The door slammed behind her heels as she bolted through the pouring rain. It always struck her as funny that her mother could slam the door, but if Ember did, she would be standing there for an hour, opening and shutting the door as gently as possible "to teach her a lesson."
Ember loved the rain, mostly because her mother hated it. If she went to the barn when it rained, she could get just a little bit of peace. She would climb up the rickety ladder into the loft, into her own personal safe space. There were plenty of hay bales to turn into her own personal furniture, stacking them one way would create a comfy chair or even a bed, and stacking them all to one side would open floor space to hold private concerts for the birds, spiders, and bees that filled the rafters. With the rain providing a soft percussion in the background, Ember Alexandra would sway to the beat and sing along with the music coming from her "non-skip" portable CD player.
Her bare feet squished just ever so slightly in the mud of the worn path as she ran. The calming rainstorm washing over her face, hands, and bare feet.
When she reached the barn, she carefully lifted the latch and went inside. After closing the hatch behind her, she made her way, hand over hand up the ladder into her domain. She flinched at the sound of her mother's voice echoing from the house; after the rain stopped, it was going to be a long night. Until then, she had some time to breath. Pressing play on the CD player produced the opening bars to "Think of Me" from The Phantom of the Opera. Crossing to the middle of the open floor space, Ember took a deep breath and began to sing. Her lilting voice rang from the rafters, softly at first, but gradually increasing in volume in correlation to her increasing confidence. The rain picked up intensity as the volume of each verse increased, as though the mother goddess were sobbing at the sheer perfection of her child's voice. At the final crescendo, a thunderclap shook the entire structure, and as her voice faded into silence, she made her way to the hay door and sat on the very precipice, her legs dangling over the edge 15 feet in the air.
"Who would miss me?" Ember Alexandra thought as she watched the lightning striking throughout the forest spread before her. She contemplated the jump. It would be so simple, just to push herself off the edge, but the rain began to ease up, and the lightning began striking less and less frequently. Her mother was expecting her.
Ember got up from her perch, turned off her music, and slowly climbed down the ladder, each step weighing her down more and more. As she trudged to the house, she could only think about all the things she needed to do: keeping the house spotless, dishes that had piled up throughout the day, hours of homework. She thought about what her mother would do if it weren’t done. She shuddered at that thought. She shook her head. No, she was determined to finish everything, if it killed her. The wind whistled in her ears with the motion, and she didn’t hear the call.
She missed the call from the woods, the sound of the Morrigan calling to her for the first time. It wouldn’t be the last time the Morrigan called to her, and it wouldn’t be the last time she called during the calm in the storm, both literal and psychological. But it was the first time, and Ember Alexandra missed it.