“What exactly does that mean?” A moment ago I was sleepy from the thick, flowery air in the small, warm room. It's cliché and serves its purpose well. My stupor came on fast and lulling. Now, I am all energy. I feel electricity pass through my spine down to my fingertips and glide across my ribs down to my toes.
“You will have her across every life time. And you will lose her. Over and over. Or rather. She will lose you. I can't be sure. Although...my heart says she will lose you. You will push and push, and she will break. She will always break. You will build her up just to break her. Over and over. Across every existence. You can break the pattern…”
The smallest, downy hairs rise in ripples across my arms and legs. She knows how to use her words to create urgency, but this is important even without all the dramatics. Somewhere inside I knew this. It is still a halting collision to my heart. My lungs stop, and it is all I can do to hold steady. I find my breath and swallow hard. “How…how do I break that pattern? All I want is her whole.”
Her bright eyes lower. I wait in her arrested quiet, pushing back my tears, willing my lungs to keep filling and emptying. I watch her hands raise to her forehead. She looks tired, too tired to tell me what she's thinking. Her elbows rest on the table, and her head rests in her hands, fingers massaging her temples. Her eyes snap up with silent tears pouring from them. “But can’t you see? That there, that is the pattern. You want her whole. You will push her until she is almost complete. You want her whole. And you want her as your own. She is already yours, and you've already missed it. You want her whole, but you will destroy her. You have to take that with you. You have to keep it inside you. You cannot forget. This pattern has already begun. All you can hope is that you take it with you, and you remember for your regeneration. You cannot make her whole. You can only keep her. And each time you push to complete her rather than hold her you will dismantle it all.”
I shake my head. I can't accept that. I pull my hand back across the table. I don't care about a line that is severed. I don't care about a pattern. I can fix this. I can fix us both. I can find her, and then she will find herself and me. I can fix it.
I can't let it go. I haven't found her yet, but I can remember. There's a dark room. October 25th 1941. It's late on the night before I sacrificed my regeneration cycle. The room has a heavy feeling. Its like you closed the door and ran a hot shower, and now you're basking in the steam. I remember the false sense of security that room offered. I remember little before or after. I know that that wasn't my first or last visit to the “gypsy”. I know that she wasn't a gypsy either. She was the same as me, only she knew how to do her business out in the open. It wasn't easy then. Not that it is now. Then, though, it was nearly impossible to make it through the days. Only those who could divine were really able to get away with using their magic. The rest of us were limited to feigning parlor tricks if we wanted to avoid questions. Genesis was her real name, but she went by Madame Apollo. As though Genesis wasn’t able to garner enough histrionics in the art of fortune telling. The lighting was low, and the air was heavy. There was me in a pressed suit and tie, and her in all of the gauzy, lacy layers of clothing that the swamp lands had ever known. We were tucked away in a back corner of a tea shop. The curtains were deep reds and oranges mirroring the leaves outside and layered in the same haphazard fashion as the folds of Madame’s dress. The walls were a muted, pale purple, and the flames danced across them in a way that made them almost disappear into a living thing. She told me of the girl and how I would come to ruin her. And I can't remember that girl, but I can remember how important that revelation was. I don't know what I did. I can remember leaving that room with determination and defiance in my heart. I can remember my chin held high as I told myself that the lines she had read meant nothing. The cards had meant nothing. The leaves, nothing. She may be practiced in divination, but divination was finicky, and strong will and energy could change it. I would change it. I remember walking out with my eyes burning, but my head high and determined. And I remember returning to Genesis the following evening. I remember the tears breaking through and me breaking down. My head in her lap as she quieted me and helped me remember to breathe. I knew of an ancient magic that would require her help. It was mythical. There was no way to know of its power or if it had ever worked. She was a true seer, not like most now that have learned their craft. She was born with the ability to see, which is what the spell required. She knew why I was there before I had even gathered myself up enough to tell her. She was hesitant. If it didn't work, we would invite a darkness into our world that had long been caged. She spoke of a return to the earth. But not a regeneration as we usually experienced. It would be an end. Permanent. I said nothing. I held my hand out for her. Palm to palm. Her eyes rolled back and closed. I felt every nerve in my body come to attention and saw her skin take the shock of it. And then I felt nothing. My eyes closed involuntarily, and I felt nothing but perhaps, an indescribable lightness. And then I was drowning. Suffocating. Burning alive. Until it all melted away. My eyes opened and she nodded. I knew she had felt it. It was all I wanted, and I would not make this mistake again, if I could just hold the idea through to my next life. She didn't speak. She lifted her layers of skirt and pulled a blade from her garter. What I was asking her for required blood magic. Mine and hers. And memory. Strong memory. And strong magic, also. There has to be enough energy for the blade to hold the memory. That means a terrifying amount of power. All of the power I had. Most of hers. It would cut her lifespan by half. If something were to go wrong and I was not able to hold her power it wouldn't even come back to full after her next regeneration. This was reason enough for her to return her blade and tell me to find another way. She must have felt it. She felt my will or she would not trust me to carry the spell. She handed me the knife. The handle was made of some ancient magical bone tumbled and polished then wrapped ornately in a sparkling silver that must have been faerie made. I can feel the magic thrumming through it even now. I am right back there. My skin ignites with its energy. We all keep magical objects. Most of us still use wands or rings to help channel our power. The few with true divine magic do not need a channel. Their body is conduit enough, however they still keep something impregnated with magic to steady their own. Handing over something like that is like handing someone a vessel full of yourself. I use a wand to contain my current. It's made from blood crystal from the dark sea. I laid it out on the table in front of her as a courtesy. I know she trusts me, but it feels disrespectful to not offer her up some sign of that same trust. I touch the tip of her blade to my temple. I start to conjure up the girls face, but Madame must sense this. She lays her hand on mine and shakes her head. She tells me it's not strong enough. She tells me I need to remember her energy in order to hold onto her. The face will do nothing. I need to feel her energy and know how to hold it without crushing it. I let go of the face. I think of her. I think of everything I have ever felt from her. Every vibration she has ever sent through my being. I can feel her all through me as she passes through my mind. I can feel every breath I have stolen from her. I can feel her hands and her mouth. My skin is crawling with every memory it has ever contained of her. I am awake and alive and teeming with energy I have picked up over all of my lifetimes with her. It is painful and breathtaking and every part of me wants to hold onto it forever. I cannot. I let it spill into Madame’s blade. I feel the memory draining into it. It is an intense heat that creeps throughout me and leaves a damp cold in its place, and by the time it reaches the blade my temple is on fire. I feel flames pour out of me into the faerie silver. Then there is no more fire, but I am still burning. I pull the blade away and it is glowing almost golden with heat. My exhaustion is indescribable, but I push past it. Madame slices her palm then squeezes the blood into a cup of something steaming. It smells like pines. She takes my hand and does the same. The drink turns a glowing yet milky white. It is memory liquefied. I have seen this once before now. At a museum. An orb filled with liquid memory from a failed attempt at this same spell. It is the most enticing sight I can ever recall. And it is the last thing I remember before now.