The light rained down through the valley, as it bent throughout each person's eyes. But the people's faces were heavy and somber. Their touches were harsh and short. Attentions were small, angers were lightly concealed. It had been four days since the tragic accident.
Nausicaa tried not to let the sadness escape her face. She walked stoic, each step felt far too heavy for her own body. It had touched her in a special way. When it occurred, her eyes had brought her back to the time she found Asbel's sister after the crash. Both of them had a look of longing in their eyes, neither wished to leave their life.
The fresh air helped console her ever so slightly. She had left the small cottage for a walk. There was a constant crowd forever watching the body of the girl. Men smoked to try and calm their nerves. The room was hot and one's throat became coarse and harsh if they breathed the air too long.
They never looked sourly at Nausicaa, maybe behind her back, but never to her face. The town's love for her was strong, and it ate slowly aware at her demeanor. She felt as if they should blame her, she did, yet just as before each time she greeted anyone they had the same smiles as always. Only now, the lips were red, and shook ever so slightly. The little girls hid their heads, but they still sung just as beautifully.
Why was it so sunny out? Why could it not rain? She felt like rain, each hair on her back was another drop, begging to fall.
The girl had been prepared; Nausicaa personally oversaw most of her training. But something went wrong with the wind. Nausicaa had felt it in her bones. The wind never changed, not here. But it did, and it cost a young girl her life.
The glider was never viewed as particularly safe. Men died on watch while riding it every couple of years. This was the first time it had happened to a young child since before Nausicaa was born. And generally when the men had fallen, they were out of the valley. The winds were so steady here. When a young child trained, the winds were still the same after they grew to adulthood. The winds became a second nature, a constant terrain. The glider flew in the valley as if it were following a set path. If a person was to fly out of the valley, the winds became the sea: with storms and hurricanes, but with perfect stillness as well. It was always a risk to leave the valley.
There were repercussions of having the accident happen in the valley. Since the valley is surrounded by mountains, there is an echo which dances around the air here. An explosion becomes all the more resonant. And a little girl's voice carries, as she screams, as she falls.
Most of the men seemed to be trying to smoke the sound out of their bodies. They used it to cleanse the organs which were dirtied by her cries. The mothers did the same with their tears. It would be wrong to say that there was such an absolute gender dichotomy, but when generalizing it would be accurate.
Nausicaa did not do either of this. She did not wish for the girl's cries to be cleansed from her. Instead she wished to have it grow, and to be able to tune her body towards the girl's frequency. If she could create a harmony through her system, then maybe equilibrium would be created. It was important she didn't forget. The last thing she wished for was that.
Despite all of this, Nausicaa should not have allowed the girl to be trained at her age. Nausicaa had been trained that young, and thought the girl would have been able to fly just as she could. No one else seemed to lay the blame on her, yet even if she didn't, the alternative would be worse. If Nausicaa had not killed the girl, then the wind had. It was an omen, as sinister and foreboding as Nausicaa could conceive.
It was a poor choice to continually linger on such things, but Nausicaa could not get it out of her head. The sun beat down on her face. It did not take much for the glare to annoy her somber mood. She did not wish to be reminded of how wonderful the sky looked today.
She moved towards a large tree resting gently on a hill. The branches reached around in every way they wished. It embraced itself with each interwoven branch. Little dots of life were stretched throughout it with ants upon its base and flies dancing around its leaves. The ground before was soft, after being used as a place of shade by the nearby farmers for generations.
Nausicaa nestled herself into the shade. Despite trying to ignore the sunny demeanor the day had given, she still felt the heat. There was a small field of corn at the foot of the small hill the tree sat on. Busy farmers tried to fight against the ever advancing weeds. Kindred spirits it seemed, for the weeds only wanted what the ground gave them, just as the farmers did. There were just not enough riches for both of them unfortunately, and the farmers were the ones more determined.
A small boy from the field noticed Nausicaa watching those who worked in the crop. He stopped what he was doing and slowly started to walk towards her. His skin was tough and brown. The hair on his head was dark and greasy. He had probably been working on that small piece of land with his family every day since the land was plowed. A straw hat protected his head, but small holes exposed enough to ruin the effects. Just as he came close a small smile perched on his lips.
