We Will Become Silhouettes
Disclaimer: Tales of Symphonia it's world(s), concepts, characters, etc. are not mine. They belong to Namco. However, I do own this little snippet. The lyrics in the beginning are from We Will Become Silhouettes by The Postal service. Which I also do not own. (This story has been posted in several places -- my personal journal, my writing journal, and on the Pit of Voles.)
Dedication: This is fiction is dedicated to the wonderful Sabriel, also known as taekwonangel at LJ, and Sabriel41 here on the Pit of Voles. She's an amazing author and artist, and an absolutely delightful person. This is her Christmas present, which she received a trifle quite a bit late. My apologies, Sabe! (Oh em gee, this place is a whooore. It totally eats what I have; I beg thy forgiveness and pray that it
Summary: She cannot remember if it has just been a few months since her last visit, or if it had really been a few decades. Spoilers for the whole game, whee. Death. Depressing stuff, yo.
because the air outside will make our cells
divide at an alarming rate until our shells
simply cannot hold all our insides in
and that's when we'll explode
and it won't be a pretty sight
and we will become silhouettes when our bodies finally go
It has been a long time since Presea had been here -- to this place called Altamira. They call it something else these days; she is fairly sure that they called it the Rusty Ruins now. Only a few people remember it as Altamira now and those memories are fading. Everyone but her has forgotten how big the moon would get when it hung over the Otherworldly Gate, how the lights of the hotel looked on the ocean, the way the ferris wheel would shine like a whole new wheel of stars.
Now the once-famous resort is just a crumbling pile of rust. A few lone spokes reach up to the sky, but it has been hundreds of years since they have been glowing with electrical lights. During the day, seagulls sit on it before flying off to shit on the ruins. For the first couple of hundred years, Presea did her best to clean up after them and to chase them off -- but she eventually just gave into the inevitable. The gulls owned Altamira now, though the deed was in her name. She had bought it from a broken man for a bottle of half-drunk absinthe -- strange what time will do to the once-honored names of the past.
A few days -- weeks? Months? Years? Decades? Centuries? Presea simply cannot tell the difference anymore. -- ago she had looked up their names in the history books. There is a whole chapter devoted to her; Presea is mildly amused at how the historians have pictured her, how artists have "captured the essence of the lonely forest flower, Presea."
They made her blonde, but that is not all. They gave her curly blonde hair, with big blue eyes and pale skin. The ax that always sits at her feet in those paintings seems almost ornamental; the girl's hands are always smooth. There is no way that this china-doll child could be the warrior they claimed her to be.
It was both insulting and flattering at the same time. (Presea would never let herself go like that. She will always be a warrior, the ax simply an extension of her arm. Presea has killed many men.)
Despite her small stature, Presea is anything but delicate. Her tiny hands have rough palms, and her arms have muscles that are well used to swinging an ax around. She has narrow blue eyes and a long nose that acted as if it could hew through rock. Lately, she has been keeping her hair short -- it had been too much of a bother maintaining the pigtails, when nobody recognized them anymore. It now comes down to about her chin; somehow, it still manages to get in her eyes.
She misses them. She misses the people who had slowly filled the void that Daddy and Alicia had once filled, though she always had felt a little empty inside; that would never change.
Presea took a long drag of her cigarette -- maybe one day her lungs will grow as black as her soul and she will finally die -- before putting it out on the ground and flicking it away. She leaned her head back against the gravestone, and looked up at the sky.
It was hazy; a storm was coming on.
It is springtime now, and Presea supposes that she should go visit Colette again. She cannot remember if it has just been a few months since her last visit, or if it had really been a few decades. It was not hard to find Colette; she had been in the same place for many years now. After two hundred years of wandering, Colette had given up on living alone. She had flown up to Exire, and politely requested one of the cottages. The angel-savior-girl had offered to pay, but the half-elves would have none of it.
"Oh, it's so nice to see you, Presea!" Colette tells her cheerfully as Presea leans her ax against the doorframe, giving her a friendly kiss on the forehead. "I love what you've done with your hair. It's so modern!" Colette's hair is the same as it was a thousand years ago. She makes sure that it never grows past her waist -- when Presea visits, Colette will often ask her to cut her hair for her. Presea never minds, and always cuts off the inch or two that have crept down since her last visit.
"It was bothersome," Presea replies quietly, as she whittles a piece of wood. When she had lost her heart, Presea had liked to carve angels; the old habit had unearthed itself, a few centuries ago. Presea is carving an angel with long red hair and orange wings that she -- they -- had fought long ago. Presea had been the one to kill it; the others had looked away when she ended the agony of its dying throes with a simple cut of her knife. She thinks that she will give it to Colette. Maybe looking at it will remind her of what happened again, in a way she cannot forget.
