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Maria was sitting in her lounge room looking into the green, still overgrown garden. A candle was burning. She watched the flickering light as it cast its mystery around the room unsystematically. I wonder how much of Amira is in me by now and how much of Maria remains, she thought. One of the flame shadows subtly changed its shape and formed a face.

“It has been a long time since I spoke to you in the Homeland asking if you would be willing to enter Maria’s body as the Advisors had asked.” It was Milyaket, Keeper of the Vastandamine Forest. “I told you that, at first, you would recall Maria’s life, experiences, and preferences as if they were your own. Gradually, you would start to hear Amira’s voice. That would begin the transition from Maria to Amira. A slow transition was less stressful on both you and your Earth parents. The transition has come to an end. Maria will no longer exist in this domain.”

“What does that mean in practical terms?” asked Maria for once having a practical thought before any other, perhaps, because it sounded like it was a life and death issue.

“Your questions will be answered more easily in the Homeland,” said Milyaket. “We want you to lay your head on the lounge, breathe in slowly, and as you breathe out we will gently take your soul with us.”

The next morning, on the way to work, Farkas pulled up at Maria’s house. He walked to her door with the box from her mother. This box weighs a ton, he thought. How many preserves does one woman need? Maria’s front curtains were open and he could see her resting. However, she did not stir even after he rang the doorbell numerous times. He put the box down and tentatively walked around the back. The door was not locked and so he walked in. Maria was unconscious but alive. He could not get her to wake up but she didn’t seem to be in pain or even disturbed. She looked quite peaceful. He didn’t have any idea what could be wrong. He decided that the quickest option was to take her to the hospital himself.

At the hospital, Maria was put on a drip and numerous monitors and Farkas was told to ring her closest relatives. He rang the cafe because that was the only number he had. A stranger answered the phone. When Farkas asked to speak to Lucy he was told that, sadly, Lucy had died peacefully in her sleep. He was also told that Lenny had been given such a shock on his wife’s passing that his heart condition flared up and he was now in Waldmeer Intensive Care. The woman asked what it was that Farkas wanted. He told her that it was nothing, thanked her for the information, and hung up.

Farkas felt at a loss as to what to do. He left the hospital telling the nurse he would return later. He left a message in Gabriel and Charlie’s letterbox, knowing that they would let people know about Maria. Lenny never did find out about his daughter. Not in this dimension, anyway.

A few days later, Farkas remembered that he had left Lucy’s box on Maria’s front step. He drove there and took it inside. He opened the birthday present. It was a cushion that Lucy had embroidered. A note was pinned to it. Maria, dear, I found this saying in one of your books that is still here on the bookshelf. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what it means but I kept thinking about it and it ended up almost embroidering itself on the cushion. Farkas held the cushion to the light. It read,

As you release, so shall you be released. Forget this not, or Love will be unable to find you.

He wasn’t sure what it meant either but Maria would know.

“Your mother made you this,” he said to Maria when next he visited the hospital. Maria was silent, of course. “You will like it,” he added. He put it next to her head. He mostly visited the hospital late at night when no one was around. The night nurses at the desk tried to get him to fill out the visitor’s forms but he always made some joke and kept walking.

“You haven’t filled out the visitor’s form,” called out a particularly officious, older nurse as he was leaving the floor. “Look here, young man, you have to give me information about your relationship to the patient.”

Farkas smiled at being called a young man. He continued walking and said over his shoulder, “Write that I am her brother.”

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