And now this land means less and less to me
without you breathing through its trees
At every turn the water runs away from me
and the halo disappears
and the hole when you're not near
- Mumford & Sons, 'Hold On To What You Believe'
The day of her mother's funeral dawned like any other day. Sarai didn't know how it was possible for the sun to rise when her world didn't exist any more. But rise it did.
When asked about it later, Sarai could not recollect much of the funeral. She remembered Dove's hand holding hers tightly. She remembered her mother's family standing in the background, not wanting to come too close lest they offend the delicate sensibilities of the luarin nobles.
But most of all she remembered the sharp pain in her gut that just wouldn't go away. Not when she was at dinner or waiting on Aunt Nuritin. Not even when she slept.
After the funeral, she ran back to the house before Aunt Nuritin could corner into greeting the mourners. She didn't see the lost look on Dove's face as she dropped her hand and turned away. All she could see was the box containing her mother's body being lowered into the ground. Half-blinded by tears, she made her way to the stables. As everyone was still at the funeral, there were no grooms or slaves to stop her as she saddled her horse and rode out.
And rode. And rode and rode and rode.
She didn't care what everyone said about her being careful. She ignored the fact that everyone would be wondering where she was. And she carefully avoided thinking about how her mother, a more skilled rider than herself, had fallen to her death not far from the very woods in which she currently rode.
All she knew was that when she rode as hard and as fast as was within her power, it didn't hurt as much. She didn't have to think and she didn't have to feel.
For one blessed moment, she wasn't Saraiyu Balitang. She wasn't the daughter of dead woman and a remote father.