“Can you see it, Little Light?” her mother asked, squeezing her hand as they looked in the mirror, “If you look with your heart, you should be able to see it.”
She squinted her eyes and focussed. It was dim in the gas station toilet and the mirror was grimy and cracked on one side. She clenched her jaw and willed herself to see it–
And there it was! The darkness around them peeled away and a light that was not a light glowed around them. And, just behind her and her mother, silvery, ethereal wings fluttered gently.
“I can!” she exclaimed, excitedly, hugging her mother and then quickly turning back to check she could still see herself in the mirror, “I really can, mommy!”
Her mother smiled and bent down, putting her head next to her daughters and looking at both of them in the mirror.
“These are our true forms, Little Light,” her mother whispered, a sadness creeping into her pale blue eyes, “Our eternal forms from the Old Lands. So, Little Light, never forget this. When this world’s darkness closes in–and it always does; our true selves are immortal but these human bodies are not–just remember that none of this matters. None of this dreadful, dirty world of men matters and, my dear, you are the light and–“
A glass bottle shattered the moment against a wall outside. The sound of the city rushed back in and an angry voice rang out from the other side of the door. Her mother froze, her smile vanishing completely. She stood up slowly and looked at the door for a moment before looking back down at her.
“Your father is waiting. We must go, Little Light.”
When the first shovel of dirt hit the casket, it sounded like a door slamming shut. Forever. The second shovel of dirt echoed her mother’s rasping breath at the end, in between cigarettes and whisky. She remembered carrying her to bed before her own night shift began and, by the third shovel of dirt, her mind had already shifted to worrying about paying last month’s rent, let alone this month’s.
Following her mother’s will, she had made sure that the casket was made of oak and not an ounce of iron–not even in the nails–was in it. She had also made sure that the funeral was held at dusk, and, later, she would make sure mushrooms and foxgloves grew around the plot.
“This is so depressing, babe,” the man beside her moaned, badly hiding a yawn behind his mouth before reaching into his pocket for a cigarette, “If we leave now, we can hit the pool bar before the happy hour ends. Bertie says he might have a job for me, or something.”
She wanted to hit him. She wanted to run away. She wanted to scream and cry, but all she did was sigh and kept watching the men filling her mother’s grave. At least he was here. That was something. No one else was here, including her father. She had tried to call him and had mailed him an invite but to no avail. He was probably in jail or drunk again. Perhaps both.
Eventually, she looked up at her boyfriend and tried to smile. He tried to look sympathetic. If he is trying, it means he is, she reminded herself. He flicked away the cigarette he had finished and hugged her. His arms felt good around her.
“Sure, hun,” she mumbled, “let’s go get that drink. Maybe Bertie does have a job for you.”
“Can you see it, Little Light?” she asked her daughter, “You need to look with your heart, and then you will see your beautiful true form.”
She lifted her daughter to the counter in the bathroom. She was small and light, probably too small and too light for her age. The light in the MacDonalds was flickering but she could see her daughter squinting intensely at herself in the dirty mirror.
And then her daughter’s face lit up, “Yes, mommy! I can see it! It is amazing! We are so beautiful! So beautiful!”
She smiled and hugged her daughter tightly, whispering about their immortal souls and the beauty that cannot die. She whispered about the Old Lands and how their people had fled them. She whispered about oak trees, foxgloves and circles of mushrooms. She whispered about how this world was not real and how only this light was, and, the whole time, she wondered if she could still see it.