I Dance in the Leaves
I dance, because that's what I do. I see them all, creeping through the bushes, trying so hard to be quiet they forget to breathe. Then they start gasping for breath or slip on something and make a racket. Me? I dance, and I know it's loud and noisy, but they never see me. It's always me, watching them sneaking about. No one watches me dance.
Seems it's a waste of sunlight to not dance in it. I dance through the leaves until they're flying up all around me like a snowstorm of golds and oranges and reds. I love the colors.
I'd like an audience. No one ever watches me dance.
I walk up to the keep. I like the way the setting sun kind of burns off the roof tiles. The little wavy patterns from the heat remind me invisible little dancers, jumping around up there. I wish there was music for them.
I know where I'm supposed to be. If I'm late for my lessons again, Khan will be furious.
The sun's setting. I can tell by the color of the stained glass. The reds get a little brighter and the blues start turning black. I hop up the stairs, hopping over the one that's broken. Don't want to slip!
I'm early for once. I pick up the rose on the floor. It's the color of the sun when you look right into it. After awhile, when the whole world's gone that teary-eyed white. The rose is always here. Khan leaves it for me.
Somewhere, I guess the sun sets. He appears before me. He's wearing that gaudy robe again. It's black and there are words embroidered in red thread.
"Rhi?" he says.
He nods. He does that a lot. Like he's always agreeing with himself.
"Conjure a light."
I blink and a giant ball of light appears. I make it the size of his head.
He looks irritated. I blink again and it shrinks down to fist-sized, like I'm supposed to make them. It's glowing white. White's boring though, don't you think?
I start flashing it all sorts of colors, reds and golds and oranges, just like the leaves.
Khan reaches out and grasps the ball in his hand. He dismisses it.
"Rhi, I am in no mood for this."
He's never in a mood for it. I blink, and a small fist-sized ball of boring white light hovers in the air.
"Thank you, Rhi."
Rhi. It's short for Rhiannyon. Everyone calls me Rhi though. I like Rhi better, anyway.
Khan raises a small block of wood.
I raise my hand, picture it getting hotter and hotter. It's glowing now, and I can feel the heat on my face. I place it up against the wood and it catches on fire.
Khan nods. I told you he does that a lot.
"Can't we do something fun today? Maybe we can go play with the brothers downstairs?"
Khan's face gets all dark and angry. I know he doesn't like me playing with them.
"No. Why aren't you concentrating?"
My mind wanders. He can't teach me anything I don't already know. One of these days, he'll admit it.
"I dunno. Is Khore coming to play today?"
I know the answer already. But I ask anyway.
"No. You know he hasn't been around in a long time."
He's sad. Not from his voice, he controls that really well. You can tell though, by the way his eyebrows move. He knows I'm watching him. He moves over to a chair and sits down. He looks tired.
"What's the matter, Khan?"
He stretches out, rubs his bushy eyebrows with his fingers.
It's always nothing the matter with Khan.
"Are you mad that I'm not concentrating?"
Khan shakes his head. "We both know I don't have anything to teach you. You should be teaching me."
It takes me by surprise. I don't guess he's reading my mind, but, it's disconcerting nonetheless.
"Tell me about your day," he says.
"It was bright today. Sun was high in the sky, no clouds. I danced and played in the leaves."
Khan nods. (I told you.)
"Were you lonely?" he asks.
I freeze. Yeah. I'm always lonely.
"Yeah, I guess."
Khan nods again.
"Come on, let's go." He gets up.
"Where are we going?"
He doesn't say anything, but I follow him as he climbs down the stairs. The crazies are out now, since it's night time. Some of them drool and walk funny. The bats fly around everywhere, though mostly, they ignore me. Khan walks past them, they steer clear of him.
He utters some words and vanishes. Well, mostly vanishes. I can still see his outline, pretty clearly, but the crazies can't see him and the crazier ones won't try to fight him now.
There's someone in the bush by the gate. They're sneaking about again.
"Come along, Rhi."
I bound after him. More than enough time and go back and scare the invaders.
"Where are we going?"
He still doesn't answer me. We walk through the town past the old statue and out past the nest. We're by the old tree.
I don't come here by myself. It makes me sad.
Khan kneels down in front of the tombstone.
Something shimmers in the air, and then Ybarra appears. She's like the heat off the roof in the sun, all wavy.
"Hi, Ybarra," I say.
"Hello, Rhiannyon." She always uses my full name. "Hello, Khan."
"Can you see her, Rhi?" he asks me.
"Yeah. She's here," I say. I know he only sees her like a shadow, a shade. Her eyes are distant. She gets like that a lot. I love her, but I'm afraid of her. Afraid of where she goes when her eyes get like that. It makes me sad.
"Why are we here?"
"Tell her about your day."
I frown. I don't really want to do this.
"It was bright, the sun was out. I danced in the leaves." I smile, or try. Ybarra looks at me.
"It was bright today for me too. The sun was out." She glows for a moment, then fades. She nods and smiles.
Something dark and familiar passes over us. Then Khore steps from behind the tree.
I rush up and hug him. He picks me up, ruffles my hair. Khan bows at him.
"You woke her," Khore says. His voice is disapproving.
"I'm sorry. Khan told me to tell him about my day and-"
He puts his finger against my lips.
Khan bows at Khore.
"She misses you, Khore," he says.
I do, but I don't see what that has to do with anything.
Khore looks at me. His eyes are almost distant too, but they snap back. He actually looks at me.
"Did you tend the gardens today, Rhi?"
I nod. "I watered them, and cleaned and made the shears cut the grass."
"Do you like it here in Sanguinna?"
"It's my home," I say.
"I can take you away."
I blink. I know what he's asking. I know what he's offering. I'll stop haunting this village and the keep. I won't be alone anymore. Khan will be able to see me, everyone will be able to see me, not just Ybarra and Khore.
But, I know there will be no more sunlight in Sanguinna. The crazies are out every hour of the day.
And I won't be alone anymore.
"Okay," Khore says.
Khan smiles at me. He looks at me. He takes my hand and presses it up to his mouth.
Ybarra is all shimmery, like a ghost.
I twirl in the grass and laugh. Just a little dance.
And they're watching.
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