"Greetings there, beautiful day isn't it?" he asked with his young high voice. He could not have been a day over twelve, just as the small girl had been. "It's nice to have something, you know," he tried to articulate but could not find the proper way to finish his sentence.
Nausicaa smiled as he tripped over his words. "Brighten up the mood?" Nausicaa guessed.
The boy nodded his head. "Yes that's it," he let slip between his grin. His lips were bright red and chap. Nausicaa wondered whether his father had been letting him smoke a pipe. He was a little young, but maybe the boy had been close to the girl, and his father thought now was a good time to make him a man.
"How long have you been working?" Nausicaa asked lightly. She motioned for him to join her in the shade. He walked towards the protection from the sun, but did not sit down. "Looks like you're really going at it there."
"Pap's been working us hard the past couple of days. He says we're going to give a bunch of the field towards the farewell dinner, but we gotta make sure it's perfect for it. She always liked this corn; I'd think she'd like it for her last meal." The boy told her. His demeanor changed as he spoke the words. His arms started to drag closer towards the ground, as if they were too heavy for him to lift.
Nausicaa stood up and messed up his hair with her hand. "I bet you it's going to be the best corn this valley's ever seen."
His smile returned as he looked up at her. "You think so? Say maim, my paps would love to have you over for some food. Mom loves to feed people."
"I would love to, but I can not, I have already promised others. But, I'll tell you this. The next chance I get I'll come down here and try some of your corn. I want to make sure I get some before everyone else can't help themselves."
The boy nodded in response and ran down the hill back to his work. Nausicaa watched, still standing. Her body was half out of the shade, but she did not mind so much. Maybe she did need something to brighten up the mood, if only she let it.
Her head was messed up; her faith in her nerves acting coordinately with her brain was little. She could not survive staying here, where the death was everywhere. It only took a couple of breathes before she decided to move towards the castle.
As she walked reality slowly bended and she entered a daze. It was as if she had been walking through a nightmare, when the memories are stacked on top of another. Each perception was numerous, as if her memory was layering on top of all she saw. At once she saw the girl, the war, the peace. Her barrings were disappearing as she moved her legs slowly forward. She trudged through a slime of feelings, a lake of heart, her own.
She reached the castle and submerged her face in cold water. She was brought back to reality but her emotions returned as well. The daze had been a numbing, feeling still involved feeling. She felt foreign in each state.
There were few places she wished to be, but she was sure she wished to be alone. Maybe upon the ramparts, the look out with the glider launch pad. She was comfortable there; normally she would fly on her glider, but not now. Right now she didn't trust the wind, for the first time in her entire life.
The door to the lookout was a portal to another reality. The wind was strong up there, and dreadfully constant. When the door was opened cold air rushed to hide from the wind to the safety of the castle. Walking through the door felt as if someone was pushing against you. It was tough, few liked it. Nausicaa understood, felt as if she could talk to the emotion in the wind. And it had betrayed her.
She walked towards the edge to look down upon the valley. The lookout could see all sides of the valleys, any person who was outside could not hide from its view. All of the people looked small and insignificant. They were just another dot here and there.
"Greetings child," Mito greeted her. Nausicaa was taken aback, she had not noticed him. He leaned against the cold stone with his pipe between his lips. His lips were red and chapped from the tobacco. "All of those who are born to the wind try to seek solace in it. Whenever I mourn I come here, yet this is the only time I don't feel any more comforted."
The folk from the valley were a superstitious group. The constant wind of the valley ensured their progress and safety from the growth. It was viewed as not only a gift, but a god who had all of their lives in its hands. The people who rode the gliders always thanked the wind before they took off, someone like Mito who could no longer ride, probably said that blessing for all things he did.
"Don't worry Mito, the wind is normal now," Nausicaa tried to console. Her voice cracked on the last syllable, as her throat became vocal of its dismay of the whole ordeal.
