DISCLAIMER: I have no idea who owns the rights to Silent Hill, but it certainly isnít me.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Fading to White
By Carola "Ryûchan" Eriksson
Some things were easier to ignore than others.
The way the world had turned white, bathed in that unearthly but gentle light that stemmed from the mist obscuring the world beyond her lawn was such a thing... on some level Rose was aware of the change and the reason for it, but with all that had happened she just did not care. She had Sharon, they were home and they were safe, that was all that mattered.
Rose just... accepted. This was her existence now.
She accepted that although she cooked and they ate, the refrigerator in her kitchen never ran out of food, always somehow holding exactly the thing Rose would be looking for. TV and radio had all the music or movies mother and daughter could want, but never a single news broadcast, talkshow or even commercial break. Well, the news were overrated anyway.
Even the internet connection on the laptop was... select, to say the least. It was of no use to either of them anymore, unless of course they wanted to buy something. That, too, was accepted without question, that whenever Sharon wanted a new videogame or a new toy, or when Rose wanted new whatever item, though that in itself was rare, they just opened up that laptop and placed an order. The packages would be on their doorstep the next morning without anyone having approached the house, and without even the smallest mention of payment. It did not matter.
Sharon seemed happy, and that was really all that mattered to Rose. Yes, when Sharon played in the backyard Rose could hear laughter and play from two children, and when Rose looked out the window at the white-washed scene she would see two dark little figures, but it was not something that brought fear. Perhaps it should have, if Rose did not know with such absolute certainty that this fragment of Alessa, this ghost that appeared whenever Sharon wanted a friend, would never hurt them.
Rose smiled and waved at the children, and two sets of tiny hands waved back.
What was harder to ignore and harder to accept was how every trace of memory of Christopher was fading rapidly from Rose's mind. Not disappearing, exactly, but fading... and what bothered Rose the most was that she felt nothing really about it.
It was just that she could no longer recall his face. His voice was gone from her memories as well, his interests, what made him happy or angry... all faded into white nothingness, just like his image in the pictures on the walls first faded and then disappeared, leaving only Sharon and Rose. A careful mention of him to Sharon confirmed that the girl, too, no longer recalled her father. Rose never brought the subject up again.
It was not that that Rose grieved the loss, or that she missed him, but there was a lingering sense of guilt that suggested Rose should indeed care more that she had to concentrate hard to even remember her husband's name anymore. From her memories, no matter how vague all things connected to him had become, Rose could still draw the conclusion that secretly, in her heart, Rose had wanted to leave her husband long ago, and only stayed because of Sharon.
Still, the process was... eerie. And as Rose walked through her white-painted rooms searching for something to occupy herself with while little Sharon was out playing, she could not help but feel somewhat lonely.
She cleaned, she read, she occupied her time with many small things, and when Sharon parted with her playmate for the day, all Rose's time and attention was focused on her daughter. For most part Rose was quite content, it was just during those solitary hours that the unnamed thing lurked at the back of her mind. Sharon seemed quite happy with just her mother and her mirror playmate around, and that was all that mattered, surely.
As Rose watched her daughter through the window a phrase came to mind, along with the voice that had first spoken this adage by which Rose then lived her life.
"Mother is God in the eyes of a child."
The burst of emotion, of aching loneliness and longing, that accompanied the memory was no white-washed and gentle thing, in no way faded to the point of being ignored. Short, dishevelled blonde hair, a strong jawline, intense and determined eyes that still sparkled...
Cybil had spoken those words. Cybil Bennett, police officer and stoic, self-sacrificing hero extraordinaire... Rose had barely known the woman, yet she missed her greatly. Why was that?
Rose admired much about Cybil, now that she could allow herself to take the time to think of these things, like her nobility, loyalty and sense of justice... she had also found the woman attractive, something she suspected had not been one-sided, but there was no point in speculating in such things now. More surprisingly perhaps, given their short acquaintance, Cybil was a person, perhaps even the only person, that Rose trusted with Sharon. Given the circumstances and manner in which the policewoman had died, Rose's felt her trust in the woman had been more than justified.
Cybil, whose hands were strong and warm.
The thought crossed her mind that it would have been nice if somehow Cybil could have been there with them, with her and Sharon. How strange, that thought had never even occurred to her in regards to... Rose tried to recall the name but for the moment it eluded her... her husband.
