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I lie here with her soft breath against my cheeks, wondering how it could have taken us so long to finally understand.
True, I have always liked her; liked her smile and the strength she holds inside despite her fragile looks. And even though my heart had been aching because of the loss of the Lass, I was able to see the good that shone in her features when Sinbad had brought her along. She’s never been a substitute for that Celtic girl who I feel is like a little sister to me and she never had to be. Bryn came onboard this ship with nothing but her name and her gentle nature. She amazed me. I could never imagine how it must feel like to not know anything about oneself, to not know where one belongs to. But she carried that burden all that time and even made us forget about it. Sometimes I wonder if maybe she, herself, forgot about it at times as well.
As I hear her steady breathing I look down on her. Her pale skin meets that silky dark brown hair of hers and which uses to shimmer in the golden sunlight that enters through the little window above us. And I wonder why it has taken me so much time to realize just how beautiful she really is.
Sinbad did notice earlier. A silent sigh escapes my throat as I recall her first year onboard. I have never been fond of the attention my little brother seemed to grant her. Not because I didn’t want them to be happy, but because I knew it wasn’t what lay hidden in his heart. And I think eventually, both of them understood as well. I never got to know just what the two of them have been talking about after we had escaped Scratch’s hellish lair that fateful day, but right after, their relationship had changed. And I was glad for it. It wasn’t Sinbad’s side she was meant to be at. That much I knew. But if one had told me that it was mine … I would have never believed them as well. Bryn and me, we were friends. Nothing more and still … there was something else as well.
I noticed our relationship change even before Maeve returned. But it got more obvious after she had. The day the Lass came back counts to the best ones of my life. I remember every moment of it; remember how I felt my family be whole again. And I remember Sinbad smile. I think it had been the first time ever since Maeve had gotten lost to the sea that he had smiled in such an earnest and heart-felt way. Just like with losing our Lass time had seemed to have stopped going, it on this very day suddenly started to move again. All onboard had been overjoyed and excited - and through all this happiness and laughter we had forgotten about the only one who knew nothing about this time that suddenly had caught up with us again, bringing us back to those old days we had missed so dearly. Bryn came to me that evening - not knowing where else to turn to or who else to ask all those questions which lay hidden in her mind. I answered each and every one of them. And while I sat there, listening to what she had to say, satisfying her curiosity and easing the doubts she had, I suddenly started to see her in a different way. I started to understand that despite all her strength she still was vulnerable. It hurt her to not know her past; hurt her to see everyone turn to the Celtic sorceress and share memories she didn’t have. Neither her own nor their joint ones. I don’t really know how long we have actually been sitting in my cabin back then, but I know it changed our world…
A slight move of hers distracts me from the thoughts I just had. Intently I watch her features, wait if she may wake up. But she doesn’t. Her pale red lips seem tense and her brows are furrowed slightly. I wonder if she has that nightmare again. She seems to have it all too often recently but she is too stubborn to tell me about it. I wish I could help her, wish I could chase this dream away … I wish I could make her recover. But all I can do is stay with her and watch her in her troubled sleep.
Ever so carefully I bring my left hand up to her face, tugging a dark strand of her hair gently behind her ear. It’s my fault that she is like this. Had I been more cautious … she would not be lying here. Firmly I close my eyes as I remember this day some weeks ago. Like a blurred vision the scenery comes back to me, reminding me of my mistake…
We had been on our way to Basra when suddenly a storm had led us astray from our original route, taking us to an island none of us knew. Maeve and Bryn had both been warning us not to go ashore but despite all the possible dangers we had to. We needed water and wood. The crew split up as some of us went to the forests to get material we could repair the Nomad with, while the rest went upcountry, trying to get some of the needed fresh water. But what we found instead was what no one had ever reckoned with. This storm, the island … everything had been a trap. I don’t know just why that witch decided to show up again after such a long time and I will never get to understand how her father was able to be at her side, but Rumina was determined to make us pay for everything that had happened in the past. And she had brought her dead armies along.
