May. 18th, 2015

thewolfeinwillowell: (girl against sky)
[personal profile] thewolfeinwillowell
Dear Emma,

I do not think my hair has grown an inch since I came here. I ought to be balding from the amount that my brush bristles steal from my scalp. Maybe I am, and I just haven’t noticed yet.

This afternoon, I borrowed a DVD from the bookstore. The Truman Show. We watched it together, remember? Only, although the DVD case shows Jim Carrey’s face, collaged from moments seized from his character’s capsuled life, the title read The Shuman Trow. I inserted the DVD into the player in my bedroom anyway, but it spun and spun and would not play. It might have produced a whisper of a song that I imagined was your cello, but I was very tired, as I have not been sleeping well, and I quickly fell asleep to its whir and buzz.

When I woke, I heard a rumbling and a wailing. I thought it was the movie at first, before I realized the sounds were coming from outside my room. I threw open my curtains. It was raining cats and dogs. The rumbling was of thunder and of raindrops hitting rooftops. The wailing was Ygritte’s voice floating through the walls.

Thick, inky stormclouds were floating in from offshore. It was the first time I’ve seen the sky anything other than a clear and resolute pale grey.

As I looked out the window, I could see Old Man Tango’s house across the way. There was no sign of him, but his door stood open. Does he not get cold? Surely mosquitoes and all other manner of unpleasant insects would seek shelter in his warm, dry home. I remembered his window, inexplicably exposed on Halloween night, and the fire dancing on the other side of it. How I wanted to be a mosquito and fly into that house unnoticed. How I wanted not to be shivering in my bed, listening to the angry rainfall, the cries of a banshee, and ink drip-dripping into my bathroom sink.

I was suddenly saddened to think about my parents in your letter and sadder still to know that I have done this to them. They used to slow dance during the countdown. They slow danced while everybody else counted, and they kissed when the ball dropped. I want them to dance again together, but I couldn’t bear to learn that they still dance without me. So in a way, I am relieved. Is that terrible of me? I know that it is.

I had only been staring out my window for a minute or two when my door banged open. I jumped, but it was only Christophe, who has made a habit of inviting himself over. I’ve yet to decide whether or not I mind, but I keep the door unlocked. I suppose that is itself an invitation.

He called my name.

“I’m in here,” I said softly, as if to the window.

“Don’t be scared, Ilyana,” Christophe said when he found me in my bedroom, his own eyes wide with terror. “Everything’s going to be okay.” He leaned over my bed to peer up at the sky. “It’s just the sky leaking. Why is it leaking? It’s not supposed to leak.”

“It’s only a little rain, Christophe,” I said, trying to keep the impatience from my voice.

He frowned and stuck out his lower lip, eyes still cast suspiciously at the hovering clouds.

A door opened in the hall, and Ygritte’s wailing grew louder and louder until she was leaning into my room, body draped around the doorjamb. “The sky, Christophe!” she cried.

He rushed to her and pulled her into his arms with a commiserating noise.

“It’s changing,” Ygritte gasped. “It’s all changing. Lethean is already gone.”

She could have meant that he had gone to the store, or moved into his own place, I suppose, but the way she said it made me think that we would not be seeing him again. Her grief seemed as deep and merciless as it was the day he’d arrived.

I should have comforted her, I know, but I was too restless and unsettled to abide her caterwauling. Instead, I slipped past the pair of them and pulled on my boots and coat. I was out of my apartment and halfway down the hall when Christophe came after me.

“Ilyana, wait!” he called, nearly tripping on his cape when he made the turn out of my apartment. “You cannot be thinking of going outside?”

“Not thinking,” I said. “Going.” And down the stairs I went to the lobby. I heard him chasing me, probably bundling his cape in his arms to better navigate the winding staircase.

I could see the rain better through the French doors of the ground floor, each drop striking the pavement like a bullet. The water would certainly run downhill into the sea. It would not linger and rise up to wash this building away. I haven’t said where I was going because I didn’t know. I just wanted to leave the Willowell Apartments and feel the rain on my face. Maybe that was where Old Man Tango went when he left his door open. Maybe that was where Lethean went, never to return. I placed one hand on the door handle and pushed.

“Don’t do it, Ilyana,” Christophe said behind me. He had frozen at the base of the stairs and was clutching the rail with one hand. An alcove over the front doors prevented the rain from falling directly on my arm, but Christophe seemed reluctant to subject himself to even the cold air.

“It’s only rain,” I said. “It used to happen all the time, back home.”

“And maybe that’s why you’re here now.”

I opened the door further.

“Don’t!” he shouted, and surged forward without letting go of the handrail. “Ilyana, why must you be so reckless?” I didn’t think I had been very reckless. “Why can you not do as you’re told?”

I let the door fall shut so I could turn to snap at him, “You’re not my father!”

“No, you left your father and your mother behind because you couldn’t just stay away from the water!”



(I still can’t believe he said that.)



Furious tears blurred my vision. He was so pitiful, trembling there in his ridiculous cape. “What are you going to do? Follow me?” I turned away from him and walked out into the rain.

I could hear him shouting my name until the door swung shut. Then all I heard was falling water, more quiet than it had been from indoors where the roof amplified it and made it ominous.

It fell on me, and it felt just like rain, which is to say not wonderful. It drenched my hair and my coat and my jeans, and it was cold, cold, cold. I opened my mouth to the sky to catch some on my tongue, but a memory lanced through me of water in my throat and lungs. I couldn’t go back to Willowell, so I tugged on my hood and pressed forward through downpour.

Across the way, Old Man Tango’s porch lamp illuminated his still open door. Bereft of more more appealing options—Pfilman’s and the bookstore were both too far to walk in this weather and Azra was not someone you found intentionally—I was drawn to it, as a moth to a remembered flame. Over the property wall, the tops of trees nodded as water pelted their leaves.

The entrance to the house was raised above two wooden steps, and I stood now at the foot of them, the lamplight rinsing my dark peacoat in gold. There was no fire this time; the inside of the house was darker than the rainy evening, and I could see only the bit of carpet just beyond the door.

“Mr. Tango?” I called, unsure if that was the proper way to address him. More hesitantly, “Old Man Tango?”

I stepped onto the bottom stair, meaning only to stick my head inside, but a hand caught my wrist, and stumbled back in surprise.

“Ilyana.” It was Christophe. His wet hair was stuck to his face, and his eyes were so wide that the whites were visible around the irises. For the first time since I met him, his olive drab skin appeared more sickly than merely hobgobliny.

“Please come back,” he said. “I’m so sorry. Please, please come back.”

Seeing him there, shivering in the sky leakage he so feared, clinging onto my wrist like he might disperse or dissolve if he let go, I could not remember what had seemed so important about walking out into the rain. As he continued to apologize, I threw my arms around his waist and buried my face in his soggy tunic.

We walked back to Willowell together.

I’m so sorry, too, Emma.

With love,
Ilyana

May 2015

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