Tender Eyes

[ro, mc]

((Another piece for my friend Rosie. This one is more romantic than anything else.))

Rosemary Flanagan, hotel receptionist in the quaint city of Tralee, was looking at her computer screen, in-between sighs of nostalgia. The image she was seeing for the umpteenth time was of a young teenager with a naughty smile that had been her first love. His name was Bill Quinn and they had been sweethearts for almost a year, until his father decided to leave town to find fortune elsewhere, taking his only son with him against his will.

Fiona Connolly, the daughter of the hotel’s owner, a young woman with a slight inclination to the not so flattering art of gossip, but also her best friend, approached her from behind and protested at once:

“Again?!!! Oh dear, it’s been almost a decade since he left and you’re still daydreaming about him! Come on, Rosemary. You’ve got to stop living in the past and embrace the future!”

“I like to reminisce from time to time,” she answered with a pout. What’s wrong with that, Fiona?”

“Nothing, if it’s not done on a regular and almost obsessive basis. You’ve been so busy thinking about Bill – who’s probably grown into a hideous looking man by now – that I’m sure you haven’t noticed that the new guy can’t take his eyes off you.”

“What new guy?” Rosemary asked, bewildered.

“See? You’ve just made my point! I’m talking about the new cook, the one of Polish origin. His name is Mar… hmmm… something. I can’t pronounce it straight!”

“You’re just messing with me, aren’t you?”

“Of course not! Why would I do…?” Fiona’s sentence was interrupted by a sudden blackout that left the entire hotel enveloped in darkness. “Okay, what just happened? And more importantly, why did it happen?”

“They’re digging up the road down the block. Perhaps they cut a cable or something?” suggested Rosemary.

“It could be. I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised at all, considering who’s in charge of the digging!”

“You had another fight with Kevin last night?”

Yes, but… I don’t want to talk about it, now, if you don’t mind! How about if we head outside to check out what really happened?”

“Sounds good to me.”

The two women left the hotel through the front entrance, followed by a couple of guests also curious to ascertain the truth of what had just occurred. Soon, they realized that the entire city was devoid of electric power and that all cars and other electronic devices had ceased functioning, as if they had been hit by a powerful electromagnetic pulse. Carefully, they negotiated a pathway until they reached the digging site. Instead of a small hole, they found a massive crater.

Wisha!” said Fiona all of a sudden, using the colloquial Anglo-Irish exclamation meant to indicating dismay, emphasis or, in this particular case, surprise. “It looks like the ground collapsed from within.”

“That’s exactly what happened!” said a male voice she instantly recognized. Kevin Moore, her boyfriend, was standing across the other side of the crater. “It happened quickly, but, we were fortunate enough to crawl out before the earth claimed us all!”

More and more people were now coming to the site, some of them intrigued, others genuinely scared and even a couple more than willing to start throwing absurd theories into the air about the true nature of the phenomenon. Rosemary took a deep look into the chasm and then her eyes became wide open with astonishment.

“Hmmm… is anybody else seeing a speck of light glowing down there?”

“I am” said Fiona.

“Me too.” concurred Kevin.

Everyone close enough to the hole were. It was nothing but a faint glimmer amidst the darkness, but it was definitely there.

“What do you think it is?” asked Fiona, looking at her friend.

“I haven’t got a clue, but I think it’s… rising…”

That too came to be easily verified as a fact. The glow was travelling faster, like a shooting arrow fired from the depths of the Earth’s core. It was also becoming more vivid and intense, a bright concentration of particles that had been sealed away for far too long.

Before any of them could move, it was already erupting from the hollow, a whirling dervish of light that felt displaced, yet so familiar. Its beauty was a majestic one and captured everyone’s attention at the same time.

“Wow, just look at that!” mumbled Kevin, immediately mimicked by many other by- standers.

The strange floating energy spun faster now that it was out in the open and, for a couple of seconds, it was almost as if had eyes and it was looking for someone amidst the crowd. It stopped above Rosemary’s head, glowing even more intensely.

“It seems to be observing you!” exclaimed Fiona. “Why is it doing that?”

“I have no idea,” responded Rosemary, although an inner recess of her mind told her that wasn’t the truth. She knew what it was and what it wanted and she wasn’t shocked at all when the shimmering sparkles rained down on her, shifting her perception of reality in every possible way.

* * *

The uncanny phenomenon of OBEs, more commonly known as out-of-body experiences has been a subject of many studies throughout the years. What she went trough when she and the energy became almost as one, was something similar for even though her physical shell was still next to the crater, her spiritual nexus was inside a bubble of sparkling crystals, and memories of bygone eras were talking directly to her, awakening her true heritage.

We have waited eons for this day, descendant of Aisling, The last of the Fairy- Queens, reverberated a choir of inhuman voices. The Great Monarch foretold this day on her death-bed, the day when the essence of The Ancient Ones would be reborn onto this world. The blood of the fairies has become thinner across many generations and yet, in you, it flows in supreme splendor.

