Two days after Forosuul had summoned her, she thought she was ready. The small portal opened before her, a shimmering image of green trees and mist. Taking a deep, shuddering breath, she ducked her head and stepped through. The tall trees didn’t quite catch all of the soft rain falling down. The soft hush of it against the leaves was very calming. Maybe it will help. Lilybeth thought quietly. Min’da. Help me do this. Help me be the mother you were. Don’t let me fail them anymore. Closing her eyes, she pushed the feelings down and walked up the path to the small cottage.
Around back, Kalimè moved gracefully through her forms. As she finished, she concentrated her Chi. Folding her legs up under her, she drifted up above the water on a cushion on mist. Her face was the picture of peace. Her ears twitched almost imperceptibly at the sound of someone coming around the house.
Lilybeth stood back, watching her daughter glide. She immediately regretted not coming to watch some of her training. She’s my dancer in truth now. Smiling she moved a little closer. Very quietly, she uttered her daughter’s name. Out here, floating over the water, with her beautiful pale skin and white hair, her name was never more fitting.
At the whisper, Kalimè opened her eyes slightly. As she realized who was standing on the shoreline, her eyes flashed open wide. “Min’da?” Her concentration broken, she dropped into the water with a splash.
“Oh gods! Kali, I’m sorry!” Lily lurched forward to pull her up out of the water.
Coughing for a moment, Kalimè waved it off. “No, it’s fine. That’s why I practice over the water. Softer landing.” She reached up and wrung out her long hair. Looking up at her mother, her voice broke a little. “What are you doing here?” Lily looked embarrassed, her long ears drooping. Forcing her gaze to Kali’s face, she tried, unsuccessfully, not to cry. Seeing her mother’s tears, Kali dove forward, wrapping her arms around the older woman. “I’m so glad you are here. I don’t even know how to explain how much I have missed you.” She held her there for a few minutes before stepping back. “I’m sorry. That was a rather soggy hug. Will you come inside?”
Wiping off her face, Lily smiled. “I would like that.” As they approached the front door, Lily noticed the row of shoes. Taking it as a cue, she removed her sandals and set them aside. Kali nodded her appreciation as she stepped in and peeled off her wet clothes. Lily waited for her to change and looked around the small space. Everything was orderly, clean, if a bit stark. She settled down onto the rug as her daughter pulled a simple azure and white robe over her head.
“Would you like some tea?” Kali asked as she picked up the kettle and placed it on the stove.
“Do you have something relaxing?”
Giggling, “Of course we do. It’s hard to meditate if you’re all wound up.” Shifting the jars around, her fingers found the one she wanted. She carefully measured it all out, whispering a quiet prayer.
Lily watched, picking at the embroidery on her gown nervously. “You say the same prayer as Estelæth.”
“It’s important to her.” Her voice had taken on an odd quality for a moment. She cleared her throat and turned to pull the whistling kettle from the stove. She filled the tea pot and placed everything on the tray. Carrying it to the rug, she gracefully settled, setting it between them. “It needs to steep more, but I thought I’d sit with you while we wait.”
Lilybeth smiled faintly. “Such a small space for you both. Do you have enough room?” She looked around again. “It is charming though. Simple.”
Kali’s eyebrows went up. “Oh…well, yes, it is small. But there is more than enough room for what we need.” Again, that shift in her tone. She took a breath and asked again, “Min’da? Why are you here? Is everyone all right?”
With a heavy sigh, Lily closed her eyes. “I know. I’m stalling. Please, forgive me?”
“For what? Coming to visit me? I am glad of it.”
“No, Sel’de. For taking so long to do it. For…” her voice broke. Again, with effort, she brought her eyes to her daughter’s face. “For not being the mother I should. For not seeing you. Kali, please, forgive me for pushing you away.”
Kalimè had lifted up the teapot to being pouring. It nearly slipped from her fingers at her mother’s words. Her hands shaking, she put it down and slid the tray to the side. She gathered Lily into her arms again. “I’ve missed you. So much. But you wouldn’t look at me. Talk to me. What can I do, Min’da? I would give anything to have my mother back.” She pulled back suddenly, her hand covering her mouth. “Min’da…I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have…”
Lily’s eyes were full of tears, streams of them running down her cheeks. “No! No, Sel’de. This is my fault. Do not be sorry. I should have told the two of you. Long ago.” She smiled weakly at Kali. “Your uncle reminded me of how it feels to have someone you loved ripped from you. I am so, so sorry I didn’t see it before. I was so lost in my own grief, I was ignoring yours.” Reaching up, her fingers found the long lock of azure hair at the side of Kali’s face. Kali smiled, blushing a little. “Is this for me?”
Nodding, Kali beamed. “My kit too, both you and An’da. Would you like to see it?” Lily nodded, grateful for the time to look at something else. Kali stood and moved to the trunk near the bed. “Would you pour the tea, please?”
“Of course.” Moving the tray back in front of her, Lily’s eyes went wide. Laid out, among the different dishes, was a small bowl. Filled with ginger candy. “Kali…how did you…did we share this? Before?”
Kali came back to the rug with her armor and smiled. “Mmmhmm. We used to go to a little stand in Halfhill to get it once a year. Now I live close enough, I can have it whenever I want.”
Picking up a small piece, she smiled. “I haven’t had any in years, you know. Maybe we could…” She put it in her mouth, not sure how to take the next step. I’m getting this all wrong. She’s my daughter. How can I not figure this out? Her mind swirled around as she slowly let the candy melt in her mouth.
Kali chewed on her lip a minute before speaking. “We can go next time you visit, if you would like.” She tried to sound hopeful, but not pushy. Picking up a piece of her own, she joined Lily in enjoying the confection. She helped finish pouring the tea, adding a squeeze of lemon to Lily’s.
Pushing a long azure wave over her shoulder, she took the cup. Her lower lip quivered and she sipped slowly. Lily closed her eyes. “Kali, do you know why I have so much trouble…looking at you?”
Kali sighed, her eyes filled with sympathy. “I do. Uncle Foro explained it. I look like her. I’m sorry, Min’da. I wish I didn’t. I wish you didn’t have to..”
“No!” Lily cut her off sharply. Softening quickly, “No. As hard as it is for me right now… your An’da is right. My mother was beautiful and her beauty should live on in this world. Kali, I am so sorry. I punished you for simply being beautiful like she was. For bearing the face I so wish I could see again. I think perhaps Elune is trying to teach me, that in some way, your grandmother will always be with me.” She tipped her head to the side.
“What is it?”
“Something is missing though.”
“Missing?” Kali looked at her, confused.
“Yes.” Lily finished her tea and set the cup aside. Her eyes stayed locked on her daughter’s face, pleading for forgiveness that she could not give herself. She pulled her long hair around to her right side. Reaching back, she undid the clasp at the back of her neck, letting the thin chain fall down into her hand. She rose and moved behind Kali. Bring the necklace around, she lowered the moon pendant in place. “Do you know what this is?” Kali shook her head. “This was the first gift I ever bought for your grandmother. It was a birthday present, the first one I could afford on my own.”
Kali’s eyes went wide, flashing brightly. “Min’da…Are you certain? This is…you don’t have to…” her eyes filling with tears.
Lily closed the clasp and adjusted the chain carefully. Coming back around, she sat right in front of Kali. She gently touched to pendant and stroked Kalimè’s face. “It’s perfect.”