Sleep would not come easily for Aisling, but it seldom ever did. The woman often coveted sleep and the freedom that only dreams would allow. It had been something to look forwards to, especially after suffering days without. However, for the first time in some time, she now fought the need to do so.
It had begun shortly after the transition to her new home. The move had taken the better part of a week and promised no end to preoccupation. There was always something needing to be done or unpacked, as well as her new found responsibility with the newest doduo of the ranch. The exhausting work had brought blissful ease in her struggle for slumber. A hard day's work, the warmth of the man's chest against her back, and the slow, rhythmic movement of his breathing were enough to lull her into the realm she'd become so accustomed to. The first few nights had been seemingly ordinary, until something unpleasant began tugging at the seams of her fabricated world.
That something...that someone...Had first strayed into the very fringes of her nightly romps. A face in the crowd, another figure in the background of a cityscape or grand ball. Yet, every night, they grew closer and bit by bit more defined. It had become unsettling to sleep beneath the watchful eyes of that person. Sleep came later and less until finally ceasing, something she became thankful for.
But that couldn't last forever.
Sleep came easily for her as physical exhaustion forcefully dragged her into unconsciousness and there she found the figure waiting for her.
The affair was atypical to the vibrant landscapes of her normal creations. Rather, Aisling found herself in a kitchen. Their kitchen to be precise...or, rather, Alex's kitchen. There she found herself comfortably enough seated across the very person she had been avoiding, now unable to put off any longer what she'd come to dread. As she spoke, her heart sank into her stomach. “Hello...Bridget.”
The drillbur woman, Bridget, was every inch of what Aisling remembered her to be. Or, more accurately, as Alex remembered her. The woman had been torn from the man's nightmare and buried deep within her memory to spare him that terror. When ingested, the woman had been covered in dirt and blood. A dodrio had clawed the poor woman up with its talons, leaving her corpse in mud at Alex's feet. But now, now she was as she had been intended to be. Bridget had soft, grey eyes and thick, dark lashes. No bangs obscured her features but instead curled softly around them, framing her profile with rich brown waves. It likely came from her totem, much as Aisling's own hues reflected the Drowzee. Yet, no dirt marred her, despite her claim. Instead, the woman was dressed and kept smartly in a dress of navy blue, her hands folded lightly on the table before her, accenting her well kept nails. She was beautiful...and in that way, Aisling couldn't bear to look at her for very long, her eyes dropping to the table.
Her brows furrowed as she forced herself to break the quiet again, “You've come to tell me to leave Alex, haven't you? That I'm not good enough – that I'll never live up to how he loved you, is that it?! I've seen you stalking me and I'm sick of it! I already know that, so back off!” The bitterness of the words burned in her throat, her voice faltering as she quieted her outburst, “I don't want to leave...I'm sorry. I know it's selfish...”
The silence lasted for a few minutes before, out of an unfamiliar person, came a familiar voice. “Aisling, please don't cry...” If not bidden by her fears, the voice bade them forwards. Given that she could only imagine voices she had heard before, the figment had been lent one she had not heard in all the years she had been running. Her mother. It was enough that she looked up immediately in the shock of it, finding that the woman wasn't entirely unlike her mother with the gentle expression of concern she wore.
Reaching out to take Aisling's hand, Bridget gave a gentle squeeze and shook her head. “Is that what you thought this was about? Aisling...sweetheart...it's ok. I'm not here to ask you to leave. I came to ask you to stop...” Stop? Confused, she shook her head and pulled away from the gentle touch. “What do you mean stop? Stop sleeping?” The very idea was ludicrous, exhausting, but something she was almost willing to entertain if it meant avoiding the comforting voice and sad eyes.
“To stop feeling guilty...to stop blaming yourself, and worrying whether or not you and I will ever be alike. You're so afraid of not living up to what I meant to him, you don't realize how much you mean. Don't you understand that?” The question was met as Aisling sank lower in her seat, as though the weight of it were dragging her into the floor. “I've heard what Alex has had to say about you and he's right. You're kind, beautiful and I'm-” “Just the same.” “Hardly so. I'm brusque, quick to anger, and plain. I can see why he loved you...”
The lower she sank, the more palatable the dream became to her emotion, allowing her to disappear as though into quicksand. All that kept her above the sinking point was Bridget reaching across the table to grab hold of her ears, suspending her there. “You're not listening to me, Aisling. Do you think you would be here if he didn't care about you? Take a look at yourself!”
And with a firm tug on the woman's ears, Aisling did just that. She had no choice, really, for she found herself suddenly in the house of mirrors she had once walked with the Nidorino. Confused, she found her reflection suddenly sporting a familiar dress of navy blue and the daffodil pin in her hair. The reflection did not show the dark circles of exhaustion or the frayed, worn look she kept but instead showed something a far cry from. Just as she used to keep herself, her reflection was a sight...prettier...something she couldn't outright deny as Bridget's reflection joined hers and she turned to find the woman standing there. “You're beautiful, Aisling. And you're kind too. You remember this place and what you did here, don't you?” Nodding, she murmured softly, “I removed his quills here. That's all...but it made him happy.”
Smiling fondly, Bridget brushed her fingertips against the daffodil pin. “And that's what matters to you, and to me. We may not have stayed in love but please continue to make him happy and allow yourself to be happy. You've earned your rest, so stop worrying and live. Tomorrow's another day.” Then, just as gentle as her smile, the Drillbur woman hugged her tightly. The world went black.
It returned in an instant, though not the maze she had been standing in a second before. Instead, her eyes took a moment to adjust to the light of daybreak and the gentle shift of weight at her back. She could feel Alex's languid stretch and his care in trying not to disturb her rest. Rolling over, she nestled in close. It came as a surprise to the man, having thought her still asleep, but he placed arm around her and offered a squeeze of reassurance. Lifting her face from his chest, she smiled warmly at him, relieved for the first time in days. “Good morning...it's another day.”