dying is easy, living is harder

POSTED: Sat Aug 24, 2019 11:52 am

A cool rain broke through the heat of the day, bringing relief to the sun soaked land. She watched as the forest sighed away its stored warmth, unfurling new leaves and shedding the dead.

When they had been in the thick of winter, she had longed for moments like this. At times, it had felt like she might never experience it again, and perhaps for that reason she had wished for more. More summers, more springs, more of every season, as many as she was allowed; privately, she knew she had always wanted this. All of them did.

Her hands had become muddied in the wait. Once the storm had mostly passed, she crept out from the cover of the fallen pine and picked her way down the slope of mossy rock. She saw the river before she heard it, in the beads of rainwater that had slipped and wriggled their way to the source. She followed that path to the flooded bank, and there perched on a large rock. Other than the swell, the water did not appear to be more treacherous than normal; it was a deep river, broad and heavy and slow. She let her fingers dip first to feel the current, and to let the stains of earth slip away.

The white of her fur was revealed again. As she brought the water up her arms, the dark blacks and shades of slate were returned to her too. But even as she sloughed off the dirt of her journey, there was no erasing what she felt. Against her better judgment, she peered at her reflection.

Every battle she escaped unscathed.

That was not to say she did not get bruised, pierced, or torn open, there were plenty of scars to tell this story, but what she saw was a creature that could keep going. Able-bodied, with all of her senses intact, there was no excuse for someone like her to lay her weapons to rest. Furthermore, she could not win against her nature, which would have dragged her, able-bodied or not, to meet her bloody end.

That she once thought of herself as a liberator was laughable. She was helpless, a slave of her own making, shackled to ideals that did not live except through her action.

Tiamat cupped the river water in her hands and washed her face. When she looked again, she saw that her hair was long and unruly. It was beautifully wild, never tamed by the hands of her mother or anyone else. She once wore it with pride, braided coils with beads and oils, but now it simply felt heavy.

This was surely not the fate her mother had wanted for her, she knew that now.

Her fingers drifted, shaking, to the dagger at her hip. She drew it, held its pointed tip towards herself.

Sucking in a breath, she sawed off the first lock of hair.

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