DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: These are simply moments in time, things that might indeed have happened to Helena Wells. Perhaps not. As the old year fades and the new prepares to take its place, it seemed as good a time as any to write glimpses of what might have been. My thanks as ever to darandkerry for finding all my lost words and added spaces. And to corchen, for sorting me out when it comes to, amongst other things, Victorian undergarments. Any errors committed in clothing are mine alone. The titles of each section are taken from literary works and are applicable to the content of each section. Taking a leaf from corchen's book, anyone who can find the source(s) of the titles of each section gets a ficlet of her choice. I wish you all a happy, safe, prosperous, and blessedly peaceful New Year!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To Fewthistle[at]aol.com
Five Things that Might or Might Not Have Happened to Helena Wells
I. White Heart-flame of Polished Silver
One canvas sat with a deserted air on the small easel, a canning jar of muddied water and a small brush sitting forlornly on the ground below it. In one corner of the canvas was a patch of blue nearly the exact cerulean as the Kent sky, but the rest of the painting still dwelt only in the artist's imagination. At the other easel, Lucy sat, hair like the first blaze of autumn leaves, brush in hand. Her eyes strayed distractedly from her painting to the empty chair beside her. Helena had sighed, then dropped her brush with small splash into the jar, stretched her arms above her head, and walked away. The sun seemed dimmer since she left.
Helena had tired of painting, tired of pretending to care about the precise color of the grass or about the way the early morning sun filtered down through the thick cover of leaves. Nature was to be lived, not studied. A pair of cream colored boots lay abandoned on the graveled path that wound down through the back garden towards the meadow. A few yards farther down the path, where the grass had been shorn a bit too short, the hot summer sun turning the tips of the blades brown, a pair of pale ivory stockings and a taffeta petticoat littered the ground.
The blouse of white muslin and lace slipped from her shoulders with the faintest susurration; the muslin skirt fell to the ground, pooling around her feet, a puddle of milk against the bright green of the manicured lawn. She stepped over the puddle and kept walking, reveling in the feel of the tufted growth of grass between her toes and the bright yellow rays of sun on her skin. Behind her, she heard the snap of a twig and the faint rustle of long skirts and she smiled. By the time she reached the copse by the small pond, she had shed all the trappings of polite society, the warm breeze caressing her bare skin like the most tender of lovers. She turned, watching as Lucy made her way across the lawn, her step hesitant, eyes fixed on the expanse of green beneath her feet.
Helena waited until the girl was only a few yards away before she spoke. "Lucy. Look at me," she commanded in a low voice.
One, two, three heartbeats, then the girl looked up, cheeks flushed, blue eyes wide, though with fear or shock or desire, Helena wasn't certain. Helena reached up and released her hair from the tight chignon, the curtain of black silk flowing down over her shoulders, tickling her back. She held out a hand, one eyebrow raised in challenge, a knowing smile touching her lips as she waited for Lucy to respond. Ten heartbeats this time. As the girl crossed the short distance between them and slipped her hand into hers, the far-away bells of Canterbury began to ring.
II. The Quarrels of Popes and Kings
She hid herself in a corner of the veranda, in the shadow of the looming house, the winter air seeping in around the edges of her woolen wrap, sending goose flesh along the soft skin of her arms. She pulled the hood of the cloak tighter, cinching it under her chin. Even in the murky darkness of her hiding place, she could see her breath expelled into the night in soft clouds of moisture. The bright yellow light from the house lay across the wide part of the veranda, a golden lagoon that beckoned with the promise of warmth and sunlight. From where she stood, she could see quite well into the larger room, hear the cadence of voices and the clink of fine crystal.
Charles stood in the center of a large group of men, drinks in their hands, cigar smoke circling their heads, writhing into the air like snakes only to disperse into the pale gray haze that floated along the ceiling. His head was thrown back in laughter and she could hear it in her head, that deep, throaty chuckle, the one that seemed to flow up from somewhere deep inside him. A rather round, roly-poly of a man clapped him on the back and she watched him turn, grasp a fleshy hand. Only she could see in the slight flush along his cheeks the subtle hint of shame at his deception. Or perhaps she only imagined it in the quick, downward glance, in the self-deprecating shrug of his shoulders. To the rest of the world, he was the brilliant author, the man who envisioned a time machine.
She shivered in the chill air.
III. The Seeds of Time
The breaths came out in soft puffs of air. Helena sat and watched the gentle rise and fall of a narrow chest, the erratic motion of eyelids registering the secret code of dreams. She smoothed her hand along dark hair, cool as silk beneath her fingers, traced the gentle, sloping curve of an eyebrow. Christina sighed and turned over in her sleep, burrowing her face into the down of a pillow.
It was nearly four a.m. Earlier tonight, on the hunt for an artifact, Helena had stood in a dank alleyway, the rotten smell of sewage and the coopery scent of death nearly overwhelming, and gazed down at another child, someone else's baby. Those eyelids had been open as dead eyes gazed heavenward. That chest had not moved, stopped as it was by the jagged wound of a knife. Murdered for the few measly pence in her purse. Murdered for spite or simply for pleasure.
Sitting quietly on the corner of the bed, Helena said a silent prayer of thanksgiving for her blessings, and a plea for solace for a woman she did not know, who would never again sit at 4 a.m. and watch her child sleep.
IV. The Color of Its Countries
Myka sat in the high-backed Queen Anne, her feet tucked up under her, tucked into the edges of the thick cushions, head canted to the side, leaning against the cool leather of the wing. Behind the chair, a tall bronze floor lamp threw a circle of light across the hardwood floor and worn Persian rug. In Myka's lap was a book, a thin volume of poetry, the pages slightly yellowed and brittle. One slender arm lay bonelessly along the armrest; the other was bent at the elbow, as the fingers of one hand twined and twirled a lock of brown hair. She had been staring at one page for nearly half an hour, green eyes unfocused, as she worried her bottom lip between straight white teeth.
