Stumbling forward – still under the effects of the copious amounts of alcohol and the hallucinogens Dion tricked me into – I finally reach the edge of the trees, where she stood only a moment before. Resting my hand against a tree, I take some steadying breaths, hoping to be able to follow her deeper into the forest.
I take a step forward into the forest, but there was no sign of what direction in the forest she had headed, so I blindly head straight hoping to stumble across her. Eventually, I am leaning against a tree, when everything starts to spin. Glancing down at myself, my eyes shoot wide with surprise when I see blood spilling down my chest from lash marks. I blink, and the marks disappear.
Maybe I should rest for a moment, you know, gather my wits. Just for a moment.
Sliding down the tree, I sit at the base of it, hoping the pause will give me a moment of clarity, so I can resume my pursuit. From the corner of my eye, a flash of red hair flies by, the sounds of whispering chants echoing through my head, making my head spin. Where is she?
My vision continues to blur, so I close my eyes momentarily, hoping that will help. The sound of chanting and cackling dims, and the feeling of burning along my chest disappears.
Taking a steadying breath, I pull open my eyes. My breath immediately rushes out of me in shock.
Because she’s right in front of me.
She’s just as beautiful as I remember. More so. My heart thuds hard at the sight of her, beating a painful rhythm against my ribs, as if it’s about to jump from my chest. Remaining seated, leaning against the tree behind me, I’m completely spellbound by her – like I always am.
She kneels down at my side, her perfect face coming into full focus. The familiar scent of lemons washing over me, invoking the memories I’ve repressed for so long. The memories I’ve spent two thousand years running from.
Kneeling at my side, she tilts her head at me, evaluating me, my breath catching as I wait for her to disappear before my eyes.
“I’m hallucinating.” I announce shakily, hoping I never come down from this high.
A small smile stretches across her red lips, and I remember the feeling of those lips running across my skin, pressing against mine, telling me she loves me, that she wants to marry me.
“Does that make this any less real?” she asks, stroking her elegant fingers along my cheek. Her voice is lyrical, and again, the tides of memories surge.
Reaching up, I cover her hand with mine, pressing it against my cheek, turning my face towards it, placing a reverent kiss to the palm.
“I’ve missed you so much,” I whisper, my voice almost lost from the sounds of the rave continuing nearby.
“Then why haven’t you come to find me? Why can’t you forgive me?” she whispers back, her voice catching slightly, choking on emotion.
“Mo chridhe…” I begin, swallowing my own agony.
“My heart? I love you like a nephew, but I draw the line there,” Dion calls, making me take my eyes off her and turn my head towards my uncle.
When I snap my head back to her, there’s nothing but air. My heart drops to the realm of my toes with the realization that she was nothing but a figment of my imagination.
Struggling to a stand, I grab two fistfuls of Dion’s jacket, throwing him against another tree, lifting him several inches off the ground.
“What did you give me!” I scream, rage coloring my vision.
Dion’s eyes go wide, shocked at my violent outburst. “Nothing! It was just candy!”
“You said hallucinogens! Not just candy!”
I’m still holding him suspended, my rage giving me an unprecedented amount of strength. I idly think that I’ve never felt more related to my father than in this moment.
“I was just fucking with you, Coop! Why? Did you see something?”
Dion’s face turn curious instead of frightened, and I lower him back to the ground. Glancing around, I drop my hands from where they gripped my uncle.
“Dion, please, you need to tell me the truth, because if you didn’t drug me, then how did I just see…” I trail off, thinking back on the small interaction with her.
If Dion didn’t drug me, then what in the name of Rhea just happened?!