Pebbles rolled and bounced down the curve, followed by larger stones which flew into the darkness below. The Unnamed, previously known to Carmilla as Elizabeth Jane Norman, looked after them and counted the seconds before bangs like thunder reached her ears. They had been climbing the skidding for so long that the awareness of height was abolished and the meters impossible to estimate by vision. Unnamed looked over her shoulders, down at the ghostly heads that followed her. Hours had passed since they set out from The Broken Mirror, as well as they trudged along The Path of Shattered Dreams and Forgotten Memory Lane where, ironically, they found Memory. Raspy takes of breath echoed through the looming silence of wherever they were or was headed to. She knew they were all getting tired, having powered through on her commands.
Two faces looked up and beamed back at Unnamed as much as pale grey faces may beam; Carmilla and Memory had ordained themselves into Unnamed’s right and left side knights. Each disliked the other as much as they wished to please their leader.
‘Let’s take a break,’ Unnamed suggested. Both nodded, agreed noisily and then loudly called out the order to the troop consisting of two other shadow children named Fear and Jealousy. The settlement was instant. Torn by exhaustion, one shadow child sighed after the other and sank down against the ground. Carmilla and Memory started bickering because Carmilla could not remember while Memory remembered too much.
‘She is not Lizzy.’ Carmilla snapped.
‘But she wants to be,’ Memory retorted.
‘But she is not anymore.’
‘But she wanted to be!’
Unnamed only shook her head and glared out at the big nothing with blank eyes. A ruffling sound caught her attention and she just managed to see Fear being so scared of her own shadow that he jumped up and began backing away from it and towards the edge. There was no time to yell, his heel lost grip of the surface. Unnamed stood up and began running. Carmilla and Memory shut up and watched with open mouths. Fear tripled over and disappeared. Unnamed ran downhill while Fear did rolly pollies. One meter. Two meters. Three meters. Stop. Fear vaporized and all that was left was two twinkling blue stones on the ground. Unnamed picked them up in her little palm and studied them. She saw the colour of her skin grow stronger as well as her tummy felt fuller and her throat rehydrated. Carefully, she slid her hand into the pocket of her dress and let the little stones roll down her fingers and mix with the dozen others. Back up on top of the skidding sat Carmilla and Memory, gaping and shouting after her. Only two meters up.
You know you can’t bring them with you.
‘I promised them to bring them out of here,’ Unnamed spoke back to her own conscience echoing around her. You need your full strength to get back to your old self. She looked to the top of the skidding, anxious faces glaring back, and ignored the voice.
‘Come down,’ she called.
‘It’s not far…’ she waited, counted in her head like she had counted the seconds on the way up. Three seconds went and they were standing before her: Carmilla, Memory and Jealousy. She would always lose count when counting from the top.
The group trudged along in a new direction; this time, Unnamed made up the rear while Carmilla and Memory was at the front. Each tossed nervous glances over their shoulders before their eyes met and narrowed in fury. Jealousy walked in the middle; she had been considerably quieter since Ego and Pride – bruised and battered from a quarrel with Unnamed – disappeared.
Or so she had made them believe; she looked down and closed her eyes, the necessity of her wrong-doings riding her thoughts. It was the best for the group. It was all for the best of the group. The group had come to a stop and loud voices made Unnamed look up.
They stood bickering again. Now, Unnamed’s conscience hissed from the depths of hollow misery. Her lips parted in a protest when she noticed Jealousy standing a bit away from the others. Jealousy’s hands tugged at a couple strings. One was fastened to Carmilla while the other was stuck to Memory. The more Jealousy tugged, the more the shadow girls fought and argued. Louder. Wilder. More aggressively. Now. Unnamed stormed up to Jealousy, the shadow girl turning around only as Unnamed’s shadow cast itself over her. The twinkling blue eyes shivered for the last time before they lay perfectly still in Unnamed’s hand – the shadow child was forgotten and blown away with the silence. Carmilla and Memory glared at her.
‘I need to get back,’ Unnamed murmured, her fingers clenched over the blue stones, ‘I need to go back and you can’t come with me.’ With one swift motion, Unnamed chucked the stones into the pitch black drape of a sky. They landed in a circle on the ground. The surface split, rumbled and opened into a gaping hole. The two other shadow children, having been staring at the extraordinary around them, turned and looked at her again.
‘Okay.’ Memory said.
‘What?’ Unnamed frowned.
‘We know – we all hear thoughts, remember? It’s okay.’
‘What about you?’
‘You’re strong and brave and compassionate, this is just one of many short stories you’ll live in your life.’
‘We’ll always be with you through it. If this will get you back to where you belong, it’s okay.’ Carmilla chimed in. Unnamed shook her head, more in disbelief than disagreement.
‘Thank you for finding me and I hope you will always keep me with you,’ Memory spoke and held out her hand. Unnamed studied it, half expecting there to be a catch on the other side. She took it with much hesitation. Memory jumped forward and embraced her. Then there was only the two sparkly stones left. Yet, as opposed to the others, they did not fall to the ground, but instead lingered and fluttered into Unnamed’s eyes. Her eyes widened as memories brought her back to the day she was born, to her baptism and her first steps. The flashbacks stopped as soon as they had begun and Unnamed was exchanging glances with Carmilla.
‘I remember…’ Unnamed said under her breath, ‘that you’re me and I’m you.’
‘Took you long enough.’ Carmilla tilted her head with a crooked smile, her arms crossed impatiently.
‘but you said no girl could get us home?’
‘I said no girl could help all of us.’
‘So you’re me and I’m you…’
Carmilla nodded. Silence lingered between them before Unnamed took a leap with her arms outreached. Carmilla caught her in the embrace and melted into her. Then there was only Carmilla left; the real Carmilla who turned and jumped into the escape made of Eyes of the Shadow Selves.
‘Mum, dad! Carmilla is waking up!’
The voice rung loud and shrill through an otherwise sore mind. Light broke through Carmilla’s eyelids and danced on her lashes. Figures moved quick and silently around her. She opened her eyes and stared at her own reflection sitting on a chair and wiping her forehead with a cloth. Behind her, on the chair, hung a black object she vaguely recognized from the inside and out.
‘I was in a hat…’
‘Welcome back, Twin – next time you want to go running in the woods you might want to look out for branches to stumble in.’ Lizzy said, her smile nervous. Carmilla studied her sister’s expressions closely – it seemed edgy rather than anxious – and realized she was not nervous for her accident, but for herself being caught in causing it.
‘You know, I used to want to be like you – no, actually – I used to want to be you,’ Carmilla murmured.
‘Now I have no Fear and no Jealousy, no Shadows, battered Pride or a bruised Ego. I’m pretty good being me.’
Thanks to Michael Ghamloush for his input:
Writer’s note: Pt. III will be the last part of the Hat of Dreams. I regret nothing but giving Carmilla a last name in pt. II, yet, that is how interactive social writing project goes. No one, not even me as a writer could predict where it would end up and I’m happy to have learned from it; the project challenged me into seeing different solutions and possibilities by preparing for possible outcomes as well as writing on command. I hope you all enjoyed the project and please keep an eye out on on my book page for more updates on my writing!