"You okay child? I know the wind is normal, I knew this was always a risk. But, it wasn't too long ago I watched you fly through the air the first time. What if this had happened then, then everything would have changed. I watched her fly one of the last times, you know, and I thought to myself how much she reminded me of you," he said delicately. It was rare to see a man who was usually very stoic be vocal of his worries.
Mito had lived most of his life on the lookout. He used to spend all of the time he could on watch duty when he wasn't flying through the air on his glider. After his wife died, and he retired from gliding, he still would take as many duties on the tower as he could. No man had a more personal relationship with the wind then Mito, which was one of the reasons he was elected the leader of the Valley after the ohmu stampede.
Nausicaa hesitated before asking, "If the wind changed, if only for a moment, do you think it could change more in the future? I mean, the wind's all that keeps us safe here."
Before she could continue Mito quickly responded. "Never child, expel those thoughts from your mind. No good can come from worrying about what will never happen." Mito's face was red and upset, but within a second it returned to normal. It was as if he had followed his own advice and removed the thought from his head completely. Nausicaa was careful not to bring it back up.
The two of them stood in silence for a couple of moments. The wind danced with Nausicaa's hair, throwing it the left. She let it move around her. Soon she would have to deal with her head. It was apparent she was a wreck. The daze that had overtaken her, she needed to stop this from happening. The valley needed her to be aware, and the leader they wanted her to be.
A small smirk grew from Mito's lips. He turned towards Nausicaa and said "you know, I heard from a lookout on the east side, that two figures were seen exploring some of the toxic jungle. You think its Yupa and Asbel?"
Nausicaa had already known this; she had questioned the messenger earlier, before he had given Mito the message. It was probably Yupa and Asbel, but she was not certain whether or not she wanted to see them now. It had been a good two months since they had last left. She ached to see them, but she was a wreck. She wanted to be big and strong. Not an over emotional little girl.
"I hope it's them," she replied. "Lord knows the valley could use some kind of distraction." And with that Nausicaa left Mito's side. She lightly grazed her hand on the stone as she moved towards the door. Mito took out his pipe and lit it. The small light from Mito's match was all Nausicaa could see of him as she entered the castle.
Slowly she walked down towards her quarters. Even after the war she stayed in her old room. Most of the folk believed it was sentimental value, but really it was for her secret passage. In a sense she wished to one day move out of the castle. It was big and cold. Stone was unpleasant to be surrounded by during the year. One day she may build herself a house with the people. She had disbanded the dynasty, and instead convinced the people to elect their own leader. This house was no longer hers.
Her room was bare of personal trinkets. Nausicaa had little value attached to most of her possessions. At the foot of her bed, where a large window sat, the wind could be heard singing. The whistling was light and melodic, as if it were trying to show it could be gentle. But Nausicaa was not to be fooled, it was evil and dangerous, just as all things were.
She slowly turned the knob of the door leading to the secret passage. A small torch rested on the other side. The routine was normal to her; she grasped it and walked slowly down towards her work station.
Slowly her thoughts moved towards how pleasant it would be to see Asbel. Soon after the stampede, he and Yupa had traveled to Pejite. They tried to help the people rebuild their lost land. When they returned Yupa hoped to travel into the toxic jungle to find the clean place she and Asbel had found. She almost went with them, but thought her studies were more important. She needed to try to figure out a way to force the process to occur more rapidly. It was the only way they could defeat the ever approaching over growth. Yupa and Asbel had returned twice on their journey, each time bringing different plants for her to study. There was a six month interval between those two trips; it would be nice for them to return sooner this time.
Nausicaa's plants were young and only beginning to grow to the size many once were. They grew on tables surrounded by her detailed irrigation system. They were different in shape and colour from one another. Some were bulbs covered in light hairs, an explosion of red painted across them. Others were flowers playing with the colour spectrum, trying to deconstruct itself as it grew. On the walls maps were being made by the different vines crawling upon them. Each turn had its different story, their own little note.
Lightly brushing her hands through the leaves, Nausicaa let out a sigh. She could not bring herself to work, not now. Instead she inhaled from the sweetest flower, lied down upon the cold stone, and slept.
