Out of Toronto 4.0
The Deep Talks pt 3
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Mellie gasped and choked and felt the real world crush less around her. The deep wasn’t supposed to hurt. It didn’t usually hurt. This had hurt. She felt none of the usual bliss and joy she usually felt. It was just the ache.
She wrapped her arms around her knees. The chainmail tunic rustled a quiet metallic sound around her and she felt the cool ocean dripping onto her feet from her armor.
You look sad. A small girl with thin shoulder length dirty blonde hair stood in front of her. The girl’s dress had what looked like scorch marks on it and she held a flower that was wilting in her hand.
Yes, I messed up. Mellie could feel the power coming in waves off the sprite, but there was something familiar about the girl. You, I’m sorry I wasn’t better when I pulled you up. It was the little girl she’d pulled out of the resonance for the job earlier. She’d errored that up.
You were mad. The girl sat down cross legged in front of her. Her legs had several scars and burns. Something about it ate at the back of Mellie’s brain. I thought you knew we were real. You always knew we were real. You don’t treat real that way. She sounded supremely disappointed.
Since I knew you existed, I knew you were real. Today. Yesterday. The man. The drugs. Mellie grit her teeth in frustration. She knew she needed to make amends, to ask forgiveness of the sprites she’d treated poorly, treated as less than real. But she couldn’t explain why she’d acted that way, it didn’t make sense.
No excuses. You either can do it or you are broken. The little girl stared at her and Mellie shuddered. The girl, the words, they crept along her spine. The stare was sharp and unblinking. She was sure she’d recognize a sprite she’d met before.
How…did you get those burns? Mellie wasn’t sure where the question had come from. She sympathetically rubbed a spot on the inside of her ankle that corresponded to one of the girls scorch marks.
Cousins. They always like to show off. The little girl reached over and lifted Mellie’s pant leg and pointed to the spot on Mellie’s leg. A very old scar that Mellie had forgotten how she’d gotten. A perfect match to the girl’s. I remember the first time I saw you. You’d just met Meg. You’d just learned what was real. You were trying to tell your cousins about your magic. They didn’t believe you. They demanded you prove it. They tormented you. They were just the first in a very long line of people who tormented you because you knew what was real.
Mellie leaned forward intently listening to the little girl. To herself. It was her dirty blonde hair. Her tiny frame. Her burn scars. She didn’t remember that. She didn’t remember much at all of that time, when she was very small, her cousins. They weren’t really cousins, she didn’t think they were. They were all a part of some experiment. At least that’s what the documents that Meg had left her said. Her cousins had turned out correctly, she hadn’t been. Her parents had told her that if she couldn’t do magic she was broken.
But you held fast. You held fast when they sent you away. You held fast when they dumped you day after day. You held fast when they started to force you to turn against each other. You held fast when they tried to turn you against us. You held fast when they started to cut you open. You held fast when they stole you like you were a piece of meat. You held fast when Ally died. You held fast when you were in the water. You held fast when you escaped. You held fast when it was demanded that you give your life. But this? The little girl looked disappointed, hurt.
Mellie nodded. She had to make amends. She had to fix it. She had to be more careful. She reached herself out quietly. It hurt, every bit of her hurt. She searched for the sprites. The cowboy, the man in the leather coat, and worst of all, the two faceless sprites she hadn’t asked. She had to fix this. She couldn’t go back to meatspace until she made this right.