Back when I was nothing but a child, I tried so hard to not let my dreams really effect me. My mother would soothe my forehead in the middle of the night, rubbing herbs over my chest, telling me that he was nothing but a figment of my imagination. “Just a dream sweetie, it was just a nightmare, it isn’t real.”
One night, she came into my room with a Chicken Wish Bone that had been drying for weeks on her windowsill in the kitchen. She took one end, and I took the other, when we pulled apart, her end came up short.
“Now, your wish will come true.” She said.
“What did you wish for, Mom?”
“We shouldn’t tell our wishes, it makes it so that they won’t come true.”
I had wished that I would some day meet him, the man that I had never met, the man that I saw every night in my dreams.
Now, I found myself lying to my mother. Lying to the protector. And every lie I spoke only made her more suspicious. “You’re saying that you’re having a circle tonight, just you and Emilie?”
“Yes mamma. A friend of Emilie’s needs healing.”
“But wouldn’t it be more effective if there were more then just two of you, Emilie’s mother and I could help.”
“Her friend requested that it would be just the two of us.”
“Well,” Chloe La Danzè sighed, “I suppose you cannot go against her friend’s will. But it seems so strange Lyris. Are you telling me the truth?”
“Why wouldn’t I be telling the truth, mamma?”
She reached forward and stroked my hair, pulling tightly on my red curls. It was as red as blood, my hair, and so curly I couldn’t stand it. It frizzed whenever I took a step outside and whenever I tried to style it, the style would never keep shape. Pins and combs could not hold a curl in place. In my minds eye, I imagined women with vine coiled curled hair, shiny and perfect and as voluptuous as the Goddess herself. My hair only made me look like I carried a Hawk nest upon my head.
“Because, you are Seventeen tides, and there are many things to keep hidden from your mother.” As she pulled back, the scar that pierced her wrist caught my eye. It shone out so thick and shining on my mother’s creamy skin, like a piece of silver inlaid within ivory. It looked almost as if…
Chloe caught me looking and hid her wrist with her other hand. Stroking her thumb over the mark. “I cannot control what motion sets you to. But Lyris, I beg you, you are my only child. Be it spells, meditation, or dance; be careful! There are things in this world so horrible that we cannot see them, only taste them in the wind.”
“Don’t worry mamma, I will be careful.”
“You are not a bird, Lyris, remember that. Human’s don’t have the privilege of flight.”
“No.” I agreed. “Human’s do not.”
I turned towards our front door, my silver gown swished beneath the dress coat that I wore to conceal it from my mother. She heard the rustle of fabric and looked over at me with her eyebrows raised, but she didn’t say anything.
“I’ll return by nine le matin.”
With my bare hand, I turned the knob of the front oak doors and made a move to step out onto the front steep. I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around to face my mother, my heart inside my eyes.
“Don’t forget your gloves petit chérie. She held a pair of black velvet gloves out towards me. They were the gloves that I only wore to parties and formal dinners. I looked up at my mother in shock at the gloves that would perfectly match the gown that lay concealed beneath my dress coat.
I won’t tell my wish, for if I tell, it might never come true. The truth is, humans were never meant to have wings.
I took the gloves anyway.
Chloe smiled at me sadly and turned back towards the interior of the house. I breathed in and heaved out a great sigh before starting down the lane towards Emilie’s Villa three houses down.
The waxing moon was slowly rising in the sky, above the distant lights of
“Lyris, Lyris.” They seemed to say.
“Lyric lyrical Lyris,” said a deeper voice beside me. I turned towards it, my eyes focusing in on the dark shadows of the scour ally that ran between Emilie’s Villa and her neighbors. I could see nothing but the faint, glow of a streetlamp as it shone through the mist. The ally let off a sulfuric smell and the air felt strangely warm.
“Lyre,” I whispered to the ally. “If I gave you my music, would I be able to touch your face, just once, to have the memory of it against my fingertips?”
The ally responded with a hollow moan, like the sound of air being blown over the top of a glass.
“Is it you?”
“I’ve shed tears for you; won’t you at least show yourself?”