A light tap woke her from her slumber. Her eyes creaked open slowly and carefully. A shadow lay on top of her, a shadow not generally there. As her eyes slowly readjusted to the light, she was able to make out a human outline to the silhouette standing in front of her. Her breathing quickened.
"Hey beautiful," he whispered under his breath. Beat. Silence.
"It's good to see you Asbel," she said as she slowly got up.
Asbel wore a thick cloak around his shoulders. It stretched down to his knees, covering most of his visible body. He was slowly turning into Yupa, something Nausicaa was going to have to stop. When she found herself standing on her two feet, Asbel quickly moved forward and embraced her.
His face was harsh; scars were visible from his breathing apparatus. He had been spending an extended amount of time in the toxic jungle. Unlike all of the men in the valley his lips were moist and smooth; Nausicaa slowly moved her finger on top of them. His eyes were empty and sharp, they seemed strained from excessive activity. She felt sorry for him; the life Yupa lived was only for a select few. "I missed you," was all he was able to escape from his lips between her fingers.
The two of them left the room in silence. Yupa and Asbel had arrived an hour or two previously. Crowds had greeted them with exuberance and relief. To most of the villagers Yupa was a sort of legend. It was always reassuring when he arrived in the valley. The family of the little girl quickly asked him to give the girl his blessing. Yupa was there now, Asbel could not be with the girl long. She looked just as his sister did, young and alone. But his sister was now dead, just as the young girl was. Instead he decided to try and find Nausicaa.
Different little dreams danced in Nausicaa's head. There were all kinds of different things she and Asbel could be doing. There was finally incentive to have fun. She did not know when he would leave her again, but she did not dare to ask. Any answer would either be too soon or a lie. Instead she wished to stay in her pleasant state of ignorance. The ambiguous future distracted her eyes from the dark, slowly pealing away from the corners of her eyes.
Nausicaa wished they could be more honest with one another. The first time Asbel had returned, they were unafraid of their desires. Anxiety of touching one another quickly disappeared when they saw each other. It was only in the first moment their eyes met Nausicaa realized how much she missed him, his somber unimposing smile. He was different from the praising she received from the village. He was fascinated with her, just as she was with him. That night they had let their bodies and their desires lead their limbs. The ecstasy was still light on her skin.
For some reason or other, they were unsuccessful in truly duplicating this moment. Their awkwardness stopped being poetic and slowly became apprehension and discomfort. It was silly to still be afraid of one another, yet it continued. Maybe they had opened themselves up too much the first time, and were uncomfortable with someone understanding them. Or maybe they were angry they didn't get to see each other enough. A long distance relationship was a relationship doomed to fail.
Asbel extended his hand to Nausicaa as they reached the top of the stairs leading out of the secret room. Nausicaa stared at it for a moment before taking it. With a single movement Asbel pushed open the stone door to her room.
The sky had turned dark, but had not developed into complete blackness yet. The shades on the window at the foot of Nausicaa's bed extended their shadows onto all in its reach. Quietly, Yupa sat on her bed with his feet crossed. His entire body was covered in a thick hide cloak. An old pipe, splitting at the bowl, hung from his lips. His eyes were red and sore, he may have been crying. "Asbel, it is improper to leave a dead body, no matter how much it reminds us of those we once knew," he said in his rough voice. Over the last year he had seemed to be losing the strength once found in his vocal chords.
Asbel quickly fell to his knees. "I apologize my master," he began "I will not do such a thing again."
Yupa's soft gaze stared intently at Asbel's heels. Yupa mumbled a couple of words under his breath, but soft enough neither Asbel nor Nausicaa could make out what he said. Beat. Yupa turned his gaze towards Nausicaa. "You look well child; it is nice to see you're doing well."
Nausicaa walked towards him. He slowly arouse from his sitting position. Nausicaa wrapped her arms around his shoulders. Yupa's face was harsher than Asbel's. A large scar ripped down the left side of his cheek. His skin was leathery, worn out after facing such tough climates over the years. His eyes were cold and silent, but they stared intently at her. A little patch of what seemed like a rash grew up the left side of his neck. Nausicaa noticed it and slowly moved her hand to try and touch it, but Yupa grabbed it before it came too close. "Don't," his voice grating and rough.
