Author's Note: Nope, not mine. As if! I just thought I'd play with them for a bit and see what happened …
For The Juice, who still manages to amaze me after all these years -
and for Sunshine, my very favourite surprise.
I wake terrified, half-choking on a scream. Unsure of where I am.
Of who I am.
I feel as though my very self is fragmented, flung to the four corners of the room to lie, shattered, somewhere in all the endless black. Once, I knew, I remember that much; once, somewhere in another life, I was certain. I was sure of everything. Of who I was, of where I belonged, of the way my safe, secure little world worked. It was all supposed to be so simple, so easy. But no longer.
The sheets are caught around my body in a sweaty tangle; my breath is laboured, coming in shallow gasps. Eyes wide open yet unseeing.
The darkness is closing in around me, a solid, tangible thing. Suffocating. I arch my back, straining against invisible bonds; lash out wildly with one arm, and find only the satin cool of the bedclothes; but where my lover should lie, there is nothing but space. Empty space.
Where - ? God, where … ?
Another scream threatens to rise; I cover my mouth with both hands, a pathetic attempt to hold it back. I close my eyes tightly, try not to look; but in the void behind my eyelids I can see him waiting there for me, waiting as he always waits, patiently and forever. Those blazing eyes that sear my very soul with their wanting, their hate … I recoil with a whimper, like a frightened animal, but there is nowhere to run, no place I can hide. Awake or asleep, he will find me.
I want to talk to him, I realise suddenly. I want a chance to explain. I want him to know it wasn't meant to end that way; it wasn't my fault. It wasn't. Nobody won our strange little war; none of us emerged triumphant. I was just as much of a victim as he was, in a way; trapped by his all-consuming, destructive love in a situation I tried so desperately to control, but never really understood … and yet, I can't bear to think of him left there all alone, bound in the prison of his own twisted imagination, hating me. And I don't know why. I don't know why I still care.
Why should it matter? Why in the world should it matter? After what he put us through, after all the things he did …
I wrap my arms tightly around myself, realise I'm shaking. I don't want to think about this any more; don't want to look into this mirror he holds out toward me, don't want to see the truth it could reveal, if I dared look; if only I weren't so afraid of what might be reflected within.
If only I weren't so afraid of myself.
The sound of soft footsteps makes me jump; I whirl toward the door with a moan of fear that gives way to a relief so profound I could weep.
"I brought you some water," says that familiar quiet voice, and a glass is thrust into my trembling hand. Sweat-dampened hair is smoothed back from my forehead, a tender kiss brushes against my temple, and I begin to breathe more easily. "It's all right, my love," the voice insists, "just another nightmare."
But it isn't all right, and it never will be all right; and I've been a fool to think it could ever be otherwise.
Christine says she'll be haunted by his music for the rest of her life.
But for me there is no music. There is only screaming. That terrible cry, raw agony echoing across midnight water, down there in his impossible world beneath reality.
I will hear his screams forever.
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