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[Saturday, January 9th, 2010 @ 3:22pm]
This journal is used for roleplaying as Tara from Buffy. Please note, I don't get comment notifications, so if you leave me a message here I may not see it! Email rachel2205 @ livejournal.com for a prompt response.

Current Games

newmetropolis: an exciting multi-fandom game.
twisting_fate: a recently revived game featuring TWO Taras - one from the past and one from the present...
handandglove: a Willow/Tara one-on-one, set in an AU post season 5 period.
alreadymetyou: AU after season 7... Tara is resurrected, without a memory...

Past Games

our_gang: Buffy season 4.
nancytribe: Post-season, set in England. Obviously Tara was resurrected!
buffysgift: Twisting from the end of Season 5, where Buffy died but wasn't resurrected.

See below for examples of my writing. If you're interested in recruiting me for a game, let me know!
3 songs * sing once more with feeling

For newmetropolis [Friday, June 23rd, 2006 @ 12:58am]
I'm in New Metropolis. The big, big city. Probably the largest place I've ever been, seeing how I grew up in the countryside. And...

It's not September 2000 any more. Nowhere near.

***

When I think about that, I have to stop for a minute. The shock of it still catches at my chest, like a blow against my breast bone. I can't believe how quickly everything has changed for me.

It all started when Willow and I... Well, when Willow saw Oz again. I knew, as soon as he walked through the door, that everything was going to change. When Willow and I first met, I could sense she was grieving for something. It didn't take long to find out for what. But still, over time, as our friendship grew and then blossomed into something else, something wonderful, I'd hoped she'd lost her grief. But that was naive of me. When she saw him again, she realised her feelings were still there. I never expected her to choose me. I knew it hurt her to leave me, and I know she wanted to be friends, but I couldn't face it. Even though I loved her. Because I loved her. I tried at first, but whenever we met I could almost sense Oz's presence. It was too much. So gently, quietly, I extricated myself from Willow, and after a while she stopped calling. I thought it would help. It didn't.

I busied myself with my work, and then the summer came. I avoided going home by finding a part time job on campus. I worked in the library. It was quiet over the summer; only the postgraduate students were on campus. I had time to think. Too much time. It wasn't really the best place to get over a broken heart. Maybe I should have got a job at the Espresso Pump. It's busy there.

Of course, I bumped into Willow and her friends a few times. I even helped out occasionally with spells. Over the phone, though. When Willow and I did magic... It was just too intimate for me to perform a spell with her in person. I also saw Dawn now and then. The slayer's little sister. She seems like a nice kid, and she even said she was sorry she hadn't seen me hanging out with Willow lately. I don't think she realised what Willow and I had. But why should she? Willow hid our relationship from everyone. Anyway, I felt for Dawn. She seemed a little lonely, like me, and I would have liked to have spent more time with her, but I couldn't think of a way to do it.

When the new school year started, I tried to get involved in the wicca group again, but those girls are really just - I hate to say it, but they're shallow. And a little bit mean. So I ended up going to the Lesbian Alliance meetings a few times. Not that I was trying to find a new girlfriend. I couldn't even really imagine being intimate with someone right now. But I was trying my best to be sociable, and let's face it, I hadn't made many friends in my first year. I'd been too wrapped up in Willow, and look where that had got me.

They had a mixer a few weeks into term, so I went along. Mostly I stood by the punchbowl and smiled nervously at people. I also spilled punch on myself. I must have looked so appealing in my long skirt and juice-stained sweater, a nervous smile on my unmade up face. I didn't fit in at all; but then, I never do.

A funny thing happened then - a girl started talking to me. That never happens. She introduced herself as Hallie, and she was very friendly. I found myself opening up to her. I don't know why. She just seemed trustworthy. She was very sympathetic about the Willow situation. And then I said it.

"I-I wish all this was long over, and I was somewhere else."

Then her face changed, just for a moment, and I could swear she said "wish granted." Behind me the wall disappeared, and...

I woke up lying on grass. It was early morning; I could sense that from the light. Grey and thin. I sat up, shivering, my clothes stained with dew. What had happened? Then I remembered the party, and as I did, my stomach lurched painfully. I didn't know all that much about demons really, but my feeling was that something very, very bad had happened last night.

