'You're doing it again.'
Liara stood watching the cold rain fall hard against the glass, the world behind the silent drops heavy and grey; beyond that just clear sky, the taut blue quality a reminder of the still morning with its retained essence of hardness. A confidence in the warm light that burst through the dark clouds in smoky arcs and bright tracers, the sun piercing the corners and distant edges of a storm that didn't quite reach the severity of its name. She watched the dream-lit contrails that streaked cleanly in the high, distant sky.
Her mother hadn't replied or didn't hear, so she said it again, this time a little louder, a little force in her tone.
'You're doing it again.'
Liara missed a beat. Prolonging the quiet, enjoying the moment.
'Watching me, like I don't know you're there.'
'Watching you?' she asked.
She could barely make out the small figure cross-legged on the floor, the sofa wide and pale between them.
Liara missed another beat, moving from the bedroom, taking a small step forward to close the gap, eyes trained on the darkest shadows of the space-opera. Catching her daughter's reflection in the monitor's glass whenever possible.
'I do this often?'
She nodded to herself, yes, and took another step forward. 'Like you don't know I'm here.'
'Yes,' she answered directly, a little meekly. Distracted she changed her response to 'Sometimes' after a second of hesitation.
Their eyes met for a fleeting moment, stolid and fragile, exchanging glances from opposite ends of a Mobius band. The room twisted by the black mirror too far into itself to become part of the grotesque.
'You watch me from another room and you just stand there quietly, like I don't know you're there.'
Liara smiled for a moment, a slight curl of her lips; a flash of teeth.
She'd lost her daughter again to that eternal dusk of fiction. The angle where everything that goes into shadows leans a little further over drops and falls wears a magnetic hue about themselves.
'Yes,' declared the small voice, this delicate trace of irritation, distraction, wavering amongst the noise. 'You were doing it just now.'
'Well, that is odd...' she replied with a grin, conscious of the lethargy about her eyelids.
'Yes, it is.'
She disappeared again for a moment to the scratching of a pen; the tapping, the flicking and scrolling of a holo-pad, all of it barely audible yet opaque and distinct behind and beside everything else. Behind the subdued shouting and arguing; the dramatically lit alleyways and the confident romanticism. Behind the starkly bleak and beauteous scene that could both flow and spill from the monitor as the plot unfolds moment-by-moment. The dark images of this heroic and prevailing virtue casting shadows across the room as Nyllita ducked out of view for a moment in focus of something else; moving her nose closer to a collage of words or a cryptic phrase worth note, each time bringing out a kind of stretched absence of vulnerability, leaving the room dancing and curdling in the flashing images. A kind of momentary sensation of helplessness swiftly, briefly sweeping over Liara as her daughter disappears from view.
Shifting Hannah's weight so she rested in just her left arm, the small frame cradled perfectly within the crook of her elbow and against her chest, Liara smiled down at the infant. Gently wiggling her finger over her belly as she crossed the room, each step silent and flawless as she manoeuvred around the settee. Hannah opened her heavy eyelids and slowly reached out with a plump fist, grabbing listlessly at and missing her mother's finger, mouth wide and eyes again closed with a long, drowsy yawn.
'It almost sounds like I'm spying on you,' she said, glancing up from the babe.
There returned just an exasperated silence to fill in the sound between each of the heroine's footsteps. The echo of them ringing-out hollow each time a heel landed on some cold, distant metal floor. Liara looked from the infant, coiled warm in the sling of her arm, to her eldest, cross legged and surrounded by data-pads and hastily scrawled notes, the monitor displayed high above with looming images of another world and the lives of some beautiful and exciting few; stories from a galaxy about love, loss and adventure anyone couldn't help but get lost in.
Nyllita didn't appear to grant it any attention. The world went by ignored as it unfolded, the characters left two-dimensional as they grew. Everything said left unheard. Eyes focused on the arc of work that lay around her, hands gliding over it all, an outstretched finger dragging across haptic screens to find answers and rediscover places, her forehead perpetually knitted as if the words were in constant flux.
'You're still doing it.'
They both glanced at the monitor as a gun is thrust into the small of the heroine's back. There's this panning view: the hard-suit all taut curves; glimpses of indigo flesh vibrant in harsh, artificial lights; the whole action highlighted by a sudden intake of breath and gritted teeth. Nyllita's eyes flicked downwards and she resumed her work. Liara continued watching the screen for a moment before she turned and looked back outside. There rain still silent as it patted against glass, crashing heavy and full onto the balcony. A slight feeling of fatigue came over her and she closed her eyes, breathing in, then out, slowly. She thought of the seas out there; saw them against the lambent-hue of her eyelids. The surf flashing on the reefs and the way the underside of the seabirds looked green from the bright water.
Again, again, the broad-waves and fluid shallows, the winding climb of the refracted, smoky sun through the downpour. She thought part of her was deeply afraid, these past weeks. There was nothing but nagging ordeals. Apprehensions that clung to the back of her skull had made her feel helpless and pathetic and lost. The strange way she spoke sometimes; her diminishing grasp of distance matched by an overwhelming clarity of her sense of being. The steps she took and the way she stretched out her arms; the way she put on her clothes or how she picked up her daughter. The feeling of seeing the rain against the glass. And the edge, the dark edge, the inwrought mood or tone, the ominous logic of the horizon. It had a habit of becoming dreamlike, a nightmare of isolation and constraint. She'd have these hours - these episodes, she'd call them.
Liara shifted Hannah in her arms, lifting the infant higher, bringing her a little closer. She opened her eyes with a smile and looked down past slowly batting eyelashes into large eyes left a deep ocean-blue, speckled in spectral shards by the sunlight as it shone through the raindrops that hung and travelled down the windowpane.