Those yearning pangs again. I push it down and talk calmly to Gigas about the seasons, but it nags at me. The dreams stay at bay, but something else has crept back and invaded my brain uninvited. I shake my mind, trying to fling away those emotions, but steadily they crawl back in.
Gigas is waiting at the entrance of the cave. I step to the edge of my shelf, and timidly place a foot in his hand. He carries me outside with him.
The wind is sharp and biting. Vividly I remember that night long ago, when the stars were so bright. As bright as the licking flames of a fire. I see them now, just the same, the bear tromping across the sky, with its little one nearby. The wind stings my eyes and makes them water. It blows hard and mercilessly; the grasses and trees bend slightly at their waists because of it. The wind is cutting away at my flesh, exposing my soul . . .
Involuntarily, I cry.
My cold, chapped cheeks burn as hot saltwater runs down my face. It tickles down my chest. Gigas’ closeness itches at me; I must get away. I hate being near him. I hate the sticky feeling of his skin. I must run away from him so I am haunted no longer, bothered never again, and left alone.
Jumping from his arms, I run into the thick jungle. I do not care that he screams my name. “GuhnOooUhnOh! Come back! The lions will eat you!” I care not for lions. I push through the leaves, running, even though my bare feet throb. I rustle through the bushes, scare birds out of trees, and shove branches out of my face. Soon the sun is as bright as white fire, high in the sky, and I know that Gigas will not follow now. The sun bathes my skin warmly. The scenery changes from greenery to the seashore, where white sand fills the landscape. Waves lap the shore. I scream, and scream, and run, and run, and I don’t care.
I run until I my skin is scritch-scratched all over with little red stitches. I am heaving, and my stomach hurts so bad, I hardly can take a breath. Sand is getting into every part of me, and dirt paints my skin.
I strip down to bare skin, discarding my clothes on the beach and wade out into the waves. I care not of what Gigas has warned me: Light angels who steal your breath and vision away as the sun arises. I care not. I rinse my hair and swim in the water, as I cry. The fish don’t know I am crying, because I am wet all over.
I lie on the sand as the sun dries me over. My skin nearly burns, but I dry before that happens. My face doesn’t, however, because I can’t stop crying.
Why? I don’t understand, I don’t understand, I don’t . . .
I almost wish Gigas were here.
The sky grows dark, and my eyes soon adjust to the absence of light. I can still see every leaf outlined in the starlight.
The roar of a lion shivers through my body. I lie down on the cool sand, and the scratchy pressure of the grains of sand suck all the life out of me.
When I wake again, everything is golden in liquid sunrise. Every tree outlined against the rose-gold sky is orangey bronze. Even the waves that lap at my numb toes are honey-colored.
Emotions hit me like an ocean swell, flecking my face with tears like sea spray. My breath snags against my vocal chords, emitting a strangled sound that expresses only the slightest sliver of my pain.
Before I consciously realize what I am doing, I plunge into the waves, my bare toes catching against rough coral and sending curling red feathery plumes of blood through the crystal clear water.
I don’t care. The pain in my heart is too much. It clenches the two sides of my ribcage, lacing them together so tight I can hardly breathe. As I focus on the physical pain, perhaps the inner hurt will dissipate.
I can’t prevent the dreams any more than Gigas can help me or be the comfort I’ve always wanted. I can’t stop the pain. I can’t block the feelings. And yet—yet—my soul continues on in this hopeless cycle.
It won’t end by itself.
It won’t end.
Why won’t it?
But maybe if I . . . maybe I can . . .
The salty water stings up to my waist, and goosebumps spread across my skin like a rash. My throat clenches closed tightly, my body half freezing and half burning, from ice-cold sea and fire-hot sun.
The rippling, cerulean surface of the sea rises higher above my head. I inspire water.