The moon reflected off the lake, creating a specter of double light. Alli turned around and watched ripples float away from the opposite shore. In one hand, she held a cast-iron pot full of water, collected from the pump down the hill.
Even at night, the entire woods exhaled. Alli breathed in the sharp, minty smell of pine needles. Acorns lay underfoot. Clouds scraped the sky, silently passing each other in the night.
Alli let the cool air fall over her, like a blanket. She hiked through the dull-colored underbrush back up to the cabin. Candlelight was visible through the windows. She walked up the steps and brushed off her shoes on the welcome mat. Inside, Xen was feeding the fire in the stove with twigs.
The pot of water went on the stove and Alli sat down on the lower bunk bed, to better pull off her all-terrain boots. Kaan lit the large myrrh and frankincense candle on a wrought-iron candlestick, and they all gathered around, sitting cross-legged on the floor.
Xen got up and extinguished all the other candles in the cabin. She also took a piece of chalk out of her sweater pocket and drew a circle around them. The three of them crossed their arms also and held hands around the circle.
Alli inhaled the incense. The cabin fell away bit by bit. She felt freezing air on the nape of her neck. She was in a heavy parka, with a fur-trimmed hood, and wore Inuit snow goggles to block out the glare of the midnight sun. Walking on the ice floe, in a white suit and pants, was Aro.
“Is your Inner Space always cold like this?” Alli asked, clapping her gloved hands together to generate heat.
“No,” said Aro, “I am speaking to Kaan at our old seaside cabana. I am speaking to Xen in a Starbucks.”
“Lucky them,” Alli laughed.
They watched the plates of ice, shift and crack over the water. The barren bricolage stretched into the distance.
“What should I do?” Alli asked. Her voice came out as a whisper, nearly a soundless puff of condensation.
“Do you like Xen?” Aro asked. The wind swirled around, picking up snow, that was merely frozen dust.
“Of course!” Alli exclaimed, but her heart sunk a little lower.
“You’re holding back,” Aro said. She snapped her fingers, and they were standing in a sea of stars, that continued forever. Above them, the constellations winked in the heavens.
“I can’t shake this feeling that I’m making a mistake,” Alli murmured.
A green light appeared, twinkling on the horizon. It drew closer, as the waves passed their ankles, until a barrel of green fire was right in front of them.
Aro turned to her, “Do you even know what you are giving up?”
Alli’s eyes widened. She shook her head, “No.”
Aro turned back to the fire; it seemed to leap higher with every second. With an inhuman jump, she carried herself into the flame. Her shell disintegrated into flying embers, and only an ever larger, growing afterimage of smoke was left.
Aro, now also made of green flame, with an aura at least ten feet high, spoke to Alli from the sky, “A tulpa is on your back. Its feet are around your torso, and like a monkey, its hands are grasping your head. You must let go of this thing that you are carrying around.”
Alli looked down from Aro, to the barrel of green flame which she had risen from, like a djinn set free from a thousand-year slumber.
She took a running leap and cleared the lip of the barrel with ease. She jumped into a blinding, white light.
Alli awoke in the darkened cabin. The incense candle had burned down and gone out, leaving a twisted wick. The other two were asleep, heads tucked into their chests. Everyone was still holding hands.
She let go and stood up, stretching her legs. The others slumbered on. Alli left the circle and re-lit one of the candles in the window. In the gloom, beyond the reflected orb of candlelight, Alli thought, for a moment, that she could see Nealy’s face.
BACKWHEN – Ｍｉａｍｉ
waterfront dining – can’t
Infinity Frequencies – Y8U & ME
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