"I apologize that the villagers forced you into seeing the girl once you arrived," Nausicaa said as their embrace ended. She stepped back next to Asbel. Her face became harsher as she morphed into how she acted when leading.
Yupa smiled and re-lit his pipe. "Do not think anything of it child. If I could make them feel any sort of comfort, it was worth whatever I had to face." Slowly he inhaled. There was some kind of emotion creeping over his face, but his was such a stoic it was impossible to decipher. The man was dying, even if he did not wish to admit it. The smoke danced a eulogy as it escaped from his mouth.
Decades earlier, Yupa and a group of young men had decided they would find a way to combat the toxic jungle. Many lead expeditions deep into the heart of the over growth. Others traveled between states trying to learn what the communities knew. They were heralded as heroes who were going to finally overcome and free humanity from fear. Soon fewer and fewer were returning from the jungle, until only a handful remained. Years passed, and the numbers dropped until there was only Yupa. The jungle had consumed over a dozen whole countries and numerous communities.
Now, long after the time of the group, Yupa finally knew how to stop the jungle. Thanks to Asbel and Nausicaa he knew the jungle needed to consume everything, for the new world to regrow. He, and his compatriots, had dedicated their lives fighting an unwinable war. Now, with his new perspective, Yupa was far too old to try again. Since hearing the truth behind the jungle, Yupa had aged a decade in a half year. He no longer wished to fight, only to die, and to sleep.
The three of them left Nausicaa's room and walked into the main dinner hall. A large crowd from the valley was preparing a feast. Each time Yupa came, the valley used it as an excuse to have a festival. The killed the fattest beasts from the farms, and different grains and corn were donated.
Mito sat at the head of the table, along with Yupa on his right. Nausicaa and Asbel sat next to one another on Mito's left. A dozen tables filled the room before them, each filled with as many people as could fit at them. Outside on the grass a large crowd ate with the wind; the people eating inside the castle later joined them outside for music and dance.
Once the room filled up Mito lead a prayer to the wind to keep them safe. They ate quickly with a constant amount of rotating people coming to discuss with Yupa. Discussion ran from international politics, what Yupa thought the weather would be like, and when he would stop leaving. Yupa was quiet when it came to the last topic, but otherwise he answered all questions posed to him. He had the uncanny ability to satisfy anyone no matter what he said. His voice had such a soothing quality, which was really all that was needed.
When the meal was finished they left the walls. Outside lanterns hung on strings all over. There was already a small crowd of people dancing, many with lanterns in their arms. They looked just as fireflies did. Laughter abounded from the hive; it was nice to see the people enjoying themselves.
Nausicaa approached ahead of the other from the castle. When she came close to the crowd they all slowly stopped and look at her. She smiled and walked up to the dance floor. An older man tried to give her the lantern he was holding, but instead she took his hand, and they started to dance.
The music was a slow progression through single notes. There was little musical skill to be found in the valley, but there were enough who knew how to play. Note progressions generally were repeated hundreds of times by the end of the night. There was no reason to end a song if people were still enjoying it. Musicians would switch each song to give one another a break for their fingers. Farmer's fingers were calloused, but lacked the delicacy required to play for an extended period.
While Nausicaa danced with the old man, Yupa and Asbel found a place to sit by the side of the dance floor. Different men who did not have a chance to talk to them before would come up to them with all sorts of questions. It did not take long for one of the women to ask Asbel to dance with them. His face was written with discomfort, but he accepted anyways. It would have been courteous to refuse.
When the song finished, the dance floor became still. Asbel thanked his partner and tried to find Nausicaa. He found her in the middle of a small circle of youth. The group were laughing and joking at the whole situation. Nausicaa was receiving an ear full of different observations about the way the older members of the Valley danced funny. She nodded her head in agreement, but was not completely in the mood for such a discussion.
