Young Sophie Learns the Game Part 4

Go Into the Water

Sophie could hear the echoing sound of water dripping into a shallow pool. Her head was resting on a soft blanket of blue silk. She felt a hand caressing her hair. Her eyes blinked open and she saw a kind face smiling down at her. It looked like Iam, but with gentle eyes. Her head was resting in the being’s lap. It was wearing a blue dress and wore a crown in its long black hair with a crescent moon, horns up, mounted to the front.
“You’re awake,” the being said in a calm voice.
Sophie sat up with a bolt and sucked a breath in hard. The being put its talon on her shoulder. It was warm and comforting.
“You’re safe here,” the creature said.
“Who are you?” Sophie said.
“My name is Sophia,” she replied.
“That’ amazing coincidence,” Sophie arched an eyebrow.
“Not when you consider you’re named after me.”
Sophie closed her eyes, frowned and shook her head, “That’s weird.”
“I met your mother Laurel when she came here and her mother Shelby and her mother Sylvia all the way back to Abigayle.”
Sophie held her head and massaged her scalp, “This place is so bizarre. I dead?”
“I could swear I was eaten by sea creatures that looked like my family.”
“It was all in your mind.”
“It didn’t feel like it was in my mind.”
“The mind can believe something so strongly the body makes it real, especially when those things are born of the subconscious.”
“You look like Iam.”
“He’s my brother.”
“He’s really cranky.”
“He’s can be a handful,” Sophia laughed.
Sophie regarded Sophia, “I like your dress.”
“Thanks, but you dressed me like this. I should be complimenting you.”
“Just assume that everything needs to be explained to me.”
“I’m real, but I’m also a projection. Your projection. Your Holy Guardian Angel. HGA for short.”
“A guardian angel?” Sophie smirked.
“Your ideal self.”
“This place is so wacky,” Sophie shook her head.
“Your mind can be, especially when you don’t know it or understand it. Without proper knowledge of your own mind, it seemingly does things on its own. It can do some scary things.”
“Are you saying I don’t know myself?”
“You could do with learning a few things.”
Sophie sat and thought for a moment.
“Your brother pushed me in the ocean,” Sophie grumbled.
“It was necessary, unfortunately.”
“It was rude.”
“That’s why it’s his job.”
“He’s mad at for something I haven’t done yet.”
“I imagine he is.”
“What did I do? Or will I do, whatever?”
“You denied him what he wanted most.”
“And what’s that?”
“Control. Power. Impunity for his actions. But, you’re not here to think about him, you’ll have plenty of time for that. You’re here to think about you.”
“What’s to think about? My mom killed herself when I was four orphaning me because I never knew my father. He ran off. So there are two people who didn’t think I was enough to stick around for. Did I mention I was four? I wasn’t even old enough to be a jackass yet. I moved in with a strange family where my adoptive sister hated me though she’s weirdly coming around lately and my mother treats me like I’m made of eggshell. She bought me a telescope so I could go outside, but outside turned out to be the back deck. At least my dad is cool, he takes me to the range every weekend, but otherwise, he defers everything to my mother…”
“It’s times like this I think of what Iam would say,” Sophia said, “Quit the shit and dig in. You’re telling a lot about what people did to you, even with a dash of feelings, but how did you react. What was your response?”
Sophie scrunched her shoulders and shook her head.
“You shrunk. You shrunk when your mom died, so went your adoptive family saw you, you were this shrunken little thing. Like a baby bird that fell from the nest. So guess how they reacted to you? The mother got protective, the father was afraid to do anything and the only child got territorial. And shrunk some more. The kid at school cuts your hair and you shrink.
You’ve shrunk so much, now you’re nothing.”
“Jeezo man, so much for the safe space.”
“That’s not my opinion, it’s yours. You’re the one who makes the decision to react the way you do. Not to put too blunt a point on it, you are your fault.”
“‘You are your fault?’ That’s like something a self-help hack would title a book.”
“But true.”
Sophie folded her arms and sat, hunched over in silence. Sophia got up and leaned over her.
“You’re still shrinking,” she whispered.
“What am I supposed to do?” Sophie stood up and shouted, “Ever since I got here things have either tried to kill me or gave me a bunch of shit,” she stabbed her finger at Sophia, “I don’t know where the hell I am or what I’m even doing here.”
“That’s...better,” Sophia grimaced, “It’s still a reaction, but one that might get you out of here.”
Sophie took a deep breath, “I’m sorry, I’m scared and confused and I don’t know what…”
“It’s in your pocket.”
 Sophie looked askance, then stuffed her hand in her pocket and pulled out the diamond. The was glowing.
“Looks like you picked out a nice one,” Sophia said.
“It was a star. Or who the heck know here.”
“It’s yours now.”
“Care to tell me what this is?”
“It’s me. Or a shard anyway. I fell into the sea and shattered into countless pieces. Through them, I live on in your bloodline. Offer a piece of my power.”
“This is starting to feel like a cult initiation.”
“You have to accept it.”
“Or what?”
“Or...the opposite being you don’t accept it.”
“Oh...I thought it was a sinister ultimatum.”
“No. You have to agree because it carries with it a price.”
“Your life.”
Sophie’s eyes widened.
“Not like that, your life will be hard. People will fear and hate you, but they’ll need you and you’ll need to be there for them.”
“It’s not like I have friends now.”
“You’ll society isn’t made to accommodate people like you.”
“People like there will be others?”
“Seek them out if you can.”
Sophie stared into the diamond, then looked to Sophia, “I accept.”
“Hold it in your palm,” Sophia said.
She reached out touched the diamond and it flashed. Sophie opened her eyes and it was gone.
“It’s yours now,” Sophia said, “Remember, it’s only raw power. It’s up to you to figure out how to use it.”
“Is there a tutorial?”
“It helps if you channel it through your interests and passions.”
Sophie nodded her head with a thoughtful look.
“Well, in order to do that, I’m going to have to get out of here,” Sophie said.
“I glad to have met you, Sophie,” Sophia embraced Sophie, “Don’t let the power run away with you and always be kind.”
Sophie nodded. She looked at Sophia and raised her brows and lifted up on the balls of her feet. She took a deep breath, “Welp.”
“’s that way,” Sophia pointed to Sophie’s right.
“It’s always to my right isn’t it.”
“The brain loves symbolism, what are you gonna do?”

Sophie stepped from the grotto and entered a long, narrow, sloping cave corridor. The floor was slick and slimy. As Sophie stepped her feet slid out from under her. She grabbed onto the rocks jutting from the wall, but her slid off the slippery surface. She slid down the corridor and was dumped off a ledge into a dark pool. She sunk to the bottom like lead.