Cycle of Heart: Ache Chapter One

Over a millennia later…
Lying on the slanted roof outside her bedroom window gazing up at the night’s gleaming pearl was a girl named Alice Ember. Nude trees began to dance in the wake of the autumn wind that careened through the sleepy burg. Crickets played a lullaby to the world, while off in the distance an owl asked its perpetual question to no one in particular. Fox Terrace was truly beautiful at night. Alice made it a habit to soak in the night ambience before the Sandman his visit. To come out onto the roof and forget some of the daily grind of being a thirteen year old became her respite. Being swept away by the majesty of nature brought her a sense of surreal calm.
Stray leaves skittered across the rooftop, traveling with the breeze clutching onto her long dark hair streaked with hues of gold. Goosebumps rose along her caramel skin as the night chill became fiercer. Her strange mismatched eyes grew weary, her body signal to call it a night.
Quietly she rose up and attempted to make it back into her room unnoticed. As you may know however hardly anything goes the way you plan.
“Alice.” came an all too unwelcome voice from the doorway.
“Sorry mom, just getting some fresh air.”
“Girl, you know how I feel about you doing that.”
Alice’s mom flicked on the lights, and Alice was momentarily blinded. One by one Alice’s eyes came back to life. First was her right eye that was bright orange like a tangerine sunrise. Next came her left one that was a deep blue like the deepest depths of the ocean. Both eyes glistened in the light.
Alice’s mom stood, arms folded, in the doorway. Her angry glare etched onto her face. Like a sheepish dog Alice avoided the stare, choosing instead to focus on the floor and her own shuffling feet.
Stepping out from the hallway’s veil of darkness her mom entered the room. Load bearing bags hung under her eyes from working multiple shifts at the hospital to put the beautiful house over their heads. Her short hair was confined under a black do-rag. The anger in her glare was tempered with a tinge of concern.
She strode across the room, past her daughter and to the window. Her head poked out into the night. “What would I do if you fell off this roof?” mused Alice’s mom.
Alice rolled her eyes and huffed. “The roof’s only tilted slightly. There’s no way to fall off Mom.”
“That’s not the point. I’m your mother, that means I have to take care of you and keep you safe from all the dangers out there.”
“Dangers? We live in Delaware, in possibly the dullest town in the world. What dangers could there possibly be?”
Her mother didn’t answer right away, instead her tired brown eyes swept over the land. To Alice he mother’s gaze reminded her of a lighthouse sweeping over the water. Through and a little paranoid.
Slowly her mother backed away from the window, still casting a doubtful glance back at the window now and again. “Things look safe, but monsters lurk in the dark sweetie.”
Alice hated it when her mother spoke like that. Every time she did her eyes went vacant as if she left her body for a moment. Not quite frightening, but unsettling for sure.
“I promise I’ll be careful Mom.”
“Guess that’s all I can ask for.”
The girl with the gold streaked hair and mismatched eyes sat on her bedside. Then her mother called her daughter to bed. Once her daughter was snug beneath the sheets she went into her normal nighttime routine, kissing each oddly colored eye before planting a final kiss on her daughter’s forehead. Tonight under the ever-present gaze of the moon her mom lingered a bit, letting her fingers rake along the golden tones of Alice’s hair. As they flowed over the tresses Alice felt her mother trembling ever so slightly as if she had a chill.
“Mom, are you okay?”
Her mom blinked furiously as she was yanked back to reality. “What? Oh yes dear. I’m fine.”
“You’re shaking.”
Her mother removed her hand before laughing off her daughter’s concern. “Must just be my old bones. You’ll learn all about it when you’re older. I’ll be fine.”
With a tired smile Alice’s mom shuffled back across the floor and turned the lights off. She told her daughter that she loved her before the door closed with an audible groan.
There had been a change in her mother over the past couple of years. Her eyes were heavier, her stride more bogged down as if burdening herself with the troubles of the entire world. Concern and fear marred what had once been a beaming smile.
Left alone in the moon-speckled darkness Alice stared up at her ceiling. In her mind she still saw the starry night as if she took a photograph of it. Each gleaming star told an incredibly beautiful story with the grace and mastery of a storyteller studious in his craft. Somewhere hiding beneath the sound of all that chatter there was a faint and distant sound. A heavenly choir of unintelligible yet harmonious song swept over her mind.
Alice allowed the song to wash over her, carrying her into a wonderful dreamland. She felt the ocean. She felt the mist from the waves as they crashed against the shore. It was like nothing she ever felt before.
Something was wrong.


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