Family Trait


s_delia_icon.gif jasmine_icon.gif

Scene Title Family Trait
Synopsis It's time for Jasmine to come home.
Date September 17, 2018

In Dreams

Black overhead, black underfoot, what some night liken to the darkest of nights while others consider a blanket of velvet. Each step causes ripples outward, what it must have looked like for those folks in the bible when they saw Jesus walk on the water. They dissipate though, close to point of contact, either that or the wake is just too dampened to notice beyond a half meter. There is but one visible source of light, far in the distance, otherwise there is nothing. Oddly enough, even without illumination, there is no blindness. Self can see self, self can see other when other is close enough. Other, for now is just a white cube, shining like a beacon underneath the spotlight.

One light. One self. One other. One sound.

It's the wail of a child, the kind that goes beyond hysterics and the kind that is inconsolable as those kind usually are. It is interrupted by hiccups and always comes back stronger and angrier than before. But this is the perfect place for that. The perfect place to be perfectly sad and perfectly beyond help. Beyond hope.

This place—

She needs more. She feels her grasp slip off of its smooth black planes, clutch after insubstantial light as if expecting to snag on it. Gravity is what pulls her back but something a little more powerful than that — love, perhaps — is what has her struggling forward.

Not powerful enough to impose her will on the rules of this dreamscape, but she can dictate the terms of her own entry. That struggle becomes beating wings. A meandering path. Dust, fluttering, the sensation of insect legs on fingertips, of eyelashes on the palm of a hand.

A moth. Large for a moth, but small all the same, a modest grey, flying like a mote of dust, and headed for that light.

The source of the light isn't as attractive as the object it's highlighting, its bright white sides clean and radiant in the darkness. As the moth nears the box, its size doesn't expand relative to position. It's an oddly unsettling feeling, becoming larger instead of smaller when getting closer. When she is right overtop, the moth might as well be the size of an airplane.

The box is without a lid, a miniature bedroom with pink walls, grey carpet, white princess furniture, and a finger sized girl of about five years old with red hair like tightly coiled springs. She's laying face down on the bed, sobbing dramatically, as little girls do when their worlds have collapsed.

Scale is one of those strange things, in dreams, and easily manipulated, where the very small can become the very large via mere thought and a little imagination. Here, however, this small room stays small, resisting subtle attempts to fit within the rules of this little universe, the moth circling overhead with a frustrated shiver of dusty grey wings.

Wings fold, vanishing into the darkness.

In its place, looms a mask. White, oval, moon-like, eyes dark and mouth painted as red on porcelain. A little doll-like, and surrounded by darkness.

"There's no use crying like that, Alice. I advise you to leave off this minute."

Strange words, perhaps, but gentle, kind. Curious. And familiar.

A snotty little face peeks up from the pillows. Blue eyes made more vibrant by their redness and cheeks stained with tears are familiar, even if they aren't personally known. There's been a dream in the distant past, or maybe a faded picture inside of an old brown wallet. This facet of her personality is almost never released anymore, she's too old, too mature. But right now, Delia feels very small and the weight of the world just makes her feel smaller.

Swiping an arm aross her face, the little girl smears lipstick, snot, and drool across her cheek. There's a glint of recognition at the mask, she nods and slowly her wails come to their spasming conclusion. "I-I needed a place," she hiccups, still she doesn't grow to the woman that either the moth nor the mask know. The mask, though, is well put together. Much like everything in this room, except the little girl. So she runs her hands down the little cotton nightgown, trying to smooth out the wrinkles and in that effort streaks the lipstick down its front.

There's a quizzical pause. A concerned pause.

Masks are concealing, and this one is no different, and so there is no expression to read as it tips a little this way in thought aside. Next comes a gentle pressure, abstract, that feels like giant fingertips pressing on the outsides of the small box of a room, and also like ordinary fingertips pressing on Delia's temples, and also like the question that is offered next;

"May I come in?"


The one worded consent releases a flood of nearly overwhelming sadness made tangible. The reference to Alice might have been the wrong thing to do because at that very moment, the door to the room opens up and a torrent of salted tears pours through. The box is swallowed and its contents rise or fall depending on their makeup. Little toys float but aren't substantial enough to hang onto, larger furniture stays sunken with the rest of the room.

Both of them could drown, if it weren't for the small buoy of happiness labelled 'Benji'. Its little bell signalling safety in the middle of nothingness. The little girl sputters and flails in the water as she paddles her way there. While she's not an accomplished swimmer, she can fumble her way through the water. Which she does.

The water is brackish and choppy, an ocean that stretches to the borders of imaginative capacity, maybe more. Wind and current don't give rise the waves coming up to curl over itself, but raw emotion, threatening to drag Delia down into its depths as she flails her way for something she can hold onto. Another sharp, short wave dunks her head beneath the surface just as her fingers graze against the buoy, which drifts away with a negligent, unfeeling bob of movement.

