– Disruption of the Aeon of Osiris. 1 –
"I doubt myself and all my senses. I doubt the touch that feels his skin.
I doubt the smell that captures his scent. I doubt the taste that savors the air around him.
I doubt my hearing that listens to his melodic voice.
Finally I doubt even my sight that contemplates his fascinating figure.
I want to believe these are all illusions but the reality around me is
undeniable and I can't stop feeling him everywhere, and at all times."
The alarm clock rang and I took a deep breath, wishing I could simply ignore that annoying noise. I remembered I had to press a button to make it go away and stretched an arm, shivering at the cold outside my warm bed. As soon as silence returned, my arm fell limp and I refused to think if I had to get up for school or not. For the first time in days I'd had a peaceful night, free from dreams that could only be called erotic, and I couldn't help sighing in relief, thinking I'd finally managed to go back to normal.
Suddenly, the events of the previous night came tumbling back into my mind and I was wide awake, sitting on my bed. I looked around, recalling that picture of pure devastation, and was dumbfounded for a moment, since everything looked normal.
I felt at a complete loss. My ribs still hurt, due to my thoughtless sudden movement, and I got up pressuring them unconsciously. The muscles of my legs ached as well, as if I'd just run the marathon. But everything else was exactly the same, like always.
My furniture was intact and in its rightful places. The window glass in one piece, the books arranged on the shelves. The bag with my new jersey on my desk and, beside it, my handbag and the book the nice lady had given me. A shiver went down my spine as I looked at the floor still half panicking. But there was no Circle, no pentagram, no salt. No traces of candle wax, much less candles. No spilled glasses of water and my potted plant was where it belonged to, near the window.
I slid a shaking hand over my face and took a deep breath. Had it all been a dream? Of course, I assured myself. The pain I felt was neither from hitting against walls nor from being tense for far too long. My physical condition had probably been worse than I'd thought and my muscles resented a whole afternoon of shopping from store to store.
I smiled, making fun of myself. I'd allowed that old woman's tale to affect me so much that I'd ended up having such a strange dream. And I tried to stop my hands from shaking.
"Mari? Are you awake?" My mother's voice, coming from the ground floor, offered me a new sense of safety; her existence almost like proof enough that I was back to reality.
"Yes! I'll be down in one minute!" I answered and jumped out of bed. My legs shook lightly and I forced my muscles to contract and obey.
When I took off my pajamas, something burned on my hand, but I paid it no attention. I only really noticed it when, in the bathroom, I rolled up the sleeves to wash my face.
My heart stopped for a split second and then jumped into a frenzy. The bathroom spun around me and my legs threatened to give in under my own weight. I leaned against the sink, taking a deep breath, and faced my own pale refection as I tried to calm down. When I managed to recover some measure of balance and was sure I wouldn't simply drop to my knees, I raised my right hand and turned it slowly. There, over my wrist, a strange symbol had been marked in bright red on my skin, almost as if it had been branded with a hot iron. My stomach lurched and I leaned against the sink again. Had it all been real? Impossible! I countered immediately trying to keep some hint of coherence. My room ... I recalled seeing it completely destroyed and now there wasn't the slightest trace of anything like that. But I also remembered seeing ... him, holding my hand and kissing me on that same exact spot. But how could it be?
I shook my head, putting my thoughts in order, and decided it had all been a nightmare. I nodded confidently. That mark ... it was nothing but a strange burn, I justified. Something I'd probably done last night while cooking dinner and hadn't even noticed until then. I was only seeing symbols because I was looking for them. Surely neither Rachel nor Steph would see anything even remotely like that, should I show it to them. The thought alone was enough to leave me frozen in place. With nervous hands, I opened one of the bathroom cabins, knocking down small flasks and cream tubes until I found what I was looking for. With clumsy gestures, due to the sudden panic that now filled me once again, I hurriedly wrapped the white bandage around my wrist. Once that was over I took a deep breath and stupidly felt as if I'd rid myself of the only proof able to deny my theory about last night's events.
"Mari! You're going to be late!" Rachel's voice called me back to reality and I washed my face and combed my hair in record time.
I went down the stairs practically running and when I reached the kitchen she was already on her way out.
"Good morning," I said, catching her before she left and kissed her cheek. She looked at me for a moment and then smiled.
"Good morning, sleepyhead. How was yesterday?" she asked, obviously curious, and I immediately erased all the less fortunate events from my head.
"Oh, it was good. I tried on lots of clothes and ended up buying a new jersey," I reported with a smile and she nodded looking pleased.
"But you must have come back tired. You went to bed so early," she noted in a complaining tone. I was sure she'd hoped to find me awake so I could tell her all the news in detail.
"I'm sorry. But we walked all afternoon. My legs still ache."
"Uh, you're lacking exercise, young lady!" she criticized. "And by the way, thanks for dinner. Today I'll be back earlier. And you'll have to tell me everything!" she added, looking down at her wristwatch. "I have to go."
"See you later," I told her and Rachel kissed me on the forehead.
"Have a nice day, dear," she wished me and practically ran to the door.
I took a deep breath and allowed my fake smile to wither away. I looked at the toast that awaited me and didn't think I'd be able to stomach it. For a moment I managed forgotten the reason behind that indisposition and decided I wouldn't think about it any longer. Besides, my time was running short, and so I put together all my things and left the house.
I kept my mind in complete silence as I walked to school. The sky seemed clearer than the day before, suggesting it might not rain. The air, on the other hand, was still cold, but there was almost no wind at all, which made it easier to endure the low temperature.
This would be a day like any other, I decided. I'd have Philosophy first period and then History. Next I'd have lunch in the cafeteria with everyone else, like usual. The subject of conversation would most likely be the afternoon we had spent together. I'd leave them earlier to spend some minutes of pure bliss, watching my love from afar, and this time I'd make sure he didn't notice my presence. Then I'd go to the library and start on my homework while waiting for Steph and Joanne, who would still had one more class, so that we could return home together.
Establishing an order of events left me much calmer and I was feeling quite pleased with myself by the time I finally reached the school gates.