Thirty-seven – 03

[This post is from Marin’s point of view.]

I hadn’t gone more than a dozen steps before Phelan was just there by my side, silent, but present. A lump built in my throat, one I struggled hard to ignore. He didn’t stay anything, just fell into step as I walked to the edge of the tents, back past the supply huts and the smokers, out toward the rubble of collapsed dormitories and the edge of the ravine. The sky was growing darker, as if the clouds were racing the sun. They would overtake it soon, and then the gloom of an onrushing storm would herald its coming before it broke over us like waves against the Lake Michigan shore.

I stopped at the edge of the ravine and tried to swallow the lump in my throat that threatened to choke me. I gulped in one lungful of air, then another. Wind gusted through the trees for a moment, then the world was still again.

Phelan stood beside me, staring out at the endless green and brown that spanned all the way to the river. For a few moments, we just stood like that, together but apart. My lips thinned but I didn’t dare look at him, not yet.

This time it’s my fault.

But hadn’t it always been? After all, I’d always been her. Her ghost was a part of my soul, an inescapable part of me—of what made me.

I swallowed hard again before I rediscovered the ability to speak, found the words I needed. “This is my fault. I know it’s her.”

“Her,” Phelan echoed softly, his gaze finally slanting in my direction. I saw it from the corner of my eye as I stared out over the ravine, watched the birds starting to huddle in the trees. The storm was close, now. “Who, Marin?”

“Cyhyraeth.” The name came as an exhaled breath, one choked off. My heart was in my throat again and dread coiled in my belly like a living thing. “She’s coming and it’s all my fault.”

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