A flock of birds suddenly shot out from the ally and flew over and around me, whistling through the night. I felt like such a hopeless pretender, a cowardly corpse without wings to join them.
I backed up, away from the ally, slowly, frightened and wanting at the same time. Emilie’s door was only a few feet away. So close in the night.
A hand gently grabbed my shoulder.
I screamed and turned quickly, my arms flailing. I landed a weak blow to the side of the man’s face before I saw the flash of white in the moonlight.
“Lyris, what in the world are you thinking?”
I laughed at him, reaching up and nervously pulling on my curls. “What was I thinking? What are you doing out here?”
“I was waiting for you! You shouldn’t be walking the streets of
“You I suppose?”
“Oh, really? You are a bébête.”
My eyes narrowed and I pushed him with a sisterly force. “I am not a silly child Chane!”
“No.” He said carefully, his voice going silky in the moon glow, “Not a child.”
I looked at him carefully for the first time. His silver white hair was elaborately curled. He wore knee length black boots over skin-tight pants, two layers of waistcoat, including one in vivid red, and a velvet cloak trimmed with a silver chain. On his head sat an elegant black top hat.
“Why Chane, where are you going tonight? You look like a dandy!”
“Do you really think so?” He laughed. “Mother asked me to escort you and Emilie to the city tonight. I thought I might as well dress the part of wealthy suitor.”
I looked at him in silence.
“Are you displeased?”
I shook my head. “No, in fact, I am relieved. I was nervous about tonight.”
Chane gently reached forward, placing his fingertips on my shoulder, barely touching. “I admit that even I have some reservations about tonight. What kind of aventure do you and Emilie have planned?”
“A ridiculous one as always, but I see that I no longer have to be afraid about tonight. I have you to protect me.”
“I’m always here to protect you Lyris.”
My face was growing hot, standing out there in the autumn air. A strange feeling was creeping into my chest, a feeling different then the feeling I had towards my dream. A dry longing.
“Lyris.” Chane said, “There is something that I have wanted to speak to you about for some time now.”
“There you two are!” I heard Emilie squeal from her front stoop. She came trotting down the front steps, panting in the crimson corset that made her waste look like a needle. “Chane, if you must be bothering us with your presence tonight then at least go bring the carriage around for us, it is getting late!”
She grabbed my arm and twirled me around. “Did you wear the silver dress?”
“Well then, come now, I want to see!”
“Oh come Lyris, it is not that chilly out.”
I slowly began to unbutton my dress coat, sensing as Chane stopped his walk towards the carriage house to turn and look at me. Another carriage passed by us on the lane and we all stepped back, onto the walk.
When all the buttons were undone, I tenderly slid my arms from the sleeves and let the dress coat fall to the ground.
The warm autumn air felt hot on my bare shoulders as I felt Chane’s eyes on my exposed skin. With velvet covered hands, I shyly pulled at the dress’s neckline, tugging on the sleeves to bring them up on my shoulders, but the delicate lace only fell down once again upon my arms.
A dress made as if from the moon. It was trimmed all over with lace and pearls and silver silk. It was a new style cut with an emperor waste, an invention of Emperor Napoleon’s wife. The skirt fell down in layers of silk, lace, and then netted petticoats. Ridges ran horizontal across the skirt, as if I was wearing one upon the other.
I had clipped as much of my hair back as I could. Some of it knotted over my bare shoulders, blood upon snow. I shivered at the thought of how I must look. Like a whore.
“It is a very pretty dress, isn’t it?” I said, half heartedly.
“Cat-Skin.” I heard Chane murmur.
“Oh, ignore him Lyris, he is always referencing those dumb fairy tales of his. You look like the moon come down to earth. You will find your man tonight. I know you will find him!” She shouted
I looked up and caught Chane’s pained eyes with my own; they looked aquatic shining out from the mist. Sin. I felt like a sin. But tell me, when you don’t believe in the devil, then what do you believe to be a sin?
“We’re still waiting for that carriage.” Emilie reminded her brother.
He grimaced and hurried away.
Emilie came forward and took my arm in hers, kissing my cheek. “Come my darling. We are off to chase nightmares from the darkness.”
“In a circus full of the damned.” I added.