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[personal profile] arsenicwaltz
And over hours, and days, and weeks, she begins to realize that this must be what it's like. Slowly, slowly and quietly withdrawing from the world, until...

The wind buffets the grass down like a golden pelt across the prairie's trackless, rolling hills. Up one side, down another, over and over again, the breeze flattens and jostles everything in its path until it comes, parting and nearly fizzing, to the tiny shack in the tiny valley between the hills. The clapboards are the dark gray of wood left out to weather in the sun and rain and sun again, roughened by wind and time and quiet neglect. But the roof is sound, and so is the glazing on the draughty windows, at which faded calico curtains flutter, limp and defeated. The kitchen that lies behind these curtains was spotless when it was abandoned, but now has a fine layer of dust over everything. Tiny mouse tracks leave a white trail along the enamel of the ancient stove, and cobwebs bridge the corners with filmy white. Above the stove, just out of the reach of the restive curtains, stand a triple rank of shelves, nailed up crudely but miraculously level.

And on the topmost shelf, perched near the corner on the left, a single jam-sized mason jar.
In it - a mist, a something; something insubstantial and necessary and sickly divorced from where it ought to be. It laps defeatedly against the sides of the jar, halfheartedly trying still to escape.

She squeezes her eyes shut, and pushes the scrying-glass away. It was the last thing in Pandora's box, and the fact that it could ever be captured was what gave her the courage to try. The process was painful - possibly the most painful thing she had ever encountered - and yet she still was not quite certain that she'd got it all. The Banishing she'd called was anonymous, trackless. Though the glass now showed her where it was, she still did not know its location. Better that way, she supposed.

And now, and now, she was always cold, always tired. Actually, she thinks, I have been tired all my life. I always held the thought that there was something coming, just around the bend, to look forward to...

She slumps, collapsing against one marble wall, her petticoats rustling. But the marble is not even cold, does not even feel substantial underneath her fingers these days, just as she has noticed the colors fading around the edges of the Palace. She does not even have the passion left, it seems, to cry. Behind her stands a figure of lumpy white flesh, with a hooked ring of flashing silver.

"What will happen to all of this, when I am gone?" she asked the Mirror-Girl a few weeks ago.
The Mirror-Girl was silent then for a moment. "You know as well as I that it will cease."
"And the rest? The things that give this place life?"
"Others may come, and then they too will go."
"And nothing will stand where I've stood. Nothing will remember."
"Perhaps that will be enough."

The calico flaps at the windowpane, and a beetle makes its slow progress across one wall.


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May 2009

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