When Lorna untied the knot, she found herself — somewhere familiar. The trees were gray, the leaves were dark, and she could smell the dampness in the air. Beneath her feet, the leaves were wet. She glanced around. There were thorns. A crow screamed nearby. Somewhere — behind her, to the left — there was a brook. The brook led back to the village, if you went upstream.
Lorna walked forward. She untied the knot fully, and then she plucked a different string from her pocket, her fingers working quickly. She had to hardly look at what she was doing. She could feel the strings vibrate. Someone was near–
She barely stepped out of the way in time. A figure fell. Lorna stopped and turned. The figure scrambled in the leaves, regaining her feet. A dull brown dress, a grey apron, dark brown hair, cut short, and finally the girl turned to look Lorna in the eyes.
Lorna looked back at herself. Her eyes were wide, frantic, terrified. There was a cut on her cheek and on her neck. Her nose was rubbed raw with dirt and more dirt, or perhaps blood.
“Quickly,” said this Lorna, “Which way to the village?”
“A doppelganger,” Lorna guessed.
“Tell me, stranger, please, which way to the village? The witch has been gone for three days, I only just escaped — father said mother could hide me, that she would, she could, where is the village?”
“A specter,” said Lorna. “A mirror specter, or an uncreative one.”
Lorna grabbed her shoulders. “Please, miss, please tell me, I have to find my way home — the witch could be back any minute–”
“You’re the witch’s girl,” said Lorna. “The one everyone keeps talking about. I saw you, you were throwing leaves in the king’s palace.”
“It was me, miss, please, tell me where the village is.”
“You have been Lorna the whole time,” said Lorna.
“Please, please, miss, please, where is the village?” Lorna fell to the ground. There were tears in her eyes, they looked so much like her mother’s, like Lorna’s. “My father only just cut the scarf, and I’m free, and the witch will be here soon, I’m sure of it, please, tell me where the village is!”
Lorna froze. She looked around. She scuttled off, struggling on four limbs. She found a tree, and hid behind it.
Lorna could sense it too. She looked around, clutching her knot. She wrapped the two ends around her two index fingers. She wrote runes in her head, thinking of the power. The air smelled of swamp and rot. The witch was coming.
She turned, and there she was, the witch.
“Where is my sister?” asked Lorna.
“You have no sister,” said the witch.
“I do have a sister,” said Lorna, “She is my only family, and you will return her to me.” She twisted the knots in her fingers.
But the knots struggled against her fingers. One knot poked a different direction than she meant. Lorna felt the mud beneath her feet. The witch was trying to throw her off her balance, take away her movement. “You never had a sister,” said the witch, “You even called her Cousin growing up.”
Lorna started a new knot, feeling the roots beneath the mud move. If the earth was free, then so were the trees.
“She is like a sister now.”
“She is not even a girl.”
“She is my only family now.” Now, with Jonpast’s daughter huddled behind a tree, Lately would be Lorna’s only family indeed.
“I am your mother,” said the witch.
“You are not my mother.” Lorna frowned.
“I am your mother,” said the witch, “I carved you from the rotten earth of this forest and nestled you in the arms of a dumb animal of the village.”
“Then the earth of this forest hates you,” said Lorna.
The roots snapped out of the earth, throwing mud every which way. But the witch threw out her arms, and great rocks knocked the roots out of the way, leaving her unharmed but covered in mud.
“Are you surprised then?” said the witch.
“I have met Jonpast’s daughter,” said Lorna. “She is no peer of mine, dumb and scuttling on the earth, throwing leaves every which way. You cannot touch the soil of humanity.”
“You threw leaves into the halls of great kings because you cannot touch their ground.”
Her right foot sank into the mud, but Lorna’s magic undid her shoelace, and she touched the mud with her own stocking foot, feeling the ground between her toes. The witch’s lip curled in fury. A vine snapped behind Lorna, but she plucked a snot. The roots caught the vine and pulled down the tree. The witch sailed into the air. She lifted up her hands, and water poured into the earth.
Lorna screamed, and fire burst forth. The water evaporated into steam.
“You tricked the hunter into switching his child, and then you were trapped by your own servants for fourteen years!”
“I own my slaves,” hissed the witch. She flew behind Lorna.
Listen, I haven’t written the parts before this so I’m just gonna stop it here, okay</i<
“What else could it mean?” asked Mother. “That awful place, that awful religion, they chose that husband. And the Hole told me to bow before him.”
“Maybe bowing means something different in Hole,” said the other twin, who hadn’t spoken before now. “What do you do when you bow before a hole?”
“You dig into it,” said the first twin.
“How do you dig into you husband?” asked the Convert. “You, what, you stab him?”
“You stab him,” the mother said, quieter.
The kitchen grew quiet. The candles flickered. Out there, the Island was waiting. He was waiting.
