The sun was so warm. Its touch on my face was so gentle. It made me anxious, I don’t know why. As if it wasn’t real. Or I wasn’t.
I couldn’t remember the last time I had just paused to feel it on my skin. Maybe on that day, I escaped that hell hole. But not since. Seven years in Hell and I hadn’t appreciated it even after I got out. Not really. Not for long.
I still wouldn’t have, if it wasn’t for him.
Shay was sitting on a chair across the small three-legged table, sat on the chair as if his body would melt into the worn wood. There was such bliss written on his face. Such peace.
It made me so happy and yet sad. He was okay, he was alive, and away from those sadistic witch hunters. But barely. No…He got out.
Besides a couple of scrapes and bruises, he had only a few deeper cuts but nothing Clio’s ointments couldn’t fix. Maybe if I got my magic under control I could even heal that nasty cut on his cheek my friend was eyeballing from the chair between us. A friend, it chimed inside me like a bell. Hadn’t even realized when it happened but the sea-eyed sun-haired tiny girl beside me had become more than a stranger.
She caught my look and her eyes told me that she knew it too. An unlikely turn of events. Two fugitives on the run with different goals, different values, from different species -
“What?” Clio asked, a wary smile on her lips.
“I didn’t say anything.”
“You’re smiling. I’ve never seen you smile before,” she said and it was the truth. I hadn’t smiled. Not once after I escaped. Not for her or Killigan or even Shay-
He opened his eyes with a sleepy expression. Drunk on sunshine. And I couldn’t stop it. I smiled wider. And he did too.
We were all smiling like three fucking idiots on the edge of the cliff. Down far below waves crashed into the stone with thunder in their groans. I stood up, following the sound. Seagulls flapped and crooned above my head.
I leaned over the edge. The water was crushing with such force into the rock beneath my feet. Did it tremble under the might of the sea? Maybe if the cliff was smaller I would be able to tell.
“Not thinking of jumping are you?” Shay yelled over the sound of the waves.
“No,” not today anyways. No reason now. I got him back. My brother. I turned and he was looking at me with a curiously nervous expression. As if not quite sure of me. Of who I was now. Who I’d become in those seven years. I wasn't sure what I would tell him if he asked.
I wasn’t sure who he was either. But it didn’t matter. I had the time to find out now. And whoever he was, I loved him. I loved him as much as that day that he took his first steps. And his blond curls, so different to my chestnut ones, flapped around his head as he stumbled in the sand. Dad held out his hands like an open cage around him, lest he fell onto the soft sand. Dad…
Something wet fell on my cheek. Not a tear but rain. Then a rumble rang different from the sea’s song. A storm.
“Let’s go in,” Clio said folding her chair. Shay followed suit and grabbed the table before the wind took it.
“You go, I’m right behind you.” The sky broke overhead and they ran for the cover of the distant treeline and our tents. They’d need to secure them in case the storm was harsh. But somehow I felt like it wouldn’t be.
The drops fell on my cheeks, my eyelids, my hands, my head and my lips. It was-
New. Old. Cleansing. Forgotten.
I felt as if my body and soul remembered something. Wasn’t quite sure what.
But I stayed there, hands spread and eyes closed. Face turned towards the sky. Didn’t even care if lightning struck me. I was alive. Finally and utterly and unbelievably alive.
It is curious how one can exist and yet not live, not feel that spark of light flickering inside. Some days even fear and sadness stayed at bay from the wasteland laying death inside me. But not today.
I felt tears springing from my eyes, their salt mixing with the raindrops. My personal sea. I laughed.
The feelings were too many. Bleeding into each other. Blending together - sadness, joy, loneliness, despair, happiness, relief, guilt, hatred, blame, pity, calm. Never knew even calm could be a feeling as strong as a river that never dries. But I was alright and so was Shay.
I couldn’t stop it. The wave rose inside me. I couldn’t stomp out the flame or drown out its roar. It exploded from me towards the sky. Lightning as red as blood flowing from my fingers, arms and lips - I was screaming. But it felt good - emptying. Too much emotion, too much…too much everything.
I hadn’t heard the flap of his wings in the rain.
Didn’t know when I had folded into a ball not three meters from the ledge. But he sat beside me and spread a wing over my shoulders as if he knew I needed the rain to drip on my eyelids, the wind to bite at my cheeks.
He sat there, crossed-legged on the rock with hands folded in his lap and raven hair quickly soaking. He just sat - waited. Didn’t say a word.
Waited until the raw nerve that was my body stopped shivering with heath from the emotions and the magic. Until the rain cooled the skin on my face and hands. Until the tears stopped flowing from my eyes and there was no emotion left to feel. I’d felt them all - at once.
He sat there after that. As I looked at the grey sky above and the rolling waves beyond. His wing was softer than that distant fog. I’d never quite noticed the intricate details of its black feathers. I ran a finger down the silky surface of the underside. It felt dry - or at least drier than my finger.
A movement caught my eye. Killigan was looking at me with an expression I couldn’t read.
I pulled my hand away - maybe he didn’t like it when people touched his wings. He caught my hand gently and returned it to where it was on his wing - It’s okay, his eyes said.
