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It was given to her for her baptism by an aunt her mother considered crazy and she would come to consider beloved. A small blanket of gray silk, beautifully trimmed in a darker gray thread. Her mother insisted it was extravagant and impractical for a baby, but she loved its softness and its cool smoothness. She'd nuzzle her tiny body deep inside the square so much larger than she and purr happily. Her mother repeatedly tried to give her other bankies, cotton, beautiful, hand knit, but she wouldn't have it. She fussed and threw fits and cried until they were taken away. She liked her gray puddle and would have nothing else. It got dirty, of course, as all things belonging to babies do, but it still stayed oddly clean for the abuse she gave it.

Over her young years, she carried that blanket with her everywhere. She clung closer to it than Linus ever did to his. It was her softpretty, and she loved it. As she got older, she asked her mother where it came from. But her mom did not like to speak of "that" aunt, and muttered something that half-satisfied her young mind.

"Witchcraft", the mother muttered to her husband when she thought she was out of hearing of her daughter. "That damn woman has enchanted our daughter. I knew we should never trust her. That blanket's bad news."
"Dear... don't be like that, please sweetheart? I know she doesn't believe the same things we do, but she is my sister. Just let her be, alright?"

The blanket accumulated dirt and scratches and tears over the years. And then it really was too tired to be a blanket anymore, and she was too old for a blanket anyway. Her mother tried to hide it, take it away and hope she'd forget it. But she noticed it was missing, each and every time. And she let the whole household know it. Finally, her father convinced her mother to give it back. But her mother was too embarrassed for the girl to have a blanket, going on eight. So she took it to a friend who was a brilliant seamstress. And the softpretty came back as a small silk stuffed gray kitten. And she adored it. She named the little creature "Whisper" and loved him more than before.

Whisper went everywhere with her, for some years. And in time she decided on her own she was too old for stuffed animals ALL the time. So Whisper lived on her bed most of the time. But still, when she went to a friend’s to spend the night, or when she was scared or afraid, Whisper was still there, loyal as always. And when she finally—over her mother’s loud protests--went to spend a week with that aunt who gave her her softpretty in the first place, Whisper went along. And her aunt was enchanted with the little kitten and thrilled her gift was still so cherished. And she told the young girl, just on the cusp of teenagehood, important things.

“I see you are learning, somewhat, already… but there may be times where you don’t agree with your mother. You know she never wanted you to have this blanket. I’m sure you’ve heard her mutter about it when she thinks you won’t hear. And she didn’t want you to visit me either. You’re only here because I’m your father’s only sibling, and we grew up together and he’s always liked me. He has a bit of a soft spot for me, and your mother gave in as to not anger him. These are only firsts in the chain of times you may not agree with her, or him. I just want you to know that you can talk to me about whatsoever you choose. And I hope you will. I … I’m pretty good at understanding.” And then she took the girl out and bought a beautiful green ribbon for the kittens neck, forest green with a little bronze jingle bell.

And one summer the girl went off to camp. And she got lost in friends and fun and games and freedom and excitement. And in packing to go home after the session, eager to go back to her “boyfriend” of a week and wanting to see her friends again, and frustrated under the fussing of her parents to hurry up, in all this chaos, Whisper fell behind the bunk. And was left there. She only noticed when she was back home… five hours away, and her mother was NOT going back. She was glad her daughter was rid of the accursed creature. Whisper, though, stayed there waiting for her faithfully until his silken body finally rotted and his stuffing fell out and in a strange twist on nature the cat became a home for a family of mice.

She was heartbroken. Absolutely inconsolable, and wanted nothing out of life but her softpretty back. At least this is what her mother thought. It could have been the truth. It could have been normal teen angst. She was, after all, fourteen and just starting to discover the world. No on ever knew which it really was. She never told. But either way. She was mopey. Depressed most of the time, and the sparkle that used to live in her eyes was rarely there anymore.

“I TOLD you it’s ‘that woman’! It’s her, she’s cursed our daughter. You know it as well as I do! And don’t tell me otherwise!”
“Please… I… I don’t know what to say, sweetheart. She’s my sister, and I love her. I don’t think she’d hurt our child. I’ve seen them together. She adores the girl.”
They never really got the issue resolved. Ever.

