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    version 22: awakening


    GHAUL -- Year 209


    "(souls are not meant to live more than once — death was not meant to be temporary, and she is so sure that every time her heart starts to beat again that irreversible damage is further inflicted)" -- Anonya, written by Colby

    [private]  to the edge of all we've ever known; thomas

    { and all we are is skin and bone trained to get along,
    forever going with the flow but you're friction }
    The first thing she had noticed about the world was how bright it was.

    She had been born just as dawn was breaking across the tops of the trees, sunlight filtering through the autumn-colored leaves of Sylva. She remembers the glowing stars on her mother’s side, and the way the light of her father’s halo illuminated his golden face.

    And to her, that’s what the world was – golden.

    And incredibly quiet.

    She didn’t notice, of course, that there was anything different about her. She didn’t realize it wasn’t normal that she hadn’t heard the way her mother had murmured Lilt into her ear, but Starsin had noticed something was off almost immediately. Her daughter’s thoughts didn’t seem to react or register anything that was spoken, and she couldn’t deny the twinge in her chest at realizing she was deaf. But everything else about her – the promise of a horn on her small forehead, the tiny wings that lay folded against her vibrant, glowing sides – was flawless, and even though a part of Starsin knew her daughter would learn to overcome every challenge thrown at her, she was still fiercely protective.

    Because of this, the little girl was rarely out of her mother’s sight, and today was no different. As desperately as she wanted to keep her sheltered in the safety of Sylva, or with one of her elder siblings, she also knew the only way she was going to learn how to survive in the world was to do something on her own. Glancing down at Lilt, Starsin can feel her chest tightening – and somewhere, in Ophie’s rib cage, her heart was clenching and twisting, and it was only the reassuring flutter of his heart that lends her the strength to place her lips against Lilt’s forehead, and say softly, “I’ll be back later, okay?” She knows she can’t hear her, but it was a difficult habit to break. Lilt blinked up at her with her silver eyes, and even though she couldn’t fully comprehend what her mother said, she has learned her body language and the worry that always seemed to cloud her usually intense blue eyes when she looked at her, and she says in her whisper of a voice, “I’ll be okay. You’ll be back when it’s dark?”

    Once Starsin has finally left – or at least, disappeared from Lilt’s line of sight – the filly realizes that for the first time, she is completely alone. Hugging her wings tightly to her sides she takes a few tentative steps forward. She can see other children playing in the distance, but she is suddenly overcome with an overwhelming sense of unease and shyness. There have been a few times that she has accidentally shattered things as she passed, or when bumping into them. What if she did that here? Looking over her shoulder, and not seeing the familiar face of her mother, she finally settles beneath the great branches of a tree. Leaning her shoulder against the rough bark, she sighs, watching them all with worried eyes.

    and I'm the kind of love it hurts to look at, but once I was enough to make you try
    now, I'm underneath the rubble, trying not to feel the trouble.

    He caught sight of himself in the water once.
    Just like his mother.
    When he touched her, there was a horrible sound.
    A cold sound.

    But Tessa was warm and he curled himself into her and pretended he found some comfort in the heat he siphoned from her. Pretended that he could feel it, too.

    And there are days – days like today – where he touches his mouth to his own chest and the glass is warm. He wonders if someday it will be hot. He wonders if it will ever burn his lips.

    He wanders now and he is careful. Every step is exceptionally well-thought out. He pauses at the edges of ditches, steps so carefully over downed trees, skirts past low branches so that they cannot catch him and tear the skin.

    Still, he wears a smile. Even with all that uncertainty coursing through him. The trepidation. The persistent pulse of worry that lives in veins. Because he does not want to break. But he is good-natured and kind and he greets those who pass him by. Until he is buoyed by the way they sometimes smile at him, too, and it puts a jaunt in his step. He chances a stilted trot and grins when the bones creak but do not break.

    He enters the playground without meaning to. Without ever knowing that it was there and his expression collapses around the soft edges of wonder as he staggers to a stop at its edge. There are none here like him but they are strange and wondrous and he grins, casting a cursory glance around the clearing.

    He sees her then, by the tree, a shoulder leaned against the bark and this draws him to her. He goes to her without making the conscious decision to go. He tilts his fine head, studying quite intently the place where she presses her skin against the tree, his lips pressed together in a thin, thoughtful line.

    Doesn’t it hurt?” he asks when he gets close enough, shifting his focus from her shoulder to her face.


    — and you don't care for me enough to cry —


    { and all we are is skin and bone trained to get along,
    forever going with the flow but you're friction }
    A shift of her silver eyes and she sees him, a flash of brilliant copper in the sun. She doesn’t straighten herself up, not yet. Instead she just watches him, watches the way he moves across the grass, and she can see that he is different. He is different, but not in the way she is different. He’s different because he is beautiful, and as he draws closer – coming towards her, she realizes, and that makes her pulse jump – she can see that he is fragile.

