Only after Emil’s eyes widened slightly in surprise did Coleen feel that her left eye was twitching. A muscle spasm she was unable to control. No, not that. A muscle spasm which meant her body felt something her mind hadn’t caught up to yet. Because despite realizing her reaction, Coleen did not feel like trying to deny it or bring any further attention to it.
She had been trying to not think of Lamar.
She had been trying not to think at all. After all, thinking was something that King Cole had done to ruin everything. And Coleen was not that person now. What was there to think about? It was not like she needed to rush it. She had an eternity to think.
Coleen would not pass this curse onto anyone.
“Who are you?” Carine asked. “How are you still alive?”
The other frowned, then ran her hands down over her front. “This body isn’t alive. She died, most definitely. But she was the most intact, so I put her back together again. You weren’t listening, after all.”
Carine trembled in place, but held her ground. She was awake. If she wanted answers… “No, that’s not true. She lost her hand. I remember it next to my head.”
“Darling, that was your own hand. Don’t you remember?”
She didn’t, but for some reason she didn’t think the possessed body was lying. Though it made just as much sense as what Carine had thought had happened. “No. Look at me, I’m fine.”
“You weren’t the only one to die that day, you know.”
Carine hugged herself. “A lot of people died. I’m one of the few people who… who didn’t.”
“No, you definitely died. But I wouldn’t touch that dress if I were you.”
They both looked down at it, hidden under the snow. It hadn’t been snowing the day she walked back home. It wasn’t the season. So how had it gotten here?
“Want to listen to me now?” the other asked.
“No,” said Carine. Then she ran away.
Mother said December was never the same once they sold the empire.
I remember the Decembers of my youth. They were shining things in the corners of my memories. Times of joy, I think. There were the thirteen days of celebration, I remembered. There was a lot more to them then that. Something to open every day. It was always a small toy or some candy. Mother had always been thrilled. She had spent so much time on it, I think, now that I look back on it.
Then they sold the empire. I was five. And December changed. The candles no longer were put on the table. There was nothing to unwrap every day. Just one day that everyone had to go to the city centre and listen to a person speak in a language we didn’t understand. They told us to appreciate the empire and we would all agree to whatever it was that was being said by raising up our hands when the person was done.
December was never the same once they sold the empire. I try to recall what December was, but the memories fade away every year. One day it will just be this language that they are finally teaching me. One day it will just be me, throwing up my hands in agreement when they ask me too. One day.
December will never be what it was.