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Zara took a deep breath. The rain earlier had left the garden smelling beautiful; the scent of rain, flowers, and freshly cut grass all mingled together. Combined with the lengthening gloom of the evening and the relief of the cool night air after the heat of the day, it was perfect.

She walked through the garden and breathed in a new sense of calm, drawing peace from the grass beneath her feet. She stopped beside a tall flower bush bearing big yellow blossoms, exactly the same shade as her dress, and gazed at it.

“Beautiful evening, isn’t it?”

She looked around and stared. In the half light, she could almost swear that the woman who spoke was wearing the same dress as she was.

“I suppose,” she said. The woman moved closer. She was wearing the same dress. She had the same hairstyle too. Kind of creepy, Zara thought. She turned back to the flower bush, hoping the woman would get the hint and go away. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the flutter of the other woman’s skirt as she stopped a couple of feet away.

“The Magus Zoroaster, my dead child,” the woman said.

“What?” Zara turned, confused, but the woman was nowhere to be seen.

The smell of flowers seemed to grow stronger as Zara grew faint; the air no longer seemed cool as she sank to her knees in the lengthening gloom.

© Kari Fay

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