Blackbird, Fly
by Prophecy Girl

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to be free
-The Beatles, "Blackbird"

Go ask Alice when she's ten feet tall.
And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you're going to fall,
Tell 'em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call.
Call Alice when she was just small.
-Jefferson Airplane, "White Rabbit"

I worried about her in the days following what we politely referred to as "the accident". I watched her decline into a state of near- consciousness. Watched her eyes gather deep purple bags beneath them. Watched the gashes appear on her wrists and the hopeless look dull her eyes to a flat, lifeless brown. Her hair was limp and matted, knotted and tangled like a bird's nest. Dead girl walking.

She never talked when I came over. She was usually lying prone on that big bed with a cigarette burning to the filter in the overstuffed ashtray. Ash and garbage littered the room and she occasionally burst into tears when I tried to clean it. Her reaction was directly related to how bad the shock was on any given day, and because I had no way of knowing, I eventually gave up on throwing out the bags of stale chips and crushed beer cans.

Faith had two modes in those days--drunk and depressed. When she was drunk, she'd usually be lying upside down off the foot of the bed with some sort of snack food, watching tv. The rest of the time she'd be lying lifelessly in a bed of crumpled bags and dirty clothes.

Her heartbreak ran so deep that it streaked up my spine and ran me through like a sharp blade. Sometimes I couldn't breathe because of her pain filling the air in the room like thick smoke.

It's been two weeks.

Today she's laying on the floor, out cold, with the garbage can overturned near her head and vomit pooling beneath her face. The stench is sour and it permeates everything. I quietly approach her and lift her up. The smell makes me sick to my stomach and I pause, trying to gasp in fresh air.

I slide her into the bathroom and dump her unceremoniously into the tub, then dash out and lean out the front door, breathing in deeply. I take a moment before going back to her. She looks so small.

I kneel down beside her and tug her clothes off slowly, blushing a little and trying not to look. It's hard. I start the warm water running, watching the vomit slide down her body and swirl around a few times before disappearing down the drain. I lean her back carefully and wash her hair first. Hair is a safe area.

I soap up a washcloth and begin wiping her down, dodging quickly over her full breasts and ignoring the scars everywhere. Some, I know, are not from fights and not from herself. There's a deep purple scar under one of her breasts, and I remember her telling me that her stepfather had stabbed her once. I want to cry. I feel like I'm smothering in this tiny, dirty room.

I wash quickly between her legs and turn the water off. I lay some towels out on the floor and lift her out of the tub and onto the towels, then grab another and start patting her dry.

Clothes. She needs clothes. I dig around for awhile before finding some clothing that doesn't absolutely reek, and I dress her gently. She reminds me of a rag doll I used to have--listless. Boneless. Like an infant.

Gathering all my strength, I lift her up and carry her to the bed. I lay her down gently before pulling the sheets down from under her and tossing them in the corner. I don't know yet whether I'm going to wash them or just burn them.

I cover her in some of the less damp towels and watch her sleep for a minute before setting about cleaning up the room. After I get it looking halfway decent, I steal one of her cigarettes and light it, laying next to her and staring at the ceiling.

God, Faith. What have we done?

It's a few days before Willow comes up with an idea. A spell that will let me into Faith's brain, into her mind, to see what she sees and force her out of it. It's risky, but do-able and I know in my heart of hearts that I'll do anything to save her.


I fall into her mind, a swirling black hole. I can't see myself and I've never felt so much nothing before. It's frightening, how much nothing there is in the world, how much emptiness there is. The spaces no one knows about, and I am in one of them. Falling. Spiraling.

I expect to crash when I land, like Alice in the rabbit hole but instead I just.. appear. One minute there is nothing and then there is me. I am whole again and everything is white now, opposite. Light and sterile. Like heaven, I imagine.

Somewhere, a baby cries and I wonder that she can remember back that far. Then I realize it's her in the bed with people in white surrounding her and sounding frantic. They shout strange words and she's cursing and crying, screaming at them and thrashing on the bed. Her hair is pasted to her sweaty forhead and her gown is falling down in the front, but no one seems to notice. Her breasts are swollen with milk waiting tro be expressed and her sobs match her daughter's.

