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Suu-Kyi and Marie

From "Raji, Book Four, The House of the West Wind",                                      Chapter One

The little girl and I stared at each other, her face without the slightest trace of emotion, and mine, I imagine, with a look of disbelief at what had just happened. Hearing the woman say Kayin’s name hit me hard, but I tried to soften my expression for the girl’s benefit.

I had only just managed to rearrange my shock into a look of kindness when I heard a faint tap on the door.

“Thank goodness, she’s come back for you.”

I pulled open the door and took the girl by the shoulder, gently pushing her out into what I expected to be the waiting arms of a repentant old woman. To my surprise, no one was there, at least not at eye-level. But when I looked down, another little girl appeared! An exact copy of the first one, including the sleeping mat. The two of them gazed at each other for a moment, with neither surprise nor recognition showing on their serene little faces. Then, as one, they turned to look up at me.

I leaned out over them, glancing up and down the hall. I didn’t see anyone; not the old woman, not a bellhop, not even another guest. I then checked both sides of the doorway, making sure a third or fourth child wasn’t waiting to give me that blue-eyed, all too-innocent look. The girls copied my every movement, looking here and there, then back up at me, but neither they nor I saw any more children.

Thank God!

The girls took each other’s hands and walked past me into the room. They went to the cushioned rattan couch, sat, and scooted back, their bare feet dangling in the air. I knew from the irregular bulges in their rolled-up mats that they were used not only for sleeping, but also carried within them all their possessions. The two girls adjusted the mats across their laps and settled themselves on the couch.

I closed the door and took the rattan chair facing the girls. The chair next to me was empty, yet filled with a ghostly presence. It was almost as if Kayin had died and left me two small copies of herself.

“What happened?” I didn’t mean for the question to come out into the air; it should have gone in silence toward the vacant chair.   

When I looked to the girls, I saw no indication they understood my words.