A new song started, and people started to pair off once more. Nausicaa quickly pushed through the group to grab Asbel. She clutched onto his shoulders, and embraced him firmly. They stood there for a couple of seconds without moving, until slowly their feet started to shuffle to the music. Asbel had his arms tightly around Nausicaa's waist, keeping her as close to him as he could. While all other dancers were moving quickly to the faster song, the two of them moved slowly. They were an anomaly on the dance floor, but an enjoyable one.
Nausicaa had not completely realized how much she had missed Asbel. It was comforting to have him in her arms. The separation between them had been normalized inside of her. When he was here, it was different. She would realize she could enjoy his presence, enjoy her memory, enjoy his body, and enjoy him. There was something ecstatic about the whole situation. The hairs on her back tingled at every touch.
Their rhythm was in sync. Each movement of the foot was matched by the other. Time was still between them, while the other dancers did circles around them. Asbel's grip on her waist never loosened. His hands, firm, were tight within each other. He hid his head in Nausicaa's neck, resting it gently upon her skin. They danced, and danced.
The music slowly faded as the song finished. Nausicaa was annoyed; it seemed as if it had just begun. The trance the two of them were in was broken, and they were brought back into reality. Asbel raised his head from its perch, and he stared into her eyes. There was a hidden sadness behind the stare, Nausicaa wished to climb into it to discover what was causing it. But then she remembered her own sadness, the little girl on her own retina, and maybe it would be better if they both just forgot about these this night.
Nausicaa was surprised when her someone grabbed her left hand and pulled her away from Asbel. Anger built inside of her. Who would dare do this? But it became apparent quickly, as she was greeted by Yupa's smiling face. Yupa bowed ever so slightly and asked "Madame, would you care to dance with me for a song?"
Slightly uneasy, she first turned to Asbel who was already walking off of the dance floor. She turned back to Yupa and smiled slightly, "Sure, but only one. You steal my man from me too much already." She bowed back to him, and they grabbed each other's hands.
The next song was a slow one. Yupa caressed one of Nausicaa's hands, and but his second hand upon her back. Slowly they moved from one step to another, one beat to another. Yupa's beard lightly moved from side to side, wanting to join in with the both of them.
After a minute, when they started to synchronize their movements, Yupa leaned forward. He leaned far enough that his mouth was only an inch from her left ear. She could feel his soft breathing upon her skin. "I have some news, news only for your ears," he whispered, "I have decided to stay in the Valley."
Nausicaa's eyes widened. The villager's would be ecstatic; they always hoped he would stay. He had always been coming and going since before Nausicaa was born. Her whole childhood was filled with brief flashes of Yupa. Quickly she smiled, and hugged Yupa, this was the best news she had heard in months.
Yupa smiled as well, behind his beard. They continued to dance, as if he had not said anything. Nausicaa wondered why Yupa had told her in such secrecy. It was probably just to let her know before he told everyone.
A thought came to her mind, "Yupa, what about your work? What about Asbel?" Yupa's gaze shifted away from her. The music continued, uncaring of their situation.
Yupa cleared his throat; his weak voice was harsh and hurt from the day spent talking. He replaced his head by her ear. "I am an old man, I will die soon child. But,"
Before he could continue Nausicaa cut him off. "But what Yupa? I know the situation. Don't talk to me like a child."
"Asbel must continue my work. It is far too important, we must prove what you and Asbel saw is actually happening. We need to find some purified ground, it is my belief that the jungle will not grow on already purified sand and dirt. Or at least it will itself no longer be toxic when it grows on it. We could find a way to stop this, save countless lives." Yupa went on about. He slowly grew more accented with each new syllable.
Nausicaa's mouth locked and she frowned. He didn't need to say it for her to get it. "You want him to go, and not come back until he's found it, do you?" She frowned, "you want him to do your duty, you're afraid of going any further than you have!"
Yupa frowned. "You know that's not true child."
"Well maybe it seems too much like that too me," she slowly slipped out of Yupa's grasp. His eyes were wide and sympathetic, but she would have none of it. She stormed off of the dance floor.
