I was in the Eighth Domain but the world was unusually effervescent. All the colors were blending into one another like some kind of watercolor painting in a dimly lit museum. I couldn’t feel the ground beneath my bare feet as I approached my house. Though the world was bright, there was a shadow that cast my home in a darkness I’d never seen, only felt.
“Mother?” I called.
I tried to take a deep breath but noticed how tight my dress was. I ran my hands across the corseted bodice that pulled my ribs in and gave me a figure I hadn’t seen in years. The material of the dress was stiff brocade and colored in pastels that matched the world around me.
I heard my name being called like someone was speaking to me from a hundred miles away and I had nothing but the wind to carry the sound towards me.
“Yes?” I asked and tried to adjust my dress. It was so uncomfortable, yet so familiar.
I got no response so I called out again, “What is it? Why am I here?”
With a rather childish huff, I shielded my eyes from the sun to look up again at my shaded house. The dark trim around the windows and doors appeared to be blackened, charred. Even the front door was a smoky semblance of the dark cherry wood I remembered.
“What’s happening?” I asked, but only to myself.
I took the porch steps one at a time. There were seven of them, solid under my feet. I had to pull the longer hem of my dress up towards my thighs to make it easier to see the next step in front of me before dropping it back down where it landed just below my knees.
When I pushed through the front door, I was met by my mother standing in the front parlor. I squinted to get a better look at the woman. The details of her face were blurred and smudged like an oil painting gone wrong. She looked like my mother but wasn’t an exact match.
I shook my head. “This isn’t my life anymore.”
My mother looked me up and down before reaching out. “I need you.”
I crossed my arms over the thick boning of my dress and took a step away. “No,” I said firmly and turned on my heel to go back into the open air, but found I was locked inside.
“I’m not well, Lia.”
The scene playing out became suddenly familiar. I knew where I was and what was happening.
“Stop bringing me here,” I said and my mother grew frustrated.
All at once, the blurry version of my mother disappeared and the world shifted until we were in the master bedroom and she was sunken into the feather mattress with a flattened white duvet pulled to her neck.
“Mother, come on,” I repeated and stalked to her side so that I could gently shake her arm but she was unmoving.
“Damn it,” I spoke into the vast room and—