There was a chill in the night air. Yuna stretched her long sleeves down over her palms and held them in place while she bounced lightly through damp underbrush on her way to the river. She had to go speak to her demon.
There was a cherry tree down by the bank, and Yuna stopped before it to stand on her toes and pick a handful of blossoms as instructed. Holding them gently so as not to crush them, she carefully sidled along a narrow wedge of stone that jutted out from the riverbank. When she had at last reached its tip, she said a silent prayer to still her heart and scattered the cherry blossoms before her on the water’s surface.
Slowly, she lowered herself until she was on her haunches, and peered into the water. It was still and reflected her face like silvered glass, her straight dark hair hanging down either side. Of course, she only saw herself because the river reflected the light off the full moon, which itself only reflected the sun. The whole universe was one great mirror maze. Looking into her own dark eyes she watched them distort, glowing with soft teal light. Her demon was looking back at her from beneath the surface. Slowly, the demon rose out of the water, cherry blossoms catching in her wet black hair.
Yuna’s demon looked just like her, but was woven of fine metal threads; the effect was uncanny. For a moment they were frozen, held fast in each other’s gaze. It was Yuna who spoke first. “I did everything you asked me to,” she said. The silence was long, and the water around the demon calmed and stilled.
“Yes,” said the demon, “but have you done anything I asked you not to do? You haven’t told anyone about me, have you?”
“No.” Yuna looked over her shoulder. “Not really.”
The demon rose six inches more out of the water, bringing their faces close. “Not really. What does that mean, not really?”
Yuna’s heart pounded and she felt a tightness in her throat. “I didn’t tell anyone. But…”
“But what, child?” the demon snapped.
“I just wrote it down in my diary, that’s all.”
The demon was statue still where a human would have sighed in exasperation. “Bring me the diary at once. I will destroy it.”
“Silence! Have I not impressed upon you there can be no trace? Look at me—I am not of this timeline. This is a breach as serious as it is necessary, for my wellbeing, and especially for yours. Now get me that diary, and be quick about it. And be certain you aren’t followed.”
The demon disappeared below the surface, and the glow of its eyes sank into the depths. Yuna stood and skulked away, chastised and confused, but still too full of wonder to disobey.
Notes: I used an image as a writing prompt for this piece. You may be able to find the image on the artist’s ArtStation page. Image by Peder Nygaard, used with permission.