I walked through the park, past early morning joggers. The air sang with the sound of birds, and the sound of cars muffled by trees. It was a peaceful, lovely scene, but my panic was rising. It took all my strength not to give in and just run and run. I knew that wouldn't help, and would draw attention to me.

Eventually I found a sign.

CENTENNIAL PARK. MUNICIPAL OF NEW METROPOLIS.

New Metropolis? That was miles from Sunnydale! Though of course, if I had been teleported somehow, I could have ended up anywhere. India. The ocean. I suppose I should be grateful I was still in the United States.

I didn't know what to do. I found a payphone and luckily had some change. I called Willow's number, because who else would help me? Not my father, that was for sure. But I got a recorded message: "The number you have dialled is not recognised."

I started to feel very, very frightened.

That was until I saw the newspaper in the bin by the phone that showed, quite clearly, that it wasn't the year 2000 any more. Then I wasn't frightened. I was terrified.

I think I sort of... greyed out for a while. Not blacked out. I was conscious. But I honestly don't remember the rest of that morning. Somehow I was in the future. Oh Goddess. My wish. What had I done? Did Willow not even exist any more? Had I done something awful to her? I was so afraid.

I found my way to the public library - a huge, imposing building. Being in New Metropolis was scary enough without it being because I'd been transported into the future somehow. I knew I could use the internet there, so I decided to see if I could find Willow's details on the UC Sunnydale website.

The website was gone. It seemed that UC Sunnydale didn't exist. And that wasn't all. Sunnydale didn't exist. A quick look through CNN's archives showed that something terrible had happened. Sunnydale had been destroyed in what was being called a "massive, unprecedented earthquake".

I only just made it to the bathroom before I threw up.

I suppose I should be grateful. If I were in Sunnydale, I might have died too. But all I can think about is that all the people there must have died. I just hoped that Willow and the others had had some warning and had got out.

I wandered aimlessly after that, until the afternoon got late. I needed a room for the night. I went to an ATM. My card was pretty old, but maybe it would still work. However, it spat it out. Then I noticed that the VISA sign on my card was very slightly different from on the machine. I noticed other differences too. There was a Superman Memorial. Superman? But he was a fictional character.

I had the feeling I hadn't just moved forward in time... I had moved into a parallel universe. This might be even more complicated that I had feared. I wasn't sure I had any idea of the magics needed to get me out of here.

In the meantime, I found a bed in a dorm room at the YWCA. It was quiet there, and clean, and they didn't seem to check the "Christian" part, so I was ok. I had to figure out what to do. I had virtually no money, I was in a strange town, I'd been moved out of my universe into a place that looked a lot like my world, but had some peculiar differences... I just didn't know what to do.

I came up with the idea that maybe I could get some student loans and enroll at New Metropolis University. After all, a lot of students must have lost their details in whatever happened to Sunnydale, so they might not question me too closely. So I went to the administration office, where I was given a lot of forms. Taking them outside, I had a look at the papers. There was a big hole in my plan. If I wanted to get a loan, I would need a permanent address. I might be able to get around the birth certificate part by pointing out it was at the bottom of a crater, but I couldn't list the YWCA as my home.

It was at this point that the true enormity of what had happened to me finally hit me, and I started to cry, first quiet tears, and then finally huge, gulping sobs. A lot of people stared at me - but not one person stopped. They never do.

[Probably best for Dawnie to tag? Sometime after you see Xander.]</
sing once more with feeling

Nancytribe [Friday, April 22nd, 2005 @ 10:16am]
After Willow’s phone call I had headed out to the Council’s garage. David stresses how much less extravagant the Council is these days; looking at the row of gleaming cars, I had to wonder what it was like before.

I was going to meet Willow at the airport. Willow, who I wasn’t sure I’d ever see again. And on Christmas Eve of all days. It was… mind boggling. To think that only a couple of days ago I’d been talking to Dawn and telling her I didn’t think Willow would come back. A horrible thought struck me. Maybe Willow was only coming over here to tell me it was over. Well, at least she would say it to my face. It would be terrible, but it would be better than just never hearing from her again.

There was no point wondering about this; I’d see her soon enough and the waiting would be over. I picked out one of the smaller cars. I’d never really driven much, and certainly not in London. Perhaps I should find the chauffeur. Then I remembered he probably had the day off because it was Christmas Eve. It would be wrong to disturb him.

