Spoiler: ooc and part one linkShow
The world is awash in dark swirling patterns, like a scene underwater. I float in the waves of soothing silence...then it shatters. A sudden kaleidoscope of colors and noise assaults my senses all at once as I am rather violently jolted back to life.
I am equal parts agony and terror as my lungs heave in an attempt to expel the water from my body. I feel the saltwater tear through my throat with every hack and gasp. I become vaguely aware of the pressure on my back, something moving and pressing the water out of me, like I was an overfull sponge.
I lay in a space of limbo, tossed between jetties as I cough up more water and gasp for air I can never quite catch.
I am so waterlogged I do not register a change in movements or location until a light surrounds my body and purges the sea water from my lungs, allowing me to draw my first full breath in a long while.
It is a pain I never knew existed.
My insides feel as if they are scraped raw. The sweet relief of oxygen tainted by the burning pain to salt scratched throat and lungs. I lay in quiet agony, unable to do anything but gasp and sob on every breath.
My mind is a spinning mess, twisting and distorting the sounds around me into a cacophony of surreal music. A thudding beat like a heart-pounding, bubbling and burbling, crashing waves and the distant cry of whalesong. I feel like my mouth is trying to form words to sing along, utterly nonsensical.
The light surrounds me again, as it fades I am able to breathe with a little less pain and something in my ears goes ‘pop’, suddenly the music is gone and I can hear quiet voices and moving feet. I cannot make out what they are saying, but it matters little. I lay on a hard surface - a table, I think - and simply focus on breathing.
The light engulfs me two or three times more, each instance leaving the pain in my body lessened.
As the last of the light fades, I find the strength to sit up, my arms trembling from holding me upright.
The healer, Jay, is there, he asks me if I want to rest or talk now, I say I am fine. And I am, though I am ready to collapse and sleep for a week, even as my mind is a scrambled mess that is struggling to catch up. Forgotten memories swirl and spin through my mind, and a word of bitterness taints them as I hear it echoing through my thoughts.
I shake my head to clear it and try to make my mind focus on the here and now, though it is hazy with the fog of lingering pain. I still have the sensation of my insides being scraped out, remains of the damage that will fade with time and rest I am sure.
I try to explain my actions to Jay, I am not sure if he believes me or simply thinks me mad. He never asks if I remembered anything if it worked, so I assume the latter.
“I’d prefer to not see any more diving, miss,” he says, giving me a stern look.
“Of course,” I reply. I am surprised at the honesty of the answer, I feel no need to make it a lie, no pull to repeat my actions in the hopes of more memories. I manage a small smile.
He leaves me to my thoughts and I lay down, trying to get some rest, though my mind will not let me be. I am burdened with the knowledge of my past or parts of it. I cannot recall everything, but, I know what happened to me now, I know why my memory began with a storm.
I also remember my name.
A name given with lies and false promises, a love repaid with greed and heartbreak.
Was this all I was to gain for the pain and trouble I have brought upon myself and those around me? An answer I wish I never had?
I give up on sleep and slip out to find Nazor, he should be the first to hear it, is what I want to say. But the pain, the price of knowing it...I shake my head and wobble down the path, pausing to lean on walls and guardrails as I search the grounds of Alyrah for him. If anyone is to know my name, let it be he.
I find him in the bathhouse, standing on the balcony and looking out at the sea.
I pause in the archway, partly to catch my breath...but also to gather my nerve. I should not have told him what I planned to do, I should not have involved him at all. This should have been my own private cruelty to myself, something quiet and out of the way. Instead, I dragged him into it. He was right when he said he is not selfish; I am. I did not want to face the reality until now, I have been far too cruel, I have been too weak to do my own harm...he carried me across to the end of my madness and now I must deal with the aftermath.
I step forward on quiet feet. My voice is barely more than a whisper as I say his name.
He stirs but does not turn to look at me or otherwise acknowledge my presence.
I feel it like a physical blow, but I can expect no less. Arms clutched across my middle I step to his side.
He makes to speak but does not, simply shifting away. He is quiet so long I do not expect him to speak when he does the words are bitter and cold. “You’re not the person I just flung off a cliff. I killed that person. They asked me to help them.”
I turn away to hide my hurt but he must see it. It stings to have it put that way, he is wrong! But, is he? Am I still the same, knowing what happened at least in part?