    She is beautiful, too, but she is destructive.

    She doesn’t mean to be. She is almost nothing like her mother, even though she inherited her ability. Starsin used her shattering when her anger reached such a peak that she didn’t know how else to express herself – when the only thing she could conjure was an explosion, a physical manifestation of her hurt and rage.

    But Lilt has never known anger, or even hurt. She doesn’t know why sometimes the things she touches fall apart. She doesn’t know why they splinter and break, sometimes even without her touching them.

    It’s why when this boy comes closer she isn’t even worried about how she won’t be able to hear him. Instead she is looking at his beautiful glass body, and how he gleams in the beams of light, and she is thinking of how easy it would be to break him apart.

    His lips move, and for a moment she is trapped in the silence between them. She straightens her shoulder away from the tree, and the wind plays with the silken feathers of her wings. She shakes her head no, even though she doesn’t know what he said, and she wonders if he will see the apprehension and confusion in her eyes. Slowly, she was learning to read lips, but she hadn’t been paying close enough attention. “I can’t...I can’t hear,” she says in a voice that is hardly above a whisper, because she is so afraid of being too loud.

    “You should be careful,” she continues, ducking her delicate head, and the sun catches the golden sheen of her horn, and the black of her forelock hides her worried eyes. “I...I break things.” She lifts her eyes back to him, a tentative smile touching the edge of her lips. “Even pretty things.”

    and I'm the kind of love it hurts to look at, but once I was enough to make you try
    now, I'm underneath the rubble, trying not to feel the trouble.

    His world is so small.
    Insulated, even.
    His world is his mother and his sister. His lovely, soft sister.

    He does not know that there is magic in the world that he could never understand. He does not know that sometimes things go wrong, even if you don’t want them to. He has no concept of things not working as they should. So, when she lifts her fine head and tells him that she cannot hear, he thinks that he has spoken too softly. He takes a careful step toward her and opens his mouth to repeat himself, louder, but she stops him short.

    His mother said the same thing, didn’t she? Isn’t that how he learned that a single misstep could put fissure cracks in the glass. Even a glancing blow could break him apart. He swallows thickly and glances down at his own legs, the refracted light makes his eyes ache and he shifts his focus back to her face.

    He does not know what she means. He does not know how to identify himself as naive, doesn’t even know what it means, but she smiles and so does he. It is a kind of relieved thing, his heart buoyed by her appraisal of him. She thinks him beautiful and it does not occur to him to be embarrassed. His mind has not been muddied enough to think that only girls can be beautiful. Heat pools in his cheeks and the grin remains.

    He shifts his focus back to her face and tilts his own fine head. “What do you mean?” he asks and takes another step toward her. “How do you break them?” He does not know why he trusts her not to break him. Perhaps because she’d called him beautiful. Perhaps because he is naive, whether he knows it or not.


    — and you don't care for me enough to cry —


    { and all we are is skin and bone trained to get along,
    forever going with the flow but you're friction }
    She has never been in a situation before where she has wished that she could hear so badly as she did right now.

    It is not just because she is humiliated and frustrated, though she is absolutely both of those things. Her parents and her older brother seemed to know her inside and out; it was like she was born being able to communicate with them. It wasn’t a struggle, and in a way it had given her a false sense of ease. She had thought for awhile that it would be like this with everyone. That she could look at them the way she did her family and that they would know how to express themselves in a way that she would understand. She did not have to hear her mother’s voice to know when Starsin was irritated, and she did not have to hear whatever it is her father manages to say to bring a smile back to her face. She can see it all on their faces, she can read them plain as day.

    But he was different.
    She doesn’t know how to read him, and she is sure that he doesn’t know how to read her. She can’t even be certain if he understood what she meant when she had so carefully whispered that she couldn’t hear, and now she was worried over how foolish she would look if she repeated herself.

    Beyond even that, though, she so badly wanted to know what his voice sounded like. She wanted to know what words sounded like when spoken from a glass mouth, if it was different from everyone else’s. He is unlike anything she has ever seen before, and she cannot imagine that his voice is any less unique. She thinks, much like his face, that she would know that voice anywhere that she might hear it.

    If only, if only.

    He takes a step forward, and she responds by shifting backwards ever so slightly. Her wings continue to hug tighter to her glowing sides, as though that might somehow keep her from shattering him apart. She focuses on his lips, then, chewing on her own worriedly as she tries to decipher what he’s saying. It was a question, she can tell by the tilt of his head, and she thinks she can make out the word ‘break’. “Sometimes when I touch things, they just fall apart,” she answers him tentatively, her silver eyes captivated by the way the sun still reflected off his face. “And you...you look easy to break.”

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