Once upon a winters evening, Meynar sits bundled in a quilt by the fire. The look in her eyes reflects that of a cold girl on the street. The eyes wander in terror, searching for someone to care; but Meynar sits alone.

The flames in the grate dance and leap, mocking the winter weather. Wild bursts of energy surge from the spirit of the fire. A tiny girl toddles over to the edge of the quilt. A sigh escapes from the little child, and a smile creeps over Meynar's face.

"Meyna! Meyna! I wuv oo!" the small girl crows.

"I love you too, Elene." Meynar replies. The girl, Elene, grins radiantly and wiggles her pudgy toes. Her glossy black curls bounce with a life of their own, and she snuggles close to the tall girl wrapped in the blanket. A stray strand of mud brown hair settles on Elene's button nose. The shapely organ wiggles, and the sisters burst into laughter.

"Oh Elene, what would I do without you to brighten my days?" Meynar whispers inaudibly. Somewhere in the hidden corridors of her guarded mind, a malicious voice replies.

"You'd go crazy. Even with the girl you just know its not far away."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The voices. They're calling. Help! Help! Oh, god, please, make them go away! I never asked for such a curse. It's morning now. Early morning, about 2:30. They'll go away soon, they always do. I know- I'll take a walk beneath the stars. That'll help. The voices, I've had them so long, hidden them for so long. No one else hears them. No one ever has. I'm going to the door now, to walk and forget what they're saying. Don't go! Listen! Please! They moan, they cry, and beg me to listen. But I mustn't. I'm crazy enough as it is. I need to keep my grip on reality to survive.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The night is cold, and the girl trudges down the street, white throat thrown back and brilliant green eyes gazing longingly at the stars. The specks of light twinkle, as they have every night for centuries, cryptic and merciless.

"Poor fools, crawling down there on your bit of cosmic dust- do not call upon us to save you from this life you have chosen. Take what you have and fix it yourselves" they seem to call, spitting on Meynar's soul and making her feel like the insignificant blip on the radar of life that she was. If nothing else, these little after-midnight strolls put Meynar in her place. That thought- that no one will notice if she meets oblivion any second, is depressing enough to make her forget about the voices that cried to her, and the nagging little fact that child protection services will be taking Elene away soon.

As she reaches the edge of the cliff that marks the end of Meynar's nightly routine, she stares out over the valley of sparkling lights. How freeing it would be to just fly out into that pit of a sky- to soar away from this awful life and her voices. To finally, if only for one precious moment, be totally and utterly free.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

How beautiful. So peaceful. Who needs nature when civilization gives us such pretty sights on its own? Mother would love this view, if she were alive. Every time I come here I think of her. I'll never touch that awful soul poison that killed mother. I'll leave the guzzling of champagne at weddings and beer in bars to everyone else. Wait, the voices, they're starting , please. Look at who you came from. You can't run from your past forever.

~*~*~*~*~ *~*~*~*~

"Mey Mey, honey, have you seen my pen? I need to fill out this resume. Mey, sweets, you'd better not be wasting the ink on a story- I can't afford another pen until I get some money. Use one of those nice pencils we found at the library. Oh, and baby, could you write on the napkins? I need the paper for the resume too." An obviously pregnant woman with raven locks and a tired smile calls. In a corner of the small room a tiny girl with straight brown hair sits clasping a pen and smudged piece of lined paper, scribbling fairytale stories about happy families and indulgent fathers. Sadly she hands over her treasures.

The door swings open and a drunken man stumbles in. His bloodshot eyes dart about in nearly mechanical paranoia. They come to rest on the woman who has moved to shield her child. His slurred voice fills the diminutive shack.

"So, the slut hides in the corner. Sick pregnant bitch. Sit at home eating my hard earned food and getting yourself pregnant with more bastard children." The man lifts his hand to strike the woman, but the trembling girl behind her darts forward to grasp her father's beer stained hand.

"Daddy! No!" she cries. The heavy man explodes at his child.

"Don't you ever call me that! You're not my child. You never will be. I'm out of here." The man turns awkwardly around, throwing the girl aside. He grabs the vodka from the fridge and exits the house, never to return. The child runs to her mother and buries her innocent face into the large woman's chest.

"Daddy." She whispers.

and the voices reply.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Meynar falls to her knees at the edge of the precipice. Bitter tears fill her eyes. If only she had been born with her fathers hair and eyes. Maybe then mommy wouldn't have freed herself and daddy would have stayed. Maybe- maybe they would still be a family.

Somewhere, a wisp of smoke rose from a newspaper put too close to an ungrated fireplace. Somewhere a little girl awoke surrounded in flames. Somewhere a familiar voice screamed. Somewhere inside Meynar something cried warning. On her feet in an instant, Meynar sprinted home, finally heeding the screaming voices.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Run! Hurry! You fool! You aren't the only one in that godforsaken hole in the wall you call home! WHAT ABOUT ELENE? The voices screeched.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Meynar rounds the corner and sees wild plumes of fire delicately devouring her tiny home. Already firefighters have arrived and are trying to drown the blaze.

She rushes up to the first firefighter. As she opens her mouth to speak, the man silently points to a girl sitting quietly in a neighbors arms. When Meynar approaches, Elene just turns away.

Completely understanding her sisters reaction, Meynar turns and walks back the way she came, oddly calm. This is the time to be free.

She ignores the people calling her name, wanting only to be gone. Nothing holds her from the edge. She reaches the cliff, and sits to compose her last thoughts. It does not take long- she has nothing to say.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

You hate us that much? The voices whimper. They have tried to serve their master well. But this master does not want servants- just silence. It is not the voices she hates, nor the truth they tell her. She hates the stars. She is going to join them now, prove to them she can control her life- she will go and prove-

"No."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Meynar has unconsciously risen to her feet. She is about to take the step into freedom, when her voices are interrupted. Someone else speaks. Someone else scares them away. They will not come back. for now.

"Don't leave me alone again." Elene whispers. Gasping as tears fall from her eyes, Meynar runs to her sister. They sit in each others arms crying tears of love until the sun rises over the hill. The edge once more becomes just an end to a road. They stand, and hands clasped together, walk away from this end into a freedom Meynar has never considered.