“Think thinly, my daughter,” the mother counseled as they approached the verge.
A few steps ahead, her daughter did not look back, did not break stride.
“The boundary may be abrupt,” the mother cautioned, then warned, “You don’t want to slip over.”
“We’re like bugs at a window. We’ll know when to stop.”
Bugs at a window. The mother’s heart shrank from her daughter’s conceit.
They continued in silence as the land jumbled and pulled away from itself. An active place, a thin place, where the borders between worlds remained uncertain.
Her daughter stopped at a line of house-sized boulders, dark gaps which reached back and drew forth. Her posture told the mother, “We’re here.”
Even the mother could feel it now. Threadbare. There was little to hang onto, little to leverage. Very thin. Very fragile. How could she not worry for her daughter? “Are you able to get a firm grasp?”
“I don’t need much. Not like you.”
The accusation stung. As if she were a hindrance, flawed, the reason her other daughter had disappeared. The mother, because she was a mother, held the hurt close until her heart smothered it.
Capable as they were, the mother knew, her daughters lacked cohesion. They were not tied to this reality as she was by joy and regret. It provided the mother a coherence, a unity of expectation, that her daughters’ youth resisted like a virus. Their identities were as changeable as the other worlds they sought, and into which her elder daughter had looked, then been lost.
In a way, her younger daughter’s vanity was hypnotic. Her surety enough to separate them forever, yet the mother would not let go. Especially in this thinnest of places, this most slippery of spaces. “Hold my hand,” she bid, and her daughter curiously obeyed.
“Where?” the mother asked.
Her daughter motioned with the hand holding her mother’s, so that, together, they were pointed towards the smallest of the gaps between the stone behemoths. “Cosy. That’s what my sister liked.” She led the mother to that verge, the veil pulled so thin she didn’t need her inner sight to mark the crossing. “Well, Mother, are we just bugs? Or do we break some windows and get my sister back?”
There was nothing wrong with being a bug, the mother had learned. Bugs respected boundaries, were hardwired for a certain order. Not her daughters. Not any child. Until they created their own world, they could not freely live in any.
Her other daughter had chosen rashly, passed through, and vanished. It is one thing to see beyond the veil and quite another to fight one’s way back.
The mother felt time and space thinning. She’d been here before. Membranes and passages stretched to breaking. Forced apart by another will, another belief, another reality ready to be birthed.
Her daughter released the mother’s hand, stepped to the verge, and swept aside the veil, the darkness of the passage. A welcoming radiance gleamed far forward. Her boldness blinding. “Light makes might. Let’s go, Mother.”
She disappeared doubt like a dictator, so what could the mother do, but follow and suffer another world for the lives she’d always bear.
The bugs on the other side took notice.