I headed out of the driveway, driving carefully. A little further up the road I heard a screech of tyres, and a moment later a car sped past me, driving down the wrong side of the road. Maybe it was an American who hadn’t remembered the British drive on the left. Anyway, it was very dangerous and it was lucky I had room to move out of the way, or we would have crashed. Goddess, what an idiot. I hope he didn’t –

My thoughts were cut off when I noticed something lying in the road. Something that looked a lot like a person. I parked the car, not even bothering to switch off my engine, and raced down the road.

Oh Goddess.

Oh Goddess, it was David.

David, crumpled in the road, blood pooled around him.

“Oh no oh no oh no,” I murmured, kneeling beside him. His neck was twisted at a terrible angle. His eyes stared upwards. I put my fingers to his throat. No pulse. “Don’t be dead, David, don’t, please,” I hissed. I felt sick. His injuries looked terrible, probably fatal. Unless…

I could fix him. I could. I had helped save Triffy. Surely I could fix a few bones?

Taking a deep, shuddering sigh I placed one hand on his chest and another on his head. I closed my eyes, pressing my fingers into his skin. I could feel blood coating them. This was good, in a way.
“My life, be your life.” I concentrated, feeling small cuts open in my hands. I winced at the pain. I invoked the healing gods, asking them to use my energy to save David. It was a little risky – I might give too much – but it was all I could think of. I felt my blood pulse out of my hands, pooling onto David, the spiritual energy contained therein feeding into his own blood, reviving his system. I was trembling. My hands were getting hotter and hotter, and I felt that I would faint. I couldn’t. I had to stay focused. I tried to keep chanting, but the pain in my hands was terrible.

There was a click as his neck bones shifted back together. I could sense them fusing into place. As I did that, his heart gave one great, loud thump. The blood between us vibrated. And then I could hold on no longer.

I stood up dizzily. David was still very badly injured, I could see that, but I had fixed the worst of it. That was something.

“Ambulance, need an ambulance,” I murmured, my legs shaking. I headed back down the road to the Council, my whole body feeling like I was moving through water. The world swam, the shape of things blurring.

I pushed open the door. The floor tipped beneath me and I had to steady myself against the wall. After far too long I managed to find my way into the library. There were always people there.

“David,” I said. People looked up, wide-eyed. I supposed I was covered in blood. “David. Accident. He’s… Oh Goddess, he’s still in the road!” My eyes widened. “You have to…” But I couldn’t speak. The room was spinning. I felt my legs go from under me.
sing once more with feeling

buffysgift [Tuesday, March 8th, 2005 @ 10:21am]
This was so strange. When I'd left, a year and a half ago now, I'd said I wouldn't come back to Sunnydale. And despite of my love for Dawn and the terrible way I'd missed Willow, I kept my promise. The last time I saw Dawn was six months ago, when she came to stay with me in Los Angeles. She told me, with a hopeful look on her face, that Willow was so much better. I thought about calling her, but I was still hurt. She'd lied to me and done magic on me when I was still fragile from what Glory had done to my mind. And then she'd nearly ended the world because she was so consumed with magic! I just couldn't face talking to her.

So I had buried myself in my work, and pretended that I didn't think about her. I'd had lots to catch up on when I transferred to UCLA, as not all my credits from UCS counted. So I was able to focus my mind on doing well in my degree, and I managed to graduate near the top of the class. Me, Tara Maclay, the girl whose father told her she'd end up dropping out of college, that she'd never be able to cut it. Although there were no friends or family to support me on my graduation day, I have never felt more at peace than I did then.

It might sound silly - a degree is just a piece of paper, when you reduce it to its barest form - but having the degree changed me. It proved to me that I could manage things on my own. I'd always hidden behind someone. At first my mom, to protect me from my father and brother. Then behind Willow, hiding in the reflected glory of her academic achievements and powerful magic. But now I knew I was strong enough to achieve on my own.

And it was now that my thoughts turned to Sunnydale. I'd learned that I could cope with failure, and turn that into success. Perhaps I could try things with Willow again. Maybe they wouldn't work out. Maybe we wouldn't fit in each other's lives any more. But I had to stop living in fear.

I decided to apply for a place on a master's course in Art History at UC Sunnydale. I got onto it, and now I was here, in Sunnydale, sitting in a dorm room much like the one I'd had when I first came here four years ago.

