The Short Fic Weekly Challenge Thread!
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09.15.2012 , 06:05 AM |
Here's what I wrote just before the last post, if anyone is wondering how this came about
Corso stood in the early gray light of dawn, surrounded by young banthas. He still felt unsettled, uncertain, and vaguely sad. It had been over a year since he’d had his nightmare, the only one he’d ever had, and now it was back. He could see his parent’s farm house from the hill he’d been crossing, not knowing the seps had already killed them. It was only when the house exploded in front of him that he’d known anything was wrong. Only, in his subconscious, Miriah was in the house too, and he lost her as well as his parents, and the agony woke him in a cold panic. He still wasn’t sure how he had kept from waking her, since she never seemed to sleep deeply. Maybe it’s just because we’re here, he thought, she does sleep better here. He knew sleep was done for him, and he wanted her to rest, so he got up, dressed in the hallway, and made his way out to the first barn. He shook his head, trying to rid himself of the mental images. He started spreading out the grain for the animals, trying to bury his thoughts in familiar work. The animals snuffled softly, sensing his mood, bumping him with their heads. He absently patted one, then turned to the house, and saw her on the porch. She was holding a cup of something hot, he could see the steam rise from it in the cool predawn air, her eyes not really awake yet. So why am I standing here miserable, when the only one who can make this better is there, he wondered.
Suddenly he broke into a run, scattering the herd around him and vaulted the fence. He saw her drowsy smile as he got closer, her black hair tangled from sleep. He said nothing, but when he got close enough he wrapped her in a hug and breathed in the scent of her, peaches and vanilla.
“G’morning, handsome,” she said softly. He had such a huge lump in his throat that he didn’t answer, and was embarrassed to realize he had tears in his eyes, only wanting to hold her until he could get a grip on his emotions. She could feel there was something wrong, but when he finally loosened his arms and bent his head to kiss her, he had managed to put a smile on his face and could breathe again, so she didn’t ask, just took his hand and led him inside.
They were having an impromptu family reunion at the ranch that afternoon, and Miriah had been cooking the two days they’d been there in preparation. She had huge bowls of salad and cut fruit, the grill stuff ready, and two cheesecakes, one with berries and one with tiny chocolate chips and caramel. She smiled to herself, knowing which one would be gone first. She’d cleaned up after breakfast and wandered out to sit outside, recalling the early morning and how strange it felt to wake up and not find Corso beside her. They hadn’t had any disagreements, she thought, and he didn’t seem upset last night. She had to smile at that, since she’d found a use for the leftover caramel sauce she’d made, and he’d seemed to enjoy it as well. Well, he’ll tell me when he’s ready, I won’t push him, she thought. He’d gone back out to the livestock after breakfast, moving a herd to a different grazing area, but only after he’d given her several long, slow kisses that had her knees weak. She lay back in the chair, soaking in the sun, and felt content.
Aric, Maura and the twins were gathered outside with Miriah and Corso when Magdalane and Felix arrived, everyone enjoying the perfect weather and the giggles of the babies. They grow so fast, Miriah thought, as she handed Calleigh to Magdalane, who let out a contented sigh. Miriah looked over at Corso, who was staring intently at her, a faintly anxious expression on his face. She smiled at him and cocked her head, trying to figure out what he was thinking. He blinked a few times, then returned her smile, seeming himself again. Magdalane noticed this, and when she had Miriah alone in the kitchen she asked what was going on.
“I honestly don’t know, Mags, he just seems..different today. He woke up really early, and went out to be with the animals, I have no idea what woke him or why I didn’t hear him. He was his normal self before we went to sleep, then this morning it’s like he’s, I don’t know, afraid of something.”
“His aura is troubled, his energy is anxious,” Magdalane told her. “I’ll see if he’ll talk to me later.”
When they walked outside again, Corso was feeding Calleigh, a gentle smile on his face as he looked down at her. She was holding his little finger in her hand, as he held her bottle, and Miriah was again touched at seeing him with a baby in his arms. He glanced up and caught her expression, and for the first time that day he felt normal. Magdalane sat down beside him, smiling down at the almost-asleep Calleigh. When the baby was done with her bottle, Magdalane told Corso, “Bring her inside, I set up the portable crib in there so they can sleep.”
He followed her into the cool house and gently placed the baby beside her brother, and when he straightened he knew Magdalane had sensed something wrong.
“What’s disturbing my normally happy brother in law?” she asked him in a soft voice. He looked at his feet for a few seconds, then sighed, knowing she might be able to help him but hating that he would have to tell her.
“Well, after my parents were killed, I had this nightmare for a few years, off and on. I had it again last night, first time in a long time. It bothered me, that’s all.”
She sensed he was hedging the truth, and just waited him out until he began to speak again. “I had gone to check a gate I wasn’t sure I had closed that morning. When I came over the little hill at the back of the house, I was whistling. Then about three steps down the hill the whole house exploded, and I saw the seperatists running out the front. My parents were dead, and I was whistling,” he said in a flat voice, doing all he could to control the emotions. “This morning, I had the same nightmare, except,” he choked out, “Miriah was in the house too.” He turned abruptly, then turned back to face Magdalane, “I almost died of grief when my parents were killed. I would die if anything happened to Miriah, and even the thought of that in a dream has had me on edge all day.”
Magdalane’s heart went out to him, “How old were you when it happened, Corso?”
“I’d had my fourteenth birthday the week before,” he said, rubbing his face. “I know it wasn’t my fault, but I felt guilty anyway. Just like I know I’d never put Miriah in a situation where she could be hurt or killed, but it could still happen, has happened before, in fact.” He paced in front of the crib, “I know it was just a nightmare, but it’s been hard to forget today, for some reason.” He walked away, out to the grill again, just to have something to do that felt normal. Miriah walked up to him and hugged him, laying her head on his back. He reached around to pull her to his side, leaning over to kiss the top of her head.
She looked up at him, “I don’t know what’s happened that has you unhappy, but I love you, and I’m here.” Just that one statement, he thought, was enough. He felt the heaviness he’d carried all day disappear, as he held her close at his side, the beautiful day taking its place, and as he looked around at his family, he felt grateful.
Love is the strongest magic of them all.