Colette smiles, and turns back to the kitchen. She is making Beef Stew and light conversation, asking questions that Presea cannot really answer anymore.
How were Sheena and her twins doing? (They are dead, Colette.) Oh. What about Regal, then? Is he fine too? (He is gone, Colette.) Hehe, silly me... Genis and the Professor, then. Surely they're still around -- weren't they going off to explore the Balacruf ruins? With all the hidden rooms? (Colette, they disappeared a long time ago.) Oh... well, I'm sure Lloyd knows something about what happened. When he comes back, he'll tell me! (Presea does not have the heart to tell her she had finally found Lloyd's grave two hundred years ago.)
Maybe one day, Presea will start lying, making up stories about their friends. It would not be hard, and Colette would believe her; perhaps it would make it easier on her, seeing as she was trapped in that little loop of hers.
Ironic, that Colette now lives in the old home of Virginia Sage. Perhaps the madness of time was contagious in this place; Colette certainly seems trapped in her own idyllic version of reality. It hurts, to see the crestfallen look on her face when Presea bluntly tells her again and again throughout the night that they are all dead and gone. It is no use -- Presea could tell Colette a thousand times that her friends and family were dead and she would still forget.
Presea does not even bother correcting Colette this time when she sets a place for Lloyd at the table -- just in case he comes to visit today -- and simply tells Colette that her stew is delicious as always.
She finds him at the Tower of Salvation. Like Colette, he remains unchanged -- the again, since when did he ever change? They meet here when they can, when they remember. Out of all of them, he has the tightest grip on time -- he can tell when it has been days instead of years, weeks instead of months. Presea is almost jealous of him for that, but she rather prefers her comfortable blur, her bleak haze.
"It's painful, isn't it?"
That is all he says to her, but he does not have to say anything else. Presea agrees with him; it did hurt and it was painful to live forever and ever. It was the most painful thing she has ever experienced, remaining only slightly-changed in the river of time. They are a bit a like, though very different. They are cursed to live forever, repudiated by time itself. They are cursed to remember when everyone else around them forgot.
It is only fitting that she say nothing -- but then again, there was really nothing she could say to that.
Presea just sighs, leans the Gaia Cleaver against the piece of rubble he is sitting on before climbing up to join him. It is almost comforting to lean on his shoulder, because she knows he understands how dead she feels inside. They are allies at best, enemies on occasion; the gracefully dead Goddess herself would know how many times they have clashed over the years. There is simply nothing else to do, beside brood and be paid to try and kill each other.
It always blows over, eventually. As if they would ever really kill each other -- not when they remain the last pieces of a world that was slowly fading into dust -- but it was interesting to try, now and again.
(They have a silent accord not to acknowledge the bitter tears that run down their cheeks when they meet up -- otherwise, they would never be released, and the two of them would finally go mad. They are hollow enough as it is; they need this silent release, because they cannot keep all those memories of theirs locked up without some erosion.)
The next time Presea visits Colette, she has started talking to her figurines. Apparently, she had found a box full of them in the back of a closet. Presea could just see her finding them, a really and truly happy smile spreading across her face as she lovingly traced the details on their faces -- details that Dirk had worked so hard into making into every piece. Presea's carving of the angel in agony was put up on the shelf -- she gets the feeling that Colette does not like looking at it.
"Oh, Presea, how wonderful for you to stop by!" Colette had said, clapping her hands a little in joy. "Oh, look, Presea, look! Lloyd and everyone are here too! Even Kratos came to visit! Isn't it wonderful, Presea?"
"Lloyd's" wooden face glowed in the lamplight, one of the ribbons on his jacket snapped off. His little smirk of a smile was faded, like the faces of the rest of the figurines. They were faded like memories, faded like life and death, faded like a lonely gravestone on the cliffs of Izoold. (Lloyd's grave with a crystal that Presea had ground into dust set in the rough stone. She had pried it out and smashed it under her heel. Lloyd would not have wanted to live forever like Mithos, like Alicia, like her, like Colette. He had not needed to appear to her and fucking beg her to kill him. She is glad he did not; she probably would not have been able to finish it if he had done that.)
Presea had stared at Colette and her figurines for a long time. She wanted to -- scream, cry, turn around and leave -- say something to Colette, to gently remind her that all of those were dead and gone...
... but she could not find the strength, the will to do any of it.
Instead, Presea stayed for tea, nodding gravely whenever "Lloyd" or "Sheena" asked her how things were going.