I unpacked my clothes, which didn't take up a lot of space, and my books, which did. I replaced the college duvet with my own bedspread and put up my much loved fairy lights. I looked around and smiled. I had a strange sense of coming home.

After getting settled in, I decided to go for a walk around campus. So much can change in 18 months, and I thought it would be nice to have a look before it got dark.
sing once more with feeling

Buffysplit [Monday, February 21st, 2005 @ 10:12am]
It had been a very strange and confusing evening, and by six am Willow and I were no closer to finding out what we could do about reversing the spell. Buffy - that is, human Buffy - had fallen asleep on our bed. Riley hovered over her protectively, whilst slayer Buffy - I guess I should get used to calling her "Anne", but it seems wrong somehow - helped us silently, but I couldn't help noticing that she was getting twitchy. I sensed that she needed to fight. Her whole body seemed to pulse with her desire to slay.

Eventually, as Willow fell asleep whilst reading a Sumarian volume, I suggested that we call it a night, although I found as I glanced ruefully through the window to the bright sunlight that night had called it a night long before we had! We decided we'd meet up in the evening at Mr Giles' house to work through things. Riley said he'd take Buffy back to her dorm. I was still unsure whether the two Buffies should be apart, but I didn't press the issue. Anne, apparently unfatigued despite our marathon book session, practically ran out of the building. No doubt to kill some monsters that are foolish enough to step outside in daylight. Willow warned Buffy to stay in her room and let Riley look after her, as we couldn't be sure what might come looking for her. I suggested that maybe she should put off telling her mom about what happened until we know more, but I don't know if she'll listen. She seemed to want her mother, and who can blame her?

Willow and I crashed out for a few hours and then got to research again. It takes a lot to make my sweetie skip classes, so this must be a big emergency. However, despite all our efforts, and the Scooby meeting in the evening, we came up with nothing. No one can work out how to put the 2 Buffies together. And even more alarmingly, it seems that the longer the Buffies are apart, the less inclined they are to be put back together. What if that translates to them becoming truly separate and thus impossible to rejoin? If Buffy and Anne become individuals, instead of 2 halves of a whole, we may never be able to get them back together. And who knows what that might mean?
sing once more with feeling

nancytribe [Monday, May 17th, 2004 @ 5:02pm]
Willow and I spent most of the afternoon and evening just lying together, our skin touching, our fingers and limbs tangled. I felt like my heart was going to burst. The joy I felt was painful because it was so great, and it stopped me speaking. I think both of us felt a little overwhelmed.

Eventually though we started talking. Willow left the room briefly to get us some food – I heard her run down to the kitchen and run back because she didn’t want to be away too long – and after we had eaten we sat on the bed, facing each other.
“You’re so beautiful,” I said. Her face was practically glowing. “I mean, I always knew that, but it means so much more now, y-you know? Because it’s b-been so long.”
”I’ve missed you so much, baby. I can’t begin to describe how much.”
“I-I know,” I said quietly.
“But if you could have only seen how I was,” she began.
“I did.”

There was a pause.
“You did?” Willow’s forehead wrinkled. “I – I don’t understand. Buffy didn’t know what had happened to us after she…”
“I wasn’t where Buffy was,” I explained. “I-I could have been, but … I chose not to be.”
Willow took my hands.
“What do you mean, baby?”
I sighed. There was so much to explain, and I didn’t know how to begin.

“Ok, sweetie,” I said eventually. “I’m gonna start, and I don’t want you to interrupt, if that’s ok. It’s going to be hard to explain everything, and some of it might upset you… Once I’m finished w-we can talk about anything you like, but I-I’d like to get through it first.”
She nodded, her forehead creased anxiously. She squeezed my hands. I sat for a moment and then cleared my throat.

“The – the afternoon that it happened, I remember that so clearly,” I began. “I – I remember putting on my sweater. That blue one you liked. I can still feel it under my fingers…” I shook my head, thinking. “I spotted Xander out of the window. I was so pleased to see him, to know that he and Buffy were making up. When we were so happy, it seemed that the rest of the world had to be. I turned to you and thought how beautiful you were, just getting your things from the dresser. And then…” I paused as I saw Willow’s eyes narrow in pain. “It’s ok, sweetie,” I said, squeezing her hand. “It didn’t hurt. I felt an impact, and then a great moment of stillness. There was blood all over your shirt, and I was worried that you were hurt. Then everything was dark.”

