afterlife

Shattered Coast

POSTED: Wed Jan 08, 2014 7:28 am

A waver of white caught his attention.

It was barely discernible through the rocks of the foggy shoreline, but his eyes had locked sharply to the distant form, sending a rush of anticipation through his system. He lifted a hand to his chest to ease the heart's disquiet, its steady warmth assuring him that expectation lead to carelessness. Hope was a bitter salve, it did not heal wounds as much as it kept them fresh. How many times had he gone through the same experience, only to find the body of a gull or some abandoned cloth? A great exhale reaffirmed his resolve, producing a fine trail of mist in the air. He paused, and then moved through it toward the object.

From cloth to gull, gull to ram, and from ram to wolf, the object rapidly transformed as the distance between them diminished. His movement responded in kind, gaining speed as its clarity matched his realization, and able legs were sent fast and recklessly across the slick stone. Never had there been a moment more desperate and real for the wanderer. As he neared the body he cried, "Rel!"

"Rel!"

And stumbled into the cold figure, bruises and fresh cuts shedding their vibrant life across his body. Warm breath clung to his frosty visage as he grasped the dampened limbs, their slender state telling him immediately of malnourishment. His hands shook with fervent curiosity as fingers parted through waves of frigid fur, searching for remnant heat. When none was forthcoming, he bowed an ear against the ribs and slid his hand between the gentle fold of the back leg and stomach, and waited for the murmur or pulse of life to reach him.

Nothing.

Only silence.

The stillness of loss.

Tenderly, he gathered the lupine figure in his arms, and held on.

What was his brother, in the end? Another sodden, broken thing in the sand, waiting for the waves to carry him in.

"Relaic, my brother," he spoke into the white. As if holding a fragile shell, he moved to collect his brother's face in his hands and impart the remainder of their family's grief. Cold air wove between them as they parted, but something struck him in the division. Hands trembling with caged fear, he carried the face upward and looked deep into it. There was no darkness around his eyes.

It was not him.

He set the head back down and then stood up.

His hands closed and opened uselessly. Restless still, they rubbed at his jaw, his throat, the sides of his face. His eyes searched the vicinity for answers. Of course there were no answers. There was only the sea and its incessant calling. He stared hard into the water.

It wasn't his brother.

He paced for a moment, and then stood still.

The mist of his breath barely had time to follow as he grabbed a rock, large enough that he had to heave with both his arms, and ripped it from the earth. Then he threw it, with all that this journey had cost him. From his failure to save Lenore and her child, to his failure to find his brother and bring closure to his family, ending the torment of everyone he loved. And his failure, as the last living disciple of his healing tradition, to carry on the way they had needed him to. It all seemed impossible to him. The rock cut through the fog and met the ocean with an unsatisfying thud. He stood there, momentarily wasted. Then the spent man slid to his knees, panting, unfulfilled by this expense of emotion. He held his head in his hands and listened to the ocean continue as if it had never been broken.

when love is gone, where does it go?
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