It may have seemed unseemly to make such a public action, but Nausicaa did not care of other's sights of the moment. She may lose Asbel forever if he did this. They had sworn to help people; she had put others before herself her whole life. Yet, she had finally gained something she valued more than the well being of the Valley, she had finally found something she was willing to be selfish for.
She had died before. As she stood before the stampede, there had been a moment of clarity. Whatever was beneath her fingernails did not matter. Whatever her body was, her existence did not matter. The world was an empty web of suffering, where she had been so fucking sad. Her entire life had been filled with strife and loneliness. The people never saw her as one of them, instead she was something else: a goddess. When her feet were in the ground, and the great ohmu were running at her, she finally gave up. Her existence was indifferent, just as a rock. But, maybe she could change something: divert a ripple.
When her eyes had reopened, and her spirit was set free, air was the same. Nothing was different between what she was now rather than before. She was, was not, and then once more was. Yet this did not matter to her. On the field of yellow, the scenic world was breathtaking. The love was felt on her hands; the veins of her eyes trapped the sadness and fought with a tired red hand.
And how she wished to feel this way again. In a careless world where every moment could be breathtaking.
Asbel meant something to her. The night when their bodies had been one, when the awkward melted away into an understanding. It pained her legs to think, it pained her mouth to think. This would wreck it all. He would be gone from her, maybe forever. But maybe none of this mattered; maybe the grieving had messed up her head, messed up her lips.
She rested herself on the edge of the royal garden. Her fingertips gently cradled a flower of a deep purple. The smooth ache moving through her body was fascinated with the gentle edges of the petals. She wondered why she liked softness, even though it was no different from rocks, from her, they existed, nothing more. Empathy was not real, hate was not real, only her body and the flower suspended.
It took her a moment to notice, but Asbel walked up to her. Her locus ameneous could accept him, as long as he stopped disrupting her garden. His light footsteps expressed his hesitation, he knew powerful emotions which could erupt if disturbed, yet how he wished to disturb them.
"Nausicaa," he tried to begin. But before he could continue she stood up straight. The flower fell from her fingers; her hands shook. His eyes could see she knew this. Yet she wanted him to feel her, not only glance. Without hesitation she moved forward and embraced him.
Her arms wrapped around him, as tight as her strength could allow. Broken syllables came through her throat, "please don't go again, I'm tired." No tears came down her face, there was only ache.
"I'll stay as long as I can." Asbel did not know how to reply. His face was heavy and marked. It had been too long, but he was also not ready yet to deal with this. Whatever it was. In his defense, neither was Nausicaa. Her lips quivered, she bent towards herself the soothing. That's how she knew she still existed.
She was becoming afraid of men with clocks for eyes, where only the past and the future were in their dreams. It was started to drag her, she wanted only to be and to decide. Her lifefulness was tired, and so was her lifelessness. Why was she forced into such a dichotomy, with a million different options? Her mind was scrambled. Every paradox caused another shiver in her skin.
The two of them moved to her room, they were silent and never stopped touching one another. Their breathing normalized synchronized; but their feet were off rhythm.
Once they entered the bedroom something changed. Nausicaa needed to shed all excess. She started to remove her clothes; her fears; her awkwardness. Asbel did the same. The moon light shone through the room and left it slightly illuminated. Asbel's skin was silver in the light; his gaze was sublime.
Just as on the first night they had broken through each other's barriers: the touch, the touch, the touch. She had never felt such a way, yet it felt more natural than her dreams. A single tear crawled down her cheek as a deep sense came over her. They had finally found themselves once more.
After they finished, the two of them laid on the bed. Their fingers still curled into one another. Asbel's face laid upon Nausicaa's chest, his face felt lost and vulnerable. "Why are you going along with what Yupa says? I love him, but he hasn't been the same since the stampede."
Asbel turned his head. His hair tickled her bare skin. She squirmed and tried to push him off of her, but he seemed to like where he was. "I agree with him though. You saw the purified ground. If we could find a way to grab large quantities of it, we'd be able to cover the ground around the toxic jungle on it. It may not stop the growth, but maybe the plants will no longer be poisonous. We could save thousands."