The next time she reaches for it, something reaches back. A hand, cool and gloved in silk, clasps around hers, and with more strength than is probably realistic, she is pulled up and out of the water, tumbled onto the deck of a small boat.

The vessel bobs uneasily and unmoored in the vast sea of tears, but at least she is not alone. Jasmine is likewise spilled on the deck of the boat with the effort to haul the girl in with her. Her hair spills down her bared shoulders in waves of glamourous black, as shiny as raven wings, and she wears a dress of that same black, diamante and crystal dispersed throughout its weave like stars in the sky.

She is breathing with exertion, a piercing, pale-blue gaze bright through black lace half-mask, before she moves towards Delia, hands reaching.

Without the tight spiral curls, Delia's hair hangs heavy down her back in kinky strands. She clings to Jasmine as if for dear life and the expression on her face betrays the look of a child on the verge of tears again. There's a sob, but she has no tears left to cry. The two of them are virtually drowning in the amount of tears she's already let loose.

"Daddy's dying," she blurts out. Delia, this Delia, has never known a world without her father in it. Jasmine's Delia has lived over a decade without. "He's dying and there's nothing I can do."

She puts long arms around Delia and holds her. The sea around them can only be calmed one way, and it can't be just because Jasmine wills it. But still, slowly, her presence has its influence. The velvet-black sky above them is slowly adopting some colour, a deep pre-dawn grey, the distant suggestion of wisps of clouds. The sound of shore-line trees is not quite powerful enough to direct violent ocean into river, but getting there.

Familiar environments. She's sailed and driven up and down the rivers of New York enough that it's an easy reference to summon as they drift senselessly over black waters.

Jasmine hears her, and is silent for a few seconds, attempting to comprehend. Slippery silk smooths over wet tangles of red hair.


The little girl curls against Jasmine's body, resting her head on the woman's lap. The younger dreamwalker can feel the little girl heaving a long sigh, before she gives a slight nod.


In the darkness, the stormy waters seem to calm and perhaps even dissapate some. As it happens, the small girl melts into her more natural form. A form that doesn't quite fit inside the confines of the buoy. Legs dangling over the edge, Delia remains laying in Jasmine's lap for a moment before turning her head to look up at the other woman. "He has a brain tumor," she says in a low tone, "I don't know what I'm going to do without him."

That doesn't make sense.

It doesn't make any sense that this should be true, that it should happen, when its happening. From where Delia lays, face upturned, she sees a flicker of light through the clouds above, lightning veiled in its haze, but nothing more. Clouds thicken from wisps to full cover, but don't churn or roll or offer more flashes of light or growls of thunder.

"I'm sorry," Jasmine says, finally, voice barely above a whisper. "I didn't— " Know? Of course she didn't know. It's why she's here, she thinks. But perhaps she was meant to know. To anticipate. Even though four years from now, Ingrid is born to Nicole, and those woven worlds are starting to unravel faster than—

She says, again, instead; "I'm sorry."

"I'm eating dinner with him now," Delia says quietly, knowing that it's impossible that she's doing both at once she adds, "was. My face is probably in my steak." Because there's no way Lucille would move it to spare the younger of the Ryans' a little dignity.

She sits up then and gives Jasmine a hard look. "Come home," she presses. "I know you think your job is important, but your family is too." Delia won't say it, but Jasmine is more like her father than either of them would care to admit. Reaching out, she takes both of her daughters hands and squeezes them gently. "Come home because we need you. Please."

Jasmine's hands remain relaxed in Delia's grasp, but there is a subtle jolt of tension through her in response to— something. An internal struggle, a protest, the fact that Delia does not have to say it for the idea of it to go communicated and heard. It kills any argument dead in the water, if there was ever going to be one, whether in defense of the importance of her job, what her family needs, whether she is able to do as asked, and her hands gently squeeze Delia's in return.

"I'll come home," she promises, and then leans over to press a kiss to Delia's forehead. She doesn't qualify that with when she can or when she's finished. She adds, "It'll be alright." The promise they'd all made, just by coming here.

"Thanks," for the promise, for the kiss, and for the agreement to come home. It's all rolled up into one. "Bring Calvin too, I think Lu sees the both of you more than Ingrid or me and that's unacceptable." Right now, Delia isn't counting dreams. She's counting the physical. "And I hope you're wearing a mask or something out there, the air isn't safe most places. It's dirty." It's a lecture she's been hearing from a lot of sources, not just Sofia.

The buoy stops moving altogether, perhaps because she's no longer depressed and blubbering, but taking her emotions out in lecture form. The darkness is still prevalent in this place, the sunshine that her daughter brings hasn't penetrated this place yet. The hole that her father has left with his news.

"I'm always wearing a mask," is coy dismissal of this concern, even if her own soul feels heavy with dread. Coming home, to this new thing. Jasmine looks out at the black ocean, now still and calm, her hands still caught in Delia's. No stars in the cloudy sky, but the crystals dotting her gown, trimming her opera gloves, all twinkle gamely.

