Authors: Cindi Lee
THE MIRRORS OF FATE
OUT OF THE PAST
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The Mirrors of Fate:
Out of the Past (Book 1)
Copyright 2011 by Cindi Lee
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of any products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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To all of my loved ones who encouraged me and my editor Kelly Schaub and my formatter Elizabeth Beeton!
You all have been invaluable.
You can’t always run, Maria. It got her because of you.”
* * * * *
That smile alone is reward enough for my inconvenient trip. When her eyes light up in unreserved delight, only then do I realize that coming here is all truly worth it.
How can you make the garden stay so beautiful?” the little girl asks with a smile so ebullient it spans from ear to ear.
It’s easy, but I don’t do the magic by myself.”
And instantly her eyes begin searching mine. Her smile flees cautiously. “Who helps? Have I ever seen them?” But I know her question really translates to,
Who else has this kind of power?
How can I be just like you?
Of course I must oblige, answering her first question with, “It’s you, of course,” and then the second, “We both make this what it is.”
Her eyes widen slightly and focus on mine in that childlike way of probing for sincerity because she’s understandably tired of the fakes
who try, “Yes, baby, yes,” and “Of course that is possible, sweetie,” to pacify her creative imagination.
(Maria always remembered just how creative that imagination was.)
Just so long as you believe, it’ll always stay pretty,” I reassure her, and she accepts that.
I go behind her now and take the handles of her wheelchair. As we go down the paved path of glistening gray stone, we meander and admire what we have created with our minds. The garden is spectacular, believe me. Only God Himself can be responsible for such beauty, or at least for the imagination to conceive it all.
Do you know what horticulture is?”
Horti-culture?” The girl looks up at me. “What’s that?”
It’s cultivating gardens. The art of it. Would you like to do that someday?”
She falls silent, her head lowering discouragingly. My stomach knots because I’m desperately hoping for an enthusiastic response from her this time, but I realize I may not get my wish as her face continues to fall.
I would like to, one day. I like flowers a lot. But that’s only if I can walk again.”
Maybe I should just be thankful. It’s better than all those other unredeemable responses like “I can’t” and “I can never” that I have become so accustomed to hearing from her. Any glimmer of hope she shows now is a vast improvement I suppose.
Carefully I wheel the chair into the grass, ensuring we avoid crushing as many of the enchanted flowers as possible. We soon find a green spot that meets the girl’s approval, and I lie down on the ground after securely positioning her chair near me. She never wants to come out of that chair, here nor anywhere else, so why do you expect me to ask this time around?
(Because hope never takes breaks.)
You know,” she says after we have relaxed quietly together for a time, “I really hate this hospital dress.”
Well, the sooner you start walking again, the sooner you’ll be in jeans and skirts. That’d be cool, don’t you think?”
My closed eyes need not open to tell that she is staring strangely at me as I lie there comfortably, forestalling sleep. I know her gestures by now. I’ve heard over and over again how I say things like that too casually, as if defying the doctor’s predictions she will never regain the slightest feeling in her legs, let alone be able to walk again, was the easiest feat in the world. I should, I
I should look at her now and carry on with conversation because it’s respectful to a cripple—no, someone in her condition—but instead I succumb to my urge to yawn.
(No matter how many times Maria remembered, it was always,
I couldn’t have known any better.”)
I can’t wait to be out of the hospital,” she says. “I really don’t like being there, Maria. I like playing pretend with you better here. Do you know what the other children said today?”
My head nods absently to everything she says, and I let out a breathy sigh and inhale the pleasant aroma of all the competing floral scents in the air. I haven’t quite figured out yet how to resist the sight of the peaceful flowers trying to draw my mind away. The garden goes on for miles. I remember once she called it “an alluring valley of a multi-colored sea of flora”...and I remember laughing at her choice of words.
Every flower in the world, or at least every one we have ever seen from books or real life, has found itself in this wide expanse of garden, if even just one of a kind; but all types are here. The new flowers she created herself, jovial things with yellow gumdrop eyes, little brown ears and black licorice lines for mouths, are just as special as the natural ones. Roses are our favorites, so they are the only ones in complete abundance here. Red. Pink. White. Yellow. Silver ones and gold roses too. If you shake the gold ones, glitter falls on your hand.
