Legacy - By Denise Tompkins

Chapter One

If sleep deprivation driving was an Olympic sport I’d be gold medaling tonight. Exhausted after so many sleepless nights, the effects of jet lag were a real concern. However I was determined that on my first day in England I would get to Stonehenge, damned roundabouts notwithstanding. There was no reason, valid or otherwise, that I had to see Stonehenge immediately. It was a draw, a pull, some inner-compass leading me there. Unfortunately that same compass didn’t have a true north, so I was stuck wandering, chasing the famous megalith on a strange British map.

The sun had long since set, and the roads were inky paths bleeding black through the grassy hills and across the plains of Wiltshire. I hadn’t passed another car in more than a half hour, and it was a lonely feeling. It was Mid-Summer’s Eve, at least for a little while longer. According to the car rental clerk, a strange little man with violet eyes, it was a beautiful time to be here. We’d see about that when the sun rose, hopefully finding me having seen Stonehenge and finding my way back to my hotel in London. I thought it reasonable to assume I’d see it, satisfy this slightly obsessive inner draw, then come back later as a traditional, mentally stable tourist. I rounded a corner, lost in thoughts of feather-topped mattresses and 600-thread-count sheets, and I nearly missed it. I screeched to a halt and backed up, weaving like a drunk. I was gobsmacked at its size and beauty, by the subtle power implied by the huge stones set atop others like door lintels. Cloaked in moonlight and shadows, the stone circle appeared as it had in my dream and, though it seemed imposing, it still called to me like a siren’s song. I parked the tiny car haphazardly on the edge of the small road, unfolded myself from the driver’s seat and walked toward the stones.

A small, nagging pulse began to build at the base of my skull, worsening with every step I took closer to the standing stone circle. I shook my head, trying unsuccessfully to clear the fuzziness that descended. Pressure built until my ears needed to pop, and I worked my jaw to no avail. Still I moved forward. I stumbled when, in a moment of clarity, I remembered the stones been fenced off years ago to prevent just this sort of thing. Perhaps something had changed, I thought. Perhaps. My mind shifted to the dense shadows cast by the tall stones and my concern dissipated, a puff of breath in the cold air.

The night was silent save for the sound of the wind. It was clear and cool, bordering on cold, and my little windbreaker wasn’t really jacket enough. I couldn’t bring myself to leave, though, even to go back to the car for a heavier coat. I wandered among the stones, thinking about their history and mine, wondering what would be left of me after so long. Would I leave a mysterious legacy? Or would I crumble under the elements and disappear? The latter felt more likely.

I paced the circle and drew my fingertips over the weathered stones in no repeatable pattern as I walked this circle from my dreams. The intermittently clinging moss lent a random slickness that contrasted harshly with the weather-roughened stone. There was a sense of peace that came from standing within what I had come to think of as my circle. I trailed my fingertips around the largest of the standing stones and looked up. What an unbelievable night sky. The stars were so dense they made me dizzy. I stumbled to the altar stone and lay across it like the proverbial sacrifice. The alter stone was somehow smaller than I thought it would be, and, in turn, it made me feel smaller, insignificant. Tears slipped from my eyes unbidden, sliding passed my temples and into my hair, leaving cold tracks the breeze danced across. I felt broken, adrift. My parents had been my mentors and my very best friends. Losing them was a physical pain I wasn’t sure I could withstand. Eleven months since the accident, and I still didn’t know how I was going to live without them.

The night sky was so close it felt like I could touch the stars and pluck them one by one from the heavens. I picked one out of the infinity, a less brilliant one toward what I assumed was the south, and thought, Starlight, star