Monday, June 18, 2012

Kaleidoscope, Ch. 1

When Serenity woke up from her nightmare, the color red had not yet faded from the insides of her eyelids, and about ten seconds passed before she could breathe normally again.
She was sitting in a big, comfortable easy chair in the den, located at the back of the house that she shared with Botan.  When she’d settled in for a nap thirty minutes before, Botan had been standing nearby, looking out the window at their wide expanse of back yard in silence.  Now Botan was facing her, brow furrowed in a familiar expression of worry.  Serenity stared back at her, trying to keep her face as neutral as possible so her friend would relax. 
Serenity’s poker face didn’t work as well as she thought it would.  Botan spoke quietly, the worry lines still in position.  “You were having a nightmare.”  A statement, not a question.  As if she’d known this information for quite some time and was just now admitting it.
            Serenity’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly.  “Botan, I told you never to read my mind.”
            Botan shrugged, and a smile played at her lips.  “Sura*, I didn’t have to.  Your eyes can’t keep a secret.”  She’s definitely right about that, Serenity thought.  She’d always known that her eyes changed colors based on her mood.  Botan had lived with her long enough to decipher most of this ocular code.  “Before you went to sleep, they were white, like they normally are,” Botan continued.  “Right now, they’re gray.  That means you’re afraid of something, doesn’t it?  And what else is there to be afraid of while you’re asleep, if not a nightmare…?”
            Serenity gave Botan a look—brilliant deduction, my dear Watson—got up from the chair, and walked to the window, staring out at nothing in particular.  As she stared, she deftly brushed her fingers over the stark lines of the barcode tattoo on her left wrist.  Serenity had matching ones at the base of her neck and on her lower back.  She had received these marks quite some time before.  Although it was clear that the circumstances under which she'd received them had not been positive ones, she couldn’t for the life of her recall the details of the experience.  Whether this amnesia was convenient or involuntary was anyone’s guess.  
            Eventually Serenity turned from the window, expecting a barrage of questions, but Botan remained silent, respecting the fact that the topic of Serenity’s nightmares was closed for discussion.  It was surprising; usually Botan’s chattiness and her desire to be helpful made Serenity want to throw up her hands, march off to her bedroom, and lock the door.
            After another moment, Botan's face cleared, and she broke into a smile.  Serenity breathed a sigh of relief; a worried expression on Botan’s face was just so unnatural.  “You know, Sura, the team should be gathering for the reunion at Ratoshi’s place just about now,” Botan said.  A welcome change of subject; now it was Serenity’s turn to smile.  Unless a Dark Tournament was imminent, the members and friends of the Urameshi martial arts team were usually scattered across various realms.  But once a year, during the summer, they all gathered together in the abode of Ratoshi Verdesca, Yusuke Urameshi's half-sister, to play games, spar, and swap stories about their various exploits.  In Serenity’s opinion, the occasion nearly rivaled Christmas, New Year’s…possibly even her birthday.  She had probably started counting down the days until the reunion months before, on the morning after she'd turned eighteen.
            Serenity’s eyes changed from gray to gold (denoting excitement, Botan remembered) before she turned away and began to walk from the den.  Before exiting completely, she looked back over her shoulder and mouthed two words: “Race you.”
             Before Botan could say anything in response, Serenity had already run out of the room.

*sura: short for yasuragi, Japanese for “serenity”

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