I always start with the right, I am thinking as I enter the lake. It’s my stronger leg. It’s the way we are taught to sprint: propulsion from the muscle relied on most.  Careful and light today.
Here for endurance. Careful. Breathe. I watch my breath leave my mouth, chattering.  I put my arms out. It’s not just the cracking but the slipping I am worried about. It’s not just the falling but the cold. I suck in a breath
“Careful, princess!”
I can hear them laughing. The temperature hits me like a wall I am braced against. It has dropped ten degrees since we left this morning and three degrees since entering the dip of the lake. I can’t move but I have to and I don’t know how far they will actually make me walk. It’s sixteen miles across. Are they waiting for the first crack or do they really expect this? Are they waiting for me to turn around? Are they waiting for the truce?
“Truce,” I hold out my hand.
I know there will be no truce. I don’t even know why I say it except for my natural urge to acquiesce to anyone similar, but darker, to me. Call it harmony. Call it diplomacy but it’s not the same as fear. You do not engage with fire and fear it. You are grossly underestimating it while trying to manipulate it.
Camille grabbed it though.
“Truce,” she said.
Right before New Orleans.
“Truce?”
Liliana grabbed the stick in my hand demurely, sticking her tongue out, sort of biting it, then proceeded to break it in half. Head lolled back in a wild guffawing, you’d think she had broken a finger. Or wanted to. Like a banshee, my mother would say about her. I don’t like you hanging around with her. My sister and I eating our oats asking about the weather. What boots should I wear, mother. Whichever one kicks her hardest.
She has put the leaf out and she is whispering about our agreement. I am trying to get close enough to pinch her so she will stop talking about it in front of Kamelia but also keeping distance. Nothing contagious about sinister girls except how quickly their friends become them. That’s another thing my mother said. That girl is malevolent, Katarina. Why you bother with her?
As she bathed me, she discovered new bruises.
“Just climbing a lot,” I swatted her hand away. “The way girls do.”
Each scratch, each red mark, noted.
“Why doesn’t Kamelia have marks?”
“We don’t let her climb the trees.”
Though mothers sense things, the daughters bore from them cover them the same way they feel it. Call it kinship the psychic bond that develops between families. One truth detected, one lie to lob back. One bad feeling, one unctuous grin. One bath, five stories. My mother; my poor fucking mother.  How devastating the day of the hike must have been for her; disappearing without note and then waiting up like that for hours before sending the men out and how far did they go? I bet she went to Liliana’s house first, spit raging and finger wagging. The girl’s mother unaware and drunk, five kids and no help and no care and probably closing the door in her face. How long did they walk to track our boot marks in the snow? And how long before it started to snow again covering everything? Has she ever listened to us? Listened to where we go? My lies so big and gravid birthing more deception. We weren’t allowed to traverse the woods like that but did it anyhow and what killed me in the final moment was the crack heard at a distance so potently and the thought of my mother lighting candles on the altar cursing Liliana and then the cracking beneath me, my tongue finally acrid enough to break. Break into cursing Liliana.
“Let’s go for a hike,” she said.
“It’s freeeeezing. And it’s gonna snow.”
“No way.”
“Yes, look at the sky,” I point up.
We are just outside my cottage, hooded, our wolf fur boots and mink velvet mittens. We would be chattering soon; frozen stiff with air between us and no words. But then. In the eye of it, the hope of it, the same as we always were; me tepid and her, pushing.
“Come on!” she hit my shoulder.
I looked back at the house. I remember that. I looked back at the white paint and oak awning. We had a stunning and century old oak tree in the back that Kamelia and I used to sit in and under. We spent entire summers there. Me, looking for bugs to pet. Her, fanciful, telling stories to herself. Our property was mostly beechwood save a couple oaks: the one we kept and the one we cut down. Mostly grove of beechwood and birch behind us. Some oaks. The elusive firs.
“Fine,” I began walking briskly to stay warm and without turning around, sensing her looking back too, “and we aren’t taking Kamelia.”
Loga wasn’t that far but it wasn’t easy. Lucky for us, we spent all of our free time walking, circling, running and chasing. I was always looking up eagerly, avid for interaction from some other creature, waiting for falcons. Listening for their cries. Waiting for them to swoop.
“They hunt in pairs you  know? Packs. Not many birds do.’
Liliana was always looking down, looking for rocks to throw, things to break, or insects. I looked for insects too. Not the same way.
“Look,” she held it’s decapitated body towards me.
“Fuck, eww, Lily.”
“I didn’t do it!”
But she threw the bunny’s body towards me.
“Fuck, Lily, GROTESQUE.”
I stepped around it, scowling, holding my stomach.
“I didn’t do it,” she repeated, not looking at me, continuing to look at the ground. “Some animal left it.”
Dancing around it that day I had this thought and it returned to me before the lake, when she told me she had a surprise for me and reached into her pocket: no animal would take the head. In fact, they’d take the body and leave the head if need be. It was a fast thought but it lingered. The day of the bunny was before the snow. Before the languid miles. The day of the encumbering barbed wire to greet us.
