She got married in a field of yellow sunflowers, each tilting up towards the sun as if they all yearned to catch the almost golden rays of the heat.
Every time she thinks back upon that day she sees it through a haze as if time has made her memory dusty. She can't recall who attended or what exactly was said but she remembers the soft cover of the Bible that she carried instead of flowers. She remembers the way her future husbands hair was parted to the left instead of to the right like he normally wore his hair. She recollects perfectly the smile of the small boy who had broken away from his mother's grasp to teeter down the aisle and she remembers the fields of golden flowers that stretched around them, rolling like waves when the wind blew.
It's a good memory. Not all the days after held memories as good as that one.
Children ran past her house on the way to school every morning. Some carried brown paper lunch bags, others beat a tattoo on the tin of their silver lunch boxes. Some children trudged forward as if impeded by thick mud swirling up to their knees while others clumsily jumped rope. Names were shouted out in glee or warning. They were all beautiful -
And none of them were hers.
Cassandra blew a thin ring of smoke out of her mouth, aimed at the window. It only blocked her vision for a moment before it cleared, reminding her once again of that damned word. Barren.
Smashing the glowing end of the cigarette into an ashtray she didn't look down to realize how close her fingertips had gotten to the still glowing embers until they bit at her tender skin. She cried out and jumped back, letting go of the curtain, shrouding her livingroom in semi-darkness. Several seconds of panicked blowing cooled the skin and made her lightheaded; trembling, she reached out to pull the curtains back again. This time all she saw was a single boy, head down, kicking a rock.
Suddenly his head swung around to face her window and Cassandra almost let the curtain go, feeling ashamed at being caught. It was only the boy's bright smile that stopped her, he gave a short wave which she hesitantly returned before the boy continued his walk towards the school. She watched from her window until sunshine poured through the glass, momentarily blinding her.
On the morning they buried her husband, Cassandra sat alone in the funeral parlor fingering the hem of her dark blue dress and eyeing the shiny brass of the handles that adorned his coffin. The walls of the room were a light cream color and the overhead light was dim but it was the lifeless classical music, the chair that she sat in and the cold temperature that made her uncomfortable.
The chair under her was soft in the seat but supported by a wooden back that bit into the muscles surrounding her spine causing her to sit up straighter than she normally would, as if to encourage her to look dignified.
She touched the gold ring on her left hand, not looking at it. It was broad and worn so one could no longer see the groves that once decorated the surface. Her husband had offered to have it fixed once, return it to it's former glory. She had laughingly told him that it was worn and serviceable, like their marriage but it was something that she would never change. She had meant it then, all those years ago in their kitchen as she washed dishes and he dried them. Now she wished that she had agreed to let him fix the pattern that had been engraved in the ring; somewhere in her heart she thought if the ring had been restored, she would have had more years to wear it down again, more years with him.
Tiredly she pushed herself to her feet and walked the short distance to the box that was highlighted in a soft light. Bending, she kissed the polished wood and smiled lovingly. In the coffin where her husband lay, she had already placed a sunflower. One she had dried and kept from their wedding day.
Mrs. Fordman had asked her to watch Whitney for a moment as she took care of another customer and Cassandra was never one to pass up the chance to sit with a child. Whitney had chatted about his third grade class for several minutes, touching her arm with sticky fingers. She had been content to listen to his voice, melodic with sweet rises and falls as he told her about the class hamster, Bubba and she had laughed as he bent down to untie and retie her shoelaces to show off. She reached out to touch his hand in thanks when she was suddenly looking out on a barren landscape with a young man in battle fatigues running across it, holding a gun.
The young man was golden: his skin, his hair, so bright and pure in contrast to the raw and beaten look on his face. And even though she could not feel the heat, she knew it was burning from the long lines of sweat that cut through the dirt on his face. It took her several moments to realize that he was being chased by a large mob of people in football uniforms, dark skinned men in fatigues of a different color and a long, dark shadow.
Cassandra gasped as he tripped suddenly, landing face down in the dirt. When he was able to get back on his feet, he was holding a necklace, with a bright green gem. He looked down at the piece of jewelry, as if surprised that it was there. The surprise melted into a soft smile and he did not notice the mob advancing quickly. There was no time for warning as they fell upon him, attacking him viciously and bringing him to his knees.
"Miss Cassandra, are you okay?" Short fingers touched his cheek as she gasped for breath, trying to dispel the ache of loss that had settled in the middle of her chest. She reached out for the chubby body and pulled him in tightly.
"Yes, Whitney." She muttered shakily. "I'm fine."
The sound of feet pounded as the woman ran on a sandy beach, the sun barely breaking the horizon off to the left. Golden pale sky mated with what was left of the gray night and stood in watch of the cerulean sea that it had risen above.
The woman's tennis shoes sank deeper with every step she made. The hard body and even harder facial features of the woman is such a drastic contrast to the girl that she once was; the girl that she is now. Hair that Cassandra had been told was dirty blonde is now white blonde in color and the woman's arms and legs have now matured and filled out into intimidating muscles defining the woman's slight frame.
There is nothing but angry determination on her face as she pumps her arms and legs harder and faster across the beach, a large golden shield carried in her right hand. It's a ridiculous sight as the woman slows to a stop in front of a bald man who smiles slyly at her. There are no words exchanged between the two of them as they stand for awhile in the breaking sunrise. Finally there is just movement as the bald man reaches out and turns the woman until they are both facing Cassandra. He pushes the woman in front and she holds her shield up crouching low to the ground, guarding the man at her back. Cassandra jumps slightly as they both look up at her and grin. There is another nudge from the man and the woman suddenly sprints in Cassandra's direction, pulling a long sword out of nowhere and pointing it forward.
The man opens his mouth and yells, "Mercy is not her strong point."
"Cassandra?" The hand holding hers tightened as another arm came up to grasp her shoulder. "Are you okay?"
Cassandra shakes her head "Sorry Amy, I must have stumbled over something"
Amy pulls back slightly and they continue walking. "Did I tell you what he did the other day? I was outside doing my homework and he walking around the grounds and helped me with a calculus problem that I had; he's so amazing..."
She had already known something about his future when she reached out to touch his hand. She hadn't been expecting fields of sunflowers though, so much like her wedding day all those years ago. Fields of gold with a young man in white standing in the middle of them. His suit was as blinding as the robes that angel's must be given to wear when they come to earth and Cassandra smiled as he bent down to smell one of the flowers.
Her heart skipped erratically as his gloved right hand came up to caress the petals of the flower and the next breath she tried to take stuck in her chest.
The boy, and he was a boy despite his posturing, pulled his hand back and watched amused as the flower began to wilt and blacken. Like a wave, it hit the flower next to it and the one next to that one until the entire field began to die.
Cassandra tried to take another breath and looked down, her eyes widening as she realized that the now dead field was nothing but blackened bones and scorched earth. She looked up at the bald boy who was now staring at the sky. She followed his gaze upwards to see white clouds turn red and fat drops plummet down to the earth staining his pure white suit a deep red. Her throat closed off and her arms went numb.
Her heart slowed as she realized that this was destiny; this was the part that she would play in the sum of the world. Her death would serve as last warning to a young man who would have no idea of what he was being warned against. Whatever you do is up to you and she would not be around to reassure him of that. The rain of blood poured down covering her face, covering his hands, covering his figure and making him look like a demon.
If she had never agreed to touch him, to see his future, his outcome would've been different and she now understood this. With all her abilities she had never been able to see that her death would contribute to the creation of a monster.
Come back when you're ready, she had told him. She hadn't been ready.
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