People have different perceptions of what love should be, but love is the hardest to define. We can list steps, instructions, and expectations of what love is or what it should be but in the end, it will be futile. Love is crafty and tricky. It hits you when you least expected and before you even realized that what you are feeling is love, it is already there, entrenched in your soul and drunk in your veins-pumping in your heart.
An illusion. A dream. He is an illusion.
What if what you thought was reality wasn’t in fact reality. That you are in fact dreaming? The people that you were with were never real. The emotions you felt were never true because it was all a dream.
If it was a dream, why do I feel so much pain? The flesh that I touched, the kisses that I felt, the warmth of his body-it can’t all be a dream. The pain that is spreading from my chest and all over my body was like a knife to my skin.
He has to be real. I can’t imagine what it would feel like if he wasn’t.
Gaining consciousness, I felt overwhelmed. I feel like I can’t tell up from down. I’m not sure if I’m breathing or if I’m dead. Everything hurts, and I feel as if my heart has been ripped out of me. This emptiness in my chest acts like a lasso that tightened with each passing second.
I opened my eyes and saw three very familiar faces looking down at me with concerns. Their worried faces warped into smiles when they saw me looking at them.
“Anna, you are awake.” My mother smiled.
“You had us all worried.” My father added.
“How are you feeling?” My grandma asked.
I remember the look on Raiden’s face. Him begging me not to leave him. If he was indeed an illusion, why was it that I can still feel his lips on mine. Tears welled up in my eyes and escaped down my cheeks. I shook my head unconsciously as if I can ward off the spreading pain in my chest. The thought of him being a dream, why did it hurt so much?
“What is wrong? Are you in pain?” My mother asked.
“Of course, she is in pain. She hit her head on a rock, Maya!” My father snapped. “Go brew her some medicinal tea. The one the village doctor gave you.”
I watched my mother disappear from my bedroom. My grandma wiped my tears. A soft smile on her face. She brushed some of my hair back.
“You scared me, child.” She said gently.
“What happened?” I whispered.
She glanced at my father then back at me. My father sighed and sat down in the small wooden chair by my desk.
“This is all my fault. You have been sleepwalking a lot lately. We tried barring you inside, but you always have found a way to escape.” My father explained. “We were so tired, Anna. We didn’t hear you leave. The village chief’s son found you unconscious with a bad head wound by the water. He brought you back home. You have been out for a few days.”
I rolled over and pushed myself off from my bed. I touched my forehead and felt bandage wrapped around my head. My blanket fell to around my waist.
My mother walked in with a small teacup and kettle. She sat the tray on my desk and poured me a cup of the brewing medicinal herb. She handed it to me before taking a seat on my bed next to me.
“Can you remember anything?” She asked me.
I shook my head and lifted the teacup to sip the earthy medicinal taste. It numbed my tongue slightly as it spread around my mouth and down my throat. I swallowed the taste before pushing it back to her. She shook her head and gave me a look that I needed to finish it.
I accepted and slowly finished the tea. When I was done, I handed it back to her. My hands wrapped around my blanket as my eyes flitted to my small mirror and what I saw broke my heart into a million tiny pieces.
There was no mark on my body.
My eyes watered and I covered my mouth with my palm to stop the sob. My family panicked and immediately shot up to their feet, trying to calm me.
“There, there, you are safe.” My father eased.
“Talk to us, Anna. Tell us where it hurts.” My mother demanded.
I shook my head, “I am okay. I am just feeling a little overwhelmed. Can I be alone?”
They glanced at each other uncertain before nodding and getting up. They got out of my bedroom and I curled up in my bed crying. The mark was gone from my body. If all this wasn’t real-if he wasn’t real-then why am I feeling like my whole world was taken away from me?
Days passed by slowly. I stopped talking to everyone around me because it was just so much easier to hide my pain. No one would understand. They would think I am crazy.
During the dinner, I played around with my food on my plate. I was aware of the looks they were giving me, but I was completely numb.
Numb from the pain. Numb from losing him.
Was this what my grandma meant in my dream back when I was in Grenagon? That I won’t be happy when I return. That my life will be miserable. That I will miss him with everything in me. It felt like sharp knives were being stabbed into me repeatedly. Outside, I am numb but, on the inside, I am screaming in pain.
