Words by runi
It starts with a dream.
Fog embraces his form, wispy and grey. He feels as if he was simply floating within it, land far beneath his feet. It clears up just enough in front of him, allowing him to lift his hand up and gaze at the back of his hand. His limbs feel heavy, as if laden with sleep but he moves anyway. Languidly, the wisps of fog curling around him in a noiseless dance.
A plant sprouts in front of his eyes as he drops his hand back down to his side, the flowers blooming with incredible speed. Its petals, delicate and soft, open up and beckon him.
Begonias, he thinks belatedly as he reaches out to gently run his thumb against them.
Without warning, the silence becomes suffocating, causing anxiety to creep into his bones. He couldn’t move, couldn’t thrash, couldn’t clutch at his throat as he became desperate for air. He stays frozen, eyes locked onto the blossom, watching as the color changes from a rosy peach and into a startling bloody red where the pad of his thumb trailed.
A whisper fills his ears, all too loud in the quietness that envelops him.
There is danger wherever you go, It says. You will bring death to the people around you. It is inevitable.
His head jerks up and he sees the face of someone dear to him — his companion, Eden — with their hair matted with thick blood, their eyes dull and lifeless.
You cannot save them.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
“August? Are you alright?” Eden asked when they walked around the town later that afternoon.
The townspeople are bustling around in order to prepare for the spring festival, celebrating and honoring the gods for a new season of fertility and rebirth. The marketplace starts to smell subtly sweet as flowers are brought into the stalls.
August turns to look into the other’s eyes, genuine concern swirling within them. He nods wordlessly, not trusting his voice before looking away and busying himself with his hands. The conversation stops after that, their silence filled by the lively buzz of festivities around them.
A person bumps into them a few moments later, their eyes obscured by the hood pulled up on their head. The stranger bows and beside him, Eden bows back — a simple gesture of excuse. Once they raise their heads back up, the stranger produces a flower from beneath his coat, offering it up to them.
August blinks and squints his eyes at the flower, a feeling of unease and familiarity settling in his stomach. Eden takes it, smiling and thanking the stranger just as he was struck with the jarring realization.
His blood runs cold as he lifts his eyes up to the hooded stranger, questions at the tip of his tongue. But the stranger has already left, dragged away by the current of people in the streets.
Eden looks up at him once again, worried as they hold the flower in their hands. To his eyes, the flower changes color in flashes — the petals become covered with blood, drooping under its weight and trailing down their hands.
Death, a voice in his head says. A warning. But not for me.
Eden’s hand on his shoulder pulls him out of his trance, their voice muffled by the rush of blood in his ears.
“Promise me one thing,” he hears himself say. “Promise me you will stay safe and away from harm’s way. Swear it.”
“What — ”
“Swear it.” His voice wavers. “You will not let yourself get hurt.”
“I swear it.” The other replies with promise and without further hesitance. He nods.
It would be later that night that the promise would be broken. Eden’s hands would turn cold as he gazes at the deathly pallor of their face, crimson clashing awfully against ash gray. Grief wracks through his body in waves, hands pressed against Eden’s side in a futile effort to stop the bleeding. Had he been a minute faster, he could’ve protected them.
But it is inevitable, the voice repeats. You cannot save them.