Whoa, BEDA 7! The excerpt below was written this afternoon in a rush, so please forgive the roughness. I wrote this as a way to get to know Ramona and Ciarán better. I learned a few new things about Ramona. Ciarán, however, is holding out on me. I still don’t hear his accent in my head, which isn’t helping. Apologies to anyone reading this who has NO idea what the back story is but maybe that is better…
Cartons from the Chinese takeout they had for dinner still littered the coffee table. The sun was setting outside of the window, casting long shadows over the small flat. Ramona and Ciarán sit side by side on the sofa, Ramona with her knees drawn up and Ciarán angled towards Ramona, his arm resting on the back of the sofa, his finger tips massaging the base of her neck.
Ramona felt ridiculous for crying in front of him. She was stronger than that. Her sister, Elsa, was the crier in the family, not her. Ramona decided she wouldn’t tell Casey about her moment of utter lameness with Incredibly Attractive and Sensitive Guy. If her best friend were in Ramona’s shoes right now, Casey would be taking full advantage of the empty flat and would probably be horizontal on the sofa with Incredibly Attractive and Sensitive Guy right about now. The mental image irritates Ramona.
“Ready to spill?” Ramona nods, sniffling. Ciarán plucks a napkin from the coffee table and hands it to her. Ramona gingerly wipes her nose and takes a deep breath. She straightens and tosses the napkin into the small trash can next to the couch.
“What do you want to know?”
Ciarán exhales and studies Ramona. She has let her hair fall into her face, hiding from him. He resists the urge to draw back the curtain of mahogany hair. He doesn’t need to do so to know that puffy eyes and a red face are veiled behind the fragrant hair. Instead, he stills the hand that is smoothing the creases in her cargo pants, weaving his fingers between hers.
“Tell me about Vala.”
“Gramma?” The surprise is evident in Ramona’s voice.
“If it’s too painful-”
“No.” Ramona says, watching Ciarán’s thumb run over the back of her hand, “It’s okay.” She takes another deep breath and lets it out.
“Her death was peaceful. She just went to sleep.” Ramona pauses, staring out the window at the dusky evening.
“When I woke up that night and the veil was all around me- not even knowing that it was the veil that I was sensing. It was… uncomfortable because it was disorienting. When I tried to get my bearings, I realized that I couldn’t see anything. And my hearing was not gone but muted, as if someone had turned up the white noise and tuned out everything else. I imagined, rather than saw, Gramma’s room in my head, at the bottom of the stairs. My body moved but I wasn’t aware of it until after…” Ramona breaks off with a ragged gasp. Her body bows and her words are spilling out now. “I took her, Ciarán. I took her and now she’s gone. I thought I was saving her. I though that if I could just reach her… But my touch, it- and she just SMILED at me.” This last part made Ciarán sit up a little straighter.
“She saw you?”
“Yes. She looked right at me. She-”
“Ramona, you didn’t take her.” Ramona looks up at him, startled.
“The Lost cannot see us. They sense nothing but whatever it is that prevents them from finding the veil. Your grandmother was on her way, love. She would have found the veil without you.” His hand runs through the hair at her face, smoothing it back behind her ear. “She was saying goodbye.” Ramona reflects on this for a moment before speaking hesitantly.
“I didn’t take her.” Although a statement, Ramona was clearly looking for confirmation.
The back of Ciarán index finger gently lifts her face to meet his gaze.
“You didn’t take her.”
Something shifted within her, a burden she didn’t know she’d carried was sloughed off with this knowledge. She hadn’t killed her grandmother. She was the last person to see Gramma on this side of the veil. Ciarán responds to Ramona’s low, almost inaudible whimper with a squeeze. Her trembling turned to shaking and it wasn’t until sound began to accompany the shaking, did Ciarán realize that Ramona was laughing. Loudly.
Ciarán stared for a moment at the incredible woman he had met only a week ago. His laughter joined hers, filling the darkened room. Eventually the laughter subsided and they simply sat quietly together. Ramona hadn’t even realized that she had slumped against Ciarán until, quite some time later, she found that his arms were around her.