What finally convinced me that the young woman was no ordinary friend of Ann’s, though, was the thing that glittered around her slim neck. A heavy ornament made entirely of gold coins; I’d never seen another necklace like it. It was her, the girlchild from Paradise Fields. Older, yes, by a few years. But her, all the same. The necklace left no doubt.
“Ann?” I called my sister. I hoped she was in her own room, but some deep sense of dread told me she was not home yet, not safe.
The girl startled but made no move to enter my room, or to walk toward Ann’s. She stood instead on the threshold, one bracleted hand outstretched toward me.
I moved down the hall.
“You came with Ann, right?” I glanced at her over my shoulder, with more hope than belief.
The gold necklace glittered. Her huge eyes followed me.
“I came for you,” she finally said.
“Annie?” I called again.
No answer, although the young woman whimpered. She cowered near the apartment’s entry as I opened Ann’s bedroom door. As I’d already sensed, my sister wasn’t there.
When I turned again to face my intruder, she was gone.
While waiting for Ann, I curled up on the sofa and closed my eyes. I got a quick image of Ryan and took his hand, but he faded almost instantly.
For the first time, I floated out of the house and into the night sky on my own. I used to try to control the floating. It scared me, even with Ryan as my guide. But eventually, I knew most of what would happen and that where I would go was beyond my control.
I knew I would not return to the sofa in my living room until my mission had been accomplished.
The gentle wind soothed me. I knew how to do this. I calmed myself with deep breaths, flying with determined serenity into whatever sad or horrifying scene Paradise Fields presented. Once in place, I would do what I could, even though it was never enough.
I learned to go without resistance into even the worst of the scenes, like the one before my eyes now.
Feet on the ground, outside my apartment that was not my apartment. I was in the Paradise Fields world, not my own. Ann turned the dark corner toward home. Where was Enzo? Why was she walking alone?
This new aspect scared me: I had never met anyone I knew here before.
I could feel my sister’s body, was already inside her head. After studying all night at the library, she felt like a heavy stone, her eyes gritty. Enzo had bailed on the ride and she hadn’t felt like calling me back, so she walked. I treated her like a baby. She was a woman. She could walk six blocks to her own home.
She didn’t notice him at all, but I saw him approach and knew his intent. I was inside both their heads, and his thoughts terrified me. I hung on to my focus. I needed to help my sister.
I tried to warn her. No words came.
Ann put her key in the door, couldn’t wait to get up those stairs and to her bed. I willed her to make it through before he wrapped her long hair around his hand and jerked her away from the clicking lock. Before she had a second to access what was happening, she hurled backward, scrambled to move where her hair was taking her. She knew that if she fell, this person would drag her.
I knew it, too. I was able to help her stay on her feet, or at least I put every mental suggestion I could into her body.
Two steps into the alley and he let go of her hair. Even as I attempted to put myself between them, he threw her down onto the crumbling cobblestones.
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