rediscover the importance. But something’s different, something you can’t quite place. The memory has changed, and you mull over it, foolishly trying to rediscover the memory, to remember. You’re not looking in the right place…
“I only wonder where my mother will think I’ve gone,” Candace says to no one in particular, slurping her last spoonful of picadillo. The picadillo tasted exactly the way her grandfather used to cook it, and she peered at the arroz con leche, remembering the way the house used to smell so wonderfully as her grandmother had cooked it. To think, she hadn’t had arroz con leche in sixteen years.
Candace heard West chuckle, and soft gray eyes turned to face him. He had a most unusual smile playing across his thin lips, crazy colored eyes falling into well, Candace could only come up with the word dreamy, falling into the registers of dreamy colors. “Your mother and grandfather have just left the hardware store, your mother slightly upset that they took so long seeing as how your grandfather is already hinting that he is ravenous.” Candace giggled at that, yes, that did sound like her grandfather.
“But then your mother has just received a text from your phone, you seem to be at a diner. Your childhood friend who used to live in the ranch next door invited you to lunch. You have just sent a picture of your rather large cherry smoothie. Your mother laughs, showing it to your grandfather, and then,” but then Candace felt a small vibration coming from her jacket pocket. She was amazed the small flip phone hadn’t slipped out during her fight with Sorja. She was even more amazed she still had cell service in here.
The text message was short, only reminding Candace to be careful and not to walk on the road too late at night. Candace smiled impatiently, nodding and sending a response. West and East watched her curiously, noting how fast her thumbs flew against the small keypad, wondering at the strange mechanics of the human world. Candace looked up, a small smile playing on her features, noticing the curious looks on their faces. She always thought curiosity would be a bright, vivid color, both their crazy colored were in the warmer registers of ultramarine.
“Tis strange, to see one all grown up,” East whispered, tilting her head. Candace could not tell if she was being demeaning or sincere. West nodded and Candace’s dark eyebrows furrowed close, shaking her head slightly. “And what shall you do about the problem at hand, dear Cardinal? You cannot hide your Queen within a tree forever,” East directed, crazy colored eyes falling into the darker registers of browns and blood reds.
West quirked an eyebrow, vivid, blue eyes holding, even as they fell into the cooler registers of blue. Candace remembered asking once why his eyes went all sorts of colors. She remembered West smiling, simply answering that every color within his realm he held within him. Every strand of energy expressed on what she often thought he was wearing and in his eyes. The answer after sixteen years still didn’t make any sense.
“The Giver is overruled, she cannot take Candace’s soul, without overruling a Cardinal’s authority,” West declared simply, voice of stubborn steel. East shook her head, smiling, and again Candace could not tell if she was being sincere or demeaning.
“She has not overruled her Cardinal, West. The oath was taken as it would be taken from anyone else, the words hold true,” East argued pointedly. She made a small motion with her hand, eyeing Candace. Candace watched, entranced as a small mug of some dark brown liquid appeared before her. “For the dessert,” East answered Candace’s questioning gray eyes.
West huffed, lips pulling into a scowl, “If we allow this then all children risk being lulled by a Giver. All children would fall for Sorja, Grama, Dravel, Grot,” West spat out angrily, eyes fizzling into that angry absolute white. Candace watched in awe, gray eyes wide. She could not only see but feel the energy radiating off of him.
“Any children would accept their damned oath and forget, as they must, under your hand,” West continued. His breath came quickly now, the whirling energy of his clothing erupting in small statics, hissing and cackling. Candace shivers in her seat, the energy like a roiling winter storm, like icy water breaking over and through you. Her breath came out in a small fog, and she hugged her arms to herself.
East lay a resting hand on West, his head snapping towards Candace. He exhaled shakily, and suddenly, the cold was gone. There was warmth suffusing the den within the oak tree, like a roiling fire. Candace smiled towards West, who only turned away, summer blue eyes staring fiercely into the west of the universe just outside the expansive window.
“You make assumptions, West. The Giver’s understand the contracts I hold with children. Sorja will not go unpunished,” East declared. Candace watched West turn to face East, eyes pooling into the darker registers of violets and maroons.
