Reflections

At night, the wind breathed sighs through the branches of the tree as if two, tree and wind, were crying in each other's arms. The haunting melody surely seeped into her mind as she slept for in her dreams she saw a great weeping willow, like the one she was sleeping under, planted on the very edge of a vast, clear lake. Tiny waves were lapping the tree's huge roots and in the stillness of the water grew another tree, as massive and old, reaching, with pleading, leafy arms to a reflected moon.

Pearly dawn shone on her before she stirred from the matted, dewy undergrowth that had served at her bed for the night. In the damp chill of early morning, she sat and shivered for a moment, before getting up to go on walking. Banks of white-gray cloud, like the faraway shores of a dream-world lake, were visible through the great willow's branches. A chill ran down her spine, her gray eyes flickered. Shaking herself she got up numbly, readying herself briefly for the new day.

The road's cobblestones were smooth and gray under her worn felt slippers. The frayed hems of her mantle swept them, raising slight clouds of dust behind her. As the day grew warmer, she walked. When nighttime frosted the eastern rims of the world, she searched for a place to sleep. Another night in the open, even in the protection of a mighty tree, was not within the realm of possibility. Stopping by a well of clear water she stooped to drink, paused briefly to gaze at the stars, winking themselves into existence upon its clear surface, and at her own shadowy profile reflected, set with shiny jewel eyes, but still dark and impenetrable, dancing carelessly on the brink of humanity.

"What is it about me?" her shady mirror-image asked her, softly. And, more softly, she replied in riddle, "what am I?" The reflection never bothered answering. It was pointless. The answer was known to them both.

She slept in a hayloft that night. The man who owned it only had one question to ask her, in exchange for her stay and some bread and milk in the morning. He didn't ask who she was, where she came from, where she was going or if she'd be willing to pay. "What's your name?" asked he.

She answered with the first thing that came to her mind. "Dorian Willow." Her true name, of course, was a secret. As secret as her mirror-image in the quivering water, by dusk and faint starlight. Mirroring herself was for herself; it was her job to mirror other people. Gray eyes flickered, in the dark of night, metallic and clear at the same time, then with one last flash dwindled back to ordinary gray, as eyelids fluttered over them, the scent of grass and horses, mixed with the warmth of prickly hay lulling their owner to sleep. She was the Reflector. That was what she did.