20

Previously…

It was already 8:15 in the morning when Xander woke up from his sleep to the sound of his ringing cellphone. He grumbled and turned to the other side. The ringing stopped for a few minutes, but returned again. Irritated, Xander rose from his bed and grabbed the phone from his bag. The ringing stopped for a while, and the screen displayed that he had already missed 15 calls…

From Aura.

~

Xander swore, not willing to back down on the argument without winning. He was about to argue when Aura turned around and answered him mentally. “It was to shake off Ember’s stalkers. Happy?”

He calmed down a bit and followed her inside. “This your house?”

“Sort of.” She replied, her voice distant again. “Have a seat. I’ll get you drinks. What do you want?”

“Anything. What do you have there?”

“Coke, iced tea, orange juice and water.”

“Coke.”

“Coke is bad for you.” She commented, before disappearing behind the now open fridge door. Xander ignored her and sat on the sofa, admiring the luxuries that Aura enjoys in the small house. She has a flat screen TV that hung inches above a fire place. There was even a small chandelier that hangs above the wooden coffee table before him. A black upright piano was hidden underneath an embroidered blanket that covered it. It looks like it hasn’t been used for a very long time. A group of framed pictures were displayed on top of the piano. Curious, Xander stood up and walked to the piano to look closely at the pictures.

“Don’t!” Aura yelled so suddenly that Xander accidentally dropped the picture on the wooden floor. The frame broke apart and the glass shattered on the floor.

“Look what you did!” she angrily said. Aura hurriedly put the two cans of Coke on the coffee table then ran to the piano to pick up the picture from the floor.

“I’m sorry.” Xander apologized. “Here, let me help.”

“NO!” she snapped. “GO AWAY!!!”

Suddenly the image of Aura from the nightmare resurfaced into Xander’s mind. Aura gasped, and blood began to ooze from the injured finger. Putting the earlier thoughts aside, Xander went up to Aura’s side and inspected the wound for glass splinters. Aura took her hand back immediately and stood up. “I’ll take care of it. Wait here. Don’t move.”

Xander watched Aura make a trail of blood on the floor as she ran to the nearest bathroom and disappeared. He carefully pushed the pieces to reveal the picture underneath.

It was a picture of a group at a beach. It was easy to point out who Aura was in the crowd composed mostly of brunettes. But what struck him most was her smile.

She was really happy in this picture.

Aura reappeared from the bathroom with a broom and a dust pan. The earlier wounded finger was already bandaged. “My fault. Here.”

Xander took it from her and carefully brushed the broken fragments off the picture. When he was sure that there are no more glass fragments to hurt them, he picked up the picture from the floor and gave it to her.

“You seem happy there.” Xander commented after throwing the fragments into the nearby trash can. “You like the beach?”

Aura was silent as one finger traced the happy faces on the photograph. “This is the last picture I have of Ember…”

She handed him the picture and Xander tried to find Ember among the smiling crowd. Aura went back to the kitchen to get a mop to wipe off the bloody mess she had made. “Which one of them is Ember?” he asked.

“This one.” She replied, using the bandaged finger to point to the empty space over the right shoulder of her in the photograph.

“There’s nobody there.” He said.

She used to be there.” Aura sighed. “When the existence of a person fades, even the things they had left behind disappear. Even in photographs.”

“If her very existence is gone, then why do you remember her?”

“I’m not really sure.” She said, opening her can of Coke and drinking from it. She began to finger the pendant hanging around her neck. “This was also from her.”

“The necklace?”

“The rings.” She smiled bitterly. “Sometimes, when I hold them, I feel that Ember is still alive, somewhere. That she had not been at the fire. That she had not been eaten at all. But… When I look at this picture, she isn’t there anymore. And that’s just proves that she is indeed… gone…”

“But she still exists.”

Aura looked up at him, frowning.

“She still exists.” Xander repeated. He gave the picture back to her and took the can of Coke on the table. “Ember still exists.”

“What do you mean?”

“The rings. Your memories. They are too clear, right? That means that she still exists. If she really had been consumed by a vamp, those things you remember about her should be gone too, right?”

“No.”

“No?”

“I’m a Perpetual, remember? Maybe it’s a side effect of being one. Maybe the reason why I still have her memories is because I am a Perpetual like her.” Aura sighed. “She’s gone, Xander.” Her grip around the rings tightened. “I saw what they did to her. They drained her existence. She’s gone. Forever.”

“But-”

Aura stood from the sofa, turning her face away from him so that he could not see the tears that threatened to form. “Let’s go to the library. Maybe we’ll find something that could help you there.”

She placed the picture on the table and walked to the kitchen. Xander heard the clunk of the soft drink can as it hit the bottom of the trash bin. He took one last look at the space in the photograph that Aura had pointed to him earlier.

Somehow, he was sure that Aura may be wrong about this.

And somehow, the Ember she knows is still alive.

“Xander?”

Aura reappeared in the room, motioning him to follow her.

“Sorry.” He apologized as he stood from the sofa to go after her.

Next…

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~ by urbanwitch on April 8, 2009.

2 Responses to “20”

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  2. […] 21 Previously… […]

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