Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Nobody Said It Was Easy

Here's a little short piece of a story that I'm writing to kind of get out some negative emotions. It's just something I'm writing as I go along, and I just want to share with you guys.
"I can't do this."
She turned around and faced me with that same expression I had seen so many times. It was hate and love and fear and a million other things I could not name all churning around behind those dark eyes of hers. It was a storm, and it was ready to break upon me at any moment. The firelight made her look even wilder.
This time I didn't care. I'm not afraid of you.
"I said I can't do this." I let my sword fall to the ground.
We both had our scrapes, bruises, and cuts. We were both completely filthy. We were both on the run.
"What can't you do?"
"I can't fight like this anymore."
Her eyebrows furrowed. "Well if you give up, I'm giving up."
I was terrified. I was absolutely terrified. Who wouldn't be? I knew who she was, how she was. But once you've thought and you've thought and you keep coming to only one conclusion, only one possible way you both can survive, what do you do? Please, if you know, speak up and tell me how I could have done it right.
"I just... can't keep fighting with you."
"Oh?" There was a dangerous edge in her voice now.
Danger, my better judgement cried out. Danger.
"I... can't keep wondering what you really think of me. I can't keep wondering if - when- you will turn on me. You have before and you will again. You know that. I can't let you manipulate me like this. This is a fight for survival, Cristina. And if we stay together we are both going to die."
She was absolutely taken aback, as if she couldn't believe those words had just come out of my mouth.
I tightened my grip on my sword, praying to God that a) everything would go over well (unlikely) and b) I'd have the courage to actually go through with this (also rather unlikely).
Cristina said nothing. She had dirt on her face. Her black hair, once tied neatly behind her head, had come loose and was in her face.
God, I would miss her so much. She wasn't all bad. She wasn't near all bad.
But I had a mission.
"Why?" she asked me. Those churning eyes had turned glassy.
"I have a mission. And I can't do it if I am worried about someone turning on me every moment."
"Why don't you trust me?" The edge in her voice was sharp enough to cut diamond.
"... you haven't proven very trustworthy."
Oh here we go. Bad move, bad move. She's going to make me feel so bad about this... 
I steeled myself. Tonight was different. I couldn't turn back. Not tonight.
"I don't know why you're doing this to me."
"Cristina I don't-"
"Shut up!"
I obeyed.
"I know exactly what you're going to say. How this is better for me in the end and all those lies. Well you can save it. I've heard them all before and I don't care to hear them from you. I thought we were friends, Atheni. I thought you cared. But you just want to leave, like everyone else."
"Why can't you see that I'm doing this so we might both survive!"
"Oh yes. And by doing that you're running off and leaving me."
"You have people who can help you."
"They're not you." Those black eyes were staring straight into my soul. She was so angry at me. She would never forgive me.
"I'm coming back." My voice shook.
She ran her dirty hand through her hair, knocking loose what of it had still been pinned back. "If you want to go, just get out of here."
That was hate. That, in her eyes, on her face, in her voice. That was hate. And it was all for me.
I couldn't hold back the tears anymore. I loved her. She was my best friend. We had fought monsters together and won. I didn't want it to end like this.
But this was killing me.
Not to mention my new mission.
I don't know if she was for me or against me. Possibly somewhere in-between. But that wasn't good enough.
She flashed those black eyes at me again, but they had lost their steeled look. "What?"
I walked over to the place I had dropped my bag and slung it over my shoulder. Which was probably not the best idea, as it was incredibly sore. "I'm going."
"You're not serious."
Through my tears I shot her a sad version of my favorite what-makes-you-so-sure? face.
"Atheni, please. I need you."
You say that now only because I'm going. 
"Listen... I can do better, alright?"
I shook my head. "Not this time. Not right now. I'll be back, hopefully, and maybe we can try again. But not now."
"Please." Oh no. She was crying. It was so much easier to handle the icy stare than to know I was making her cry. I wanted to change my mind, to take it all back, to come begging for forgiveness.
But not tonight.
I shifted awkwardly. I was still crying, but I was also anxious to be on my way, as insensitive as that sounds. This was a decision I'd made and come to terms with beforehand.
"I'll miss you." And I meant it. With everything in me. I don't think I ever loved her more than I did right then. I knew this was best for the both of us. Even if she didn't.
Cristina's expression changed. "This is it."
"For a while."
She shook her head. "For ever."
"It's not very likely that either of us will make it. I mean, even if you do come back, there's no guarantee I'll be here."
I hated the way she said that. The slight tilt of her head, as if gauging my reaction. She was still trying to get me to stay.
Not tonight.
"Well, I'll be coming back."
"You think."
I was quiet as I pushed my short hair back from my face. The fire was dying.
"I'll miss you." It was her turn to say it this time. "Don't forget me."
I nodded. And I etched every detail of that moment into my mind. Her damaged armor. The way the firelight glinted off of it and threw an unearthly light on her dirty face. Those dangerous eyes and the way her mouth was drawn into a tight line. The patterns her tears had made as the streaked down her face.
This was my last picture of my best friend, at least for the time being. My friend, my enemy, my mystery.
"I won't forget."
She made a face that clearly expressed the amount of faith she had in my statement.
I decided not to fight that battle. Gripping my sword a little tighter, I turned to walk away, but looked back one last time.
She looked at me. Hopeless. My nerve just about failed then and there.
"Take care of yourself."
"You too."
"I'll do my best."
"Farewell, Atheni."
"Until we meet again."
And so I left. I turned away and I started walking out into the moonlight night.
I cried as I walked.
But that was okay.
Because I kept going.