The first mile was easy, normal, no snow, she was right. My mind wandered. Spent some of it looking up but there were no birds. Looked down for fox prints. Twiddled with some stones in my pocket on and off; a habit, for luck or memory. My brain was eidetic. Every time I touched the stone I was taken to the oak tree; the day of the bear. My sister and I had been at the bottom of the tree and we had been playing “imaginary” again; a game she made up where we choose new names, new identities and we act out the characters. She always wanted something royal, fantastic and I was much more pragmatic longing to explore the grass and pick out ladybugs. Learn to identify things. Watch beetles walk. Follow them. For her enjoyment, often I played her knight or maid and I would always have to stop something right before it happened–a witch, a wizard, a war. A portending event was lurking everywhere we stepped. That day I remember vividly and more so as I turn each stone in my pocket.
“I will be Zoe; the most magnificent queen of the land and you will be….’” she was holding a long stick with two little twigs coming out of the top that she thought looked like antlers and called it her magic doe wand. “You will be my dog.”
“Of course.”
She placed a woven dandelion chain around my neck and called it a collar, made me “eat” bark that I pulled with my fingernails, made me howl a lot as we skipped around the tree. Laughing, her hair every way, long, dark, thick and crimpy, she was only eight then and impressionable. Weak kneed. Innocent but gregarious, curious. A tad puny. Not my rival; a deep well of love existed between us and it was just the three of us in that house. She needed me to be her knight and I was. And her dog, and she had me on the ground searching for bones as she skipped all around the tree and I began rubbing my hands all over the dirt letting the smoothest pebble come to me. Tactile and interested in make believe only in the tangible; that is, how many times can I recall something by touching and is that real? Is this special? If I think hard about a black bird and one appears, did I call it? If I hold this pebble twice, will everything come back to me. As I felt the cream-colored one, letting pulses glide up and down my spine, imprinting the smell of air I can’t even palpably explain out of the corner of my eye, I saw him.
First, I gripped a second pebble: dark brown and ruddy.  Then, I remember what my mother said, “Be careful of wolves.”
I remember Kamelia gasping on the wooden floor, knees up and watching her knit.
“We rarely see wolves, Kamelia,” I was stirring stew from the kitchen. I remember this now, and then, and now again.
“Foxes won’t bite you,” my mother kept going, hands continuing with the needle, not looking at us but not not looking at us either. The way mothers can.
“And even though it’s rare, your father once saw a bear–three actually, a mother and her cubs. The most dangerous of all.”
I remember Kamelia, singing softly just behind me, brazenly imperturbed. Not loud enough to warn someone, but loud enough to cover the snap of twigs.
“Kamelia,” I  whispered and without pause, quickly added. “Statue.”
Deferential to her bone, she trusted every thing anyone ever said. The child stopped right there and turned into marble.  I stood up slowly backing into the tree and pressed my left hand on it to get a sense of distance. Right hand still clutched the two stones. Because I heard no scream, I knew she was facing the other way towards the other grove. I knew she would wait until I said “dancer” to move again.  The big brown beast stared and was standing on its hind legs but no made other moves as I continued backing up. Relying on a hawks’ eye view,  sideways, to find her. She was impeccably still and ethereal in her stance; right foot pointed out, and left arm raised with a green leaf in her hand, a couple dandelions, the yellow poking out. Buoyantly, even in a state of terror,  I floated around to face her. It felt preternatural like walking through sky. Everything slowed to almost a halt and I slowly took her hands, pebbles pressed against her greenery and whispered.
“Follow me. Don’t turn around. We are playing leader.”
She nodded and we didn’t have far to go. Twenty steps and we are inside and the bear did nothing but watch, alarmed, I realized, she hadn’t been singing before. He hadn’t heard us. Both of us had retreated into some microcosm world of investigation using the environment as a jump off.  She was doing the thing I watch her do when she thinks no one is looking; responding to some internal stimuli, moving her mouth without sound and smiling like she is talking to someone. Like she is responding to someone. I did not take my eyes off the bear. Even rounding the corner, I watched the bear through the side window. He did not move. I turned the knob. He did not move. And when we were inside with the door softly shut, the bear got back on all fours and turned to walk away into the forest.
My sister will not speak again until I tell her. I stand at the window watching back to her. She stays at the door looking at her feet. Infantilization harms and possibly stints children
“and so does fucking everything, “ I sneer, sweaty palm on railing and I am leaning over the side, not guessing the height of the road I walked a thousand times but guessing  the timing. I put my left foot up for height.

