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Rated: 13+ · Prose · Contest Entry · #2282716
Zayda realizes she has a new talent... talking to the dead.
Zayda looked up from her books and stretched. She glanced towards the window as she felt the freshness of the spring air brush over her upstretched arms. It was not the same clean, clear salt scented air as it would have been at home. Her heart gave a squeeze of memories as her mind tripped over the faces of the Aunts and their beautiful gardens. She could imagine them out there now, getting those gardens ready for spring.

Zayda stood, stepping out of the memories and into the here and now. She could hear her Aunt Fiona telling her to get out into the sun.

"You need to find your place in the city Zayda. Make it your own. It's the only way you will be able to learn to control your talents... and thrive. You will thrive here, Zayda."

Her aunt's words were not empty embellishments. Aunt Fiona had the gift of future sight. And Zayda had felt the truth of her aunt's words.

She needed to get outside. She needed to immerse herself in that breeze and feel the sun warm her skin. She needed to explore and find her place.

"Washington Square Park is not far," her cousin had told her and they had walked through it on the way home from school that first day.

It had been an odd mix of emotions. Brightly coloured and spritely with people flowing and scattered about. It was a happy place, but there had also been a darker contrast that seemed to shroud the place as well.
"It has a dark history," her aunt Fiona had said.

When Zayda had asked for more information, her aunt had only shook her head. Unable to let it go, Zayda had searched out this dark history and discovered for herself. It had once been grave site at the edge of the city all those years ago. During the time of the yellow fever back in the late 1700s, bodies had been buried here and never moved as the City had expanded around it. There were too many and they were too poor for anything more dignified.

She understood why her aunt did not want to speak of it, but in the knowing, there was a kind of calm underbelly to the place.

She gathered her coat and gloves and went to explore.

As she passed over the sidewalk and entered the park, she felt the balance of emotions. The dark and the light. The space seemed to dull the extreme emotions for her. Each seemed to smooth out the other and she felt herself relax. Few places in the city allowed her to do that and she could not help the wee smile that tipped the corner of her lips up as she moved off the path and onto the grass.

She longed to take her shoes off and seeing as no one was really paying attention to her, she sat down and pulled off both shoes and socks. The grass tickled her toes. Her smile bloomed.

No one seemed to notice or stare as she stood and walked slowly over the freshly greened area. She lifted her foot and brushed it over the new shoots of grass before setting it down and doing the same with her other foot. With slow movements she moved creating a circle of steps. When the circle was made, she sat within the space. It was a bubble of protection. Slowly she slipped off her gloves and brushed her hands over the new grass. She felt a sense of freedom bloom within her.

After a few moments she lifted her hands to undo her coat and ease it off her shoulders. It pooled around her as she breathed in the cool air. The sun warmed her back and face.

How long she sat there she was not sure, but hearing the sounds of boys and their ball brought her back into herself. She stood pulling her coat on. Leaving it undone, she moved on bare feet to undo her circle, then slipped on her socks and shoes as she felt the world begin to impinge on her again. Her bubble was gone, but now she knew it was possible to recreate it. That knowledge lifted her up above the crushing wave of emotions that swirled around her.

She explored the rest of the park, her coat undone, her gloves off. The ghosts of past lives seemed to waft around her. She felt a sadness at their loss, but also an opening into knowing them.

When she sat down on one of the benches she noticed the light rippled around her. She took a steadying breath as she watched it move to the bench beside her.

"It's pretty here," a girl's voice said. Zayda nodded looking around to see where the source of that voice had come from.

"You can hear me?" the voice asked.

"I can," Zayda whispered. Her eyes caught on the ripple of light as it seemed to bounce on the bench beside her.

"Oh, how delightful. I'm Kathleen. No one has been able to hear me before. How exciting." The girl trilled.

"Why can I hear you?" Zayda whispered.

"Not sure. Can you hear anyone else?"

Zayda slowly shook her head. Even the noise of the crowds had diminished.

"Hmm. That's interesting. Some of the others like to talk to me."

"The others?" Zayda whispered trying to wrap her mind around what was going on. Part of her wanted to run, but another part listened eagerly with a curiousity that held her in place. "Who are you?"

"Well, I'm Kathleen. I'm 17. My family got sick a long while back... yellow fever, they said. I have been here ever since."

"You were buried in Potter's Field." Zayda mused in whispered awe.

"That's right."

"But that was..."

"A long time ago." Kathleen finished for her. "It's nice to finally have someone to talk to."

Despite the oddness of the situation, Zayda found herself smiling. The girl was delightful.

"It's been a long time since I've been able to talk to someone my age," she went on. "It's awfully dry when you can only talk to your family."

"I know how that is," Zayda mused.

"Really? But you're alive, aren't you?"

"I am."

"Why then?"

"It's a long story," Zayda said.

When Kathleen cut in with, "Do you see me going anywhere?" She laughed.

Zayda filled her in.

"So even after 175 years witches are still treated so awfully?"

"Yes," Zayda said simply, "but you don't seem so surprised?"

"They called my family witches, too... maybe that's why we can talk to each other."

Zayda nodded. "It would explain a lot."

The bell on the clock tower struck, and Zayda glanced at her watch. "Oh, I have to go."

"That's okay. I'm sure we'll speak again."

"It was nice to chat."

"That it was."

Zayda watched as the shimmering light made a final pop of light and disappeared. The world around her surged back. She stood and did up her coat. By the time she reached the edge of the park, she had pulled on her gloves. Stepping out onto the sidewalk, the impact of the city surrounded her, but unlike it had when she had first arrived. Now it seemed that she had a bubble of protection around her and she had a feeling Kathleen had something to do with that.

"Thank you," she whispered and hurried on home.

Word count = 1245.
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