I paused again. Sunset light poured through the window, turning the walls pink. I wrinkled my forehead, thinking of how to explain.
“When I – I didn’t wake up. I don’t know exactly what I did. But I was conscious, somewhere. I was in a great tunnel, it seemed. Black and warm. The darkness was thick, but I wasn’t afraid. I was moving along it, and eventually I came out, blinking, into sunlight. There was a great field, I think, although sometimes it didn’t look like a field… And in the centre was a tree that wasn’t a tree. I knew that I should go to the tree. I felt a great desire for it. But then – then I thought about you. I knew, you see, that the tree meant I was dead, and choosing the tree meant I would be leaving. I wasn’t ready for that.

I walked for miles it seemed through that field, the sun warmed grass rubbing against my legs, and I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. It took a long time for me to realise what to do. I’m not sure how I knew, but eventually I managed to – to look past the edges of the field and back to you.

You were walking through the woods. I held onto my vision of you through effort of will, but it was hard. The world kept slipping away. You were crackling with power. I could almost smell it, the darkness, and I was so afraid for you.” I had to look away from Willow at this point; her eyes were so pained, it was too much to bear. “I slipped, and I was again in the field. When I managed to refocus on you… Warren was dead.” I bit my lip. “Then you turned him into flame and he… he was gone.” I felt my throat constrict. “I could understand, sweetie, I could. I wish you hadn’t done it, but I knew why you wanted to kill him. Part of me, I guess, was even a little glad. He’d broken me, after all, and sent you into – into the dark. But I was so afraid for you.” Tears came to my eyes and I rubbed them away clumsily. “I saw that you were disappearing. Willow was gone, nearly, under the weight of the magic. You’d started out wanting vengeance, but then – you just wanted to be nothing, didn’t you? Nothing mattered because I was gone.” I couldn’t help the tears falling down my cheek. “I tried to call out to you, I tried and tried, but I was too far away. I was watching from a distance, and there was no way to touch you.

I had to stay and watch, though. I had to see you get saved. When Giles – when Giles arrived I had hope. He and Buffy, they could save you, I thought. But you pushed them aside and I felt such despair. I guess I underestimated Xander,” I said with a small smile. “He brought you back, and for that I loved him more than I ever had.

I was with you constantly for days after that. I saw the gang nurse you because you couldn’t do anything for yourself, and then I saw Mr Giles put you on a plane. You looked like a little broken doll, and I wondered if you’d ever be ok. I’d never felt so much love for you, that’s what you need to understand. I saw what you did, and it was terrible, but I still loved you more than anything in the world.

All this time I was still in the field, and the tree was still behind me. Sometimes it didn’t look like a tree, but like a door, and other times merely a great glowing space. It was so beautiful, I can’t even begin to describe it to you. But I never dared go near it. If I did, I knew I’d want to go through, and I wasn’t ready. Heaven was waiting, but there I wouldn’t be able to see you. I knew this instinctively. I would be part of something… different. I’d be consumed by the light, and it would be wonderful, but I would lose myself, in a way. I wasn’t ready to give you up.

I didn’t always watch you. At first it was very difficult to keep my vision on the world. It took great effort to keep focused. I thought it would get easier, but in fact it became more of a battle the longer I was gone. Eventually, though, I got used to the struggle. Learned to accept it, to stop raging that I couldn’t be with you. From then things were easier. But it still hurt, to be away from you, and I felt terribly lonely. I was caught in a strange in between place. I couldn’t go back and I didn’t want to go forward, and even in the beautiful sunlight of my field I felt cold.

I looked at you all often. I was so worried about Dawn. She’d faced so much, and it broke my heart to see her hurting. Sometimes I’d secretly thought of Dawnie as my little girl. I know that sounds silly, because she wasn’t that much younger, but I think – I think sometimes she thought of me as her mother, too. She grieved terribly, although she hid it most of the time. She lay on her bed crying, and I just wanted to stroke her hair. And you – oh, my love, I hurt so much seeing you struggle to become yourself again. You were so brave, and I only wished I could be there to help you through it.

