She Is…

She is many things…

a creature of extraordinary grace…

my sister…

a precious commodity…

an albatross…

a gorram time bomb…

but she is not River Tam. She is unsure how long ago River Tam stopped existing, whether it was days or weeks or months or years. Time is relative, passes according to Simon's medicines or the blinks of an eye, whole hours falling away in the darkness behind closed lids.

They use labels to define her, to pin her to the here and now, to keep her from sliding between worlds of light and song, fire and brimstone, shadows and ice and lightning.

One of them calls her something sweet and sugary, all rustling silk and warm candlelight driving away the darkness that swallows the ship. She brushes her hair away from her eyes and murmurs the words to her, pity and sympathy and poor thing, poor little thing.

Another one calls her dear heart and defends her from the others, loud words and angry tone a contradiction to the words being used to describe the un-nameable unknowable entity that roams the ship in the night, driven by the needles and the monsters and the memories of what-once-had-been and might-be-again.

Simon calls her mei mei, sister, but that is not what she is, not any longer. Simon's sister was small and dancing and laughing always laughing. She was an unwavering beacon of white light in the darkness, driving away shadows.

But she is not a light any longer; she is a campfire, a bonfire, raging out of control. Clashing reds and fiery oranges and blazing yellows. Beautiful and uncatchable, reach to touch and it bites and burns and devours, for that is its nature no matter how much it wishes to change. It casts slender beams and sends the shadows dancing, spinning out of control.

They call her weapon and reader and moonbrain, but that is not who she is. They call her River, try and name her, define her. But she is undefinable (some of it can't be quantified) and they are wrong, so very wrong.

Sometimes she thinks she is Miranda, and wears the name on her skin, baring her dead face and empty soul to the world. But Miranda is people; thousands of minds whispering and praying and dreaming, agony and hope and bittersweet love warring within her until her thoughts splinter and fracture and send shrapnel ricocheting in arcs of violent fury, scraping and scratching and embedding itself into her skin.

At that place with those people they took her name away from her, scraped it away with scalpels and needles and blue hands. They gave her a new name, a nice little label that they put on her tags and on her files and in her head. But she is not theirs, or not only just.

She is whirling tornados and streams of blood and the edge of a reaver's blade. The gleam of sunlight off a mirror, the murky impressions at the bottom of a pond. She is everything and everyone, time stretched in glistening threads of gold and crimson and cobalt all around her everywhere she looks.

She is the farmer, hot and tired and dusty and dreaming of better days; the horse that loves its master and pulls the plow through dry soil day in and day out and dreams of the day where it will stand in a field of green grass and a child will play and a bird will sing; the soil, burning in the sunlight and crying out for rain, cities of insects and tunnels of worms winding through her and she is a humming mass of life, all brains fixed only on the purpose of survival.

She is the wind and the rain and the hawk that flies through it all; she is the lightning and the thunder and all the time in between. She is numbers and music and steps that once she knew but now has forgotten.

Incense and spices; cold water running through mountain streams and air crowded with smoke and screaming for breath. She is Serenity, but Serenity is not her. She is the battlefield and the soldiers and the sounds of gunfire cutting through the dead of night.

(She feels everything, she can't not). Simon was so so right, and so so wrong. She is everything, a torrent of sounds and images and textures and smells assaulting her and dragging her below the river that once was her name. She is not River, not any longer; the river escaped its banks and washed her away, new paths carved through soil and granite.

She just…is. (She can't not be)