This is part of my novel, "What Losing You Did to Me". To start at the beginning, click here. Right now a new section of my book posts every week.
The path is so dark and foggy that I can't see Cielen.
"Mere--this way!" I hear him shout to my left. I tailor my bearing westward, hunching my shoulders and adjusting my pack. As I walk the ground underneath my feet starts to vibrate, the dead sticks wiggling with hostile magie. It seems I can't continue on this route, as some great magie creature blocks my path, his magie affecting the undergrowth and the ground.
I veer right again. Now tendrils of gray fog chill my neck, whispering past my skin like clammy, disembodied hands. I shiver as the cold condensation drips down the back of my shirt.
"Where are you?" I call out into the forest that has now become a sea. "Cielen!"
He does not answer. I hope he is not in peril. But, I remind myself, Cielen is hardy. His magie is almost as strong as mine and he always respects the forest.
I know he will be fine. He's not like me, he's cautious.
I take another step, and another. Suddenly I am standing at the edge of a great cliff, my right foot poised to step off into the expanse. I panic, teetering wildly. Cielen quickly appears from my left, his face contorted in fear. He grabs my arm but his combined weight knocks away what little balance I have. We both topple over the edge as I scream.
My head feels like it hit first. The pain in my temples gives way to the sensation of rough concrete pressed against my cheek and arms. What is concrete doing in a forest?
"Hey, are you okay?" Someone is shaking me. I blink rapidly, trying to push myself up.
"Aainn" I croak out. A sharp pain punctures my arm as I move. There is a pebble embedded into my upper forearm. I shake it loose.
"You mean Mr. Durithean?" A female voice asks again. "I'll go see if he is in his office." I hear the sound of feet moving.
"Should I call the Medics?" Another male voice asks. The world around me is blurry and my head feels like it's spinning.
"No." I say, trying to wave them away. "I'm okay, I just stood up to fast."
Someone that I can't see helps me sit on the bench again.
"You should get that checked out." The male voice says. "Could be anemia."
He sounds like he probably knows what he is taking about. Must be a medic major.
The girl comes running back. "Durithean wasn't in his office. I'm sorry." She says.
"Uh, that's okay." I say. "I just wanted to ask him a question about my, uh, paper."
"Well, you better catch him soon" she says, nudging the guy. "You know he has the next month off for his wedding."
They both turn to stare at me.
"I'm really okay." I manage, trying appear confidant. "I'm sorry." My hands are shaking so I clinch my purse. I realize I once again forgot to eat lunch, and it's probably way past noon. My stomach and my uterus both are rolling with pain.
I force a smile. Boy turns to girl and they share a glance that means something, but I don't know what. "Alright." He says. Another look between them, and the girl shrugs.
"If she says she's fine, then she's fine."
"I am fine." I say again, although my voice is shaky and my sentence ends on squeak.
I can tell they don't believe me, but they both turn and start walking away with only one backwards glance. I wait until they disappear around the corner and then I let go of my purse and press my mouth into my shoulder trying to suppress my sobs. I pull my legs in towards my body and just cry into my knees, hiding my face.
I don't care if anyone walks by, and I'm frankly to lost to notice if anyone does. I hope they just think I'm napping.
The next thing I notice is my face is sticky with dry tears and every part of my body hurts. I glance at my watch. 4:35pm. Aainn hasn't come back.
I unfold myself slowly, feeling every creak. Is this what it's like to be old? The weight of the trees seems to press on my shoulders as I stand, shaking. I feel like I can't move at all. But somehow I must. I lean against a light-post until I think I can hold my weight without fainting again.
I don't remember walking home until the steam from the shower hits me. And I'm too sad to eat. I saw Aainn and I did the very thing I said I wouldn't do: panicked. I don't deserve food anyway, even if I could eat something.
The clock reads a blurry 8:45pm when I finally turn off the TV and pull the covers over my head. I hope I dream of Aainn. Actually, I hope I don't. Because then I'll have to wake up without him again tomorrow.
Click here for the next part.