You got better, slowly, and I was glad when you went back to Sunnydale. You were still so frightened of your power, scared that you might slip again. So I was –.” I paused and swallowed. “I was almost glad when you met Kennedy. She – she gave you strength.” I took a deep breath. “It did hurt, though,” I continued quietly. “It had only been six months. It seemed – it seemed to happen quickly.” I glanced at Willow and squeezed her hand. “I don’t blame you, though. I knew you still loved me, and you knew I wasn’t coming back. It – it made sense for you to try to move on. I felt bad for her, though. You did… you did use her a little. It wasn’t really your fault, but you did. She – I think she loved you, but you didn’t love her, although I could tell you cared for her and were attracted to her.” Willow’s eyes widened. “Don’t worry,” I said with a wry smile. “I didn’t watch… that. There were some things I didn’t need to see.”

I paused again, breathing hard.
“After – after the first time you… I thought maybe it was time for me to leave. You were repairing your life, and I was just hurting myself watching you. But I knew I had to stay until the end at least. I had to see you either save the world or disappear from it. Even if you didn’t know it, I had to be looking over you.

That spell you did – it was astonishing. I never had any doubt that you could do it. And it’s what brought me back, you know. You were channelling so much power right then when you made the slayer. Let my will be done, you said. You thought you were just asking that all the girls be slayers… But Willow, whatever you could have asked for would have been yours in that moment. You turned the world upside down. As the magic flowed through you, you thought “if only my Tara were back with me.” You thought it so loudly it was like a beacon, and through my field a great light shot. A great space was torn open, and I could see the whole world waiting. I knew Sunnydale was probably going to disappear, so I chose LA. I guessed you might go there afterwards…

But coming back, it wasn’t straightforward. I was breaking the rules, and maybe I was punished, or maybe you were. I couldn’t remember who I was when I arrived, or how I’d got there. Maybe the shock of it was just too much. But I remember now, feeling my spirit forced into flesh. New flesh, because my old was gone, turning to dust in the earth. You made me again, Willow. The pain was terrible. I could feel my bones growing, my skin shaping over muscles, my blood forcing itself through my heart for the first, tearing beat. And then I was in LA, in an empty street, panting and frightened and naked. I could barely speak, and I was eventually taken into a shelter. They dressed me and fed me but I ended up on the streets again, and that’s how David found me.

You know the rest.”
sing once more with feeling

Nancy Tribe [Saturday, May 1st, 2004 @ 1:31pm]
I ran from the dark man, the trees tangling at me, my arms pushing through the undergrowth. My skin was ripped and torn, my hair snagged on branches. The blue sweater I was wearing was stained with blood.
“He’s going to catch me!” I cried, and as I rubbed the tears from my face I saw that they were words smudged onto my fingers. As I pressed my fingertips together the words got clearer instead of smudging, until they became solid and fell out of my hands. “What does this mean?” I asked, as I hid in a ditch, covering myself in leaves. I could hear the man coming, the pound of his feet on the forest earth.
“You need a key,” said the tree under which I sheltered.
“A key?”
“You’ll know it when you see it.”
I scooped up the words from the ditch, filling my pockets with clanking as and cs and zs. Then I ran again, half crouched, until I came to the edge of the forest.

The sea boiled below me, huge cresting waves, and the forest had disappeared. Against the white sky I could see the man, the one who had a gun, and his face had become that of a wolf’s. I needed to escape from him, but there was no turning back.
“If I jump from the cliff I’ll die,” I said, despairing. I looked down over the water and saw in the midst of the waves a great door. I knew that if I could land on that, open it, I would be safe.
“You’re too late,” said the man, coming up behind me. He smiled, and there was blood on his wolf muzzle. “I’ll kill you all over again, and she’ll really go crazy this time. There’ll be no end except the one she gives us.”
“She?”
I put my hand in my pocket and felt my fingers curl around a word. I pulled it out and traced out the first letter with my thumb. W.
“I’m not too late,” I said. “Not for her.” I put the word in my mouth and swallowed, and the man’s face lengthened in horror. The gun fell from his grasp.
“I’m ready to go home,” I said, turning from him, towards the raging sea, and the door whose key I had become. Then I took a deep breath and dived.



***


I opened my eyes, blinking hard. There was something in my mouth, and I started to retch.
“Is it –"
“She’s –"
The words sounded as if they came from far away. I scrabbled at my throat weakly; blood roared in my ears like the sea.
“There’s a tube in your throat, sweetie, don’t struggle –"
“I can get someone –"
My eyes fluttered. The world was black, then white, and I could feel my eyes rolling like marbles in my head. The sensation was funny. I smiled a little.