Helena lounged on the settee across the room, eyes half-closed, legs stretched out, crossed at the ankle, one arm bent behind her head, the picture of indolence, but she was far from relaxed. Every nerve in her body was attuned to each languid motion, each exhalation of breath from the woman on the other side of the parlor. The room was in shadow, with only a thin streak of yellow light that cut across the framed print on the far wall, giving to Icarus' fall the brilliance of color that no doubt Breughel intended. Helena could sympathize with the poor boy; seeking after heaven with only faith, hubris, and wings of feather and wax.
All she had was hubris.
"You don't have to stay in here just to keep me company, you know." Myka's voice sounded slightly rough from disuse.
Helena smiled, a warm, gentle smile, her eyes crinkling at the corners. "No, I don't. But I can think of nothing else I'd rather do. Unless you wish me to leave?"
"No!" Myka answered quickly. "I mean, don't feel like you need to leave on my account."
Helena made a show of stretching her arms above her head, trying to hide how much the alacrity of the reply had widened her grin. She settled back against the cushions. "You've been on that one page for ages now. Read it to me?" she asked inveiglingly.
Myka hesitated a moment, her eyes dropping to page. She let out the breath she had been holding, a sharp exhale that echoed in the quiet room. Finally, she cleared her throat and began to read aloud, her voice somehow richer and more compelling than Helena had ever heard it.
"somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond/any experience, your eyes have their silence "
V. Face of All the World
Helena watched the younger woman as she slid her jeans to the floor, insecurity and doubt coloring every line of her body as she slowly disrobed, clouded green eyes never leaving Helena's face. They had been kissing for hours, limbs tangled as they reclined on Myka's bed, a position from which Helena had been loathe to move. It had been Myka who had risen, pushing herself back from Helena's arms to stand and begin to slowly undress, the tip of her tongue moving across suddenly dry lips, eyes dark with emotion, dark with desire and something else, something Helena wasn't quite ready to name.
Helena stood as well, one hand snaking out to trace the curve where waist met hip, her fingers ghosting along Myka's skin. Helena leaned towards Helena, her eyes never leaving her full lips. As her mouth covered Myka's, she heard the soft sweet sound of surrender, as Myka's arms came up to circle her waist, pulling her closer. Helena could feel the warmth of her body even through the layer of her clothes, as Myka's hands made a slow pilgrimage up slender shoulders to tangle in luxurious hair, urging that wonderful mouth closer to her own.
Helena pulled back a little in her embrace, reaching up to grasp Myka's wrists. She brought Myka's hands to her face, placing a gentle kiss on each of her palms.
"Lie down," Helena told her, voice a bit unsteady.
Myka sat down on the edge of the mattress and, pushing herself backwards, reclined against the pillows. Looking at Myka with hooded eyes, Helena climbed slowly unto the bed, moving up on her hands and knees like a cat stalking its prey, until she was directly over Myka's body, her jean clad leg nestled between Myka's bare thighs, her hands on either side of Myka's head. She rested all her weight on her arms, her body not quite touching Myka's, a situation that Myka intended to remedy immediately.
Reaching up, she slid her hands down the length of Helena's back, feeling the rich, soft cotton of her sweater and the taut muscles of her back. Slipping her hands up under the sweater, Myka urged her down, pulling insistently, as her own body arched up to meet her, the overwhelming need to feel the weight of that body, to touch the soft curves making it difficult to breath. Another thought delayed her however, as it occurred to her that there were far too many layers between them.
"Take the sweater off," Myka urged, her hands already pushing the garment up in an attempt to remove it.
Laughing, Helena sat back on her knees, languidly pulling the sweater up over her head, tossing it with one smooth motion to the floor.
"Anything else you'd like?" She asked teasingly, a lazy smile playing over her full lips.
Running her tongue over her own, suddenly dry lips, Myka said in a coaxing tone, "Take off the jeans, too. And the bra. And don't forget the panties."
"Does that mean it's ok if I leave on my socks?" Helena grinned at her.
"You lucked out. I don't have a foot fetish so the socks are entirely up to you. But the rest is non-negotiable," Myka replied, reaching out a hand to grasp the waistband of Helena's jeans, attempting to undo the button.
Helena quickly swatted her hand away. "Thank you, but I've been dressing and undressing myself since I was three. I think I can manage," she told her playfully.
She reached down and began to remove her jeans, stepping off the bed to slide them, along with her underwear and socks, to the floor, kicking them aside to crawl back onto the bed, clad now in just her bra. She again balanced her body over Myka's, her thick, black hair falling forward to frame her face.
"May I?" Myka asked, not waiting for an answer as her fingers swiftly found the clasp on Helena's bra, slipping the straps down over her shoulders and arms. Pushing back a little, Helena tossed it into the growing pile of clothing on the floor.
"Happy now?" she whispered, her hands sliding down the sides of Myka's body, leaving trails of sensation.
"Now come here," Myka said, her voice a trifle urgent.
Helena acquiesced, lowering herself gently until their two bodies melded into one, the silk of skin, the softness of breasts all merging into a new being. The feel of warm satin everywhere, on beneath her, under her hands, enclosing her was almost too much for Helena as her senses began to short-circuit, a shuddering gasp escaping her lips. She slid her hands along the smoothness of Myka's arms, gripping her shoulders to pull her closer, one hand sliding up to cup one curved cheek, bringing her face down until their lips met, naming the emotion in Myka's eyes. In her own.
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