I was fighting off her skeletons, not paying attention to anything else that happened around me, when suddenly I heard Bryn call my name. I did not know what she had seen, did not know what I was to take care of. I only noticed the terror in her voice. Swiftly I turned around only to see a shadow pass me by, moving to stand right in front of me when in exactly the same moment a bright light made its way towards us. And then I heard her scream. She cried out all the pain she felt inside before her body fell limply to the ground. Instantly I knelt down beside her, taking her still form into my arms and trying frantically to understand. It took me a moment till I realized what had just happened but finally I knew. Slightly I lifted my gaze to see Rumina stand opposite from me, her hand still glowing with a lilac light but her eyes wide opened while she stared at us in utter disbelief. I felt myself stop breathing as time seemed to stand still. The witch had meant to hit me with her magic … not knowing that Bryn would sacrifice herself and take the blast for me. Feeling my heart beat hard against my chest I looked down on Bryn again. The colour seemed to leave her face with every moment I watched it but still her brown eyes were opened, looking at me with only the slightest confusion. “Easy there girl”, I heard myself whisper comfortingly, my voice breaking with every word I spoke. I wanted to tell her to fight; wanted to tell her to stay with us, but all I could do was to watch her piercing gaze lie on me for another moment before her eyes lost their focus and her head rolled to the side…
I don’t know what it was that made that witch leave us, don’t know what it could mean that she did at all, but right after Bryn had taken her blast, she disappeared – taking her armies and her father with her. The others were suspicious, wondered what lay behind this but I didn’t care. The only thing I knew was that I was scared to death … scared that I would lose her. I remember how I yelled for Firouz. Instantly he came rushing to my side, checking on Bryn but as it had already happened so often before when magic was involved, he knew to tell us nothing but that she was still alive. But truth be spoken, even this I was thankful for. We had brought her back then. Back to the Nomad. Back to her home. We laid her down on her bed and I remember Sinbad squeezing my shoulder gently, telling me that it was okay if I wanted to stay at her side. And I did. I watched her sleep, prayed to my and her Gods – whichever ones those were – that she would make it. I spent hours with just watching her, thinking about what had made her choose that way. But I came to no conclusion. Well, none but one. Things had changed between us. We weren’t only friends anymore. And as I felt my heart ache every time my gaze met that pale face of hers I began to understand. She had done it for the same reason for which I wished to be in her place instead.
She had done it for the one person on earth her heart had found its home in…
It’s now been some weeks since this whole ordeal has taken place. We didn’t hear from Rumina again and I wonder just when we will. But feeling the sleeping form in my arms shift again I pray that it won’t be too soon. It had taken Bryn days to regain consciousness, even more to regain some strength. And even if her health has been increasing tremendously lately she still gets tired way too fast. She’s sleeping a lot, only being awake for a couple of hours before needing to rest again. I know she will make it, know that finally she will be her old self again. And until she is, I will watch her; stay by her side whenever she needs me to. Yesterday Maeve told me that despite everything we had to be grateful for the way things had happened for it had only been thanks to the magic that circulates in Bryn’s veins that she survived the attack. Had I been hit instead – I wouldn’t have lasted it. And still sometimes I wish it would have been me.
A soft whimper leaves her mouth and makes my sight turn towards her again. Ever so slightly I tighten the grip my right arm has on her slender figure, hoping to reassure her therewith and end the nightmare she still seems to have – the nightmare that has brought me here…
It’s been soon after we had escaped that island that I had heard her struggle in her sleep for the first time. Back then I had tried to talk to her, soothe her by telling her that she was alright, that she was safe onboard the Nomad. But it didn’t work. Her sleep became more troubled with every minute I watched it until suddenly a cry left her throat and her eyes shot wide open. I remember myself staring at her with fear filling my heart. Her eyes searched for mine and I got to see the tears that were forming in the corners of these brown lights. “I’ll go and get Firouz”, I had whispered, moving already to get up and call for our friend. But she only shook her head weakly, gazing at me and transfixing me with those dark brown depths of hers.