It was her sixteenth birthday, now. She woke up a little earlier than usual, with a mote of the old sparkle in her eyes. It was HER special day. And her new boyfriend had promised her a nice dinner and she hoped for her first kiss. She walked down for breakfast, and presents. Her parents, always doting on their first child, gave her many nice things. And then the last present came out. It had been hidden in the other room until now. It was long, and squishy, and terribly odd. A bolt of gray silk. Her father had bought her an entire bolt of the beautiful material on one of his business trips. She beamed and hugged him, and just SHONE all day.

Not much later that year, she was getting ready for prom. She took her bolt, with her mother’s car and permission, to a seamstress. Her dress she had designed herself, with the help of the dreams in her head and the fantasies that ran through her brain. And she had her dress made out of that beautiful, beautiful dove gray silk. And her mother, although she cursed the silk for stealing her child, almost approved. At least she’d used the material for a normal purpose. A prom dress. How more mundane do you get than that? And so the dress was made.

And when she came down the stairs for her date to pick her up to take her to dinner, he was dumbfounded. As he drove her to dinner, at the restaurant her ex had taken her for her birthday, the restaurant which ended it all, the restaurant from which he left and tried to get much more than a kiss, the restaurant, THAT restaurant, all this charming boy could do was marvel at her. “You… you’re beautiful. I’ve never, ever seen a dress like that!” “Of course not. There isn’t another one. This is MY dress.” She replied, smiling softly at him.

She always wore that dress after that, any night, any dance where she wanted to feel like a goddess. It was a dress like she’d never seen before. It was completely hers. Over the years she had to alter it a bit, tucking here and hemming there, as her figure changed, but always remained slim and beautiful. When she wore the dress she felt like she had wings of a dove as gray as her silk. Then, she floated.

But that was not the end of the silk either. Her mother thought the bolt was all used in the dress but some remained, which she kept and hid. And during her college years, she discovered she did not like the path upon which she was raised. And she searched for other beliefs. And she, in time, grew to follow the path her aunt had been berated for, years and years ago. Her mother, of course, never knew. That would have been too painful for both of them. But her aunt was told, and smiled. And her aunt took the rest of that silk and made her a beautiful ritual robe which she wore at her initiation, and again as she attained her priestess ranks throughout the years. And although she never told anyone outside that group her full magical name, she admitted once that it had “Whisper” in it… in memory of that kitten.

That young man who was so in awe of that dress, she met again, years later through a mutual friend. He remembered the dress before he remembered her. This was what made her fall in love with him so deeply. He understood the same way she did. She wore that dress when they were married not too many months later. Her mother winced, both at the young man and the dress. But she reminded herself “it’s only a dress. Dresses are harmless.’ Her aunt only smiled. Her aunt was not at that wedding. But it was her aunt who handfasted the two, the week before, in the marriage they honored. It was her aunt who handfasted the girl who was, unsurprisingly, wearing the gray silk robe her aunt stitched for her years before.

And she lived her life. Her aunt eventually passed over to the greenworld, and the girl took the last tiny scraps of the cloth and made a gray rose of silk and buried that with her aunt. But she didn’t weep. Not much. She knew her aunt was in the goddess’ care, now and always. And she lived her life some more. She never had children. Her mother insisted it was biological, that there was something wrong with her womb. Her mother didn’t want to believe her daughter was so abnormal as to not want children. children were supposed to be one’s blessing, right? Her mother insisted this… even though her own daughter caused her mostly confusion. And there came a time when her mother wasn’t confused anymore, because her mother wasn’t living anymore. Until that day, though, her mother remained lost. And she lived her life some more. And from time to time, while living, she wore her dress to parties, and her robe to rituals, and kept her two lives apart.

Finally a day came she’d been expecting, but not really dreading. Her beloved husband was ill. Not so much in pain, but they’d gotten the lab reports. He was dying, falling apart slowly from the inside out. And there was nothing anyone could do about it. So they merely decided to stop living. Together they died, as together they had lived. And that was that.

Her niece, her brother’s daughter, was left in charge of her will. They had some money—enough to be comfortable but no great sum. The oddest part of the document, though, were provisions for the funeral. Her requests were expensive but she’d set apart a goodly sum of money to cover it. She as her last wish asked the dress and the robe be taken apart completely and sewn back together as one single bolt again. And that the coffin—a double coffin, for her and her love—be custom made, and lined with the silk. And that what was left after the box was lined be left as a sheet to cover the both of them from head to toe.

And so she ended her life as she began it… snuggled deep in a nest, in a puddle, in a blissful warm puddle of gray silk.

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