What was promised to me was miracle and sudden.  What was promised was my dead lover delivering snakes at the right time and a near death experience and a lake. When I saw it, I wouldn’t register it but rather react.  When I felt it, my whole body would tense up. When it was over, I would breathe deeply and contrite, my cold cement mausoleum skin cracking. Lips brimming over in verse, replete with a shuddering insecurity and effulgent missives to lovers, elegaic and hard yet softening  when I am touched a certain way. When I am gripped, rough, then dropped, let go, my hands reach out.  The letters begin. Or simply when I have too much time to think like in jail or in a long winding winter of solitude.
This. This is some miracle, and some portending force.  At the beginning of June this past summer, I drove home from Virginia after visiting my parent’s for a few days for my quarterly visit as is my habit. As is my habit now that my dad is dying, I should say.  The drive is six hours and I spend the majority of it thinking and speaking out loud, watching license plates, watching titles on my phone change when I can and checking numbers. The rock face smiling; cracking and spilling it all.
Camille asks, “What’s his name?”
What is his name?  I am still on the bridge, haven’t moved. The train has stopped. A man with no shirt jogs by me, side eyes me but with crave, not concern.
I am still one foot on the lake and one foot on the bank with three girls and their two dogs behind me. Somewhere my sister is tied to a tree, mouth taped shut and naive, drawn to a dare.
I am driving on the highway doing 80 miles an hour and working out last year with you, recalling the way the numbers had started to line up perfectly on each plate (finally) and ignoring the urge to check what three sevens mean, remembering it was first swords, then pentacles, then wands when the construction truck slowly pulled  in front of me. They were going only 45 miles an hour in the fast lane. Had I done any urge I wanted, acted out any compulsion: check what the sevens mean, check to see if in fact my tarot reading was in that order, check the time, the song, the rearview, I would have slammed squarely into them; neck bent. What I did was swerve, then breathe and as the woman careened into me from behind, fear returned. Immortaility. The dream of the alligator. The dream of the miracle. Umbrage left as I opened the door to step on the gravel; as I opened the door to investigate the crash, quickly, like a snakebite, breath washed over me.
“Are you ok?” I yelled.
Walking towards her car, I glanced to my left to find the dent, to assess what new hell this was and found nothing. Not a scratch.
“I’m ok. Are you ok?”
She stepped out slowly, looked shaken but unscathed, young, cute, maybe 26. I am good at gauging age. Long brown hair and a thick New Jersey accent.  She had been behind me for miles, probably going about 80 as well. Synchronized, I had thought to myself earlier.Two women, I found out, returning home after a trip home ignoring their phones and radios to swerve, to brake, to walk away breathing and not exchanging info.
“His name was (redacted).”
Umbrage took back over in the car but I didn’t stop to scold the construction truck. She advised me it was a waste of time. I asked. But I did roll down the window to scream “YOU COULD HAVE KILLED  US, MOTHERFUCKERS!” as I drove by them only a half mile further where they stopped, knowing it was a mouse squeak.
“They could have fucking killed us,” I repeated in the car.
“They should have fucking killed me,” I am walking now across the bridge.

