She inspected her reflection in the bathroom mirror, scrutinizing every detail. She was clean and whole and very much as her patchy memory, confirmed by the photographs displayed in her bedroom and around the house, said she should look. She frowned, and so did the woman staring back at her. She could not shake the feeling that something was still missing.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
Dawn hovered in the open doorway, her bright eyes full of worry.
It had been three days since she crawled out of her grave. She was not okay.
Her sister had been hovering all that time, unwilling to let her out of her sight, as though she might disappear the moment Dawn’s back was turned. She couldn’t really blame her. She didn’t have the energy to feel anything other than apathetic at the moment. One would think that after a couple of months in the ground, she’d feel more rested.In the ground.
“Huh?” She looked up, realizing belatedly that Dawn had been calling her name. Now she was really starting to look concerned.
“I said, are you sure you’re okay?”
She smiled. The woman in the mirror grimaced. “I’m just a little tired, you know?”
Dawn looked unsure, but nodded. “If you want to – totalk, I mean, you can tell me anything. Unless it’s totally ickworthy.” She pulled a face.
This time she smiled genuinely at her sister’s attempt at levity, but it was gone in a matter of seconds. What was there to talk about? How could she ever put into words the simultaneity of her feelings; that she knew in her bones that she was here to fulfill a purpose, a calling, but at the same time, felt like she was never meant to rise from the ground? She imagined what Dawn’s face would look like if she described to her the secret yearning deep inside her chest to slip down amongst the grave dirt and plant matter and curl up like a child returning to the womb. This world was full ofloud andbright and it was almost more than she could bear.
She couldn’t say any of that, of course. Dawnie, of all people, would never understand.
“You should probably go to bed,” she said instead. “School night, right?”
“Yeah, okay.” Dawn frowned and bit her lip. “You should get some rest, too.”
“I will,” she promised. “Goodnight.”
Dawn hugged her forcefully and then pulled away too fast. “Love you, Buffy.” With one last glance over her shoulder, she padded off down the hall to her bedroom.Your name is Buffy,
Buffy reminded her reflection for the hundredth time.