Natural Cycle. Short Story.

Sandra was wearing a long skirt and a light blouse, despite the chill of the day. She stood near a large, old oak tree, waiting. She was meeting someone today, and though she knew they would be exactly on time, she liked to be a little early herself. It gave her time to watch the people in the park. The woman with the stroller, walking along the path, the old man sitting on the bench, a flock of birds eating the seeds he was throwing out for them. A young jogger, running in a steady rhythm. She took a deep breath of the cool, crisp air. It was coming into spring time, flowers were starting to raise their heads, getting ready to bloom. The trees, naked and exposed would soon be coated in leaves once more. It was always such a lovely time of year. She placed one had against the oak and closed her eyes, the bark held a faint chill but beneath that there was a warmth, a promise of life yet to come.

Sandra started to walk towards the centre of the clearing, ahead of her she could see Polly doing the same thing. A small smile appeared as Polly waved at her, Sally returned the wave, just as enthusiastically. They met in the exact centre and stood apart form each other, not hugging, not touching.
“How have you been?”
“Quite well, the break was much needed, I feel refreshed and rested.”
“Good, I’m glad. I’m looking forward to it myself. It has been a long few months. When we first started I never realised how much of a burden this would be on both of us.”
Sandra shrugged, “It must be done though. We made our choice.”
Polly nodded, “True. But don’t you wish we had made a different one sometimes?”
Sandra looked away for a moment, “Honestly? Yes. Sometimes I do. But we cannot change it now. Is there anything I should be aware of?”
“No, everything has been completed and handled.”
Sandra nodded, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.”
A cool wind blew over them both. Sandra shivered slightly.
Polly, who was dressed in a pair of jeans and a light jacket smiled at her, “You never one who would dress with the weather.”

Sandra smiled and nodded slightly, “It used to drive mother mad.”
“I remember well.” Polly smiled.

To anyone observing they would look like sisters at best, their hair was different, Sandra’s was long and red, Polly’s was short and a white blonde. They held themselves differently, Sandra was relaxed, Polly was upright and tense. Few people would realise they were identical twins.
“How has mother been?”
“She misses you.” Polly sighed, “she has been…off these last few weeks. I don’t know what is wrong with her. Her mind seems slower, her body weaker. She insists she’s fine, but I can see she is not.”

Sandra nodded, “I feared something like this might happen soon. Do you think there is anything we can do?”
“I don’t know. I have been looking into it, but people have not been very helpful.”
Sandra smiled sadly, “Have they ever?”
“True. I just thought that perhaps, for mother they might do something.”
“No. I’m afraid you were too optimistic.”
Polly laughed, high and clear, “That is something I’ve never been accused of being before.”
“Well, it had to happen eventually, didn’t it?”
“We will find a way to help her. We always have before.”
“This time could be different.”
“It always is. It’s almost time.”
Sandra nodded, they each took a deep breath and took the final step, wrapping their arms around each other in a hug. As noon struck they kissed each other lightly on the cheek. When they stepped back from one another, they looked different. Sandra was holding herself tightly, Polly had relaxed a little.
“I don’t envy you Sandra. I look forward to my time of freedom.”
“Six months until we will meet again.”
Polly nodded, “Thank you for taking the burden. I love you.”
“I take it willingly, just as I will give it willingly when it is time again. I love you too, sister.”

Polly turned and walked from the clearing. Sandra stayed where she was standing, feeling the power thrum through her body. She could feel it, singing in her veins, the power and gifts of summer. She turned and looked at the old oak tree, as she watched a few small green buds began to grow. The chill seemed to fade from the air. Already the power felt like too much, but she would get used to it, she always did. The power would grow with summer and wane as winter approached. Then, it would be passed back to Polly, the only way to ensure balance between the two. They had agreed, long ago to this life. There was no was no real choice in the matter. They would continue as they always had or all things would end. Someday, perhaps soon, perhaps a long way off, something would change, it always did, and someone new would take their place. Sandra didn’t know when it would happen, but she hoped it would happen soon. She missed her sister, she missed her mother. She wanted to spend time with both of them again, even if it was only for a few short weeks as their bodies aged and died. Others of their kind could not die, would not understand the wish for death, the wish for release, but it was part of the natural cycle. The others had no burdens, they could frolic and plot and play at war. A few of their kind might recognise the desire, even if they themselves couldn’t understand it. The oldest of them, the ancient, the ones who were old when Sandra and Polly took up the power they now controlled. They had great power, and they had endless tasks, but they would never be free. Sandra and Polly would welcome death as they welcomed the gift of power and with that they would finally be free of the cycle.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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