To Fly

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<<>> This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet. -- Rumi When Buffy was ten and I was five, she had a doll that I wanted so badly I could taste it. I craved owning something that was Buffy's. I wanted to know how it felt to be her. I looked up to her, even then. She'd let me hold her doll, comb the pretty blonde curls that hung delicately around the painted Victorian face, and I felt so special that I would grin for a week. But then one day I went into her room without her permission - and I took the doll out of the case and accidentally dropped it on the floor. The face shattered and before I could put her back in the case, Buffy came in. I expected her to yell at me, but instead, she picked me up and sat me on the bed - and she checked my bare feet to see if I had been cut. She told me to sit still while she cleaned up the porcelain and I was crying so hard I could barely breathe, but she still didn't yell at me. Instead, she told me that the doll had always freaked her out and she only kept it because Daddy had given it to her when he'd come home from a business trip he had taken to Rome. She gave me ice cream and we rode our bikes to the park. She pushed me on the swing until I was so dizzy and winded that I thought I wouldn't be able to walk home. I loved it when she would push me. Even then, when she was only ten, she was so strong that I'd be flying in a matter of seconds - wind in my hair and Buffy's giggles behind me as I shrieked and screamed. Those were simple times. A mommy. A daddy. A house with a garage and a playhouse out back. A kiddy pool that was just big enough to wet us and collect gnats, which Buffy would flick at me, and a dog named Petey who guarded our yard with a vengeance. I remember hide and seek and Buffy would always find me crouched beneath the weeping willow tree in the corner of our backyard. I remember ice cream melting and running down our elbows on hot days and Petey trying his best to clean us up. And I remember huddling together in Buffy's bed on Christmas Eve, straining to hear Santa land in the fireplace. // I hope I get that new Barbie. // // I hope I get a Smurf watch. // I remember bedtime stories and Mom's perfume, fresh and summery, even in the coldest months. I remember Buffy's Destructo Girl outfit and the way she'd stand on the couch and tell us all that she would protect us. She tried to fly once, right off the roof. The doctors said it was amazing that she didn't break her neck ... and they were right. But Buffy didn't even cry ... she just looked at me and said, "For a minute, I really was flying." When Buffy was fifteen and I was ten, she got into a lot of trouble. I'd hear Mom and Dad talking about her hanging out with the "wrong crowd", but I never once lost faith in her. Not when she started sneaking out. Not when I would hear her crying until well into the night in her bedroom. Not when I'd see bruises on her legs and arms and she'd beg me not to mention it to our parents. And not when I accidentally saw her slay a vampire. I was only ten and she was my big sister. The concept of a vampire Slayer was a foreign one. I had been drawing at my desk and I saw a man in our yard. A man with a deformed face and sharp teeth. Buffy and I were home alone and she was trying to study for a test. I raced into her room and told her and she told me to stay inside. I watched from the bedroom window, heart racing, mind numb, as she fought and staked the vampire. I was in shock. I can remember it like it was yesterday. When she came back inside, I had cold sweat running down my forehead and we went back to her room. She showed me a book with drawings of vampires in it, just like the one I had seen, and she explained as best she could what she was. It wasn't hard for me to understand. I always knew she was special. She was my best friend and when we pinky swore that I would never tell a soul, I kept my word. After that, I always had a ready excuse for Mom and Dad about where Buffy was or why she had a bad grade or why she hadn't called to say she'd be late. I was lying straight to their faces, but it was for Buffy. My sister. The Vampire Slayer. My hero. After I saw the vampire in the yard, I started to have nightmares that there was one in my closet and Buffy would go into the closet, shut the door, and make a lot of racket. When she'd come out, she'd tell me that it was gone. She let me sneak behind Mom and Dad's back and watch vampire movies with her. I thought we were being naughty, but I know now that she was just trying to help me understand because she commented on everything, drilling the **real** mythology into my head. When she burned down the school gym I wanted to come to her defense. The police brought her home and told our parents what she had done - and for the first time in her life, Buffy looked scared to death. She was pale and shaking and when she tried to explain, she couldn't. How could she? Our folks didn't know she was a Slayer. They would have probably taken her straight to a mental hospital if she had confessed the truth. The school didn't press charges, and Buffy tried to convince Mom and Dad that she had been smoking, but there were witnesses - teachers - who said that she had done it deliberately. A couple days after that, Mom and Dad sat us down and told us that they were getting divorced. It almost killed me. I had the biggest tantrum of my entire life and ran as fast as I could to the park. It was Buffy who found me and she tried to make it better, but I blamed her. Looking back, remembering the hurt in her face when I told her it was her fault, I'd give anything to change it. Truth is, Mom and Dad always had trouble, but Buffy was my scapegoat and I honestly convinced myself that I hated her for a while. I hated her heroics that no one knew about. I hated the bruises and the aches and pains she had to hide. I hated the lie we were living. And I hated the fact that she was a Slayer and so strong, and I wasn't. When Buffy was twenty and I was fifteen, I found out that I was a "Key". I was finally **something** ... but