I didn’t want to get up.
Standing up would mean taking responsibility. It would mean facing the real world, and facing the long battle ahead of me. It would mean pain, and sorrow, and suffering.
But lying here, curled up on the ground… I didn’t have to face anything.
I’d been crying for a long time, even though my heart was past the point of aching anymore. A cold trickle of tears was still sliding down my cheek. I didn’t even know what the tears meant. They just wouldn’t stop.
I wanted to close my eyes and slumber forever, forgetting everything. I wanted to dream of the past, when I could speak the language of the Small Folk, when Nolan was there beside me and we were happy. But that felt so long ago. It felt like just a dream, like it had never been reality at all. If it had been real, then wouldn’t I still carry memories of such happiness in my heart? Now my heart was dark and empty. How could those sunny days have been real?
I wanted so badly to close my eyes and give up. I had done this, after all. I’d been so consumed by my anger, so worried about getting my old magic back that I’d ended up destroying everything. I had ignored Nolan’s efforts to help me, ignored the fact that my own loss was hurting him, and now he was gone. You did all this, without even trying.
I wanted to lie there forever. I wanted to stop hurting everyone else. But part of me was terrified. What would happen if I let go? What would happen to Nolan, or to Faith? I had hurt them. But I still loved them. And I needed to know they would be okay.
I couldn’t just give up.
You owe them.
And yet, as much as I knew I had to get up, as much as I wanted to stand so I could help them, it suddenly seemed as though just standing up was the hardest thing I’d ever done.
Get up. You have to help them. Get up. Get up. Get up.
But I had no strength. I told my muscles to work, to push me up, but they were too weak to obey. I was being pressed into the ashy earth and it was taking me in as its own. I would be swallowed whole, consumed. I would be free of my responsibilities. I would be free of everything.
But they need you. You owe them.
I pushed harder. I put one arm under me, propping myself up on my elbow. It felt like there was a thousand-pound weight on my back, bearing me down, but I had to get up. I put my other hand on the ground and pushed, and now my torso was lifted free of the consuming earth.
My shoulder throbbed with pain but I had to ignore it. I had to keep going. My arms were shaking, but I got my knees under me. I was farther off the ground. I was getting there. I was getting up. Just a little bit farther.
I put my boots under me and steadied myself, head swimming with my weakness, before slowly straightening. I swayed as I stood tall. My legs were numb, as if they couldn’t bear my weight, but I was stable for now. I could walk.
And so I started walking. I walked away from the cinders and ashes, towards the forest. I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t even have the sense to check the sky, to try to find my direction from the sun. I just kept walking, hoping for a sign. Hoping I would find something, or someone.
My footsteps were uneven and I wasn’t sure I could make the trek ahead of me without falling, but I persevered. You have to help them. You can’t fall. I focussed my thoughts on Nolan. He needed me. He trusted me. All this time, he trusted me to be there for him, and I wasn’t going to let him down. I couldn’t. Not now.
Thinking of him hurt, but I steeled my heart and kept going. There was no place for weakness. I had to go.
How could you do this?
You have to fix it.
How could you be so heartless?
I have to fix it.
I didn’t know what to believe. I just had to keep moving. I had to hope for something. Anything.
I stumbled and caught myself against a tree. I swayed for a moment, regaining my balance, and closed my eyes as I fought off a rising wave of sickness. That was when I felt it. A gentle breeze on my face, cool and insistent. I opened my eyes, heart pounding. There it was again, but stronger, wrapping around my shoulders and settling on the bridge of my nose.
Oh gods. Nolan.
“Nolan,” I whispered aloud. “Nolan, where are you?” My voice rose in volume as I grew more desperate.
“Find Faith…” he said through the wind, and I shook my head.
“No. No. Where are you?”
I needed to know. I would find Faith, yes, but I needed to know where he was.
“Please…” he said, and I could feel the breeze fading. I was losing him again. And I didn’t know where to look.
The wind unravelled from around my shoulders and ebbed away from my face and I was left alone again. I wanted to scream at him to tell me where he was so I could save him, but there was no point. He wouldn’t tell me, or he couldn’t, and the wind was gone anyways. At least he was alive.
But where was I supposed to find Faith? I looked around me, at this great big forest I had stumbled into. Where would I find my injured horse amongst all these trees when she could’ve gone anywhere, in any direction?
I didn’t know. But I had wandered into this woods with only the hope of finding something, and that had found me Nolan’s voice. So I was prepared to keep wandering. To keep hoping.
I had to find her.
Another LotSF, and in not bad timing either.
I really don’t know what to say. I’m tired. And I need to catch up on things, as per usual. And that makes me more tired. Yawn. But I feel excited, for some reason, like something good is going to happen, and I guess it’s true. I’ve got some good plans for the rest of the week so there’s certainly a reason to be excited. I’m raaambling.
Also, I don’t know if the picture I used at the top really fits this chapter, but ohhh well. I guess the blurred effect of the droplets kind of represents how LotSF Alex is feeling right now, so there’s that.
All right, I’m off to bed (in a bit). Have a good night everyone :)