The sun was rising over the mountains and Sunset Valley was waking up. Coffee makers were dripping, car engines were starting, toast was being burnt, and the hot air balloon man was already up and making his rounds.
Of course, not everyone was awake yet.
Lilith’s eyelids twitched and she muttered a few low soft words.
Fire. Death. Alone.
For once she couldn’t hear its roar. She couldn’t hear anything. The silence and stillness were absolute. Only the waterfall moved, slow and sluggish under the hot sun.
The sun was indeed hot. And bright. She could feel the beginnings of a headache.
She knew where she could find shade, didn’t she? She was coming to know this bit of land like she knew the house she’d grown up in. But she would not turn around. No, she’d rather bake to death here by the silent and slow waterfall than turn around.
She stared at the waterfall and began to lose all sense of herself as a separate being.
The silence was broken by a voice. A voice that sounded like a tomb creaking open.
“Do you want to play with us?”
Us? What did she mean by “us”?
She really did not want to turn around now.
“Please come play with us. It’ll be so much fun!”
“I don’t think she wants to play with us, Bella. She’s mean and she hates us.”
Lilith turned around.
“Won’t you play with us? Please please please.”
The girl before her was not her Bella, her crumbling angel upon a broken pedestal. This girl’s voice was thin and high with a rattle. When she spoke again Lilith was reminded of the dead tree outside of the Goth house.
“Oh, but you must play with us. It’s ever so much fun.”
Lilith couldn’t stand to look at this Bella, with her dead tree voice and her empty eyes. So she looked at the house instead. The silent still house. It did not call to her now. It kept its own counsel, hiding its tragedy and sorrow deep within itself.
She willed herself to speak. She did not want to hear the tree scrape its branches against the window again.
“So what are we playing?”
“Lilith. What did you do to my mother?!”
Seth’s laughter was still ringing in her ears and the not-Bella’s voice was still scraping its branches against her. As Cassandra’s words filtered through and arranged themselves in some semblance of order in her mind, she only had one thought.