“nothing thicker than a knife’s blade separates happiness from melancholy.”

–virginia woolf

The first step is always the hardest, I tell myself as I walk onto the bridge. Before there is railing, there is sidewalk and a wall which makes it easier because I can’t see how far down the river is. The wall is a dark forest green with bright geometric patterns painted all along it to distract from the industrial backdrop. From the paper cups in the gutter. From the snarling motorbikes and the exhaust; the clouds of dust that coat my clothes and need more laundering that I am willing to provide in such a persisting languid state. I cannot lift my head from a pillow inside my own manor but out here I am sharp.  I am aware every time a car drives by me. I am aware of every plastic straw in the gutter. I am aware when men walk by me or when they are thirty to seventy feet behind.  My fingernail is scraping the side of the wall in her own geometric patterns. Even though I do this walk daily, I first had to conquer it.  It’s not that I am scared of heights.
“It’s that I’m scared of everything,” I tell Camille.
She is making Ethiopian in her apartment for us. I am trying to rectify winter to explain it to someone, immobilized by stage, yet, also drawn to it spending most of my time creating paper audience members in my living room.  I pace my cage daily speaking out loud, rehearsing, pretend one is you and how can I explain your meaning in it without going all the way back?
I should go back. I am three feet onto the bridge which is neither empty nor full. A puttering of people surround me to ignore me and I am quite frankly used to it. This is trepidation, I stop. You only enter the circle with perfect trust.  The brown rust of the track shrieks.
Camille is placing injera bread in front of me and I am asking, “Did I ever tell you about the story of XXX?’
Never knowing where to begin. I am always three places if I am any less than nine and the first step is always the hardest,  I think as I place my boot gently on the frozen water praying that the glacial December and January we had would support me. It started innocently enough: seven snowstorms that filled the valley but before that a cool and calm change in foliage and deep need to explore any detritus. Each trail. A deep need to feel the weather change in capes and skirts and on the ground, together. Inseparable and tethered  by proximity. Childhood bonds are  formed by who is closest.
“February is the coldest month. Everyone forgets.”
Cross-legged braiding my sister’s hair, I have started this. We are in the woods. This was October. Matter of factly I say which is which and often.  I could be described as precise, studious, earnest, stepped on. 
“You think Palatinus is frozen solid?”
“God, no. Loga, probably,” I correct her. “Palatinus is too large.”
I am grabbing the railing and watching the train, hearing the scream of the friction announce her arrival and my sister is leaning into my hands, head backwards. Her nails dig into the top of her skirt so as not to wince as I pinched her twice already for moving, and I am precise. Don’t like fussiness or wimps. Let’s get it done. Yet, I have been stomped on. You only enter the circle with perfect love.
“Where do the fish go?” Liliana asks.
She is placing twigs in a circle and then a cross between them. I don’t bother asking what she is doing anymore. Eventually her ignoble tic will begin and she will tell us exactly what she is doing and what we are doing next to support it.
“They go deeper.”
“They don’t die?” Kamelia asks, knowing not to turn towards me but wanting to. Could feel her body shift slightly on my lap.I pat her back with my free hand.
“Some, sure, but most swim beneath the layer of ice and live out the season. We just see the top sheet. Underneath it’s business as usual.”
“Some freeze to death,” Liliana asserts. I am not looking at her, but I hear her, moving objects around, leaves ruffling, the sound of rocks clanking together. When it’s too quiet, a sniffle to assert her presence behind us.
“Yeah. Some get caught in the top layer,” I hear a ssst sound from her direction. “Some were weak to begin with.” I turn my head slightly, just the periphery to see what it is. I know better than to make things known
Liliana is striking a match on a rock.
“You think you could walk across, Katarina?” she asks.
I am picking at the collard greens Camille prepared and fumbling with the beginning, “I could not stop thinking about this person.” I am moving the injera bread to the side. “And I hadn’t seen them in a year.”
It is 85 degrees, 6:56 pm, and I am shaking, clutching at the rail, biting my tongue so hard that a dribble of blood has started down my chin. 
Naturally concerned and reproving, I let go of Kamelia’s hair to hold both my hands out, preparing to possibly get up. .“Liliana, careful. We are surrounded by trees.”
I feel my sister twitch and my left hand pinches the piece of skin on her wrist her blouse sleeve doesn’t cover. Naturally concerned and matronly, I have always taken a hold of her. Kamelia  moves no more.
“Could you walk the whole lake, princess Kat?” she repeats, holding the leaf up, leering through the flame.
I know better. She will blow it out. I know better. I can feel my sister blinking, waiting. Careful not to swallow too loudly, this is a soft dance between the three of us: silent, patient, unnoticed.
“Yes, Queen Lily,” I am looking over the railing, paused, speaking out loud, not noticing the gash I created, the drying liquid on my chin or anything really, pushing collard greens around with my fork but not eating. “I suppose if I ever had to, I could.
She lets it burn down halfway before I see the deep inhale.
“But only in February. At the peak.”
Liliana’s grimacing and twirling the glowing leaf between her dirt-capped black fingers. The back of my sister’s head is nestled on my chest now, relaxing into the stand-off. At least she has reprieve from the pulling, the scalp tightening and grateful for the pause between my pawing and nails, untouched by the scene on the other side of me. I turn back to Kamelia knowing she won’t put the flame out while I am watching. I begin to count the seconds and dig my hands back into her thick dark hair.  Not swallowing too deeply or moving a muscle on my face so neither can feel my disquiet. Make some plan to pull it and run if I don’t hear the exhale loudly enough. My sister straightens her back in perfect trust; neither one of us facing the devil between us.