“I’m a fairy?!” Rosemary asked bewildered and as doubtful as anyone would be in her situation.

Not in the truest sense of the word, but still you carry within you fragments of the ones of old. Before her ultimate demise, Aisling shared some of her power with a young mortal that had strayed far into our realm, in order to ensure the perpetuation of our kind even if in a different state. That woman, Colleen, came to bear a child that began the lineage of your ancestors.

“And now what? What does that mean to me?”

Now, as it was predicted, you’re to embrace the supernatural remnants that linger within your body and, by doing so, become the new Fairy-Queen, the one that will create a new world order and reduce mankind to its cosmic insignificance!continued the voices, now assuming a more aggressive tone.

“I don’t like the sound of that….”

Look below you, descendant of Aisling. See some of your power in action.

Rosemary looked down and was shocked when noticed that everyone by the hole was kneeling in submission, with golden, lifeless eyes.

“What have you done?!!!”

Nothing. This is the result of a simple manifestation of the might you have within you. Aisling would be proud.

“She wanted this to happen? My ancestor was evil?”

No, not evil at all. She was in fact, for many years, sympathetic to the ones of your kind, but became more and more mistrustful of your abilities to tend to the earth’s needs and to live in harmony with the other species. Before passing away, she saw the savage beasts into which you had already began to degenerate and knew that the only way for them to be stopped was for a Fairy-Queen to be born at the right time and bind every single one of them to her will. By doing so, the planet will be spared from imminent destruction.

“I refuse to believe in that!” she shouted. “We humans are indeed flawed creatures, but the power of change and adaptation is also one of our most distinctive traits. We will never bring doom to our one and only home. Aisling may have been a powerful queen in her time and age, but she was wrong!”

No, she wasn’t. This is the only way. Accept the code of the past and unleash the wave of delight that will cleanse the earth of the vices of mankind through their perpetual enslavement!”

“No! NEVER! I don’t want that power!”

But you’ll be granted a life of bliss, a state of unparalleled happiness. All of them will love you and obey your every command! insinuated the voices with mellifluous whispers.

Rosemary cleared them from her mind with a vigorous scream and some of the crystals inside the bubble shattered.

“No, I’ll have anything but love or happiness. I’ll be a miserable monarch in a dreadful kingdom. I don’t want to live in a world of puppets, and be constantly reminded that they were once beings endowed with the greatest gift of all: free will. I want everyone to make mistakes and learn from them. That’s the only way we can truly be what we’re meant to be. I’ve said it before but, this time, it will be the last: I don’t want that burden, and, if indeed I carry within me threads of the ones of old, surely there’s enough strength in them to make you disappear for good. Now, GO! Vanish from this city and from the face of the Earth!”

You’re making a mistake, Rosemary. One you’ll regret in days to come….

“You’re all wrong, and I’ll prove it!” she closed her eyes, opened her hands far and wide and focused everything that was her on a single thought. “BE GONE, DELUDED SPIRITS!” she screamed, causing all of the bubble to break into speckles of gold dust.

A second later, she was back inside her body and everyone in town looked normal, albeit a bit confused. None of them remembered what had transpired when the strange lights had made their presence known, except her.

“What just happened?” asked Fiona.

“Nothing,” Rosemary responded with a smile. “Nothing at all. Everything’s fine.”

* * *

That night, when she was returning home, she passed by a tree where Bill and her had carved their names a day before he was gone for good and the fragments of yore manifested themselves one more time in the shape of a swarm of fireflies. Their voices were much softer now, a hush of peace and tranquility that caught her by surprise.

“You’re still here? I thought I had made myself clear when I rejected your offer!”

You have, descendant of Aisling. And you have shown your true colours when you did that. They all said in unison as they landed upon her arms, legs and feet.

“I don’t get it. Does that mean that all that talk was nothing but…?”

… a test? Yes, for Aisling always believed in the power of the human heart. We had to make sure you were worthy of receiving the gift she wanted you to have and that meant…

“… I had to refuse you.” she concluded, when she finally understood what had transpired.

You had to be pure and incorruptible when confronted with the greatest temptation of all! And you were, and will always be, just like a true Fairy-Queen. That’s what she truly saw before becoming one with the earth again, and we’re glad that her predictions have indeed come true. You’ll get your reward very soon.

The fireflies slowly took off, its shimmer slowly fading away before her eyes. Rosemary was dumbfounded, yet happy and she was about to become even more so.

Coming from the main road straight in her direction, was a blue car she was sure to have seen before many, many years ago. It stopped abruptly just a few feet away from her and when the driver came out, he was smiling from cheek to cheek.

“Hello, Rosemary! Long time no see! I wish I could say you’re as still as beautiful as I remembered but that wouldn’t be true. You look more stunning than ever!” he said.

“Oh, my God! Bill?” she blushed as her heart pounced.

Above them, a phosphorescent image glimmered just once before disappearing in the darkness. It was hard to discern its true form, but it may have well been the celestial face of Aisling piercing into the future with tender eyes….

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