CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and FIFTY-FOUR
Sandy felt completely and totally alone.
How long had she been lying here at the bottom of the stairwell?
A month? A second? She felt the floor underneath her. She wanted to open her eyes. She should open her eyes. But … She tried to scream.
“I’m at the bottom of the stairwell!!”
No sound came out.
Why had she been coming down this stairwell? She couldn’t remember.
And still, no one came in her direction.
No one said a word.
It was as if she was on a planet all by herself.
She heard a sound.
A scream echoed against the walls of the hallway.
Was that her voice? Why couldn’t she get up or …
She was caught up in the atmosphere of the planet she’d somehow fallen onto.
No one could hear her.
She was utterly and completely alone.
It wasn’t much — or anything. Really.
She’d experienced this— exactly this, lots of pain followed by absolute aloneness — over and over again as a child.
Whenever something horrible happened, she was completely alone. It was up to her to deal with what happened, to deal with herself.
Now, it was up to her to survive on this hostile and cold planet. She faded out.
Sandy felt hot, so hot when she awoke.
She felt wet, like wetness was pouring out of her. Why was she so wet?
A cool hand touched on her shoulder.
She opened her eyes and looked into a strange woman’s face. The woman sort of looked like Tink or that Hecate. She also looked like … A Goddess. Sandy wasn’t sure which one, but this woman was most certainly, at the very least, a Goddess.
The woman had long dark, curly hair brushed into gorgeous waves. There was a pure white streak through her hair — not the grey of age, but the purity of white. Her skin was on the dark side of tan which reminded Sandy of Perses. In fact, almost everything about this woman reminded Sandy of her best friend Jill’s father, Perses.
The woman was beautiful in the way of a statue or a monument. There was something incredibly hard and permanent about her features, as well as something fragile. When Sandy looked into the woman’s eyes, she saw eyes as familiar as her own cat, Cleo.
For some reason — and maybe it wasn’t real after all — she remembered seeing this woman on the lonely planet of her childhood. She felt a well of love for this face, this creature that had been by her side always.
“You have been badly injured,” the woman said as she leaned over Sandy. “I am here to hold you while the doctors help.”
“Will I survive this?” Sandy asked.
Somehow, Sandy was now standing. The woman was standing just to her right.
“If you wish,” the woman said. “If I had my wish, I would say ‘yes.’ But it’s not my gift to give life or death.”
“Where am I?” Sandy asked.
“You are with me,” the woman said. “This is Delos. It belongs to me.”
“Cleo?” Sandy asked.
“Yes, Sandy,” the woman said. “I am Asteria, mother of Hecate, wife and cousin to Perses, and your Cleo.”
Sandy reached out her hand and the woman rubbed her face against Sandy’s hand. Sandy smiled.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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