Someone was talking to me.
“Take a deep breath, can you do that for me? One, two, breathe out –"
The tube snaked out of my throat and I coughed and coughed. A small blossom of blood trailed across the pillow. It was pretty. I touched my fingers to it lightly and then went to sleep.

When I next awoke, the light on the ceiling was a warm gold. Late afternoon, I thought, and for a moment that was all I thought, all I knew. The cracks in the plaster, the play of light… My mind was an empty room. And then I blinked again, and my memories came flooding back. The force of them in my mind made me gasp and cough for a moment, and I could faintly hear Willow saying “it’s ok, baby, it’s ok,” and holding me. Then it was as if my mind expanded like a lung. I breathed, and could remember, and was me again. Tara. Tara who was then and Tara who is now. Me.
“Oh, my love,” I breathed, looking into Willow’s face. “How I missed you.” Then I realised we were not alone in the room. David was there, looking anxious, along with a man in a white coat.
“David,” I said softly, and he stood up. He smiled and said something about being glad I was ok, and then left the room, his back the shape of sadness. The doctor fussed over me for a few moments, then left the room quietly. The door closed with a soft click, and I was left alone with my Willow.

For a while I just looked up at her, our fingers entwined. Now I knew where I had been, I was overwhelmed with my love for her. It had been such a long, painful time away from her. My love.
“Tara,” she said at last. “Do you – do you really remember everything now?”
I nodded. She threw her arms around me and I could feel that she was crying, and soon I was too, our tears mingling. I kissed them off her face and she kissed them off mine.
“Tara, what happened? How are you here?” she asked, still crying. I shook my head.
“I-I’ll tell you, but not yet. I’ve missed you,” I said, and I could hear the yearning in my own voice. “I-I want to make you mine again first.” I would never have been so bold before, but then, I had never died before. It changed things.
“I’ve always been yours,” she said, sniffing. I got out of bed – I was in my room, I realised – and gently brought her with me.
“I-I need to see you, Will, see you and hold you and –“ my voice cracked. “Realise I’m not dead.” I looked straight at her, at her beautiful face, and felt that my heart would burst. “Will you l-let me?”

She nodded wordlessly, and so I moved to her, closing the painful gap between us. I stroked her hair, smelling it, feeling it, and then I ran my fingers down her cheeks and over her mouth. I trailed my hand down her neck, the beautiful smooth skin, and then I unbuttoned her shirt and her skirt, and she helped me pull them off, her underwear too. Then she was naked, and I looked at her, feeling a joy that was so pure and complete that it was painful. My soul might tear apart with this feeling, I thought.
“Oh, Willow,” I said. “Oh Willow.” And I cried.
sing once more with feeling

Our Gang [Friday, April 30th, 2004 @ 1:35pm]
I tried to concentrate in my classes, but the thought of Donny's impending visit just made me anxious. Whatever he was doing here, it wasn't for any good, I was sure of that. My brother had never come to see me just out of the goodness of his heart, that was for sure.

I sighed and tapped my pencil against my notebook. I hadn't heard a word of what Professor Williams was saying, and my notes didn't make that much sense. It was a relief when the bell went and I could make my way home.

Donny didn't bother turning up until nearly half past six. I should have expected that, really. He never made me feel that I was worth being punctual for.
"Hey sis," he said, leaning against the doorframe. "Come on. I've left the car running."

We headed downstairs in silence, and it wasn't until he started the car that either of us said anything.
"S-so, you want to get chicken, r-right?" I said. "We could go -"
"I found a place already," he said. "Don't you worry your little head about that." I sunk back into the seat. Donny cranked up the radio and sang along loudly as we raced down the road.

We pulled over at a place called the Chicken Shack, which was all ageing formica and low hanging lamps. Men in rolled up shirt sleeves sat at the bar as a jukebox played tinnily. I felt out of place in my long skirt and flowery sweater.
"I'll have a beer, and my sister'll get an orange juice," he told the waitress. I didn't say anything. If I challenged him, we'd just get into a fight, and he seemed in an unusually good mood today. Probably best just to let him be.


