Tempus Vocat
(lyrics herein © me, A. Owomoyela, 2002)

Every breath is fire.
Every breath is pain.

Her hands traced the embossed form, feeling every rise and every depression in the metal. The embellished claws were sharp--tiny little pinpricks that rose out of the blade like splinters. Splinters that dug, held; that tore tiny bits out of her, so tiny that the drops of sanguine blood which welled up were no bigger than periods, no thicker than grains of sand.

I've tried to run but all the roads
Just lead me here again.

The world had exploded into a miasma of colors and forms that there were no names for, because no one sane had ever seen them before. Dimensions arced and twisted around each other, helixes winding down up and through a nothing that was everything. She was tasting sound. She was smelling time.

I've tried to go but all the drugs
Are driving me insane.
I've tried to pray but I've no right
To enter God's domain.

Time was watching her.

I'm running, now, I'm running on,
I'm running far away.
I'll take just about anything
To have you near today.

Time was stalking her. Waiting for her to make one false step, put so much as a thought in the wrong place. It clustered around her, dragging at her mind and tugging at her soul. A thousand grasping hands ran their claws over her, claws whose trails ached like--

Oh baby, I love you,
But you say you don't love me...

--like splinters--

I tell you I hate you
You tell me you'll kill me...

--dragging into the depths of her, ripping through her mind, her heart, her soul; clotting her throat with tears and flooding her eyes. Tears cascaded down from her, lost in her unreal vision.

Oh baby, I can't stand it
You've got me in agony...

Agony didn't begin to describe it.

And now you gotta help me
I just wanna be free.

Agony was just a word, and words didn't describe it. Words just escalated it. Words were nothing but pain.

Just wanna be free, oh baby,
Wanna be free...

The recording skipped, and there was a quick whirr as the tape was fed back through its wheels. Saltwater fell onto metal with barely a noise. The whirring stopped, and a guitar struck a soulful chord.

Every breath is fire.
Every breath is pain.

The blunt edge of the blade took a dangerous curve just before reaching the point. It was not a tip made for stabbing, but it was a tip which could were the need to arise.

I've tried to run but all the roads
Just lead me here again.

It was time again. Vitriol in her veins, nightmares in her eyes, and cutting metal in her hands.

I've tried to go but all the drugs
Are driving me insane.

A door opened. Not metaphorically--but literally. She didn't realize it at first. The figure stepped into the room, confusion on his features. Confusion and worry. The recording skipped and whirred.

Oh baby, I love you,
But you say you don't love me...
I tell you I hate you
You tell me you'll kill me...

"...Rinoa?"

Oh baby, I can't stand it
You've got me in agony...

The lion's claws dug into her skin, rising from the blade like splinters. Like a splintered world that just wanted to break apart. The lion looked from side to side, framed by a white mane, framed in a doorway with a door that couldn't decide whether it should be open or closed.

And now you gotta help me
I just wanna be free.

With a great deal of effort, she took the metal by the blade and held it out to him. His hand grasped the hilt uncertainly. The blood from her hands hit the floor. The recording skipped and whirred.

And now you gotta help me.
I just wanna be free.

"She did it," she whispered.

Just wanna be free, oh baby,
Wanna be free...

"Did what?"

Free to make the hurt all go away.

"Compressed time. Remember?"

Free to turn the night back into day.

Her hands slid from the blade. The red droplets continued to fall, as did the clear ones. She hung her head. The stench of time was overwhelming.

Free to say I love you.
And free to come away.

"I'm still back there. I compressed it, too. She used me and time together. I'll always be back there. You and the rest got out. But I'm always there."

And, oh baby, that's all I really need.
Maybe, baby, it's all I really need.

The recording skipped and whirred. "...what can I do?" he asked.

I tell you I hate you
You tell me you'll kill me...

She looked up at him and smiled in a way that wasn't really a smile. In a way that made him shake all over inside. The recording skipped and whirred.

And now you gotta help me
I just wanna be free.

"Squall's gunblade will pierce my heart," she recited, with a terrible soft joy that was only as beautiful as it was horrible; which was heartrendingly beautiful indeed.

Just wanna be free, oh baby,
Wanna be free...

Skip and whirr.

Just wanna be free, oh baby,
Wanna be free...

Skip and whirr.

Just wanna be free, oh baby,
Wanna be free...

He laid the weapon down very, very carefully. He stepped forward and took her up in his arms, and the door decided to close behind him.

Free to make the hurt all go away.
Free to turn the night back into day.
Free to say I love you.
And free to come away.

The reek of time faded, just a little bit. Not much, but a little.

And, oh baby, that's all I really need.
Maybe, baby, it's all I really need.

Skip and whirr.

Maybe, baby, it's all I really need.

The recording flowed through a guitar solo, thin and wistful. The recording ran itself out, and stopped.