I woke to the sound of thunder rolling outside my window. A surge of adrenaline coursed through me and with my hand to my beating heart, I rose and walked slowly to the window. Lightning flashed across the sky in display of violence that touched something raw and primal within me. I flung open the window feeling the rain as it began fall headlong from the sky above. I breathed in the electrified air and for a long moment I battled with my wilder half before she took our body out into the darkness to play. We are safe indoors I whispered aloud, as I hugged my torso. We will die if we go to that which calls us. Inside I felt my petulant twin wriggle and protest, railing against my control as she always did on nights like this one, but I was stronger, my will to live outweighed her need for freedom, for now. Soon she quieted and relieved, I wrapped a blanked around my shoulders, the weight of it like and anchor in a stormy sea.
Of course, I heard the call too. Out there in the darkness, the pull, the summons, it was impossible to mistake for anything else. It promised sweetness and tenderness, spoke of joy and pleasure and love. All lies to me, but my wilder half did not care. She was action, urgency, passion, she was the utter disregard for consequences. She, with no past, no future, a creature of now, now, now. She had no memory and no imagination, she was impulse, wildness, instinct.
Sometimes, when I look back at my life, I wonder how different things would have been If I had not touched the stone. Once I had been one mind, one body, lonely, yes, but whole. I remember the night that changed so clearly.
A night much like this one, with the rain and the thunder and the light that streaked across the sky. I was young then, maybe 10 or 11 years old. I was angry with my family over some nonsense, some silly slight that I had taken to heart the way only children can. I took everything personally then, and when I was locked in my room for the tantrums, I shed bitter tears indeed. I remember thinking that the rain outside was like my tears and if I cried hard enough perhaps, I would turn into the rain and be washed away forever. It would serve them right I thought, to come into my room in the morning and find only a puddle of salty water where once their daughter had resided. I was so dramatic then. I had flung open the windows then, an act of defiance, knowing that the rain would cause damage to the cloth and carpets and furniture. I did not care, I had a convinced myself that I was a princess, a prisoner here locked away to be rescued by some gallant knight or valiant prince. I stood before the darkness and called into the night.
“hear me, “ I had called into and wind, “ hear me and come, take me from this place and save me from this fate of boredom and loneliness. Give me the magic to free myself from this existence. “
“Do you know what you ask child?” came a reply that startled me into stillness. I saw no one as I looked around the room. The voice was like whisper, as though the wind itself was speaking to me.
“y-yes” I replied tentatively. “ I want to magic. I want freedom from loneliness and boredom. I don’t want to be alone anymore. They always leave me alone.”
“This can be granted but what will you offer in return? What would you give up finding this companionship that you seek? “
I looked around the room, all my childhood treasure, so precious and now I would have to choose, give up something that I loved, cherished, to something or someone who would do anything they liked with it, what if they broke it? Or hurt it? I was at the age where I was certain my toys came alive when no one was around to see them. It broke my heart to give them up to a fate that I could not guess. Tears began to sting my eyes as indecision wrapped its icy fingers around my throat. I loved them all, my only friends how could I betray any of them like that?
“it need not be your furry little friends,” it whispered “ I would be satisfied with a promise.”
Relieved I agreed readily.
“of course, a promise, I can do that.” I said smiling and
“What shall you promise little one? A year of your life? A first born child? Perhaps a death you cause on my behalf? Could you slip poison into a cup for me? “
I recoiled at the thought, I couldn’t kill some one. That was unthinkable. I could feel the color drain from my face and the soft voice began to chuckle. I bristled, I hated when my family laughed at me. Silly little Ingrid with her unicorns and dragons. The anger must have showed for the creature stopped laughing and in a calm deep whisper continued.
“There is nothing in this world that comes for free child. What promise do you offer me?”
“A year.” I said, defiantly, not knowing or caring what that would mean. “I promise a year of my life to you if you end my loneliness and give me magic. “
“So be it” it whispered, and my flesh rose in goosebumps, a cold chill that washed down my back. I saw a figure, suddenly, standing very close to me, robbed in darkness but for a single pinpoint of light that was cast by the stone dangling from a chain at its heart.
“Touch the stone, child.” And I reached for it. I hesitated for a second, a strange feeling came over me of standing on a crossroad. I felt the magnitude of the decision before me, but I confess I was too young to really understand. At that moment I was mesmerized by the shiny bauble that hung just before my eyes. In its reflective surface I watched as my reflection lifted her arms and suddenly the whole room came to life. The animals laughing and prancing about the room. Colorful lights, fairies and mythical creatures pulling themselves free from the wallpaper, the book covers, and posters, to dance and sing with joy. Alive, real, just like I had always imagined. I could have that I thought, I could be that girl! My hand reached out and I touched the stone.
The magic was wonderful, at first. Only every time I used it, she grew stronger, louder in my head. It wasn’t until the first time she took over for me that I truly panicked. Harmless at first, she would do the things that I, as a good girl, could never allow myself to do. I soon discovered that though she did the thing it was always I that had to pay for the consequences. Always she was with me, inside my head whispering the things she wanted to do, a constant stream of ‘fun’ ideas that would open a world of trouble for me. My demon twin I began to call her, and I believe she loved that idea.
Now, years later as my bones begin to ache, I hear the call. Every time the rain pours down from the light streaked sky, I hear it call to us. One year I had promised it, for a creature that I can never escape and a power that costs too much to use. One year, for the gift that left me isolated and unable to live a normal life, like my sisters and brother. One year, to be locked away and forgotten, battling with a twin who could not wait to pay the price. The call promised sweetness and tenderness, spoke of joy and pleasure and love, but I know now that it was not to me that these things were promised, for I had lived my life, it was all promised to her, for a year, at the end of her prison sentence.