As usual, the forever sun that has never met night continues to shine here, without a drop of induced sweat to punish for the infinite morning we created. The breeze here is endless as well, always moving over the luscious green land as if an angel from the west forever orchestrates its natural dance with blessed holy hands. And faithfully, with warmly paintbrushed streaks of orange and red, and soothing strokes of sultry pink and violet, the sky remains that magnificent blue expanse above full white plush clouds of cotton. Sometimes I look at everything together and wonder how this place is even possible, but then I relax and just breathe to stop myself from ruining the magic.
Weaving through the center of the garden is a path designed for her to be able to wheel her chair along. Tears flooded her face when she first saw the gray paved path appear before her eyes, inch by magical inch. That and other magic tricks are my specialty. Do I really deserve such credit? Well, I can do anything merely because—
(She was that poor girl’s everything!)
I only wonder why I can never get her to imagine herself out of that chair.
Maria! I have an idea! Do some magic again! Please? I wanna see you change the clouds again and make the flowers dance! Can you make animals appear? We’ve never had animals appear in the secret garden before!”
So you want another magic trick, do you? Okay, see if you can handle this.”
I wave a hand absently into the air and gesture toward the clouds. The little girl’s face beams as the cloud formations take different shapes. I instruct them casually with my hand, showing off now to prove manipulating this world is easy for me. The clouds respond obediently by moving about, forming bunnies, hearts and unicorns. Birds soon begin performing in the sky, creating their own splendid formations like some type of magical show designed for us, the audience below.
I didn’t do the bird trick. She did.
The final bout of magic has to be special. I hold up my finger and write her name in the sky, separating the white material of the clouds so they form letters. When I have finished the final letter she squeals in delight and begins clapping eagerly.
That was so nice, thank you Maria!”
My head gives a quick nod and I close my eyes again. What time is it?
Can you do more?”
The bus might be here by now.
Please? More Maria?”
Enough for now, sweeting.” Because I want to switch gears. “I have some things I want to talk to you about.”
She becomes quiet suddenly and starts fidgeting nervously with her hair. “Talk to me about what?” But she knows what. She knows the promise she made to me on my last visit. “Oh...about
,” she murmurs without me having to say anything.
A promise is a promise,” I say, sitting up. “You remember, don’t you?”
Yes, I remember.” But her face darkens.
I won’t force you. You’re a smart girl, and you know what makes you comfortable from what doesn’t, don’t you sweeting?”
She blushes like I knew she would. Calling her “sweeting
is just one of my weapons to butter her up. I’ve even devised ways to calm her, but they’re not bad. All it takes is gentle persistence, holding her shaking hands if in fact they do shake, and giving her understanding eyes. I know what I’m doing may be wrong, but making her speak about how her family died seven months ago is the only way for her to get one step closer to recovery. I know I have no authority to do it. Who am I to act as a psychiatrist or a therapist? But I do it anyway. Anyone would too. I’m not selfish.
(How many times had she sung that in her mind?
Then and now?)
I was sleeping...so I don’t remember much about the wreck. I never woke up until the car was spinning.”
There was a really loud sound, like a bird screeching or a loud train whistle blowing. I think it was the metal being crushed and twisted. The car was upside down and spinning on the back like a top. I was crying a lot. I was...screaming.”
A bloodcurdling scream from the accident, tearing, slicing, pierces my ear. My shoulders jerk compulsively. My fingers check my ears for blood, but as soon as relief hits that the blood isn’t real, I start to see the accident all from her words—blinding yellow sparks flying—someone on foot dodging their oncoming car—the car overturning and its metal scraping the ground. I can’t grip the grass hard enough to calm my own dizzying head.
It was quiet. Mummy wasn’t speaking. She...Her head was snapped back. Daddy looked all crumpled, and his hair was red from the blood. I couldn’t move, but I tried hard, though. It wouldn’t work.”
A shudder goes through me as the slightly restrained but still frighteningly real feelings of the snapped bone, dying arteries and crushed muscles in her legs make their way into my own. So real. Why does she have to make it so real?