I try to answer with a voice choked and breaking with tears, somehow worse than seawater; “This was not...I was not trying to die.” Was I? That is what I keep telling myself, but, in the demented state I was in...would, I have stopped if I had not gotten answers? Would I have kept crawling to the edge until my body was broken and battered? Until I was naught but seafoam? There was no sense left in my mind, drowned out by the endlessly relentless call of the waves. Even now I hear it, though it is somehow distant and muted.
Nazor carried me those last few steps when I could not take them...would he have kept going if it was not enough? Or would he have dragged me away? I agonize over the answer, of which I would want more.
He is talking again, voice quiet in disbelief as he blames himself, lays the title of a murderer at his feet. No, no, no, that is not right he is not-
I feel him move to leave and turn back to face him, begging him not to go.
He is silent, it is his eyes that say what his mouth cannot.
I scramble for words, my mind is a tangled mess and I cannot hope to explain myself or my actions, I have no excuse for them save the madness of desire and the inability to refuse the compulsion to fling myself into the water like a fish without gills.
I try to suggest we rest for now and speak in the morning when things are calmer but, no, he wants to leave, be done with this...done with me. My heart breaks a little more at the words. No, no, no, please do not go! But I cannot ask that, even as I ask ‘why’ I know.
I scramble for the right things to say, about not quite knowing all of it but knowing what happened and the name...that dreadful name I hate and do not want to tell him but I have to-
I try and form all this into words, but it is near nonsensical in my current state and I struggle to find the right explanations.
I cannot even recall what I say as soon as it leaves my mouth, but his words when he cuts me off in the middle of my ramblings about my faulty memory, anger radiating from him, I remember with crystal clear clarity.
“Well, I remember everything, from now to before I threw you off a cliff and all the way to when Aessa ran herself through with a blade.”
And for the second time, I am filled with irrational jealousy over being compared to a dead woman. A sensation I have no right to feel. How foolish to think I would compare?
His eyes are cold and bleak as he continues talking, “I need to get away from this entire thing” -away from me- “if I helped you good. But, this is too painful for my scarred, old, empty heart.”
“This was not like that!” I retort without thinking. Was it truly not? Was I not playacting some twisted parody of events of the past? Ever since that moment on the bridge when he had called me beautiful, my traitorous mind began entertaining naive thoughts of what might have been. And Nazor, himself had been maddeningly unhelpful in curbing them, feeding me false hope with sweet flirtations one moment then turning it aside in such quick succession I am still confused and wonder how much he actually cares for me.
The cold, closed off look in his eyes as he meets mine says all I need to know - if there had been a chance it is most likely gone now. “This is exactly like that, I let someone I care about hurt themselves because they didn’t understand something, or want to try to find a way to make things work that didn’t hurt everyone involved.”
I fight the urge to drop my gaze, I know he is right.
His face twists in a grimace and he speaks through gritted teeth, “The difference? I helped her end herself this time.”
This drives me to close the distance between us, he is taller than I, and I have to look up at him to keep his eyes.
“You did not. You have helped me more than anyone ever has, and you did not even know my name.”
He scowls at me but does not move away. Emboldened I place a hand on his arm. “Believe that, for it is the truest thing I know.”
He breaks his gaze from mine, shaking his head. “That’s just it, I let you injure yourself severely over a name, I could have given you a perfectly fine name, like Eliza, or Hope, or Gael. Anything!”
I know, I know, I know, and I would have come to love anything he had dubbed me, one day, were I of a stronger will to resist the call.
“I know.” I taste bile and self-hatred in my mouth as I answer, “But needed to know...though, I wish I did not...I loathe the name she gave me.” My lips curl in a bitter smile. “But, I had to know to know better.”
My heart stings at the sound of tears in his voice. “And I wouldn’t have had to make everyone I’ve started to care about here look at me like a monster or throw someone I care so deeply for off a damn cliff.” He makes a sound of anger and turns away from me, setting his gaze back to the ocean and endless sky.
Though I feel pain at the hurt and guilt I have caused him, a part of me is almost childishly delighted at his words, that I could draw out such emotions, that my death would have caused him so much grief, that perhaps I was worth as much to him as- These thoughts scare me, I’m not willing to follow to their end. In an effort to escape my own mind I make myself edge closer to him, into his warm presence. My intentions are...something. Reassurance? Comfort? Simple, nameless platitudes?
“I would have done so myself if you had not.”
It is the truth, brutal and honest.
He laughs as a man broken, his eyes fixed unseeing on the moon above us. “What does it even matter. Right…? You’re fine...and I’m just really sad because I’m alone, and I threw you off a cliff… I’m being selfish again… Alright great, you have your name again.”
