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The Wave (Part 1)

She walked into the room, her dress gently swaying against her bare legs. The sun from the window left hot patches of light on the floor and her bare feet alternated between warm slate and cool slate as she made her way across the room. The gentle murmur of conversation registered lightly on her ears. She could hear the tone of conversation, but not the actual words being spoken. It was like a creek bubbling in the background. As she moved further into the room, the conversation swelled behind her, like a large cresting wave, gaining speed and noise and passing her as she walked. Her fingertips played lightly on the surfaces of the tables she passed.

A face came closer, the mouth opening and closing with no real words coming through the haze she felt. The face remained blurry, until it was right in front of her, when it crystalized into a petite woman with a blonde ponytail and green eyes. The woman’s eyes looked like moss that grew in the forest at the base of the oak tree – soft and moist, but vibrantly alive. She felt herself falling into the green eyes, staring, but not seeing.

“Emma. For fuck’s sake. Wake up. What the hell happened?” Jane said, as she grabbed a hold of Emma’s arms and shook her. Jane’s hands dug in so hard that she left dents in Emma’s soft skin.

She blinked, coming out of her reverie slightly. Jane shook her again. She wrenched her arms out of Jane’s hands, getting scratched by the short scraggly nails. The blood bubbled up to the surface of the skin and she panicked, reminded of the other blood. The other blood. There was so much blood. No, no, she couldn’t think about that yet. She took big gulping breaths and dove back under the surface of her reverie. More people were surrounding her, talking to her, but she couldn’t understand what they were saying, couldn’t hear them through the haze. Some of the words were getting through, but the sound was moving in and out. She swung away from them and looked back in the direction she came from, seeking an escape path. She was surrounded, but she could still make out the floor and the perfect red footprints she’d left behind. They were perfect. Bright red footprints against the slate floor. Scarlet red. Red as blood can be. Blood. Oh, God. So much blood. The wave of memory washed over her, pulling her out of her reverie, swirling in her stomach, until she could no longer contain it. She fell to her knees, startling those around her into silence. Her mouth opened and a noise she’d never heard before came rolling out of her mouth. It came from deep within the pit of her stomach and filled the room with its intensity, cresting on the wave of the memory of blood.

She knelt on the floor, her hands clenched into fists, her head thrown back and her mouth wide open, keening. She began to panic; it wasn’t going to stop. She couldn’t get it to stop. What if she never stopped? What if she spent the rest of her days keening and swaying on the floor, surrounded by ghosts, blood, and memories? Some people were running out of the room away from her. The rest were all staring at her, as if frozen. Apparently, it wasn’t everyday that a woman covered in blood serenades the restaurant on her knees. She felt someone put something around her shoulders and she turned her head, blinking slowly, the sound stuttering to a stop. It was Grace Lipton, the town crank, and she was gently laying her shawl, the ugly brown and yellow knitted shawl that she wore every day, around Emma’s shoulders. Emma blinked some more and stared at Grace.