So I want to change my hair. It’s been red and long for years now, it’s time for a change.
This is my natural hair. This picture was taken in late 2014. I think I started dying it a month later.
Here’s what my hair looks like today (and that same shirt…holy crap I’m wearing exactly the same shirt in both pictures, what are the odds)
Anyway, I love this hair color and all. I got married in it.
I want to keep this hair color, and keep pretending like it’s totally my natural hair color, ssshh. But I also want to do something a little different with my hair? Something fun?
I kinda maybe want to try dying the underside of my hair. I’ve been wearing my hair in buns a lot lately, so maybe it could provide a cool twist when I have my hair. And in situations where I should look more conservative, I could just wear my hair down. This is important, as my HR director told me that Home Depot prefers “conservative” looks. I mentioned that a girl in Garden has blue hair, and she replied that she always has her hair nice and neat. So I guess my rule of thumb is “do I look like I’m rebelling against my parents?”
THIS IS WHO I AM, IT’S NOT A PHASE
Except I’m scared to make the next step. I’m paralyzed by indecision.
1) Most two-tone hairstyles seem to come in two kinds: one, your right side is dyed one color and the other is dyed another color. That’s way too “edgy” for me.
2) The other, even more popular alternative, is some weird variation on “ombre” where, like, the top half of your hair is your natural color, and then all the sudden there’s all this blonde on the bottom half of your hair. The transition isn’t a jagged cut, it’s gentle, but it still looks really weird.
Like, it just looks like she hasn’t dyed her roots in a really long time. Like me! I guess I have ombre hair!
I kinda like this, actually.
This, but, like, not neon green.
See, like this!
Or like this, but, you know, not neon!
I LOVE IT LOOK AT IT except not blonde and red, but, like, red and blue? Or red and purple?
I don’t really know where I was going with this.
In an underground tunnel. Claire and Eva are waving flashlights. Claire, 21, is taller, more secure and in her element; she walks briskly, and seems to be looking for something. Eva, 18, follows. She slumps, and has an air of exhaustion about her at all times. Every movement seems to be made of extreme effort.
They find an area lit from above. The light blinks. Claire stops to study it. Eva, uninterested, simply looks around. A camera flashes, not too far away. They turn and look. The camera flashes again. Then another girl steps out of the shadows: Andy, 23, dressed warmly. She has a warm presence, and is smiling. In this case, she seems to be asking for forgiveness.
Andy: Hey, sorry! Your figures just seemed to good, you know, just lit up against the darkness. Your silhouettes were fantastic. I should have warned you. I should have said something. Hi, I’m Andy.
Claire gawks at her. Eva waits, tired.
Andy: I’m an urban spelunker! Explorer. I like Explorer better, don’t you? It flows better. Anyway, I’ve always like exploring abandoned places. There’s just an air of…rawness. Of the humanity that left this area behind.
Claire: Nature creeping in!
Andy: I guess, but you don’t see a whole lot nature in the city, do you?
Claire: We are also urban explorers. Yes. What got you interested in urban exploring?
Andy: I started when I was maybe ten years old. I started exploring all the sewers by my house. I don’t think they were actually sewers, just water runoff. But it was nice and cool there in the summer, and you didn’t really know where you were. I loved that. I just loved being separated from the world. You meet all sorts of cool people doing this. Lots of homeless people, lots of drug addicts. Really interesting people. I tend to just do this by myself, mostly, I’m surprised to see you guys do this in a group.
Claire: It’s just the two of us.
Andy: I guess it’s safer that way.
Eva: We’re here to hunt ghosts.
Eva: We hunt and kill ghosts for profit.
Claire: Not at all.
Eva: We hunt and kill ghosts for fun.
Claire: We don’t kill anything. Ahahahaha.
Andy: You’re ghost hunters?
Claire: It’s a side business. Not even profitable.
Andy: It’s a legit business?
Claire: I guess so? I mean, we’re a registered LLC with an EIN and everything, but, like, that’s mostly just so I can claim business expenses on my tax return. Eva does a lot of the work but I can’t hire her technically, she’s like sixteen.
Eva: I’m eighteen.
Claire: What? Since when?
Eva: The entire time that we’ve know each other.
Claire: What? She’s eighteen.
Andy: You guys are funny.
Andy: I don’t normally hang out with people. I like the quiet. It gets the muses going.
Claire: We’re normally very quiet. Eva hardly talks at all.
Indeed, they look at Eva, and Eva is looking elsewhere, tired and bored.
Andy: So do you think there’s ghosts here? I can feel an energy here.
They Gaze at each other.
Andy: I didn’t catch your name.
The wind blows.
Claire: Is that what I think it is?
Claire: Let’s get it.
Guys I’m kinda tired and I’ll write the hunt later.