She wants to say I'm sorry again, but maybe that has to wait. For Benjamin personally, perhaps. The last of Humanis First has been put in the ground — she did that, is one arrogant flash of thought, zithering beneath the surface — and her mother's father might not see the result of that changed future. Like so many others.

"It's not fair," Jasmine says, idly, almost aloofly — casting judgment on the mechanisms of the universe.

“Tell me about it,” Delia grouses, she remembers the dreams Jasmine shared with all of them so long ago. Things weren’t fair there either. The fleeting thought about the status of Humanis First causes the redhead’s mouth to twitch a little at one corner. “I’m proud of you, you do such good things.” Things that keep her from home, but Jasmine is doing what she needs to do. Some version of home will always be there for her.

“He’s not supposed to die yet, is he?” He’s old but not old enough to have fathered Ingrid yet. Of course, where they are now is different from where Jasmine is from. There won’t be raids in Eltingville because there is no Eltingville, the nightmare that is Heller is gone in all but stories to scare children, and Pollopel is a grim memory.

Pollopel… Uncertain of how to say it, Delia just allows a wordless explanation of her version of events. Images instead of admission, memories that drift in a circle around them like a lazy dust devil or a shark. The burning orphanage. Sybil. Eve. That thing in the corner of her eye. The nun. Sybil. Eileen. Sybil. Thoughts, brief images, all of it swirls around them until they’re all part of the same mess of streaky colors. A whirlpool around a drain.

“They think Eileen is caught inside of her somehow,” she says with a sigh. “I went looking for your uncle a couple of weeks ago to help her.”

Jasmine shakes her head, fine strands of black catching in the wind like ink in water.

No. This isn't Benjamin Ryans Sr's time.

And it doesn't make any sense, except that nothing is obliged to make sense. Butterfly wings influencing weather patterns, cells that mutate or don't mutate, babies remaining unborn, impossible micro-changes to the entire web of creation and fate. She thinks back to the several days spent in preparing to travel through time and is absolutely amazed at how little they knew about what they were doing and what it could possibly mean. Stupid children.


She looks back to Delia. Eileen, she has some knowledge about, snagging her attention. The name Sibyl is unfamiliar, or what it has to do with a woman from another timeline.

“Eileen, well, Eileen’s mind.. Is trapped in the body of a teenage girl.” Delia doesn’t exactly know how else to explain it. “Eve said that the girl, Sybil, is some sort of black hole that catches people.”

The redhead shudders involuntarily.

“I pulled her into a dream once, by accident,” she explains further after a moment’s silence of chewing on her lip. “She panicked, obviously, it was a nightmare. But after that night, something followed me. And later, it controlled me while I slept. I was dreaming about what I was doing in real life and I couldn’t— no that’s not right… I didn’t even try to stop it.”

"I see."

Narrator: but Jasmine did not see.

The whirlpool of thought and memory, slowly dwindling to a vanishing point, altogether too much, the drag and gravity of them in the wind making the clouds in the sky a little more fitful, as with the toss of dark hair. The boat they are in slowly turns, and the rattle of unseen, leafless trees insists itself. "You're talking about our Eileen," is needless clarifying. You know, Eileen.

Dead Eileen. Crumpled Eileen who Benji pulled up off the pavement, cradling her, the wolf-headed cane transferred into Benji's reluctant hand. It's going to be alright, whispered, beneath the sound of voices over their heads, footsteps. The things she was most conscious of in that moment ring against Delia's mind too: the cold, relentless sleet coming down, and Benjamin Ryans, looming over it all so grimly.

The memory is severed sharply, before more of it can bleed across. "I felt her dying," she says, in those same quiet, polite, querying tones.

“She got better,” a quote from Monty Python never felt more appropriate than right now. Delia just shrugs, “I don’t know what happened, or how.. But she’s stuck inside that teenager, Sybil.” Then, opening her hand, a matryoshka doll appears on her palm. It’s painted like a pasty blonde girl in grey clothing and when it’s opened, a brunette woman with red lips and black clothing is inside.

Then a sudden thought occurs to her and she blurts it out before censoring herself. “Don’t go there,” she warns, her frown is a worried one because she knows how special Jasmine’s aunt is to her. “Something will stick to you and you won’t be able to get it off. Not until something horrible happens.”

She’s not sure Eileen would do the same thing to Jasmine, she doesn’t know how much Jasmine would mean to Eileen, but there are some things Delia just isn’t willing to risk. “Promise me you won’t go until it’s safe, not until she’s Eileen again.” She’s insistent because they’re both dreamers, both curious, and her daughter's life choices sometimes make Delia worry.

Like father, like daughter, like granddaughter… life choices that make people worry seems to be a Ryans family trait.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License