“Yes,” West whispered, so softly Candace had to lean in to hear. “She will,” and West rose smoothly from the bench, walking towards the expansive window, his cloak billowing softly around him. Candace could see energy within the cloak, energy creating, energy destroying. She could see within the dimensions, the realms, all the notions that made up West, that suffused his life force within west of the universe. She seemed to forget that time existed beyond his cloak, could only see the way the energy spooled and divided, could see electrons jumping here and there, neutrons fusing together only to radiate and become destroyed once again.
She felt a cooling hand on her own, and Candace gasped softly, gray eyes wide with wonder. She turned to face crazy colored eyes swimming in the registers of warm violets and pinks. East smiled knowingly, “Never look into Infinity,” and she patted Candace’s hand before gently recoiling back.
Candace shook her head, remembering something she had been meaning to ask, “Contracts?” She still didn’t understand why she had been made to forget, could not understand why children had to mourn alone. East tilted her head, nodding slowly.
“There are many realms, many dimensions, where stars set in the west and rise in the east,” and East looked towards West, who stood stoic, facing the large, expansive window towards his point of the universe. “It is quite an enigma,” and East’s eyes glowed softly, palely, whirling within the purest form of lavender Candace had ever seen. “I am the new day, the new hope, I make one forget the setting sun of yesterday, and allow them to appreciate the rising sun, in exchange for the memory of dusk, of the west. But there are other worlds, other dimensions where the roles are switched,” and East shrugged subtly. Candace figured East would not go into what happens when the sun sets in the east and rises in the west, deciding to nod instead.
“Does it hurt?” Candace asked, shrugging one shoulder, “How,” and Candace pursed her lips, dark eyebrows furrowing, “How do you do it?”
And East smiled, the pure lavender of her eyes becoming the warmest of yellows, practically glowing in its radiance. “There was a luster in the sky, one does not see throughout July,” East began, and Candace could see it, could see the memory of it. She had been wearing her favorite navy polka dotted dress, with the yellow ribbon. She had taken a nap leaning against the oak tree, shrouded in its leaves.
“There was a softly settling fog,” and Candace could see the fog, could see within and through the fog, the mist and tiny drops of water making up the fog as it settled all around her childhood backyard, around the napping figure that was her.
“Then you saw the sun,” and Candace saw her eyebrows furrowing, as she opened one eyelid and then the other, looking in the general direction of the bright, morning sun as it rose higher in the sky. Candace could see herself smiling, and saw herself mumbling little childish nothings to the sun, rambling on and on, tensing when she spoke about her meeting with the golden lady last night.
“You saw me,” East finished, and Candace could see slowly spilling energy directed from the sun towards her. Heard the way her words kept tripping over themselves, heard the way she had to keep restarting, only to forget certain events, certain memories. The way her conversation slowly changed, morphed, evolved into nothing but childish ramblings even the little girl couldn’t make sense. Candace saw as she furrowed her eyebrows, shrugging off the strange dreams she’d been having. She heard the little girl ramble that one day it wouldn’t matter, and Candace could only smile forlornly, tears welling within her eyes.
East nodded towards the untouched mug beside Candace, “Drink,” East ordered softly and Candace nodded. She did not notice as West turned to face the two women, or the way his long legs carried him over quickly to sit beside Candace now on the long, wooden bench. She only felt the liquid, just the right temperature, as it touched her lips and spread…well…but…sunlight. Spread sunlight all throughout her and within her. It felt like watching a thousand rising suns, millions of new days, a billion within a billion and a billion new stars break against the skies of every realm, every dimension, every planet, every world that had ever and would ever exist.
“Those Who Move,” West interjected, eyes so very dark, so very gray, as to be nothing at all. Candace blinked rapidly, exhaling slowly as she shook her head and set the mug down, feeling warm all over. She heard East snicker, crazy colored eyes deepening into the warm registers of pinks and crimsons.
“They consume anything touched by a Giver, her life would be forfeit,” East refuted simply. Candace turned groggily towards West, suddenly feeling very sleepy. East stood, pacing up and down the long table; the swirls of her clothing becoming the different hues and tones of the brightest violets, the softest mauves, the darkest ultramarines. “You cannot think to call on their aid,” East stated passionately, eyes tumbling into the darkest of thalo blues. Candace inhaled heavily, her mind swaying, she must be alert, she must be awake and alert. She felt a small surge of something within her, recoil from her demand. She felt something burn hotly and then fritz into nothingness. The sleepiness hit her harder then, and she groaned softly in defeat.