“nothing thicker than a knife’s blade separates happiness from melancholy.”

–virginia woolf

God does remarkable things in times of hardship. The ability of my body to slither down the banister then back up the mailboxes like that to deal with untoward events that I could not possibly predict: passersby blowing joint smoke right at me and leering, good samaritans palms out, rocks on the sidewalk catching the bottom of my shoe, unlevel pavement, time passing and leaving its scratch on my pallid skin. What’s more, God is the master of all fate, deigned to be creator and destroyer and me in my limp, laughing out loud at having thought I could fight her. Me, salivating despite having no, not a drop of water, the body, God doing miraculous things. She is presenting me with these angels, these incredulous stares and hands, mine slapping them, scared of palms then and now. Me, rejecting then and now. Me in my gallantry and sore runner’s knee suddenly on death row mile. This is now. I am at 32nd and Hamilton walking towards the bridge. Somehow by miracle, not crawling even though my body had a steady tilt towards the left as if it was going to topple. By miracle, no folks interfering though I felt them lean in, felt them pause with their bodies full stop for seconds to wonder, does she need me? Does she need someone else?
This is a flashback or something close to it, perhaps just a memory but vivid here, like an inscription: a text actually sent that said I need you unreturned. As if one chance is all the world had to requite it. This is a memory but also a moment happening as it happens and recorded in my mind like I am speaking it into a tape recorder. I am dictating each move now unsure if I am dictating out loud for my audience or just thinking. Smile. I smile at the jogger. She should not be out here alone. A strong urge to push her passes. God is remarkable. This is a flashback or something close to it, perhaps just a memory but vivid here, like an inscription: a text actually sent that said I need you unreturned. As if one chance is all the world had to requite it. This is a memory but also a moment happening as it happens and recorded in my mind like I am speaking it into a tape recorder. I am dictating each move now unsure if I am dictating out loud for my audience or just thinking. Smile. I smile at the jogger. She should not be out here alone. A strong urge to push her passes. God is remarkable.

