A/N: This story just jumped into my head and demanded to be written. It's rather 'stream of consciousness' and I've basically left it as it came out, but I'm quite happy with it. Hope you enjoy!
Claire doesn't remember much, and a lot of the time she can't distinguish between memories and dreams.
She knows that she is alone, perhaps in the deepest sense of the word. She has nothing left, but her hut and her traps and a life so different than any she ever imagined.
In the deep nights, when the jungle whispers to her, she lies awake. She listens and sometimes, she whispers back. Whatever is said is between her and the darkness.
Claire is not afraid. She does not get frightened like she used to. There would be no one and nothing to comfort her if she was but anyway, she's not. Claire isn't scared of anything anymore. She thinks she has nothing left to fear. Her child is gone, Charlie is gone. Everyone and everything is gone. Even she is gone and there's nothing left in her to mourn the loss. There is certainly nothing left to be afraid of.
Sometimes she rolls onto her side, inhaling the night, and imagines Charlie's arms around her, secure with her back against his chest and his breathing in her ear. Wrapped up in love.
She feels him and she knows he's there. She knows it with a certainty that makes her heart stop, but she never turns over, she never opens her eyes, because if she does he'll leave again, and leave her wondering at the certainty she once held. Because when he's gone… it's like he was never there, and Claire doubts her own sanity.
So Claire lies still and awake, lost in a dream of her own making and knows that these moments are the best that she can ever expect.
A lot of the time, Claire is busy. She sets traps and finds food and collects water, eats and drinks because these are motions that she is familiar with, that make the days pass.
And then there are times when she realizes she's been sitting in her hut for hours, completely motionless, holding an empty jar of peanut butter or staring into a makeshift crib, and she feels nothing. Nothing she could do will ever fill them. The emptiness is her only constant.
There is nothing. She is nothing but the scrabbling remains of a life gone wrong. Sometimes she wonders if she died a long time ago but no ones been around to tell her. If maybe, she could close her eyes and make herself go away.
Often, Claire lies in the open and looks up at the night sky, pointing out constellations to a Charlie that isn't there, but if she looks at the stars, looks at nothing else, she can pretend that this is just another night after The Crash. Any night Before. And Charlie is next to her and if she lays a hand on her swollen stomach maybe she'll feel the baby kick.
She never looks beside her and she never raises a hand to feel her bump, because she knows, deep down inside she knows, that her life is all make-believe.
She talks anyway. She's realized at some point that she never knew when Charlie's birthday was so she doesn't have a date to work out his horoscope from, but somewhere along the way he becomes a Cancer.
Claire likes Cancers. They're loyal and brave, strong and protective. They're creative – Claire holds the image in her head of Charlie plucking at his guitar on the beach, writing down notes and lyrics.
Cancers are deep, more than just their surface, and Claire wishes she had been given more time to explore. Wishes she had made better use of the time she had.
Claire wonders sometimes whether she chose Cancer because it's a water sign. Because she can't look at the ocean without seeing Charlie's face. Because the water took him from her, and now he is a part of it.
And then she thinks that that's not completely true. The water may have drowned Charlie, but the Island took him from her, just as it took everything else. Because somehow, she has been judged and found wanting, and she knows that Charlie is gone because she didn't deserve him. Everyone is gone and she is left. It is her eternal punishment for a sin that she doesn't understand.
The noises of the jungle seem like a part of her now. In some ways, she is one of the noises of the jungle. She has learnt how to tread silently, how to avoid snapping twigs and rustling branches as she passes, and yet she can hear herself humming with the tune of the Island.
No longer can she remember the tunes that Charlie sang or hummed. They are distant memories from another life, another person. There is no music in Claire's existence, except for the wind in the trees, the rain on her skin and the silence, which is almost a song in itself.
Claire is cold. She has felt herself growing colder as time has passed and no amount of imaginary Charlie or peanut butter or a fake baby can warm her up.
And she knows that there is no going back.