It is still springtime -- or maybe a year has passed and she missed the summer, winter, and fall again -- and she is back at the Rusty Ruins of Altamira smoking again. These days, Presea cannot get enough of her cigarettes; Colette always has to shoo her out of her house, because Presea keeps lighting up indoors. It really was not fair. If Colette could have her illusion, then why was Presea not allowed have her goddess-damned cigs while she had to deal with her friend who was forgetting all she ever bled for?
"Next time," she told the gulls, her voice as rusty as the ferris wheel, "she'll think one of those damn things is me." Her voice is a bitter croak, sounding more like a crow. Daddy used to call her his little songbird; when had her voice stopped being beautiful? (Presea would have raised a hand to her throat, to feel the white scars there, but she can almost remember it now so she does not have to. You cannot slit the throat of a little girl who is already dead, can you?)
"Mithos started calling a doll 'Martel', once," he told her. He had somehow appeared by her side; she offered him a drag of her cig, but he politely declined. He was far too aristocratic to do something as lowly as smoking.
"Her name was Tabatha," Presea supplemented, taking back the drag, holding onto it as long as she could, before blowing it out into the fresh air. The smoke burned a little.
"He dressed it in her clothes, taught it her mannerisms... but he could never get it to smile just like her. He almost broke that doll -- but he couldn't kill a thing with his precious sister's face. So he sent it down to Tethe'alla, to work for an exiled dwarf. In the end, he hated that doll."
Presea can tell he is bitter about this. She knows the story behind the glimmering silver ring on his left hand and the matching band on his right. He does not need to tell her why he hated Mithos, in the end; she already knows, already understands.
"I miss Colette," Presea said to him -- to the air, was he even really there and if he wasn't did it really even matter anymore? -- "I miss Lloyd. I miss the Professor and Genis and Zelos and Regal and Sheena and Mommy and Daddy and Alicia. I miss... everything, from back then." The statement started out apathetic and strong, but her nails-on-chalkboard voice had spiraled into something akin to sorrow. For a moment, her face echoes her words and her voice, showing glimpses of a terrible sorrow. But then the moment passes and her face is blank again -- after all, she is a true soldier, clinging to lost loves and old glories. If she had been an old man, she would have taken a puff of her pipe, or downed a chug of cheap beer. Seeing as she is Presea, instead she takes a long and bitter drag of her cigarette, blowing it out through her nostrils.
As usual, he says nothing. He is not really the consoling type anyways. Instead, he takes her cigarette from her cold little fingers and puts it out on Alicia's grave; he does not mind her smoking when she does it properly, but he just cannot abide it when she blows the smoke out her nose.
He is finally gone, if he was ever there in the first place, leaving Presea alone with her thoughts and her scars. She has lit up another cigarette, obstinately blowing the smoke out of her nose until it burns, just to spite his memory. The stars are cold in the sky, maybe as cold as she is. Presea shivers, and rubs her arms --
the table was cold, but the stone at her throat was warm. It was not just warm, it was burning hot, searing into her flesh and bone. Wait, was it really hot and cold like that? It had been a week since she had been able to feel things like that -- it had to be her imagination. But the girl could not get the feeling -- the sensation -- out of her head that the thing at her throat was going to devour her with its searing heat.
The little girl tried to weep, tried to cry out that she did not like this game anymore, that she had to go home to Daddy. She had wanted to help, to be strong... but all she felt was weak and dizzy. It had been months since she had been able to slip into unconsciousness; the girl was so tired, so tired. She could not sleep, could not eat, could not feel, could not speak. The pretty lady-girl who was barely older then her murmured it would be all right -- she tried to keep her voice low, but it hurt her ears, high and sharp and cruel -- as she jabbed the needle into her arm --
The little girl tried to weep, tried to cry out that she did not like this game anymore, that she had to go home to Daddy. She had wanted to help, to be strong... but all she felt was weak and dizzy. It had been months since she had been able to slip into unconsciousness; the girl was so tired, so tired. She could not sleep, could not eat, could not feel, could not speak.
The pretty lady-girl who was barely older then her murmured it would be all right -- she tried to keep her voice low, but it hurt her ears, high and sharp and cruel -- as she jabbed the needle into her arm --
because the cold got to even her. It brought back things she would rather notremember, nights that were best abandoned and forgotten. Things that no matter she tried to, Presea would never forget; she is not blessed like Colette, with her continual forgetting. All Presea has to cling to is her pitiful little haze of time and bleakly hope that the end of the world will come sooner rather then later.
It is a foolish, stupid hope. However, it is a hope nonetheless, the wish that Presea mouths as a glimmering tear of a star slips down the solemn face of the night sky.
( o w a r i )