xvi. Been Burned By Her Before

Back at the Payne, Eva stood nearby watching as Aly waded out into the river with Seven’s skeleton cradled in her arms.

She let his crackling bones float on the surface as the reflection of the full moon rippled along the top of the water.

She hunched over him with her toothy maw open, lifting his head so that the last shreds of his melted lips met hers.

“What are you doing?” Eva whispered to herself, as Aly breathed out, sending a red hot fire into his cage of bones—illuminating his frame in a light.

“NOOO!!! …” Eva cried out in alarm.

Seven’s moribund bones suddenly spasmed into life several times—as his frame danced up in a swirling fire—now riddled by chaotic sunspots—until he was finally aglow in an otherworldly supernova—and Aly was blown back toward shore.

As Aly waded out of the water unharmed, back toward land—Seven’s glowing body sank underwater behind her—dousing itself, letting up a great steam.

“Aly, my God … what … are you?”

“Put it out of mind for now—and I will explain later. Right now Seven needs us. Take my hand … We must focus our prayers together for his full resurrection.”

Just then there came a great rumbling and the ground beneath their feet shook in a series of tremendous tremors so that they lost their balances.

They embraced each other to stabilize themselves as they concentrated.

“Pray for him Eva, put your thoughts his way—for he will hear us—and it will bring him back. Summon him back to us.”

Eva closed her eyes and let her mind wander back to memories of skating with Seven in Victory Park. She let her heart return to those days he recalled so fondly.

Then the Payne turned blood red and began to boil over—as a great coiling funnel of crimson water rose up toward the moon—out of which rose Seven’s body, still aglow from Aly’s red fire—arms outstretched—spinning in upward spirals—until he was so high he was almost out of sight—where he suddenly froze there hovering—just as the water fell back to the ground—and the river grew resettled.

“Aly …” Eva squeaked. “What is happening―” She focused on other memories now, of her and Seven in New London, taking a saunter across campus greenspace, down Philosopher’s Walk.

But her thoughts betrayed her, as she began to recall the bad times. In this case, they had been fighting all day, due to Seven’s jealousy over one of her new boyfriends. In those days Seven was always reading the worst into everything, and he would get into negative headspaces. One minute he would be accusing her of cheating, then the next begging for forgiveness for being so rude.

And it would go on that way, back and forth, until that day it drove her to the threshold of her tolerance, and she had to finally set him straight. He tried to argue with her that she was spending too much time with other guys, that all other men had true intentions other than friendship.

But she would take offense at this, and this final time that he made his pitch, she had let him have it.

“It’s not me, it’s because you’re stupid,” she said said, pointing to his temple. “Up here dumby.”

Well that had finally hit a nerve with him, where he realized something had to be wrong with how he was thinking, and so he stopped, never again to be jealous.

However, her taking a stand ultimately backfired on her, for forever afterward he became more aloof, to the point that she no longer felt desired and began to harbor a new jealousy all herself.

Now suddenly, these true and honest memories, not just rosy but real, roused Seven’s heart and spirit, triggering a loud thunderclap. Behind the fire enveloping his body they could see that he was regenerating his organs and flesh.

In a matter of moments he had fully reconstituted his corporeal form, and as the last of Aly’s fire flickered out, he plummeted back down once more to the Payne, plunging in feet first—fully dousing his supernatural glow, resurfacing reborn.

Meanwhile, at that precise moment, back at Elder’s Valley, Olin closed his eyes and leapt off the edge into the silver fog. He would fall into Her spell just as Seven returned to the fold of the living and Eva.

It turned into a torturously slow descent—as if he were suddenly featherweight—as he tumbled through iridescent striations for what seemed eternity. The wind burned his skin alive.

There was a low hum—and he heard Faye: ‘Wa-ha-ha-HA …! HA-ha-HA …!!!

‘You FOOL!!! Falling for Me like you were some kind of pathetic mortal!!!’ the Silverskin cried—voice echoing off the cliff ridges above—and the river banks all around—bouncing all about the valley.

Olin’s heart sank—to realize that he had been burned by Her before—and now here he was falling for Her all over again—literally this time—and for the last time.

Then and there, he decided that if he survived this night―he would never allow Her to come between him and his good brother ever again—no matter what.

Then the mist suddenly opened up—his descent accelerated to full speed—and he slammed hard into the silver brook below—as his thoughts faded to black.

When he came to, the silver brook and returned to normal—and he lay in the dirt upon its bank, broken and bloody. He wondered why She had finally spared him, after going to such lengths to seduce him into killing himself. He did not understand that Seven had just been resurrected—and so Eva’s mind had thus become distracted.

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