“Stay”, was all she then said and I saw in her eyes the truth that lay behind this simple plead.
This has been the first time I laid down beside her, cradling her in my arms, protecting her with all that I could offer. It has been the first of many times. Her sleep has become calmer since then even though she still seems to have that dream of which I can only guess that it makes her relive the attack again; makes her relive the pain Rumina’s magic has sent her through.
Now, suddenly, as I lay here, thinking about all those things that have happened, I notice her stir once more before I see her velvet eyes open and cannot help the soft smile that instantly spreads on my lips. She blinks a few times at the sunlight that meets her sight, seems to need a moment to orientate herself, before her gaze finally focuses on my face.
“Hey there”, she speaks calmly, her voice still showing some weariness.
“Hey there yourself”, I hear myself answer before shifting a little to better meet her gaze. “How do you feel?” I always ask her that when she awakes. It’s become a habit and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to abandon it again once she’s recovered completely.
Her brows furrow for a moment as she seems to focus on herself. “Still sore”, she eventually replies truthfully, rolling her eyes slightly as she notices me frown in concern at her. Her right hand moves up to lightly slap me on my chest while she smiles good-naturedly and reassures me: “I’ll be fine, Doubar. Really.”
Slowly, hesitantly, I nod at her, drawing in her every look as I do so.
“I’ll count on that”, is all I know to say before sending a small smile her way. And while I bend down a little, brushing a gentle kiss against her forehead, I swear to myself that never will I let something happen to her again…
Again this dream comes haunting me. Again I have to live through this ordeal. But it is not the physical pain I remember, and it is not me I fear for… it is him. Again and again I have to see him fight, not noticing the danger he is in while he struggles to keep her skeletons at bay. I feel my heart stop beating as I realize what the sorceress is about to do. I did not know her before, do not know why she hates the only family I ever had … don’t know just why she chose him. But I am able to feel the dark and deadly might she put into her spell. And in my head I am able to see him fall...
Fear washed over me back then and fear washes over me now. I know this is nothing but a dream, know that I am asleep. I can feel my body tense but still I can’t make it back to reality. I am trapped in this nightmare that I have way too often lately. I want to escape, want to tell myself that things happened differently; that he is still there, but I can’t. Never before have I been more frightened in my life. Never before have I felt this way about another person.
It has taken us long to understand - to really understand - who we are. I know that maybe I am to blame. Sinbad was good to me and, well, I have to admit that he’s the kind of man women easily get attracted to. Obviously I have been no exception to that. But I should have known what lay buried in the depths of his soul. I have always felt that there was something hiding itself; have felt the scars that covered this wounded heart. Maybe I thought that I could heal them, help him with whatever strength I had to offer. I did not see that the strength he needed wasn’t to come from me. It was hers. None but hers.
The first time I was confronted with her memory was the day on which Scratch had lured us into his hellish lair. It was the first time Sinbad had ever disclosed his real self to me. And it was the day I finally understood. We had had a long talk that evening, speaking about all the things that had happened between us – all the things that should never have been. My heart released him that day and judging from all what I know now, this was what was supposed to happen. I was never meant to be with him. And as soon as I got to know that Celtic sorceress everyone on board had been missing so terribly, I was able to feel what fate had planned for them. I don’t know just why I am able to sense this, don’t know what gives me the power to understand but I know that their hearts and souls are one. And finally, after all this time, I do understand what had caused Sinbad to be the one I had gotten to know. He has changed since Maeve has come back. Life onboard the Nomad has changed.
My life has changed.
Like some distant sensation a soft touch intrudes my dreams. I feel him tug a lose strand of hair behind my right ear. His movements are slow and ever so gentle - just like he fears he could harm me. He never could.
