Is that what this is supposed to do? Is this supposed to help me find the grace and courage to hear what my mother did? I look up and blink rapidly against the onslaught of raindrops that assaults me. The pouring hasn't stopped since it began this morning, a solid wall of water that swept over the city in the early hours. I stand there for a long time, my head turned up and my hair sticking to my neck and back. It is as long and as curly as my mother's was. I feel something slick rub against my arm and turn my head to find Dragonair curling himself around me, his tail wrapping lightly around my legs and resting finally at my feet. His head rests on my shoulder and he fixes his inky black eyes on me. They are filled with sorrow and pain and in their reflection, I see my own eyes.
Except they are not my eyes. They are big and bright blue and they twinkle. They are my mother's eyes. Filled with determination and love and cunning. I blink. No, these are mine. And they are grief-stricken and slightly pink from the crying. There are dark circles under them.
I am standing at the edge of a canal and I hear two people shuffle along behind me. One of them mutters, "S'like the sky cries for 'er too. Hasn't let up."
The other one grunts and then whispers harshly, "Shh! Lookit there, it's Seradelle. Leave 'er be."
They both drag their feet away from me and I look down at the clear water in the canal. I flinch quickly and Dragonair moves his head to steady me. It is her face that stares up at me from the water. Then the realization dawns on me.
I won't ever see my mother in person again. I won't ever watch her wake up again and scramble after her. There will be no more breakfasts at our little table by the big window. Never again will I trip after her through the canals and alleys, carrying her basket for her as she glides along on her errands, as she sings with the accordion man, as she chats happily with the merchants, as she curtseys to the guards and teaches me how to do the same.
This realization slams into me like a solid brick wall and I fall to my knees, a strangled squeak escaping from my lips. Dragonair whips his tail away and whimpers horribly, no doubt trying to find out a way to help me. But I don't think anything can help me right now. I lean over the canal, clutching my stomach as if I'm about to be sick. Then the first scream bursts through my throat, then the second, and then my hands begin clawing at my image in the water, her image, our image. Now the tears fall freely, the tears that I had been striving to hide from others since I received the news.
There is no one walking along the canals now but even if there was, I wouldn't care if they saw me. Let them see me! Let them see crazy Seradelle screaming at the water and scaring the fish away.
Eventually I stop screaming and just kneel there, at the edge of the stones, my chest heaving with sobs and breaths but Dragonair continues whimpering. The rain continues to fall on me. "S'like the sky cries for 'er too." The skies are crying for her. The clouds open up and let out their sorrow because even the sky realizes that a light has gone out in Altomare, the flame that burnt the fiercest and the brightest has been blown out. Who will brighten our city now? I shake my head. There will never be sun in the city again, I am sure of it.
All of a sudden, Dragonair stops whimpering. I whip my head to the side and see that his eyes are no longer boring into me but rather they are staring at something curiously, something apparently hanging over the canal. I turn my head slowly and in the sheet of rain in front of me, I am uncertain of what I see. I blink a few times to wash away the tears of the sky and my own tears so that I can see clearly. And then I see them, but I do not move.
They hover in the middle of the canal, on eye level with me if I were standing. The larger one is blue and has sharp, slanted eyes with small pupils. His back end and tail have sharp spikes all over and he hovers a good distance away, watching me and Dragonair carefully. The smaller one is bright red and although her eyes are slanted, they are a bit more rounded than those of the other creature. She has no spikes and she is much closer to me, maybe two arm lengths away. My mind is so numb that I can only kneel there for a little while, staring at Latias. Then I hold out my hand and spread my fingers, letting the rain slip past them and drench my hand. "Why are you here?" I whisper softly, so that I am unsure if she heard me past the roaring of the rain. "Mama is gone."
Latias nods her head, then stares at me again. Dragonair is motionless at my side, his eyes fixed on the guarding Latios. "She's gone," I repeat. "Don't you see how the city cries for her? She's gone."
Latios lets out a tiny cry and I fix my eyes on him. Even Latias turns to face him. He shakes his head furiously, his dark eyes striking right through me. He shakes his head again, then turns and points his nose towards the two huge pillars at the end of the city, which are clearly visible from here. I wince. In between those two pillars, they have set the casket that holds my mother. The chairs are set up. The funeral is supposed to be in a little while. I can feel the tears coming again. "I know," I rasp out, "I know she's there, but that's not her. It's only her body."
He lets out a little huff of breath, as if he is getting frustrated. He darts forward until he is only inches from me and then grabs my face with both of his short claws. Latias lets out a little warning squeak, but she doesn't try to stop him. He turns my head until I am looking right at the pillars and then tilts it up so I'm looking at the tops of them, where the two statues are. After I stare blankly for a second, I gasp softly.
I looked up and said good-bye to my Papa. He would sit with the guardians now, I thought, and he would guard us.
The tears well up again as a different revelation comes upon me. "They're together," I choke.
Latios releases my head and floats backwards a little bit, until he right next to Latias. They both watch me as I hold out a hand again to catch the rain. Suddenly the drops don't seem as heavy and the grayness of the day seems to lighten a little as I close my hand and realize that these were never tears of sorrow or grief, they were tears of happiness from Altomare as it welcomed its daughter home. They were tears of joy from my Papa as he held his love once again.
Dragonair must realize it too because he curls up and lifts his nose to the pillars, as if saying hello to an old friend. As I see this, I turn my head back to the canal and shut my eyes. At first, the only thing I hear is the rain pattering on the cobblestones and plopping into the water of the canals. Then the other sounds come, the ones that I was always supposed to hear, the ones that my mother always wanted me to hear and love. I can hear the footsteps of the people as they move through the streets. Some of them shuffle along slowly, but others dash along the canals as if trying to dodge the raindrops. Then there are the children who scramble off of their stoops to hop in the puddles.
I can hear the water lapping up against the stone sides of the canals and the lanterns creak and screech softly as they sway on their metal posts every few feet. I hear everything. I hear the arguments among the merchants in the square and I hear the whispers of two young lovers as they swirl and dance through the alleys, doing so only because the whims of love have told them to. I hear the humming and creaking and crashing of the boats in the harbor and I can even hear the little gondola man just sitting on his creaky boat, looking up at the clouds and willing the sun to return to Altomare.
Finally, I hear the sounds of a kitchen and the sounds of singing and laughter and the sounds of light feet hitting the stones and I know immediately that I am hearing the echoes of a life, the life of my Mama. I hear her basket snap and crackle as she swings it from side to side and I hear the jingling of her necklaces and bracelets and the last thing I hear is her whispering and cooing stories to me at night, when she tucked me into my bed underneath the scene of my own, personal, beautiful Altomare.
I hear the echoes of every life ever lived in Altomare and I hear the ripples as new lives begin, even as old ones end. The love of the city surges through me and I let out a small, strangled, incredulous laugh as I open my eyes. Latios and Latias still float in front of me, but they no longer look upon me with looks of pity. Instead, their eyes are full of joy and hope and even Latios looks as if he could be smiling. They bow their heads in unison and dart up into the sky, in the direction of the pillars.
I kneel there for a while longer, looking down at my reflection. It is truly mine now. Dragonair nudges my arm gently and I nod, rising to my feet. My black mourning clothes cling to me and so does my hair, but I just brush it aside and begin to walk, Dragonair spiraling along behind me. Hand in hand with Altomare, I walk towards my mother's funeral, where her guardians will no doubt be watching with proud eyes.
I will go say good-bye to her, even though she is not really gone. I will make them proud and happy, and everyone will know that I love my Mama and Papa just as much as they have always loved me. For you see, they watch over me now.