“Sioned.” The sounds echoed in her ears, vaguely, discordant and distorted. It was her name….wasn’t it? It was far away, loosely dancing on the shards of moonlight.
She had heard them, seen it, she had tried, she had pleaded with him. Do not do this, do not trigger this series of events. You don’t know what it will become. She’d been a fool. She had come to walk the pattern to try and change the past, and had been distracted. Now there was nothing but shimmering lines, and her arms were empty. She had failed. She cried.
“Sioned!” It was clearer now. A voice, calling her name….if that was her name. Did she know the voice? she knew that voice….didn’t she?
“Sioned Cerian Eirianedd Nimue, Get up this instant!” Her head snapped up. That was her name, her full name, she never used that unless Sioned was in trouble. That was her mother.
“Mam?” The landscape undulated, coalescing and reforming
“Get up, we are going to be late.” There was a swirl of light and air, ghostly covers being thrown off her face.
She was in bed, in her room. her childhood room, and her mother was standing over her with hands on her hips and that mildly disappointed and annoyed look on her face.
“I…..Mam? What….what are you…?” Confusion, and somewhere in her mind, a little bell drawing her attention. A day, long ago, before her mother died, a mother daughter day….Oh! The mother daughter day at work.
“I’m sorry, Mam, I’m..m sorry!” Sioned stumbled out of bed and hurriedly pulled items of clothing from the floor, from baskets, from all the places that, in a tidy room, clothes would not usually be found. Her mother waited, her foot occasionally tapping the floor.
“I had to pull a lot of strings to get someone to allow this. The least you can do is be prepared, Sioned.”
“Yes, Mam. Sorry, Mam.” She found her school bag, slipped it over her shoulder and stood in front of her mother as if for inspection
“Do you have your tablet and stylus?”
“And the topics you need to cover today?”
“And your lunch?” Sioned blinked. She remembered. She’d forgotten to pack her lunch that day, but her mother had never asked her about it, she just went hungry. Silently. Because otherwise she would have to have admitted that she had forgotten to make it the night before.
“No, Mam.” She said in a very small voice. Her mother grimaced slightly, reached in to her own bag and handed Sioned a lunch box. “But this is your lunch.”
“It is. Next time remember that when you fail to do something you are supposed to, it will have repercussions, sometimes for other people.”
Sioned took the box and put it in her satchel. “Yes, Mam. Thankyou Mam.”
They left. The day played out as it had all those years ago, there were small changes, things that reminded her of the little failures, and the results of them.
When the day was done, and she felt as small as she could possibly feel, her mother took her home. At the front door she stopped, turned to Sioned, and with a finger raised her daughter’s chin to look directly into her eyes.
“Do you understand?”
Sioned would have nodded, but her mother’s finger was still under her chin.
“Tell me what you understand.” This was a conversation that had never happened, but she was reliving the day as it mostly had. It no longer occurred to her to wonder why things were different. “I will not be here for long, and I need to know that you understand.”
“I understand that when I say I will do a thing, I should do it. I don’t exist in a vacuum. If people are relying on me, even for something very very small, and I don’t do it, things can go wrong.”
She was now no longer a child, but stood eye to eye with her mother, something she had never been able to do whilst her mother lived.
“Good. I love you, Sioned. Never forget that.” And she embraced her.
There was a momentary feeling of solidity before it faded in to nothing. Once again Sioned’s arms were empty and she was crying.
The door to her room stood in front of her. She opened it.
On the other side, The Pattern. There was something she had promised to do.