nothing at the same time. I wasn't a Slayer. I wasn't stronger and wiser and better ... I was just energy. Bad energy. I found out that Buffy really wasn't my sister and that all the memories I had - everything I thought I knew- were lies. I had only existed in this world for six months. But, Buffy didn't let me lose control. She kept me safe, kept me from hurting myself, and she showed me that our blood was thicker than any bond that had been molded from energy. When our Mother died just a few weeks after Buffy turned twenty, I thought that we would die right along with her. Buffy pulled away from me, ignored me, tried to carry the burden of our uncertain future on shoulders that were too frail - and I thought that she would never come around. She's my sister though, and my sister never fails to come around, even when it hurts her too much to breathe. And I gave her what she needed. I consoled **her** for a change. I was being hunted by a Hell-Goddess because she wanted to use the "Key" to open a portal to her dimension and go home. My blood opened the portal and only my death, the stopping of the bloodflow, would halt the Apocalypse. Buffy did everything in her power to prevent that from happening, but Glory took me anyway. And my blood was shed. For as long as I live, I'll never forget that glowing vortex that opened up in the sky or the creatures that dived out of it. I'll never forget my blood between my bare toes or Buffy's hands on my shoulders or the look in her eyes when she made up her mind. See, the Monks that made me - they made me out of Buffy. Her blood. My blood. It's all the same. I started to jump into the portal. I was going to be brave. I was going to be the hero and rescue my sister, but she wouldn't let me. I can't even remember everything she said to me and I try so hard. I know it was profound and perfect, because that's how Buffy was. When she ran away from me and jumped off the end of that platform, I watched her fly and all I could say was, "You're flying, Buffy! You're really flying!" I yelled it and I raced to the edge to get a better look. Destructo-Girl was flying. I expected her to land on her feet. I expected her to live because thats what Buffy did. She lived. I was so used to her living, even when the world was on the bring of ending, that I never really allowed myself to believe that the day would come when shed die. Especially not like this. Not because of me. Not for me. Not because she loved me so much that dying was the greatest gift she could give me. I expected her to beat the odds, to be the only Slayer to see thirty forty fifty. I expected us to grow old together, raise our kids together and I expected her to still be hanging on when I drew my last breath. I wanted her to be the last thing I saw. Not the other way around. When Buffy was twenty and I was fifteen, I watched them zip her into a body bag. I watched them tuck her hands inside, the way she tucked me into bed the night that Mom died and all I could do was shake my head in disbelief. I watched them lift her and put her on a stretcher. And I stood in the sunlight until I couldn't see the flashing lights anymore as the ambulance disappeared around the corner. The sun was red - an angry fireball in the morning sky - burning with rage because the Slayer had taken the final fall from grace. I stood in the doorway of her bedroom for thirty minutes before I got the nerve to go inside that day. On her end table was the picture I had given her of us. I decorated the frame with seashells that we collected together, carefully selecting the prettiest ones, the most unique ones, the ones that would make it beautiful. But her smiling face is beautiful enough and I could see thumb prints on the glass where she had been holding it. I could almost see her sitting on her bed, staring down at what was left of her family trying to find a way to hold onto it. To hold onto me. I knew that everything in her room was suddenly mine. Her beautiful clothes, her stuffed animals, the jewelry box with a ballerina inside that I used to covet and contemplate stealing. The shoes that lined her closet floor. The trunk with a secret bottom. The photo albums where she kept all her memories. I used to crave owning something that was Buffy's. I wanted to know how it felt to be her. And now I know. Ive got the weight of the world her legacy. I have to make sure she didnt die in vain. That no one ever forgets. That no one ever gives up. That people still believe in the cause even though our champion never came back from war. We buried her early in the day and that afternoon, Giles and I went for a walk. We stopped at the park and I asked him to push me on the swing. He looked shocked at first, but he nodded. I closed my eyes as I pumped my legs and I could have sworn I could hear her behind me, giggling. I could have sworn it was her strong hands pushing me and her singsong voice telling me to hold on tight. I could taste the vanilla ice cream that we used to get at the shop down the road from our house and I could feel Petey's warm tongue lapping at the drips on my arms. I could see her hiding her face in her hands as she counted to ten and I crouched beneath the willow tree. I could see her pretending to look everywhere, even though I knew she could see me. I can still hear her ten year old dreams, see her wearing Mouse ears and hopping up and down in line at Disneyland. And I can feel her hand in mine as I braved the first day of school. For just a while, Im a little girl again. I dont know anything about Slayers or Vampires or Keys. Im normal. And that's what Buffy wanted. That's why she died for me. The normal thing to do is cry. My tears fall so fast that not even the wind can dry them. I keep my eyes closed and I swing back and forth, faster and faster, free and safe. // Push me, Buffy! // // Hold on tight. You're gonna reach the clouds, Dawnie! // // Don't let me fall! // // I'll catch you, little sis. // She caught me. And it's my turn to fly. To use the wings she gave me. For her. Finis. <><><> Chelle *sob* <><><> Back to various...
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