Oisin Grakni had been alive for over a millennium. He had seen his fair share of denial after a metamorphosis, but Liza proved near impossible to persuade. Even after she conceded to go with him, the impression that she was just doing so to see how deep her hallucination would carry her was heavy on his mind. She didn’t accept any of it, and Oisin worried about her ability to handle her new reality. She would have to believe if she would survive. For the time, she followed him, concentrating on his every move, as she had been told.
Not all hybrids — known to the Sidhe as comhtháthú — found themselves marked for death, although that may have been one of the kinder choices. Some, called seers, would be forced into madness and used as oracles. Others, those who had no special abilities beyond
Oisin had been tracking Fafnir
Oisin and Liza walked within the threshold between the worlds. It was still a marvel to him — more than a thousand years after learning of it — how all the different dimensions became separated by only a thin membrane of energy. Only those sensitive to all energy could cross from one realm to another. It could all change if the veil continued to diminish, and Oisin was unsure if that change would be for the better. He was about to let this tale unfold, when he noticed that Liza was fading in and out of sight.
“Liza, stay focused on me. You cannot let your mind wander.”
“I wonder if mom was here.” Liza’s face was grave and unflinching — concentrating on Oisin’s wings. Oisin worried about her color. She was a pale gray. “Have you met my mom?”
Oisin didn’t understand the question and was growing annoyed. “Your mom has nothing to do with this,” he spat. “going crazy… just like mom…” The words echoed in his mind. He thought he understood. In a much softer, more respectful tone, he said, “No, Liza. Your mother has not traveled this path. This path is yours, not hers.” Liza flickered in and out. Oisin grabbed hold of her hand before she teleported without him.
Oisin supposed that it was a miracle that Liza had made it so far through the veil without fading out, but where she faded was the worst possible spot. Diamondvale unfolded around them. It was a busy day at the marketplace which would have been a blessing if Liza wasn’t human-sized. A giant winged-being materializing out of nowhere would be the talk of the Sidhe’s jewel city for months. It wasn’t unheard-of — changelings had “accidently” dropped in before — but never with an Elder Sidhe in their company. This was proving to be a dangerous situation for Oisin. Diamondvale was where the Council of the Elder Sidhe conducted most of their business. He held to the hope that nothing needed attending to on such a beautiful day. Oisin hid in the crook of Liza’s hand until he could teleport them both back to the safety of the threshold.
Once safely in the fold, Oisin asked Liza to stand still and concentrate on the silvery ground. He sat on her shoulder to prevent her from evanescing. He wanted to scream at her. If anyone had seen him, they should expect a visit from the Council, and they would kill them both. He wanted to scream, but he couldn’t. In a faceoff with oblivion, she stood silent with tears rolling off her pale face. Oisin didn’t have the heart to slay her with his words, but there was no sense in continuing on without her coming to grips with what had happened to her first. “What was your mom like?”
“That’s a loaded question,” Liza said.
“I wouldn’t ask, if it wasn’t necessary. This is a painful subject, I can tell.”
“She was beautiful — everything about her was beautiful — even when depressed or riddled with anxiety. She thought of others first. I realized that was her secret after she died. It didn’t matter if her world was falling apart. She would put on a happy face and bake a batch of cookies and ask how my day was. Then, one day, she started forgetting things… just small stuff. It didn’t seem like it should really matter. Then she started leaving things in odd places. We found her car key, which had been missing for days, in the oven when she preheated for the next batch…” Liza’s voice cracked. “It cost over $200 to replace that fob. Anyway, it wasn’t long after that that they diagnosed her with dementia. Everything went downhill real quick from there.”
To those who knew her, Dory Spencer’s beauty faded. She became combative and selfish. Liza continued her narrative, detailing how a once lovely, vivacious woman became an ugly and mean being. She was no longer human to Liza. Dory would blame Liza for her illness and spit in her face. Hateful words emanated from her lips as she told Liza that she would soon suffer the same delusions. She said Karma would punish Liza for all the wrongs she had visited upon her mother. “You’re just like me,” Dory hissed. “Do you really think you can escape what’s coming?” Liza had become a compact ball, crouched in the monochrome darkness of the veil.
“I’m not familiar with dementia. It seems horrible,” Oisin said with sincerity in his voice. “What did your mother mean when she said that you was just like her?”
“That I’m bipolar — just like she was. She was saying that I’m going to end up being just like her.”
“Do you believe that?”
“Sometimes… well… a lot.”
“Hold out your hand,” Oisin said with great compassion. Liza did so, and Oisin knelt inside it and placed his hands on hers. After a while, he looked up, puzzled, “Does, ‘Enjoy the now,’ mean anything to you?”