"I know," she replied. She placed her hands on his head. His hair was messy and oily. She rubbed her thumb on his eye brow. "But maybe it would be better to just let the toxic jungle do its work. Maybe the whole world deserves to be purified."
Asbel lifted his head. "Surely you don't think that." He cradled her hand with his own. "You're the one who taught me to put everyone, not just those close to me, before myself. Even then, that girl, she died because the wind changed right? Well, what if the wind changes forever and the Valley loses its protection? They will need this just as much as everyone else." His calluses were tough, and unfeeling. He could feel that her skin was soft, but only that. There was no delicate touch or understanding, only a rough idea. He wished he could feel the details of her; feel the blood rushing through her veins; feel the ideas dancing in her head.
With apprehension Nausicaa took her hand away from his. She stood from the bed and walked to the window at the front. Asbel stayed in his place and watched her in the light. Her skin reflected the light, he nude body overwhelmed by the subtle moon light. "I know, I know, I just don't want to lose you. That little girl who just died, no matter how hard we work to stop the jungle, she'll still be dead. We may all weep for her, but she's indifferent. She no longer cares about the living and the dead because she can no longer care. She no longer exists; the world is indifferent for all that's not. I don't want that for you. I want you."
Asbel stood from his spot on the bed, and walked towards her. She tired to divert her gaze. He grabbed her shoulders, and gently rubbed her back. "You know, I don't think I ever told you this, but when I helped you off the Pejite ship, and took out the guard fighting me, I almost jumped. I was so overwhelmed by everything. My sister was dead; my country lay in ruins before me; my people had betrayed me and done something awful in the name of my nation. I was tired, so fucking tired of life, of caring. It didn't bug me that I would be indifferent, no more if I died. I almost viewed it as an escape from all the shackles of suffering and hate.
"I also," Asbel paused, "I wanted to fly. To be free of all constraints. The wind would overtake my body and I would be consumed by nothingness. Since I was a young boy we'd been trapped by the toxic jungle, aware that it would soon over take us all. I still have to wear that goddamned gas mask, almost as if it's my real face. In the air though, free from technology and limits, if for only a short time, I could escape it all.
"But then, before I leapt, I remembered something. I remembered you and your fight. Your willingness to continue fighting, and to save your people no matter what, to save me no matter what. I decided to keep fighting. You were not the only one brought back to life that day."
Nausicaa stared into his eyes, but they told her nothing. They were only organs used for sight, not windows of the soul. She wished to see his thoughts; his fears; his love. "Asbel," she tried to say more but words would not come to her.
Asbel held her in his arms. He let as little space as possible come between them. There was a moment of silence between then, before he continued: "When I saw that you had been hurt by the stampede, I swore off my nation. The thing I had loved for so long had now killed the person who brought me back to life. No longer would I ascribe to only one people. I swore on my dead sister to not give up, that's why I must keep going, I will find the purified ground again. I will not stop until I do."
A small smile grew on Nausicaa's face. "You know what, you're right. I've been irrational; all of the mourning has gone to my head. There's just one thing." Asbel stared at her inquisitively. "I'm going to come with you."
For a moment Asbel seemed as if he was about to object, but his mouth remained closed. Nausicaa continued "Remember, I saved your sorry ass last time we were out there. I only stayed in the Valley because I thought I could do some good here, but the villager's do not need me, especially if Yupa is staying. My garden can wait; I need purified ground anyway to make any progress."
Soon, Asbel too was smiling. "I wouldn't have it any other way. Plus it was the two of us who found it last time; maybe if we both try again we can recreate the magic."
"You can bet on it,"
The two of them laid on the window in silence. No more words were spoken, only existence. The morning would come eventually, but they only wanted what they had at the moment. Was there more to ask for?
This is a new version of an old story. The first time I wrote it, it had 1000 words and was one of the weakest stories I ever published on . I recently redid another story of mine (a 40,000 word avatar story). After I completed that story I thought it would be nice to update my Nausicaa story. Instead of writing a long story, I thought a fun simple one shot would be nice.
Hope you enjoyed. Please review!