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Auriel (4)

Sand shifted underfoot as Auriel made her way to the edge of the sea. Water cold as ice ebbed at her tiny feet, alabster white, speckled with grains coarse against her soft skin. 
She wriggled tiny toes together enjoying the feel of the sand. The quiet descended on her like a sledgehammer and she fell back letting the water wash over her filling her ears, her nose and her mouth with it salty goodness. 

Her pink dress ballooned around her and she giggled as she thumped thumped with her arms trying to get it to stay down. She welcomed the gray of the overcast day, enjoyed it's soft glow just before dusk. The beach was deserted; it always was, the cove hidden at the end of a treacherous path which only a handful of locals knew well enough to venture down, and seldom at sunset. It took her an hour to get there by train, and another hour's walk to reach the deserted shore.


Auriel made the journey once a week.

Auriel made the trip without fail.
Usually on a Monday.

It was Friday.

The day Auriel met Daph for the first time.

    ***************************************************


Auriel closed her eyes becoming one with the sea, her hair flowing out around her like a halo. She breathed in deeply taking in water becoming fluid, her form rippling, moulded by the tide. The whoosh of the ocean overwhelming in her ears, drowned out the anguish of a hundred wounds absorbed in that one meeting. Sand flowed between fabric and stitches, turning pink to sand, and along with it she became embedded in the ocean floor touching base with Mother Nature, plugging into Her healing source.


Auriel stayed in stasis till the sun cast it’s rosy glow along the horizon. She re-emerged as the golden ball disappeared; awaken; refreshed, her colours sparkling. She licked her lips, tasting salt. Hungry now she trailed her tongue along tapered fingers sucking deeply, tasting the earth and once again feeling whole.


Thoughts of Daphne seemed less draining now that Auriel's renewal was complete. She wandered over to the nearby rocks where her red shoes were perched and sat down letting the cool evening air brush over her.
Daphne had entered the reception area of the Table Bay Hotel that morning in a tizz, arriving late for the meet-and-greet part of the event. Auriel was struck by the muddy shade of brown emanating from Daphne, the gloom expanding over a metre around her shutting out the light. She had expected Daphne to be aglow with orange, instead it drained Auriel just looking at her. Auriel circled the dark-haired beauty with the red lips and blue eyes, her beauty matching the majesty of the setting. People at the event were captivated, drawn to her. Auriel wanted to escape, but she couldn’t leave, she was hosting the event and Daphne was the Keynote Speaker. She circled, meandering in and out of the crowd of 50, it wasn’t hard staying invisible in Daphne's presence.
50 eyes focused on Daphne.
50 souls vying for her attention.
50 shells mimicking her every move.


5 minutes to stage time.
Auriel moved in closer to introduce herself and give Daph her cue.
Daphne was standing off to one side looking at her cue cards. Auriel could hear her taking a deep breathe as she approached, heard a name escape ever so softly, like it was never uttered:
“Ben….”
Then again: “Ben…”
And with the name having been said and received by the universe, Daphne was enveloped by the most radiant glow, turning her into a rainbow.
Auriel was struck by the colours, it was so intense that it fed her very soul and she glided towards Daphne, reaching into the light. It lit a spark inside and a tear rolled down Auriel's cheek.
Daphne turned around, breaking the seal as she became aware of someone behind her.
She discarded thoughts of Ben as soon as she became aware of someone in her presence, putting her mask in place, her smile fixed, her light dimmed, the windows to her soul locked down.
“Hi,” she said on automatic,  her hand held out, the black of her sleeves covering half her hand in silk.
Auriel stepped back, the brown once again surrounding Daphne drawing all the energy from Auriel leaving her weak.
“Who’s Ben? “she asked, not able to help herself.
“None of your business, young lady, and you'd do well to remember that!”
Daphne was furious at herself; she felt exposed, vulnerable her demons once again roaming freely.
Auriel couldn’t muster the strength to challenge her. Instead she reached out her hand, and in her gentlest voice said: “Hi, I’m Auriel, I’m here to introduce you to your audience!”
Daphne took the hand offered, and allowed Auriel’s hand to linger in hers.
“You are a peculiar one, aren’t you, “Daph said, not quite sure what to make of her.
Daphne felt a wave of energy swoop over her, lifting her spirits and moving her forward with a chutzpah that she hadn’t felt in years.
Daphne stepped up to the podium and began to address her audience as the crowd fell silent, taking her in.

5 minutes later Daphne stepped off the podium to thunderous applause, her speech on "Cultivating Company Culture" hitting home with many of the executives at the symposium at a time disilluisionment amongst employees was at an all time high. She glanced furtively around looking for Auriel, brushing aside hands groping at her trying to draw her in.


Daphne saw the red patent leather shoes disappearing up the escalator out of view, and along with it her newfound hope. A feeling of dismay swept over her as she swept out of the hotel making her way home.
She didn't want to be alone and longed for Mary to be at the apartment to fuss over her.
"Do you want me to run you a bath, ma'am" she'd say, "the water will do you good, you'll see."
Daphne hurried to her car all the while knowing that nobody would be home to greet her.

*************************************************
"Hi Auriel!" the familiar voice coming from behind her said.
"Hi!" she said, reaching for her shoes.
"Ready to go?" he asked
She nodded grabbing onto his hands, rough, fisherman's hand. She looked at his leathery face by the glow of his torch and reached out to stroke his cheek.
"I'll show you the way," he said, "precious one."
Holding on tightly she followed him on red heels over treacherous terrain without faltering.
She had so much work to do.
And next time, she wouldn't run away.

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