Lily woke suddenly, clutching at her blankets, reaching for a comfort object that wasn't there. She bit back a scream as the nightmare returned in full force, equal parts terrified and confused. How was a nightmare so much more frightening than anything she had experienced in her own life? She breathed in and out, banishing the vision of blood from her mind. Calming herself down, she looked at the dream rationally. She hadn't really understood what was happening, but she knew that it had been bad. In the dream, she had been walking, but she didn't recognize the road. Suddenly, a small, furry… thing with a black mask over its eyes had ripped, snarling, from the bushes and viciously bitten her leg. She had screamed and kicked it, and it ran back into the bushes. The vision had changed. She then found herself sitting on an unfamiliar-looking floor, staring at her ankle in shock. It had swelled grotesquely, and she had struggled for breath as she saw the blood and other, yuckier stuff oozing out of it. Then such an unbelievable pain, much, much worse than when she had fallen off of her bike, had torn through her leg that it had woken her up.
The strangest thing about the dream, however, had been how she had seen everything. It had all appeared as clearly as ever, but there was more variety in her vision, somehow. Although the dream had been horrible, she almost wanted it back.
Colors, her mind said. She cocked her head at the funny word, wondering where she had picked it up, and if that was really what it meant. Lily decided that she would go and ask her mother. Usually they didn't get up this early, but she could hear her parents moving around in their room anyway. She walked to the window to open the shade and let the light into her dark room. Blinking against the glare, she turned back to the door and reached for the handle. She gasped. Her nightgown was as crisply white as ever, but her hand had taken on that prettiness that she had witnessed in her dream. Sort of like what the blood- she shuddered- had looked like, but… not as much. Lighter. Paler? She spun and raced back to the window.
Outside, the world had painted itself. She saw flowers like blood. The trees looked a lot like the grass, but not quite.
She grinned at the realization, the word like a long-lost friend. The trees and grass were the same color. Some other flowers were the same color as the sky. She gasped again when she looked at the sky. The sky had always just sort of been, like a piece of paper or a neat lid tucked over the community. Now, though, it looked so much bigger, and for the first time, she wondered how high it went, and suddenly envied the Aviators. She laughed aloud as she took in how beautiful the sky was, now that it was…
Like the ocean.
The voice in her mind sounded like Jonas. Her good mood suddenly evaporated at the reminder of her lost brother. Blue. That was what the loss made her. Like the ocean. And Jonas' eyes. His pale eyes, which, she realized, digging through her memories, had been blue all along. Everyday things, flashing across her consciousness, and things that she had never seen before, all had colors. How had she never noticed? Was it just her? What had caused it? For some reason, she thought- knew- that Jonas had given the colors back somehow. That meant that he had left on purpose, that he had had a plan! Lily found herself absolutely sure that Jonas was out there, somewhere, Elsewhere, thinking about her, wishing her well.
Her feet beat a rhythm on the floor as she raced for the door once again, and an imaginary sound threaded through her mind as she ran downstairs, to the street outside their dwelling. She knew that even having seen the sky with only a pane of glass between them, she still couldn't be content until there was nothing at all in her way. The not-there noise swelled as she stretched a hand toward the blue-like-the-ocean sky. Visions of the ocean crashed and swelled, and she didn't question them. They weren't hers, but they were hers. She decided that she wanted to see the ocean, too.
She hummed happily, then stopped. She had hummed before, but the sound had never lived before. She tapped her foot on the street and hummed again, seeing how she could make her voice rise and fall.
Music, came Jonas' voice in her mind, and she embraced it this time.
"Music," came a voice behind her. She spun. One of the Elders stood behind her. She recognized him as the old Receiver from Jonas' Ceremony of Twelve. "You can see the colors?" he continued. She nodded gleefully, and he half-smiled. "Beautiful, aren't they? You're the first I've seen to hear the music, though."
Her smile widened until she weighed what he had said. "Where did the colors go? The music? They were there all along, weren't they?" He nodded sadly.
"They were lost when the Sameness came. The Sameness is gone now. It left with Jonas, which I presume you had realized by now. You must realize, however, that the Sameness didn't only banish the good, or they wouldn't have done it. Things that the First Committee thought were worth losing colors and music to get rid of are coming back." Lily remembered her nightmare.
"Like raccoons," she said aloud. The man-
The Giver smiled morosely. "Yes. There might be raccoons. But now, inside the head of every member of the community, including yours, are horrible things, things that you don't want to know. I fear to say the words of them lest I call up your memories. Soon, though, I will have to. The children, in particular, must get used to the memories."
Lily nodded, beginning to understand. All of those things that had haunted Jonas, that had made her strong, stoic brother quiet, irritable, and depressed, were now somewhere in her head. She looked at the sky again to reassure herself.
"I can do it. I saw the raccoon, and the blood. I'll think and think until I remember something bad every day."
The Giver cocked his head, about to object, before he apparently changed his mind. "If you find anything so bad that you need help, find me. I've been experiencing the memories for a long time. Now that they've been released, the burden is shared."
Sunset, said Jonas.
The Giver raised an eyebrow as she laughed aloud. "I remember sunset," she said wonderingly. "Jonas told me." The eyebrow went even higher.
"Jonas told you?"
"Well, he might not have. But I can hear him. He told me what the raccoon was, and that the ocean was blue, and that you're called the Giver." At this, the Giver's jaw dropped in open astonishment. He had never referred to himself as the Giver before anyone but Jonas, and he doubted somehow that Jonas would have talked about him in front of his family.
"Lily…" he said finally, hesitantly, "Do you love your brother?"
She considered for a moment. Memories of love swam through her mind, warm and golden and blue, blue like Jonas' eyes.
Lily, Jonas said, and showed her the flower for which she was named, floating in a pond that reflected the sky.
"Yes," she declared. The Giver thought for a moment, then grinned and laughed out loud. "And I'm going to be an Aviator," she continued.
"I think," the Giver replied, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he smiled, "you can be whatever you want to be. Why an Aviator, though?"
"I want to see how high the sky goes," Lily told him. "And I'm going to find Elsewhere, and once I do, I won't stop looking until I find Jonas."