I am filled with an unimpeded violence and in the middle of a frozen lake turning to watch my sister begin to come after me.

Time had come to a screeching halt or a moving shadow depending on how you saw things. I saw things in threes, perhaps always but more now; my hand on the knob, my hand on Kamelia’s, my hand on Kamelia’s back and then etching the star on the ground at the bottom of the well.
“Where am I?” I accidentally say out loud.
Smile.
Smile. I am smiling. Sam is looking at me, side-eyed and I am regretting most everything but mostly the day of the well.
“I am worried about my sister,” I blurt out.
“You left your luggage.”
His hand was still gripping the handle but he turned away from me. He carried that three flights up. I am sure I was grateful but all I could manage was, “I have to get to the well.”
“Where?”
“Urgent care.”
“Are you sick?”

“Yes, no..we both are. I am sorry. I am fine.”
“Do you need help?”
“Just put the luggage here, please,” I pointed by my foot.
Reluctantly, and that is a look I saw across everyone’s face that day, reluctantly he stepped three inches closer and past me to place the luggage on the floor. I said nothing and felt a deep surge rise inside of me, a deep wave and soon I would be on the floor.
“Are you sure you don’t need anything?”
“Positive.”But I didn’t look at him. As I stood, hand on handle, my heart racing, I remember a dream I had once where I had to go to my old neighbor’s apartment, the one that lived here before Sam, to ask them to help getting a demon out of my apartment. It was Christmas. I had cat eyes.
“What does it mean?”
I don’t think words were coming out just echoes of thought reverberating around the inside of my mind. I meant to say things. Or I meant to smile. I was halfway down the stairs when I realize I didn’t have my keys. That’s ok. You probably didn’t even close the door. Godspeed, Genevieve. Don’t eat all the wet food. It was one minute from my door to Sam’s and another two before I was in the lobby. I was right: three minutes on a good day. Even though my eyes went black when I opened the front door, I made sure to lean on the door frame and a new phenomenon took over: a fainting while standing, like sleeping. In my dream, I walked out of the mirror with my cat eyes back and I said out demon out! But then I laughed, mocking my childish ritual: a deep bray of prescience. There is no out here; only a switching of places.

“Well get on with then,” Lilian pushed my back.
That was years ago.
No, that was now.
No, that was hours ago at the beginning of the hike.
“Get on with it, geez, your stories, Kat, really so meandering.”
This story will be written in English so my brain can comprehend it though sometimes I hear things differently.
Szelanya.
That’s what she had said. Meandering.Windy. No, winding. I think. This was hours ago when we first started the hike. Her real name is Liliana but we called her Lilian for short because she preferred it and was bossy  so what she preferred took precedence. Once stealing money from a British man in cards, she learned quickly how to feign his accent to charm.We are thirteen. We are cunning and unabashed at times. We are ruthless investigators of all things in our small town and  we are friends, not sisters. We are young when this happens but I am still seething. Rage never leaves you. It just transforms. I cannot express enough  though that Liliana Meszaros iis not my sister nor is she my friend. 

This was hours ago when we first started the hike.
“You always tell such circular things, such winding things.”

