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29 May 2010 @ 11:38 pm
the stars were cold  
"Laila," he said, his voice soft. I turned from the window, blinking the brilliant blue and browns of the desert from my eyes. Brutus stood in the shadow, watching me with concern. He covered my hand, and I tried to smile. Shaking his head, he reached up to brush his thumb over the corner of my mouth, like my mother would when I had crumbs on my face. "That's what worries me."

"I'm fine," I repeated, looking down.

"No. You aren't." He knelt so that he could look into my face. "You haven't been the same since Father's death. And Mother just passed on six months ago. I think it's been quite a blow to you. It's rocked me, too." I didn't answer. He sighed a little, reaching into his pouch. "I just wish you wouldn't hide it, Laila. I understand how you must feel, but I want to see you smile again. And I mean really smile."

I shut my eyes, feeling the prickle of tears. I felt him put something gently around my neck, and I opened my eyes again. It was a brilliant blue scarf, like the sky over the sand, like the ribbons I would tie in Renya's mane.

I looked at him in surprise, and he smiled--a real, happy smile. "You'll be okay, Laila. We're going to be alright again."

Just a few years later, I took the same scarf from around my waist and tied it around his slashed neck.

After that first wave of nausea and grief, I felt as dry and barren as the desert itself. I didn't want to feel again. I didn't want to think again.

I sat under the stars, staring at the grave I had dug and feeling nothing. The sky felt cold and empty above, and the warmth of the firm ground was seeping away. My head felt light, my arms ached, my throat was full of sand. But I did not want to move. This was his first night alone. This was my first night alone.

We were supposed to be alright together, I kept thinking, like my head was a cavern that just held echos.
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