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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

    the only love i ever found, desire

    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.

    She had gone, just as he had known she would eventually.
    He had not been foolish enough to think that their children, their beautiful daughters, would be enough to keep her.
    Still, he did not fault her for it. He did not allow their daughters fault her for it either. He reminded them patiently that their mother was wild and her wildness was no reason to resent her. No, it was only reason to love her all the more.

    They missed her, certainly. They all did. But they did not let this make them bitter. Or, rather, Thomas did not allow it to make any of them bitter.

    Life went on, as it always did. He loved her quietly, carried her in his heart. Sometimes he would allow himself to wonder if she would ever come back to him or if he would spend the rest of his days loving her alone. It made no difference, really. His heart belonged to her, whether she wanted it or not. But she owed him nothing, she had not asked him to love her. He had made the decision on his own and would not punish her for it.

    The girls are gone now. Temporarily or permanently, he can never be sure. It’s impossible to tell yet if they are as wild as their mother or if they are more prone to staying in one place like him.

    The girls are gone and he is alone. But there is some peace in this. He is accustomed to being left, Thomas. From the earliest days of his youth, he would wake in the night to find his twin gone. And she would be there again when he woke, smelling of the sea. He feels no bitter pang of loneliness. There is no sadness in it. He moves freely, without fear, in the light of a heavy sun.

    And when he sees her, he thinks he’s dreamed her. Much like he always does. And he smiles. He has convinced himself that he would be content with loving her without ever seeing her again, but he cannot deny the relief that spirals through him at the sight of her.

    Just as he cannot deny the sharp stab of something else when he notes the roundness of her barrel. But he does not let his smile slip, as much as it makes his throat ache. “Desire,” he murmurs, warm, and reaches out to touch her shoulder. He does not tell her that he’s missed her. No, he will not make her feel guilty for going. 


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

    i think i'm better on my own but i get so lost in you
    She loves him, she thinks, but she is not built for love.

    She knows how to craft illusions and bring to life a figment of what someone wanted love to be. She knows how to reach into someone's heart and spin them the prettiest ghost they've ever seen and present to them a living image of something to love.

    But it was not the kind of love you could hold onto. It wasn't a love to keep you warm or keep you safe. Illusions didn't have that kind of body to them, they didn't have any depth or dimension. Because desire and love are not the same, and a phantom will never love them back.

    It was just pretty to look at.

    She felt like she was too much like her illusions – all beauty and no substance. She didn't like the fact that there seemed to be nothing beneath the surface of her; just yawning darkness.

    Her love for him gets lost in the darkness, and it sets her adrift. Their girls had anchored her in one place for a while, but it didn't seem to be enough.

    Karma had caught up with her, though, in the form of a handsome face full of sharp teeth. She had not recognized the magic of the kelpie man as it was being used on her, and her memories of their actual union are hazy.  It all felt like a strange dream, and once she had set enough distance between them, she was surprised she had managed to get away at all.

    There is a strange feeling that sits like a cold stone in a corner of her heart, and though she knows it is guilt, she refuses to name it.

    She sees Thomas, and the stone seems to grow in weight, dragging her heart down further into the endless dark. She debates turning and walking away, thinking of how much better off he would be without her, and without this foolish hope she keeps offering him.

    But the way her name sounds coming from his mouth, and the way his glass skin feels against her shoulder, is all she needs to stay.

    “Thomas,” she says in that sweet way she has reserved just for him, and she presses a warm kiss to his cheek. “I missed you,” she tells him, but she does not apologize for being gone. Instead, she steps into his side, ignoring the swell of her barrel as she runs her nose down his smooth neck. “How are the girls? I haven't seen them in a while,” she asks lightly, as if she had not disappeared almost entirely.

    i think i'm better on my own but i'm so obsessed with you

    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.

    It’s as if nothing at all has changed.
    It’s as if her barrel is not swollen with a child that does not belong to him.

    But it does not pain him to think it because she does not belong to him either. He would never try to convince her – or himself – otherwise. She kisses his cheek so sweetly that it’s as if she has not been gone at all. As if only moments have passed since the last time he bathed himself in her warmth and in the warmth that lives inside him when she is near. A warmth born from love, selfless and unflinching.

    She tells him that she’s missed him and he feels some distant pang in his chest. Buried beneath so much glass, the heart spasms. He’d missed her, as well. The girls had missed her, too. But he hesitates to tell her as much for fear that it might elicit any amount of guilt.

    We missed you, too,” he murmurs and presses his glass mouth into the warmth of her chest. He tells her because he cannot bear the thought of her thinking they had not noticed she’d been gone at all. It is difficult to find balance between ensuring she knows that there is an emptiness in the world when she is gone and ensuring she knows that he does not fault her for it.

    And perhaps he is too soft in his love. Perhaps that is why she cannot stay.

    She presses that swollen barrel into his side but he cannot bring himself to resent it. But he does not ask her about it either. She does not belong to him. Her decisions are her own and he will not let himself be wounded by them.

    He lifts his head and casts a glance around the meadow, as if their daughters are lurking somewhere in the shade of some great tree. But they are nowhere to be seen, the two of them. Still, he smiles at the mention of them. How tirelessly he has worried about them, the same way he’d worried about his own brittle build so many years ago. Their girls, such a delicate balance of the two of them.

    They’re beautiful,” he says, “and good and kind.” His smile deepens when he turns his gaze back to her and gingerly nudges her neck. “They’re perfect, like their mother.” 


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


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