I see the rosary first. The loop is entwined between fingers and over hands clasped together in a solid grip as if for prayer. The pendant of the crucifix hangs over the knuckles in a way that strikes me at first as an apotropaic amulet, then as a visual censer, and lastly as a key to a lock that disturbs me with its implication.
So I look at the person holding it instead.
Her head is bowed. Her voice spills out from under the wide brim of the hat obscuring her face and flows over her chest and arms like mist. I know the language she is using but the individual words twist into obscurity before they reach my ears.
There is a calm enveloping her. It creeps around me and relaxes my guard. For all the viciousness she carries, I know I am not the target of her ire. This time.
A shadow moves behind her. It emerges from the unnoticed black behind her to solidify into an even darker form. The presence makes me afraid with its uncertain definition and impossible substance.
She stops speaking. She has sensed its emanation behind her.
“I was promised.” Her sharp words cut into my awareness. Her head is still bowed but her left hand releases the rosary and its twin to be lowered out of my range of sight.
The shadow behind her grows in height and width. It moves forward, not enough to touch her, but enough that without the vision’s supernatural knowledge I would have assumed it did. The shadow defines itself and as the indistinct becomes delineated, the sound of its becoming dulls my hearing.
The chestplate of the figure is clearly above the woman’s bowed head. Lacking any unnecessary markings or adornment, the black as pitch surface was so smooth, it generated its own light to reflect. Thickly armored arms held inhabited gauntlets over her shoulder in a simultaneous gesture of blessing, gesture of threat, and gesture of service. I could not tell which of those three applied to my presence and observation.
I followed the newly threaded lines up as the chestplate ended and nothing began. Over where an exposed neck and jaw should have been floated a utilitarian helm with the full face visor locked in the lowered position.
What had appeared behind her was not anything remotely human, but had taken on a humanlike appearance. For whose benefit, I wondered.
A soft sound caught my attention from both sides of the figure. I looked to the right and saw shadows rippling like the feathers of a massive wing. I looked to the left and saw the mirror form coming to a rest in the darkness.
I looked back to the helm of the shadowy figure and realized where I had seen it before.
“The promises will be kept.” The figure lowered its hands to hover just over the woman’s shoulders as it spoke. I felt a flash of panic at the sight and wanted to dash forward to pull the woman away from the…
I found I had no form here. I was only an observer and lacked even a voice to complain about my station much less interact with anything before me.
The woman’s head lifted. My face, my confident and empowered face, looked squarely at my position. My eyes focused on where my eyes would be if I were physically present in this vision.
“Nothing is as clear as you think you see.” She turned her head away slightly and smirked after she spoke. I knew the mocking gesture well. “Leave nothing on the table. Take it all back. Take yourself back.”
She said other things as well, but this is not the place to record them.
She raises her empty left hand to regrip its twin and the rosary. She lowers her face, allowing the wide brim of her hat to hide her face from me again. “I was promised.” The low monotone of her chant resumes in the language I know best and understand the least.
The [static] behind her lowered its hands to her sides without touching her to take up a stance that was both protective and threatening. The wings braced forward slightly as if to cup her with its presence. “The promises will be kept.”
The scene darkened as the vision came to an end.
I see the rosary last.
I first saw this aspect of myself shortly before making my official apostacy from Christianity. She has appeared for brief scenes since. While I cognitively know I have made strides to becoming and/or unifying with this aspect, she still feels just as distant and alien from me as from the first time I saw her.