"Give her to me. Give her to me. Please!"

Tears slide down my cheeks and my heart breaks when they hand her the baby.

She's not crying anymore, and this young version of Faith is a sick shade of pale green. One by one, the doctors leave and it is her, just her and me and us and this lifeless infant--so tiny. Too tiny to live. Faith's sickly skinny with dark circles under her eyes and she's muttering something about it being too early and being all her fault.

"Faith.." I whisper, holding my hand out to her.

She looks at me, pale and drawn. Her hair is thin and limp, her arms scarred. Then suddenly she's standing beside the bed with her hands around the infant's neck. "I killed her." It's only a flash and she's in bed again, cuddling the tiny corpse and singing to it softly.

"Blackbird singin' in the dead of night.. take these broken wings and learn to fly."

They come back, those sterile coats and squeaky shoes, and they wrench the baby from her. The memory fades to black with the sound of her desperate screams.

I close my eyes with her pain and when I open them I am in a dank trailer, watching a Faith of about eight getting beat with a belt. It smacks across her bare ass time and time again, until the welts begin to bleed. The figure holding the belt is blurry and dark and ignoring her screams.

An older Faith sidles up beside me and crosses her arms. "Helluva guy," she says in that lilting Southie accent. "S'my dad."

"God, Faith.. I'm so sorry."

"Don't be. It's all just desserts, anyway. Did something to deserve it."

The scrawny little Faith finally crumples to the floor and the figure kicks her before walking away, snapping the belt as he goes. Minutes go by before a strung-out looking woman in her twenties crawls across the floor and pulls Faith's bruised body into her lap, cradling her like a baby.

"No one deserves that," I whisper, and she shrugs, walking away.

Her mother rocks the child version of her, singing softly. "All your life. You were only waiting for this moment to be free.."

The tears come before I am dropped into darkness once again.

"I named her Alice," her voice comes from nowhere and everywhere at once as I fall. "Go ask Alice when she's ten feet tall," she sings quietly. "My baby was ten feet tall to me. The only thing I ever did right in my life. But she was gone."

Her narrative is cut short by another scream as a slightly older version of herself drapes herself over the still form of her mother. The air around me is filled with the desperate, hopeless sobs of a child who's just had everything taken away from her. The Faith next to me snaps her fingers and we're in that sterile hospital room again, watching her cradle her lost child.

She looks up at me from the bed and holds the baby out. I step towards her tentatively and take the infant from her, surprised at how small she is. I stick one finger in her clenched fist and wiggle her arm a little. If not for the lack of movement, I would think she was just sleeping. Even in death, her little hand is clenched tightly around me.

"Her eyes were blue," Faith whispers from the bed, her scrawny arms folded across her hips. "Blackbird fly, into the light of the dark black night.."

It almost distracts me from my purpose, and I want to stay here forever and hold her and keep her and Alice safe, but I have a reason for being here. To bring Faith back to me.

"But what about the guy in the alley?" I ask her, and she frowns.

"I killed him, too."

"You didn't kill her," I whisper, my voice cracking with emotion. Oh, God, Faith, is that what you think? Is that what you carry? This guilt, this helplessness. This straw that broke your back.

There aren't words. So I take her in my arms and kiss her forehead. Hers and Alice's and I whisper softly to her, "All your life.."

Her hand squeezes my finger like Alice's and everything is dark again, only I can feel her with me. I can feel her and Alice and the pain inside me as I pull her out and then I blink and we're in the motel room and she's crying.

I take her in my arms and kiss her head and she sobs and sobs and my heart breaks listening to her. Willow leaves quietly but I stay for hours, just holding her. Take these broken wings and learn to fly, I think. She looks up and kisses me and I fall again but in a different way and I know now why I was allowed to see. Why I could feel her and know her. I feel like I've been waiting for her forever.

"All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise.."


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