I don’t know what it was that finally drew us towards each other. We had been friends for more than a year; had walked through the good and the bad together, but still there had been nothing but this friendship written in our hearts. A friendship that grew stronger with every day we lived life together. He has always been there for me, protected me, reassured me when I doubted and I wonder why it took me so long to realize just how pure this heart of his is. He bears a strength that is far beyond the physical one many admire him for – a strength he decided to share with me. I can clearly remember the night when I first came to him. It was the day when Maeve had come back to this realm. I can recall the happy voices all around me, can recall the tears of joy that had been cried – can recall all those memories they shared. I had none of them. This was the night when my well-built wall of self-assuredness crumbled into a pile of grey rocks. It hurt to hear them laugh at old times, hurt to hear them tell stories of a distant past. It was the first time that I really realized just how much of a human’s life I was missing. My own one only consisted of the time I had spent onboard the Nomad – a Nomad that was different from the one I heard all those stories about. I felt like a vacuum was spreading inside of me then, devouring what I believed had been my life. And I knew no one else I would have dared to turn to. I went to see him. And he listened; listened to all what I had to say. I revealed myself to him that night and for only the tiniest of moments I feared his reaction when I was done. But all what those gentle blue eyes of him told me was that everything was okay; that despite everything what my empty memory told me I did have a home and that this was all what really mattered. I know that he’s sorry for what I have to go through, know that he cannot imagine what it must feel like to not know your own past. And I know that he has no idea just how much it means to me that he was there for me when I needed him the most.
I did find my home that evening - found it in the one soul that allowed my own one to rest…
He lies next to me I know. I can feel his warmth envelop me, entering my dreams like a soft light, leading me away from the darkness this one memory brings along. I couldn’t have stood losing him. Our shared life has been short till now and still it’s the best I ever lead and for some reason I know that even my lost memory doesn’t hold moments that can compare to it. He is the only one who knows my real self, has seen my doubts and fears and still he admires me for whatever strength he seems to see I have. Maybe, I notice myself wonder, he even knows me better than I do.
I know he stayed with me all that time after the attack; know that he hardly left my side. I can remember him talking to me, telling me to hold on. His voice was like a silver shadow back then, guarding me and bringing me back to the surface. I am aware of the danger I put myself in; know that I could have easily died myself that day. And still deep inside of me I know it would have been worth it. I can feel his gentle touch; feel him tightening his grip around me slightly. And I know that I made the right choice….
Carefully I try to move. Consciousness is coming quickly now and to my relieve I notice my body response. I need to blink as the golden sunlight hits my weary eyes. The effect of my dreams is still lingering on me, making me feel lost for only a moment. But finally my sight meets his face. A soft smile covers it and I know that I am the reason for it.
“Hey there”, I whisper softly, willing my voice to sound as normal as possible.
His smile becomes a little wider as he answers with a slightly joyful tone. The question he right after adds to his words is well-known to me and I try to focus on what I feel to give him the honest reply he deserves to get.
“Still sore”, I finally tell him what the truth is and cannot help but roll my eyes slightly at the obvious concern that suddenly mixes with his features. He blames himself for what happened to me, I know; thinks he could have prevented it by being more cautious. He is wrong.
Slowly I let my right hand move upwards to slap his chest lightly. “I’ll be fine Doubar”, my voice tells him and I am astounded at the little playfulness that lies in it. Then I let my features soften. He deserves more than that. With all honesty I have to offer I send another word his way, hoping he will get the meaning behind it.
Slowly he nods, letting my promise sink in. His lips start to curve in a small yet gentle smile. “I’ll count on that”, I hear him say and know that we both are speaking about the same thing. I promised to stay with him, to not leave him for I know that this is what he fears. A quiet chuckle leaves my throat as the bitter irony of this situation becomes so clear to me. I was willing to sacrifice myself for him because I could not stand the thought of living without him by my side… Now I have to realize that this is just how he feels about me as well. And I have to face all what I have put him through; have to face the fear he must have felt when he saw me fall. And as I feel him place a gentle kiss on my forehead I know that he vowed to himself to never let something like this happen again. He doesn’t notice the bitter smile that forms on my lips in just the same moment. I close my eyes tightly while silently I plead him to forgive me … for I know that if ever I have to decide between him and me again, my choice will stay the same…
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