Sharon's call as she came back inside the house disrupted Rose's ruminations, as if the pang of longing and loneliness had never been. Dinner was prepared and eaten, followed by the unmistakable sounds of a happy little girl soundly trouncing her amused mother in some game that was just a trifle too loud and a trifle to colourful for an adult to fully grasp.
As Rose walked towards the bathroom, still smiling as she listened to her little girl temporarily finding a more challenging opponent in the game's computer, she passed the section in the hallway where the family photos were hung. Her destination was instantly forgotten.
There was once again a face in the pictures where Rose's husband had once been. A smiling figure with blonde hair, whose arms were wrapped safely, yes even lovingly, around both Rose and Sharon in some pictures... the images were not clear, as if they had yet to congeal into the shapes they would ultimately take, and so it was hard to tell just who this figure was just by looking. Once things was abundantly obvious though...
It was not a man.
Compelled by something unclear, Rose walked around the house, starting by the front door. Had these things always been there? Had there not been a potted plant on the floor in the corner by the door, rather than the leather boots and motorcycle helmet Rose saw there now? Was that glass-framed box containing an old police officer's badge always standing on the ornate chest in the hallway, and had that diploma always hung above it?
Rose couldn't tell anymore, but there was that eerie feeling again that suggested that these things were out of place, that although they had always been there Rose had also just seen them for the first time.
A small guest bedroom turned out to have training equipment instead of a bed, and Rose wondered why she had thought it would be otherwise, the upstairs bathroom had an extra set of towels and another toothbrush standing in the same cup as Rose's own.
The bedroom looked as it should when Rose entered it, clean and crisp and the two sets of pyjamas were neatly folded on the usual spot on the dresser. Nothing out of place. The closet divulged two sets of wardrobe, one belonging to Rose herself and the other... Rose touched a woman's shirt too large to be her own and wondered why she couldn't seem to decide whether that part of the closet should have been empty or not.
This time Rose's thoughts were interrupted not only by Sharon calling for her mother, but also by the unusual sound of an engine coming closer up the road outside.
As she hurried downstairs the noise came up to the house and then stopped, replaced by faint footsteps in the gravel path up to the door, sounds Rose shouldn't have been able to hear so well, especially over the deafening sound of her heart pounding.
Sharon sped past Rose on the way to the door as Rose slowed to a near standstill once she saw the silhouette in the glass panes of the front door. Her heart beat so hard in her chest that Rose felt light-headed as she stared in enrapture when the door opened and revealed what the opaque white glass had obscured. Tall, blonde hair, a form Rose found to be quite impressive in uniform...
"DADDY!" Sharon squealed happily and flung herself towards the person that crossed the threshold.
Daddy? Rose wondered.
There was a dull thud as Cybil quickly tossed her work-helmet on the floor to be able to catch the girl that jumped at her. The smile and enthusiastic hug that followed was heartfelt and just as happy as Sharon's own.
"Hey there pumpkin!" Cybil swung the girl lightly before letting her back on her feet. "Been good to your mommy today?"
The 'yes' given in reply came out giggling as Cybil tickled the child a little and mussed her hair before letting her go. When she straightened and focused her attention on Rose, Rose was strangely relieved to see a slight touch of confusion in the other woman's eyes that matched her own.
Rose closed the distance, wrapped her arms around Cybil's neck and pulled her in for a nicely enthusiastic welcome kiss. Cybil did not take long to throw her arms around Rose in return and dip her for a longer, deeper kiss that was equal parts sweetness and a promise of more, later.
"Welcome home, darling." Rose breathed as she regained her footing, trying not to blush at the giggling of the young audience that was no doubt rolling her eyes and making faces at her parents.
Cybil grinned playfully but her eyes and tone of voice conveyed a deeper, unspoken, meaning to her reply. "Thank you."
With Cybil's arm around Rose the two of them walked along towards the living room, prompted by a bouncing girl who was explaining the greatness of her latest favourite game and how her mother had been too easy to defeat, laughter and jokes traded by the tallest and the smallest of the household. Rose leaned happily against her wife, feeling some unnamed and half-forgotten anxiety just melt away in the warmth of Cybil's arms.
Yes, Cybil was warm. And so was Rose, at long last.
Outside the mist grew thicker and tighter, announcing the onset of night in this small and singularly peaceful corner of Silent Hill.
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