West held her face between his hands, from one motion to the next; those vivid, summer blue eyes searching deep into her. Candace slouched towards his touch, gray eyes fluttering for wakefulness. She dimly noticed West smirking, his hands softening against her face. Such warmth radiated from him, like sunlight, like hot chocolate on a cold autumn’s day. Candace tried shaking her head, only dimly aware of her surroundings, her being slumping towards sleep.
“It seems your magic’s caught up with you,” West whispered close to her ear, though Candace barely heard. She noticed East vaguely bending towards her, standing beside West’s seated form.
“Amazing that she held it off for so long,” East seemed to say, though Candace was no longer so sure of anything anymore. West chuckled, folding her towards him and she obliged willingly. She felt Creation lying just beneath his being; she could just make out the swirling nexus of energy and creation tingling in the farthest corners of her brain as she slumped closer and closer towards West. She could feel physical warmth too, feel a firm body catch her as she succumbed fully into slumber, eyelids fluttering close and mind opening to the night.
Candace could see a house, another ranch house so achingly familiar, but she couldn’t quite place it. It wasn’t her grandparent’s ranch house, that much she was sure. It wasn’t a horrid ranch house, just simply, not hers. She stood in a vast, vast clearing, the stars wide above her. A warm western wind tugged at the edges of her clothing, seeming to push her towards the familiar ranch house. Warm gray eyes looked above at the huge expanse of stars, suddenly feeling so very small. She could never see them back at her university, too many lights.
She remembered she had danced there once, within the sheets of the universe. She remembered the way it had felt too, like heavy silk. Heavy silk interlaced with itchy, uncomfortable tulle, at times feeling like a dress sewn on too tightly. Then there had been the parts that felt like soft cotton, so light, teeming with soft hues of vivid color.
She felt him rather than heard him, aware of the ebbing warmth that whispered against her whenever he was near. She turned towards him, smiling knowingly. “It’s a dream,” she said, statement than question. West nodded once, crazy colored eyes falling into the softer registers of blues and yellows. He turned to face the large expanse of the starry sky, the warm wind playing with his ash blonde curls.
“I used to dance like a chicken,” Candace state, slowly remembering the entire span of years then, feeling the weight of her age as she gazed into the enormity of all those dizzying stars. Could feel the weight of her journey, the distance she had traveled in sixteen years, how some of it was utterly useless while other memories she clung to hopelessly, silently praying she would not forget this time, no, not this time.
“Twenty four,” she whispered dazedly, warm gray eyes so very far away then, “I have an apartment, I graduate next semester, I have a job lined up for me as soon as I do,” Candace shook her head, feeling the weight of her life, feeling how easy it was to speak like an adult, to make sense, not constantly searching for lost things. “It all feels like such a long time ago, like it all happened so quickly, and I can’t hold it all back. I can’t stop it from moving forward.” Candace remembered furtively, remembering how small she had been, how easy it had all felt. She wondered when it had gotten so hard, exhaling slowly.
“My Queen,” West began, turning to face her, those soft oranges and yellows of his crazy-colored eyes meeting warm gray. “You never danced like a chicken,” West said, causing Candace to laugh. West smirked, nodding towards the expanse of the universe above them. He placed one hand between them, palm up and Candace smiled, remembering the silent message held in that one smooth motion.
“I haven’t danced with a partner in awhile,” and Candace shrugged one shoulder, warm gray eyes peering upwards towards the stars. “I’m probably a little rusty.” There was a warm rustling all around them, she could see the mysterious ranch house, could almost hear as one, two lights were flickered on. She could almost hear giggling and excited screeching. It all felt so familiar, like it was just at the edge of her neurons. So close to jumping between axon and dendrite, but…no…and the memory faded like sand against sea foam.
West pulled her close, one hand on her waist, and the other already lacing ‘round her own lifted hand. Candace smiled shakily, as she placed her other hand on his broad shoulder, feeling the deep power of Creation down within him. Candace’s warm gray eyes went wide, feeling the ground fall away from them, feeling the stars pull closer and closer towards the two.
“I doubt you could ever rust, Candace,” West stated simply and Candace smiled widely, raising one eyebrow. She barely felt the throbbing pain within her, as she continued to smile, staring upwards and the stars grew ever closer, twinkling like stage lights, and she began to feel the smooth expanse of heavy silk fall around her.