What am I saying...he wasn’t real? I shouldn’t feel miserable, yet I am miserable.
I set my spoon down on my plate and looked at my father.
“I need some air. I’m going for a walk.” I whispered.
Even my voice sounds distant and cold. I stood up and heard my mother gave a depressed sigh. My father stood up and grabbed a hold of my elbow. A stern look on his face.
“It is late. You should stay inside.” He said in concern.
“The sun is still at the horizon. I’ll bring a lantern with me.” I whispered not being able to look at him.
I removed his hands from my arm before finding myself lantern. I lit it up with a small match stick before stepping out into the cool evening. I didn’t know where to go, only that I needed to be alone.
Mechanically, I walked to the shoreline. I took a step, another one, and another one until my feet was immersed in the water.
Be careful, Raisneua o’myen, we do not want you to get hurt, do we?
I bit my bottom lips to stop the pain from spreading in my chest, but it was useless. My eyes stung and I squeezed them tightly to stop them from leaking. Lifting my face to the night air, I allowed it to cool my skin, paralyze my mind and body.
“You are real. You have to be real.” I whispered sadly.
A flash of his hazelnut gold irises appeared in my vision.
“If you aren’t real, then why am I hurting so much?” My voice cracked.
Another image of his perfectly shaped caramel lips and tears ran down my cheek.
Please don’t leave me. Anna.
I swallowed the painful lump in my throat and more tears spilled over my cheeks. I dropped to my knees. The lantern fell into the water and the flame died immediately as the water swathe it. I dug my fingers into the mud in the water. My clothes were wet and I couldn’t stop shaking from the crying.
“Anna...” My grandma’s voice came from behind me.
I turned to her. She looked me over and a sadness fell over her face. Slowly, I stood up and walked to her.
“What’s wrong? You haven’t been yourself since you returned.”
“I feel this pain in my chest. It’s killing me, grandma.” I whimpered. She wrapped her arms around me to comfort me.
“Tell me what’s wrong, maybe I can help.” She offered.
“I met a man, grandma. At first, I didn’t like him but then things changed and I realized that not only was my feelings have changed but it was always there. I love him with everything in me. However, when I woke up, he wasn’t there. It feels like a dream but what I feel for him-it can’t be a lie. It has to be true. He has to be real.” I demanded, gripping onto her shirt.
“It could be your imagination.” My grandma started and my heart clenched in pain but then she squeezed my shoulders.
“I can’t bear it,” I said through my tears, shaking my head.
“Anna, I have never seen you this distraught before. You were always a carefree and high-spirited girl. If that man isn’t real then what you are feeling must not be real. It might just be an illusion. However, if that man is real and if that man truly loves you, he will find a way back to you. If you two are destined to be together, then nothing can separate what fate has already written down for you.” My grandma insisted.
I wiped my tears and looked up at her. She might be right. I can’t lose hope yet.
He is not an illusion.
“C’mon now. Let’s get you home and out of your wet clothes before you catch a cold. Your parents will have a fit if you come down with something.”
She helped me back to the small cottage.
Grenagon Prison, Grenagon
Grenagon Prison was a facility that is well known for its unethical torturing methods. The prison was cold and unsanitary. Split into four different high security levels. The bottom is for the lowest of scums such as spies, murderers, and predators. As the level goes up the sentence becomes less. The prison is powered with ancient protective spells, sealing in all that’s evil.
My father placed me at the lowest level. Imprisoned with the spies and betrayers.
The searing magic chains were burning my flesh each time my power surged to the surface. The beast inside of me raged with a roaring fury. Its powerful nature demands respect and wanted to rip anyone that was in its path. Bloody images flashed in my mind, fueling my temper and my anger.
A roar echoed and bounced through the prison wall. The chains rattled and seared my skin but even that pain was incomparable to the pain in my chest. I miss her and I feel like my world was spinning out of control. I wanted to tear this world apart and kill the people that are responsible for all of this.
Pain slashed through my back from the magic whip. It glows red as it comes down and hits my skin. I roared and threw my head back.
My father can try everything that he knows but I will never agree.
I will never let go.