After we'd been served our drinks, I decided to broach the matter of his visit.
"S-so, Donny, what are you doing here?"
"Can't a man come see his kid sister?" he asked, grinning coldly and wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. I repressed a shudder. "Well, Tara, you should know why I'm here! You made your point, now you can come back home."
"M-my point?"
"You did the whole independent routine, showed daddy you can live on your own, we get that. You've done good," he added in patronising tones. "But honestly, what are you doing here?"
"I-I like studying," I protested.
"You like it, huh? You should stop being so selfish!" he barked suddenly, his mood changing with lightning speed, and I quailed. "What use is it to us if you're here studying some girly course? Daddy's making sacrifices for you."
"Dad - Dad's not paying anything for me to be here," I protested. "I've got a schuh - scholarship."
"Oh yes, boast away, T-T-Tara," said Donny, laughing. "You're so smart. Tell me, if you're so clever, why can't you talk right yet? And why aint you got a boyfriend?"
"I - I don't want one," I flushed.
"No, cos you got your little girlfriend, is that right?" He grinned as I stared down at the table. "Oh, I can read the signs alright. I don't need schooling to know what you're up to, Missy. Tell me, is she hot? Do you like the feel of her pressed up against you?" His eyes were hot and glassy. I squirmed away uncomfortably. "And what do you think Daddy will say about that?" he said after a moment, his tone once again changing, his face hard and cold. "Shall I tell him his little girl's a big old dyke? That'd just about break his heart. Not only have you abandoned us, come all the way here to this college instead of helping out at home like a proper woman should, but you're acting like a man." He laughed, a cold, low bark with no real humour in it. "But I bet she doesn't know the first thing about you, your little sweetie."
"Wh-what do you mean?"
"You know what I mean, Tara," he said meaningfully. "You're getting older. The signs are gonna show soon. It happened to our momma, it'll happen to you. It's not nice, but it's a fact. Blood will out."
"Nothing's going to happen," I said as defiantly as I could.
"Oh yeah?" he sneered. "Then why do you look afraid?"

***

After dinner I headed back to my room. I felt close to tears. Donny had driven away, but had left me $20 to get the train. "If you need any more, you can pay for it yourself," he said with a sneer, and had pulled out. I looked at the money and crumpled it up. I was tempted to throw it away, but instead I dropped it into a charity box. Donny's money had to be good for something.

In my bedroom I sat around thinking about what Donny had said. Maybe it was true. Maybe it would be obvious that I had demon in me. Maybe I was wicked, like Dad had always said. I never thought Mom was bad, but Dad had convinced her she was dangerous. Maybe she was.

I rubbed my hands against my forehead. I needed an idea. Eventually, a thought came to me. Maybe I could disguise the demon inside me. Willow would never need to know. I couldn't lose Willow, I just couldn't. My life had only begun to have colour when I met her. There was no way I was going home, but if she found out - I bit my lip. No. I wouldn't let that happen. I would do a spell.

It was fairly simple - I had most of the ingredients, and the rest were easy enough to find. The chanting took quite a lot of energy, but it seemed to work out ok. I went to sleep feeling a little more settled.

The next morning I woke up and headed out to class. On the way there a girl barged into me. She didn't even apologise! I picked up my scattered notes and went into the lecture hall. Professor Stone asked lots of questions. Normally I don't like to speak in class, but I've been trying, so I put up my hand a couple of times. He didn't pay any attention, which I guess is typical. People often treat me like I'm invisible.

After that I thought I'd go see Willow and fill her in on last night. I could do with her support.
sing once more with feeling

Nancy Tribe [Saturday, April 10th, 2004 @ 1:34pm]
There was only darkness, and the fall.

Falling I went and falling I was, and all I felt was the rush of the dark. But to fall meant to land, surely? I thought, and after a long time I found myself on ground, my hands splayed out in the dark.

I was in a great square, my body fallen across paving slabs, and the sky was grey as slate. In the centre of the square was a sundial. Weeds grew across it. I tried to scrape them away.
"But how will I know what time it is?"
"Doesn't matter, the sun isn't shining anyway," said the sundial, its voice a smirk. "Why do you need to know what the time is?"
"I... have to be somewhere."
"Do you remember where?"
I thought.
"No."
"Then how will you get there, stupid girl?" The sundial laughed, a wheezing sound of crumbled stone. I backed away.

I was in a wood. The trees were thick and dark, crowding around me. Yews wept black leaves onto the ground. Thin paths of trodden grass passed through the trees. Who had made the trails? I supposed it was best to follow them.

In the distance, wolves howled.
sing once more with feeling

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