My voice fails me as I try to speak, throat clogged with tears. I am going to lose him. Nazor will leave and I will never see him again. I cannot think that way, but I can find no words to keep him here.
He looks to me like a man resigned to his fate. “I’m not gunna beg, I’m just gunna ask nicely, what do you want from me?”
I do not even have to think before the answer leaves my lips, “I do not want you to leave me behind.”
I cannot read his expression as he stares at the sky. “I don’t have anything left to give you, lady who’s name I don’t even know. I’ve just got pocket change, an old musty robe, and these two hands.”
I find my lips turning up in a smile despite myself. “And that is more than enough...but I will give you something else to carry. A name I will give to only you.”
His gaze shifts to me, he sighs and turns fully to face me again. “I can’t do all this mopey shite while you’re so close to me…”
I feel as if my heart has moved to dwell in my throat as he leans in closer. “Don’t give me your name...just give me something else.”
I laugh in surprise at his sudden change in mood, the sound barely more than a breath shared between us. Now more than ever I want to tell him...but never do I want to hear that other’s name for me on his lips. I close my eyes and steel myself, trying to decide.
My eyes open again and I speak, “The thief that robbed me of my life and mind called me ‘my maiden, Imogen’.” I pause and swallow the bile at the memory. “It is a name I will bare no longer. The name given by a liar.”
I fight back the pain and heartache of my memories, of the half-remembered horrors the captain and crew visited upon me in that ship’s hold. I am a being trapped in a cage no longer. I am free.
I smile with growing confidence as the word comes to me. The name I chose as my own.
“So...I am Saoirse, it is a word that means ‘freedom’.”
He wraps his arms around my waist and pulls me close, his brown eyes dark and intense and I find myself breathless as I meet their fathomless gaze. “I’m Nazor, I’m bad with feelings, but I’ll stop this mess I’ve made of myself. I love you, Saoirse.”
I return the embrace, my smile so wide on my face it hurts. My thoughts are a torrent of whimsy, ecstatic and wild, nothing making any sense at all. This is- But what about-? Why do I feel like crying all over again?
I feel like I have been staring at him like an idiot for hours though barely seconds pass before I am speaking, answering, telling, “I-I love you too, Nazor.” And the words feel right, in my mind and my heart, branded there so quickly, so recklessly and yet, they are true.
He chuckles and I feel him draw me closer. “About time I start living again, I guess. Sorry, I died holding you...enough talking, though.” His eyes glitter with mirth and something else. “I’m gunna kiss you now.”
I laugh breathlessly as he does just that before I can respond. My eyes fluttering shut, I return the kiss without hesitation. I feel the tears spilling down both our cheeks as our mouths mingle, his smile pressed tight to mine.
We part and I am struck by how happy I am now, the torment in my heart easing with each breath shared between our close faces. I wipe the tears from his cheek and he, in turn, presses kisses to my palm. He taps my nose with a finger and loosens his hold, I step back so he will not fall over the edge of the railing. I feel the cool wind off the sea before I am in his arms again, safe and warm...and loved. I wrap my arms around him, unwilling to let go, to savor every little taste of this feeling.
He chuckles, sounding self-conscious. “I...this is going to sound sad...but its been years since someones held me.”
I laugh, hugging him tighter. “Well, we shall change that then.”
He shrugs and looks almost unsure. “Well, do me a favor, Seer, let me make you a happy person.”
“Only if you let me do the same.”
He takes my hand and leads me back to our shared room. We lay together in the evening twilight, I am curled close against his side. Though exhaustion drags at my bones, sleep is a long time coming for me. Every time my eyes close I am plunged back into the icy water of the sea, unable to think or breathe, the call in my mind echoing, drawing me closer to the edge of sanity again.
So I lay awake, awake and watching him as he sleeps. His expression is peaceful and calm. This whole time I fought with myself, telling myself not to wish for what I could not have...and he was doing the same. I find myself smiling like an idiot, happy and content.
The longer I lay there, the quieter the call becomes. It does not end, still lingering in the back of my mind, there is still more blanks in my memory to be filled, but somehow it is less urgent than before, the need to answer quelled by this newfound contentment, this nearly delirious happiness warming my heart.
I will claim this calm and quiet time, enjoy it while it lasts until another storm clouds the horizon I will not worry. A sense of serenity steals over my mind, sleep coming to claim my consciousness. I give in, the smile never fading from my lips.