Twenty-four – 06

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

I swallowed once, then again, eyes fluttering shut for just a few seconds. I struggled to regulate my breathing, panic starting to well up unbidden. This wasn’t like me, not at all—not anymore, not these days. I had to keep my shit together. There wasn’t a choice.

The images bubbled up whether I wanted them to or not.

They weren’t what I expected, though—not what I’d braced myself for.

 

We rode on horseback together, Thom and I, our knees practically touching. I felt a little light-headed and he looked a little pale, but otherwise neither of us seemed to be suffering from much more than a few more lines, a few more scars, a few more gray hairs. He was saying something I wasn’t really listening to as I studied him. The path we followed was narrow, but well-worn, sunlight slanting through the trees and a breeze worrying hairs free of my braid. It was quiet and comfortable and I felt so content that it almost made me ache because there was one thing missing.

                Then he looked at me.

 

My eyes stung as the vision dissolved. I’d seen things like it before, but never quite like that—and I was always afraid. I was always afraid that somehow I would lose him, that somehow the visions would be wrong and something awful would happen.

The future was never fully written, no matter what our friends thought, no matter how reassuring they found what Thom and I saw—or didn’t find it, as sometimes the case was. They took our visions as something that would be because we’d so often been right. There was going to come a moment where we were wrong, though, and badly wrong.

As often as I lied to myself about it, nothing was ever certain.

Nothing.

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Twenty-four – 05

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

I stared after her for a few seconds before I turned back to the ravine, brooding. She wasn’t wrong about needing to collect my thoughts, but in some ways, I didn’t appreciate being left alone with them.

That could be dangerous, sometimes, and now was one of those times.

My eyes unfocused as I kept staring out over the ravine, the branches and leaves blending together into a blot of green, brown, and gray. My breathing slowed, my stomach slowly turning sour, muscles tightening painfully. I sank down to my knees, fingertips brushing the grass and dirt alongside the edge of the ravine, the power of the wards washing over me as I leaned forward into the line of them. Their touch was almost soothing—almost.

I tried to tamp down on the visions that tried to swarm up, the echoes of things I’d seen before, the things that opened up a raw ache inside of me. They piled up against a dam behind my eyes and I swallowed hard, squeezing them tightly shut even as my hands curled into fists.

Keep it together. Dammit, keep it together.

That was all I wanted—that, and not to relive those visions over again. I’d seen them enough. I knew what they told me. The last thing I needed was another distraction on the eve of what we were about to do. Besides, there was nothing else I could learn from them, not now.

Was there?

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Unexpected closing shift

Due to an unexpected closing shift at the store, Friday update will post sometime Friday evening.

Sorry guys!

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Twenty-four – 04

[this post is from Marin’s point of view]

It was enough to send a chill racing down my spine and set bile rising at the back of my throat. There were some things that logic couldn’t argue against, and one of those things was unreasoning fear. If it was the beginning of what I’d seen, if it was just another avenue fate was going to try to take to meet a similar ultimate end to the one I’d long feared—

What could I do? Rail against it, of course, but that was what I’d always done. Rail against it and try to stop what I could stop, mitigate what I could, and deal with what I couldn’t. Deep down, I knew I couldn’t—wouldn’t—lose him. That was a kernel of truth I knew deep down in the depths of my soul, buried beneath a thousand other things, down where even fear and doubt couldn’t reach it.

So deep that sometimes I couldn’t even reach it.

Kellin kept staring at me, her brow furrowing even more deeply than before. She reached for my arm but I drew away, hugging them more tightly against my chest, still crossed. I stared out at nothing as I faced the ravine, wrestling with the thoughts I didn’t want to allow to rise to the surface, the things I didn’t want to think about.

I can’t lose him. I won’t. I won’t let it happen.

It was the mantra that I’d said over and over again this past year—and longer still, even during the months when it hadn’t seemed like he was mine to lose.

Somehow, I’d always known.

“Mar,” she said softly, gently. “Are you all right?”

“I don’t know,” I said, perhaps too quickly. “I have no idea. No bloody clue. Maybe. Maybe.”

Kellin’s brow furrowed even more deeply. “You don’t seem like it.”

“Yeah. I know.”

“Then why—”

“Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answers to,” I said, jaw setting. “Please.”

“Right,” she said softly. “I—I’ll let you think.”

I startled as she turned to walk away. “But I’m the one—”

“I know,” she said. “You need to collect your thoughts more than I do.”

She didn’t give me time to respond before she walked away.

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No Monday update this week

I had intended to write something for today, but a combination of festival and a cold have hammered me.  Stay tuned!

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No Friday update this week

No Friday update this week — I’m doing prep for the 24th Annual GVSU Renaissance Festival.  Expect an update sometime on Monday!

