There was already a voice in Jessamyn’s head when the beacon hit her eyes. It told her a story about a serpent of light coiled around the hard ridges of her face—her right cheekbone, right eye, her tight angular jaw. It is the East, and Juliet is the Sun, the voice said, and Jessamyn almost laughed, for the voice and its light were neither beatific nor subtle. They were as harsh as a bare bulb in a concrete corridor, raising a bit of superstitious dread, reminding her she had created a character with brain cancer recently. Well, barely a character, a cipher who suffers and dies offstage, mentioned only to give the protagonist a bit of perspective, to show her she is not the only one in pain. And just like that, Jessamyn thinks coolly, this is how I will die. I have invented it, and so often, when I commit it to the page, it manifests. Just so.
But the light is not a tumor; it is an aura, the precursor to a migraine. She knew this. She recognized it. The only remedy is an elixir she keeps buried in her sock drawer, a potion that will disrupt her sleep and leave her dreamless.
Awake now, she is as shaky as the dried seed pods rustling in the breeze. The air whispers, “Best kind, best kind, best kind,” mocking her in her mediocrity and her haste, her eagerness to complete her tasks because she wants to go home. In this morning’s dream she spoke with her dead mother on a southbound bus. Jessamyn called, Deer Mama, and indeed the ghost spouted ears, tail, and hooves, yellow fur and topaz eyes, then melted into the forest where Jessamyn could not follow. Jessamyn was left in the dream with her passive aggressive ex lover, watching as he grew branches and orange leaves like a maple tree, his angry taproot channeling a poisoned well.
There will be no drama tonight, for there will be no dreams. The elixir relieves her headache but leaves her agitated and pacing. Settle, settle, begs the deepening wind, but Jessamyn ignores it, gliding outside to watch the clouds disperse suddenly like a murder of crows. The sky is a pool filled with luminous fish. I am learning to swim, she tells the voice, and then she dives right in.
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