~~~~((~~~(( THE ROSE GARDEN ))~~~))~~~~

From the memoirs of Chiba Mamoru, as re-told to Pandora Diane MacMillan

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"Mystery glows in the rose bed, the secret is hidden in the rose." -Farid ud-din Attar, 12th
Century Persian poet.

CHAPTER 10: A Locket And A Handkerchief

Part 5: The Locket
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Well, we won, I thought to myself. And I somehow managed not to let Usagi hear Mamoru's voice. I should be feeling good, or at least, relieved, about that. But I don't. I don't ...

In fact, I felt suddenly very weary. It was like my legs wouldn't carry me any more. In the darkness of the night. and the brightness of the moon, I sat down at a picnic table at the edge of a nearby park. The voices of Sailors Moon, Mercury, Mars and Jupiter drifted away in the distance. Guess they are going home. When Sailor Moon transforms back to Usagi, and she finds herself in her pyjamas again, will she be embarrassed? No, not Usagi. Not impulsive, reckless, wonderful Usagi. Rei will probably tell her off, and so will the very prim and proper Luna cat. But Usagi won't listen to them. Well, she wouldn't be her, if she ever listened. Never change, Usagi, never change.

Damn. I can't stop thinking about her, even now. Why do I do this to myself? I felt more weary than ever. Why don't I go home then? But I felt, somehow, weak in the knees, and I stayed at the picnic table. I stared up at the glowing moon for a moment, and in my mind, I drifted off...to nowhere.

There seemed to be a white flash at the corner of my eye. I almost ignored it, too sunk in my own thoughts to even pay much attention. Then the white glowing light came slowly nearer to me, drifting oh so slowly across the park, seemingly not touching the ground. I still didn't care. I had room in my mind to care about one thing, and one thing only: Usagi.

At last, the glowing light was before me, and I saw a figure within it: a tall lady, all in white. She reminded me somehow of my dream princess, but she wasn't a young girl. She was a mature, ethereal, very beautiful lady, with dazzling white hair in two long odangos. And I could partially see through her, like she wasn't there at all!

She spoke. "This is yours, I think." And with that, she raised a long stick she was carrying aloft, and this little gold locket materialized out of thin air, and gently landed on the picnic table. TING! And the little locket settled on the picnic table in front of me.

"Oh no, ma'am," I protested. "This isn't mine. I never had anything like this."

She was still speaking. But her lips weren't moving at all. " I took this from you once. But only to be sure it wouldn't become lost." she said.

"No ma'am, you're mistaken. I didn't lose this." I was starting to wonder why she was so insistent about this locket being mine.

"And do you remember everything you've lost? Everything?" She looked at me with icy blue eyes, an intense gaze I could not avoid.

No, I thought, not everything. There is so much I don't remember, so many blanks in my head where my memories are supposed to be. And I fell silent.

"You still refuse to accept the locket?" the white lady asked. "Well, what if I were a member of your family, and I said, here, take this. Could you in honour refuse to take something offered to you by a member of your family?"

"Ma'am, I've never seen you before!" I cried. "You are kind to want to offer me this locket, but it's not mine, and you're not my family." She is mad, I thought. Beautiful, and utterly mad.

"I was *going* to become part of your family once," the white lady replied. Her ice blue eyes were very sad, and she seemed to look away into the distance at something I could not see. "Fine, you don't believe me. But, please, take this in the spirit it is offered to you. Carry it with you, it will help you find what you are seeking. I will NOT take it back. It is yours again, as it has always been." And with that, she turned on her heel, and drifted away, the edge of her white dress not seeming to touch the dew-covered grass as she floated back across the park. The locket looked up at me from the table, and its gold winked at me. I picked it up, and put it in the pocket of my tuxedo.

TO BE CONTINUED...
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