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Twenty-four – 03

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

               “It’s a gift and a curse,” she said, echoing my words.  S touched my arm gently, but I didn’t look at her.  I just kept staring out over the yawning maw of the ravine, at trees and fallen branches and leaves, at the grass the stubbornly clung to the steep banks and the mud that marked where the grass had failed to hang on.

               “Yes,” I said in a whisper.  “It is.  It always has been.”

               “I’m sorry.”

               I choked on a laugh.  “I wish that helped, Kel.”

               “Yeah, well.  It’s what I’ve got.”  She lapsed into silence for a few seconds, then said, “I still think you should stay behind.”

               “It’s not going to happen.”

               “You and Thom can’t both go, Mar.”

               My heart seized for a second and I had to swallow twice before I could actually breathe again.  “He’s not going to go.”

               “That’s definitely not the impression he left anyone with.”

               “It doesn’t matter,” I said.  “He’s not going, Kel.  It’s not even a discussion.  He’s staying behind.  He’s in no physical shape for what’s going to happen out there.”

               She stared at me steadily, but I couldn’t look at her.  I wouldn’t.  I couldn’t bear to see doubt in her eyes, doubt and truth.  No mater how much I denied it, no matter how knee-jerk my reaction, if Thom made up his mind to go, I wasn’t going to be able to stop him.  I just didn’t think he’d make that decision.

               I didn’t think he’d put me through that, put us through that.

               But if he thought it was necessary?  If he thought it was right?  He would.  I knew, that, too.

               That was something else I couldn’t deny, no matter how much I would have wanted to.

               Is this how it all starts, I wonder?  Is this where it begins, what I saw about him?

               Is this the beginning?

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Twenty-four – 02

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

Kellin stared steadily at me for longer than was comfortable. I looked away, swallowing against a lump in my throat. I didn’t like lying to anyone, least of all her. It always felt like she somehow deserved better than that.

“You haven’t seen anything,” she said softly. “Not about this fight. Have you?”

I shook my head. “No. Not about things. Things that I’m sure have to come after, though. Lots of that. Nothing about this. I’m not sure I want to.”

She snorted almost inaudibly and smiled, shaking her head. “Who the hell wants to see visions of fighting and death and shit like that? Not me. I don’t envy you and Thom. Not a damn bit.”

“No one should,” I murmured, staring at nothing. “It’s a gift and a curse and it depends on the day which one of those it is. The fact that everyone keeps looking to us for answers about how this is going to go is rough.”

“Who’s asked?”

“It’s not about people asking, it’s about the looks,” I said, then sighed. “I can see it when they look at us. They wonder if we know something we’re not telling and then they wonder why we might not be telling. It’s hard, Kel. It’s so damn hard. Even if I haven’t seen anything, the looks still come. Then we all wonder—me included—if now I’m going to see something. If now the visions are going to come. Sometimes I hate it. God, sometimes I hate it so much.”

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Twenty-four – 01

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

“You surprised me today.”

Kellin turned away from the edge of the ravine, her brow arching slightly. “What do you mean?”

I shrugged as I moved forward, arms crossed and hands tucked into the sleeves of my sweatshirt. It was getting damp and oddly chilly despite lingering summer, so much like the same day a year ago it made me ache in ways I’d almost forgotten. “I guess I just didn’t expect you to volunteer to go. I figured you’d want to stay here.”

She smiled faintly, glancing away again, watching the play of light and shadow among the leaves and branches above us. “Why’s that? Because of what happened the first time we had a major fight on our hands?”

“Well, yeah.” I hugged my arms a little tighter against my chest. “You’ve never really been all that keen on the whole fighting part. Surviving, doing everything we can to make this place defensible and a home, yeah. Being a voice of reason? Yeah. Marching off to war? I guess—I don’t know. I didn’t expect it.”

“Well, you hit it on the head,” she said. “Voice of reason, defensibility—that’s why I have to go. Matt’s right, if we don’t face them, I don’t know that our defenses will be enough. I think we’ve just gotten lucky the past few times and at some point our luck’s going to run out in a pretty serious way. If this is the moment, then at least it’ll be away from here.” She glanced back at me, staring for a few seconds. “You should stay behind.”

I rocked back against my heels, feeling gut-punched. “What?”

“Someone has to lead them if this goes sideways,” she said. “Someone has to get the people who stay behind to safety and I think you can do that.”

“Neve’s staying,” I said. “She can handle it.”

“They’ll need you.”

“They won’t,” I said, swallowing hard. “Because we’re not going to lose. It’ll be okay.”

“You sound pretty sure.”

The truth was, I wasn’t nearly as sure as I sounded. “That’s because I am,” I lied. “It’ll be okay. We’re going to win this one. I’m sure of it. We’ll be fine.

We’ll be fine. Everything will be fine.

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This week’s Friday update will post no later than Saturday!

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