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Imagination Alighting Everywhere
#1
The boat drifted on an aimless path at the centre of the lake.

Closer to shore people swam in the shallows or laid out on the summer grass. Thick forest surrounded Meshcherskaya, an oasis in western Moscow; blotting out the skyscrapers of the city and the belching of traffic. She thought Aylin might appreciate the idyll, though admittedly of the two of them it was Thalia who had always been the one more inclined to outdoor pursuits.

Still, it got them both out of the stuffy apartment, and more importantly away from the scratchy memories of caged nightmares clawing through peaceful sleep. They shared a bed most nights now, curled like kittens in the maw of the dark, and in those small hours when her sister woke sweat-soaked and wailing, she was there. For though it was Calvin who guided her through the bleakest time of her life, it was for Aylin she found a reason.

Dappled light spotted her page. Sketches of glittering scales filled the page, though today they were nothing but whimsy. The crash of fierce and foaming waves around the scythe of fins adorned another. Then the still glass of a pond broken by the ripples of a lazy hand. She sang a tuneless accompaniment as she drew, a song she could not quite place a finger to. Perhaps because the snippets of words she remembered didn’t seem to be English.

Aylin sat opposite, old sketchbooks splayed across her lap. The crescents beneath her eyes seemed lighter these past few days, and already she was murmuring about returning to her work at the Guardian. A little loneliness hovered at the edges of that eventuality, though Thalia was accustomed to her often solitary existence. Strange hours and stranger work necessitated a certain absence from the world. It wasn’t like she minded.

Every now and then she glanced up from her pencil to peer curiously at the page capturing Aylin’s attention. Not so long ago she would have blanched at the idea of allowing her sister free reign to paw through her sketchbooks; it was rather like allowing someone to rummage amongst the contents of her mind, including the kind of recessess sisters really ought not share. Especially when said sister was a psychologist.

But life changed, and Thalia changed with it. Locked up secrets shared willingly now with the key of an open smile. Trust came easy to her. And as to life’s other odd blips, the ijiraq had not yet returned. Her concern had mostly evaporated; not because the threat had faded (she was optimistic, not naive), but because she had a knack for existing in the moment. Normality had a way of realigning her expectations, so that even if it was a skewed reality to everyone else, Thalia was perfectly content. And today the sun shone and her sister smiled.

“--Thal.”

She flicked a coil of hair from the edge of her page, bent low for detail. Made a vague murmur of acknowledgement as she swept up with the distraction. The world’s volume turned low.

“Thal, I said have you been to my work?”

“Geez, not since. Well, you know. Why would I?” Her gaze blinked up, brows low at that strange note of accusation. Aylin’s hands grazed her face, brushed back against the short cap of her hair. A muscle twitched in her cheek, eyes cast down. An uncomfortable beat tremored in Thalia’s chest, and the boat rocked as she abandoned her work to inch forwards. Oh, something was wrong. But Aylin held the image up. It was a portrait of a girl’s face; blank faced, hair running like spilled ink down the sides of her face.

Nothing stirred. No intent, no memory of blood spilled to force the picture from her hand. It was just a drawing.

But Aylin was white-faced.

“This is one of my patients.”

Thalia blinked surprise.

Oh.

It was happening again.
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