Even though I was in front of her, merely because I knew how to get to Loga having been here longer, she was leading. Been here longer in age by nine months. She was younger than me. Thirteen, but nine months younger.
“Could have been my sister,” I used to say.
Kamelia was eleven.
Kamelia was my sister.
Kamelia was dead.
No, my brother is dead.
This was years ago.
“Hours ago,” I say to the mirror.
My brother is dead is written somewhere in this apartment so I can remember.
Grief doesn’t leave it just transforms.“Well, what can I say we aren’t all as charming as you, Liliannnn.”
I felt her smack my back but I also heard her laugh. I was freezing. It was freezing and dark. The middle of a storm. The ground covered in white soft powder and us in our black parkas.
“Like little witches,” she said.
“Shh,” I smacked her arm. “Don’t let Kamelia hear.”
Kamelia is my sister. Dead like me. Dead cuz of me. Something grabs my arm to try to pull me up but she is (dead cuz of life.”
“No, dead cuz of me.”
But I pull myself up.
And to the mirror, I say, finally with fervency, “Kacirek. Your name is Kamelia Kacirek. Well get on with then.”
And I am fast opening my front door where I see Sam with my luggage.

“Trust me,” he says; which in itself has never been a talisman, carries no guarantee.

But I snatch at it, this offer. It’s all I’m left with.

Laura will say at the end, I suffered seizures on and off as if she had any idea what was happening in that well. She will say she wouldn’t let anyone help her and with pity, a frown. She will adjust the straps of her dress and scowl and say so beautiful.. She will say tragic as if there was a stopping. She will talk about my looks for an unknown amount of time. She will claim a bond we never had.
I arose swiftly despite the convulsion, almost like the shake produced some kind of electricity and I charged to the room ripping the sheet down, knocking my painting of two flowers off the wall and the first thing I did was spit. Well, I tried to spit but nothing came out. My mouth was sand dry again. The second thing I did was bang my fist against it and the third thing I did was charm. Incantantion.

“Your name is Katarina.”

Laura will say when I said it in my sleep she thought it was proper English.
But then sometimes she would say things like “coat, hand me my coat” and it would sound Australian.
Maybe European English, you know when someone is learning English they have that undetectable accent.
Or New Zealand.
It was still kind of British.
She kept saying she was going to cause a wreck but with flair. Dramatically. Like in an English accent. Cauussee a wreck. And slowly.
And the mirror sung back, drool sliding down where I had licked it to mark it like it’s mine to own.

“Sweet, Katarina. I found you.”

Weak, my fingers slid off the top of the lake following the other hand as  my body became a cannonball.No one offered me a hand up. Why would I think they would? Weak, my fingers pressed firmly into the snow. Weak, my body being suspended in air like that. Weak, now from hours of walking and waiting and terror.
“Feeble,” Lilian had called me. “You are never prepared.”
That was hours ago. That was when we were friends. That was when we quarreled with giggles; pettish yet with a foxes smile. Laughing. This now; where we are now; this is gritted teeth and chapped hands and insurmountable tasks. You were never friends.
“We were never friends,” I stand shaking, facing her.
She backs up instinctively. Despite her air of prescience still afraid of me. After all this.
“Of course we were.”
“Of course we were,” I mock her in her British accent.
“Of course we were,” I murmur to the mirror in a British accent.
This is betrayal.
She mentioned betrayal. And she had already slapped Camille claiming Camille slapped her. Called her Lilian. She called herself Catarina.
“Walk, Katarina. You do remember how to walk don’t you?”
She pushed me. As if this wasn’t enough, she pushed me as I hobbled past. And they all stood by her: petulant and horse-faced and neighing like that, nodding.
“Bitches,” I let my cheek rest against the mirror. “Petulant witches.”
“What’s that, Cat?”
“I said I will do it.”
And I slid to the carpet arms spread out for crufixion, eyes wide to the sparkles on my ceiling: yellow and green strewn about from some previous tenant’s happiness. Like constellations. She came in the room all black and imperious, towering.
“You will do what?”
Her left foot near my air and her right foot sliding slowly heavy towards it
“I will walk across the fucking lake.”

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