I ran my fingers down the wing more intently and a shiver ran through it. He wasn’t looking at me anymore. His eyes were drifting over the horizon, a question lingering in them.
“Can you fly when it rains?”
“Is it unpleasant?” I glanced at his face still focused on the skies.
“No.” His eyes met mine - they were the exact colour of the stormy sky above. “It’s cleansing. It’s as if I…” he stopped himself but I nodded at him.
“As if you are nobody and you can just…be. No pressure. No fate or dues.”
“Or curse,” he added with a mocking sky on his lips.
I stood up and held my hand for him. “Let’s go.”
He cocked his head. “Where?” But he knew. His eyes told me he knew.
“Up there,” I added looking at the sky. It was starting to clear up.
His wings tensed as he sat there on the rock, drenched, his black pants and tunic wrapping around his lean frame. A smile flitted across his face and then I was falling -
A yelp escaped my lips and I felt his hands around my body. Not falling - flying.
The wind was rippling through my braid, tearing at my clothes. And the rain was washing over me from every direction.
He was spinning in the sky. And I couldn’t help my dizzy smile. There was water and clouds all around. Couldn’t tell which was from the sea and which was from the sky. I didn’t know where we were and how we’d get back. But it didn’t matter. Not one bit.
I was alive. I was out and I was alive.
His lips brazed my ear, “I love it when you smile.” I fought the answering smile but it didn’t last. So what if he saw me smile. He wasn’t exactly my enemy. Wasn’t exactly a friend either. But it didn’t really matter what he was.
We were alive - in the mortal realm and -
The word clanged inside me, its thrum as strong as the thunder above. We’d entered deeper into the storm. I could feel the electricity in my bones. In my blood. The energy was so strong.
“You don’t have to always hold it in. You can let go,” he said against my ear.
“Magic needs to be let out from time to time. Besides, there is no one here…” that you can hurt. A pang of guilt tinged my mouth.
“You can let go Mave,” he said and swerved out of the cloud with wings gliding softly on the wind. “You won’t hurt me,” he whispered reading into my silence.
“How do you know?”
“I’m half-demon, darling, you’d need more than lightning to put me under.”
“But I’d hate to burn those beautiful wings and be stranded at sea.”
His laugh rumbled in his chest where he held me. “You can swim,” he said cocking his head towards the sea.
“Just try,” he said, no joke in his voice now. Just dead seriousness.
I needed to learn how to use my magic again. But every time…
I stopped the thought. We were in the middle of the sea with no living or dead soul around. Me and him.
I stretched my hand over the water again. He dipped closer to it and my fingers grazed the surface. I could still feel the storm overhead brimming with electricity. I inhaled it, just a small amount.
I opened my eyes and looked up to be met by red-rimmed clouds. They looked soaked in blood. Dread coiled in my belly but I calmed myself. It was just the colour of my magic. How I saw the world.
But it didn’t have to be blood. It could be the red of a sunset as the sun disc dipped into the water in a final blaze. Or the red of wine shared between friends - I remembered Clio and Shay in the tent - between family. It could be -
I gazed at my hands, adorned by blood-red roses and black vine tattoos - It could be the red of a rose.
I focused on the lightning inside them and inhaled. It burned through my nerves, cells, muscles. The electricity churned inside me. But it didn't hurt surprisingly.
I stretched my hand once more towards the surface of the sea but this time I pushed with my mind. I forced air under a spot and ordered the sea to rise. Just a little. The energy from the storm turned it into one of my own creation - a wave that grew with each meter it gained.
Killigan flapped higher and higher catching up with me before it swallowed us. It felt like it could swallow the world if I let it. It felt like - grief.
Grief for the girl I used to be - once. Grief for the girl I could have been if my father hadn’t betrayed me in his lust for power. The girl I could have been if I had kept fighting for my own soul. If hadn’t let them shred it so deeply, I doubted it would ever heal. Grief for my mom. She would have been disappointed.
The wave fell. It slipped my grasp. It crashed around us and it swerved above, creating a tunnel around us. But we were fine. Killigan’s magic was keeping the water away. Keeping us from being swallowed by those dark depths beneath with the creatures I didn’t even want to imagine - crawly, creepy, sleazy and with razor teeth.
I shuddered. And he knew what I needed. He swerved and flew towards the shore. Home.
If a tent in the middle of nowhere could be deemed home. But it was because of the people in it. Even because of the man who was carrying me in his arms so gently through the sky that had finally stopped crying.
His eyes were a brighter blue as his feet touched the rock’s ledge. Like they changed with the sky.
He placed my feet on the ground and I stood there across from him. And then I felt it -
It was curiously poking through the clouds, not yet sharp enough to warm. But I felt it still. It’s warmth on my frozen skin. And I turned my head towards it, basking in its glory.
I felt at once free and home. Nobody and somebody.
I felt like a person again. Like a person who was part of this world. A tiny, unnoticeable, forgettable part - but still part.
--This is a chapter from a book I'm working on. The prompt seemed like the perfect opportunity to post it.
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