Transformation days are the worst. Even your own body hates you. Every emotion and nerve ending is amplified nearly beyond bearable. Not only are you a mass of overwhelming emotion, but a roiling tumultuous ball of pain as your body is warped and maneuvered to fit the mold you designated. Even thinking about transformation days make my stomach heave, but that is life here in the Veranda; fix all the flaws, make yourself into perfection, choose the right mold and live ‘happily’. Happiness is an act. The Verandans fool themselves with jewels and food, parties and intrigue, but they don’t understand happiness like those who have lived in the fringe. Still, we put on this facade; it looks like we have it made, and every day there are more and more Fringers that try to sneak into the city. Maybe if they knew just how much pain we put ourselves through for a fake happiness they wouldn’t try so hard to get in… I know I would have stayed in my hovel in the forests of the Fringe.
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, so here’s a story for your enjoyment:
The water falls beautifully, cascading hard and fast. Silently, she turns to her horse, his black hide riddled with sweat and brush. With ease she removed his tack and grabbed a bar of soap from the saddle bag. Silently she stripped off her sweaty clothes and moved with her steed through a less dense portion of the waterfall.
The water pounds upon her shoulders, massaging away the knots formed by a journey’s stress, Deftly she scrubs her bare skin, reveling in the rough texture of the soap. The dirt and grime are scoured away. She lathers her hands and combs them through her hair and then turns to her horse, cleaning him and massaging his muscles, singing all the while. Her song flows with the water, weaving in and out of its beating time. She is nearly finished when she sees a shadow on the other side of the waterfall, the shape of a man. Swiftly using Diazen as a living curtain she darts behind him, retrieving solely her long shirt in a desperate attempt to cover herself. It is then that a face appears clearly. She curses, wishing she had grabbed her sword instead.
He leered at her when he saw the majority of her clothes folded on the rock along with her sword. His lusting grin sent chills down her spine and she shivered, wrapping the fabric close to her. How had he found them? He must have followed them from the ship.
“Come here pretty,” he jeered, obviously drunk on his ration of rum, “Come give me a kiss.” One look at those eyes told her that one simple kiss was the last thing on his mind. She backed away, Diazen with her, backing to the wall. He followed, his comments now too crude to repeat.
“Dallin,” she cried, “Go back to the ship now or you are forfeiting your life.” He paid her no heed, moving forward towards her like a madman. With a sharp inhalation of breath she whispered a command to Diazen. With a shriek he reared up, striking with hooves at the offender. She ran, the white shirt billowing behind her, her dark brown hair a mess of wet curls plastered to her brow. Dallin retreated from Diazen’s flashing hooves, chasing after her. In one fluid motion she drew her sword and spun, spun just as Dallin reached her, his momentum was too great to stop and he ran himself onto her sword.
She collapsed, pulling her sword from his body, his blood twirling away int the current, staining the crystal stream red.
She cried, shaking all over as she sat in the water, her tears mingling with the flowing rivulets of the river. Softly Diazen approached her, nuzzling her hair and wuffing in her face. Slowing her breathing and pulling herself together, she hugs his head, allowing him to lift her back to standing. Slowly she washes her sword free of blood, sliding it back into its sheath, Then with a sigh, she drags Dallin’s corpse to the edge of a cliff, rolling him off it to avoid polluting the water. Walking back, she sees her reflection, a frightened girl reminiscent of her tortured childhood staring back at the woman she’d become, their blue eyes rimmed with tears, their brown hair messy and tangled, red blood staining their hands and face, wearing only a long shirt. She dropped to her reflection, calmly washing away the blood. Then, she stood and dressed, leaving what happened in the past. Quickly she tacked Diazen, and with a last pat to his nose and a half an apple for each of them, she mounted, riding off back into the forest, making her way into the heart of the land, departing from the sea and the memories of her past.
The leaves fell, fell like her tears. They hit the ground, making no sound, just wet imprints beneath her. Her tears chorused down her face, leaving trails twisting and turning, just like those she had followed to get there. In her hand she held the letter, crumpled against the rotting wood she sat upon. The moss on the log smeared, smudging the page. He’s gone, gone. The thoughts ring hollow, just as her sobs ring through the forest. Only this morning his commander appeared, missing for months is what he said, dead likely as not. It was then she took off, running blindly into the forest, the one place she could always find solace.
But not today. She hugged her arms around herself, doubling over in pain, wishing she could die instead of feel such agony. She was in a fog, a mist, a storm of grief. Impenetrable. She lowered her face to her folded knees, her sobs softening as they are muffled by her clothing, black hair falling over her face like a curtain, blocking out the sunlight filtering through the leaves, blocking out life.
He knew where she would be, he had met his commander on the lane to her house. She believed him dead, and there was only one place she would go. He ran to the forest, heart pounding, lungs expanding. He ran for all he was worth, and then stopped short at the scene before him. The sunlight filtered down around her, she resembled a woodland fairy, dressed in greens and browns, crumpled in on herself, shoulders shaking. Silently he walks to her side and drops to one knee next to her. Softly, he tilts her chin upwards so she is gazing at him. He brushes a tear away and grasping her shoulders lifts her to her feet, embracing her securely.
A dead man stood before her, his frosty eyes the same as in life, his strength undiminished; he pulls her up, wrapping her in his embrace. Her arms instinctively fasten behind his neck, clinging to him for dear life, the tears flowing again. After ages, she loosens her grip, looking, searching his face, confused. He’s dead, yet he’s here, alive. And then she tests his existence. She reaches up to his lips, slowly kissing them, knowing he would respond if he truly lived.
That kiss revived him, awakening him for the first time in years. He could taste her familiarity, feel the texture of her lips as he ran his tongue over them, the foreign taste of salty tears she cried. Her kiss reawaked his desire for her, stirred something deep in his core, a need to be close to her, closer. Her kiss is paralyzing, he slowly sinks to the ground, using the log as support, dragging her down on top of him.
She locks arms and legs around him, never wishing to be parted from him again, gripping with all her strength to hold him to her, never letting him go. Her fingers tangle in his long brown hair as she lays upon him; heart to heart, breath to breath, chest to chest. They were one, after years of separation and moments of desolation, they were together again.
Eventually she loosened her grip on him and, sliding partially off his chest she whispered, “They told me you were dead.”
Looking back deeply into her eyes he replied, “Without you, I would be.”
Her green eyes glowed as she kissed his cheek. She settled herself against him, arm across his chest, one leg bent over his, his arms securely around her. The stars shined down on them in the little clearing, watching over them as they slept, peacefully, in each others arms.