Day Twenty ➣ Part One

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THE WEIGHT OF HER memories crushed her in her sleep. Panting, Raina opened her eyes, staring at the clouds knitted tightly over the night sky as cold air blew in from the west. The cries of pain drifted along with it, and the pre-dawn darkness felt as bleak and imprisoning as her dream. When she had climbed on deck, their ship was underwater, and she had watched as those scales and teeth had circled them, waiting, taking their sweet time as they braced to strike. They had come after Finn. Then Calen. Arleigh. Picking off her crew while they made her watch, saving her for last. 

Blinking the vision away, she took a deep breath and looked down at her body. She could still feel her leg being snapped in two.

She closed her eyes again, but sleep would not come. At last, abandoning any hope for rest in the early hours of the morning, she sat up. Her stomach tightened and she glanced around, her nerves on edge, as she stood. Her heart drummed in her ears. She felt the adrenaline fading from her limbs, and the heaviness that followed. She needed to walk it off.

She gripped the rock wall and braced her good leg against a foothold, hauling herself up to where Arleigh sat, feet dangling over the ledge, keeping watch. She gave a nod of greeting and hobbled over beside her, tucking her bad leg in as her other foot dangled over open air.

"Couldn't sleep?" Arleigh asked.

"No," Raina said. She felt the snap of her leg again and bunched her hands in her lap. Are you cold?" she asked.

Arleigh smiled and shook her head. "You invested in the high quality suits, remember? I think your words were, 'I can't have you all shivering so hard that you throw the ship off her heading.' But with a little more attitude."

Raina chuckled. "I was a little bit much." She looked down at her own suit, still mercifully intact despite the many tears. The wind sliced at them, but she barely felt it. "It was for the best, after all."

They resumed their silence, sounds of life sucked away by the steady singing of the breeze. She closed her eyes, and this time her ship was above water, high above, gliding slowly over a sea punctuated by small specks of whitecaps. In the night it had looked almost black. She opened her eyes and looked out at a world barely lit beneath the cloud cover, leached of its colour, immobile, asleep. "Have you seen anything?" she asked.

Arleigh shook her head. "If there are any creatures up here, so far they've steered clear of us." A hand drifted up to rub at her scars, but she quickly pulled it back down.

"Do you have dreams about it?" Raina asked. "The... beast."

Arleigh let out a breath. "I do. Almost every night." She shot a sidelong glance at Raina. "You've got a beast of your own, too. In more ways than one."

Raina offered a faint smile, but it did not reach her eyes. She focused on a spot far below, a field, and in the middle, she thought she could spy the remains of a vehicle. "Does it make you feel weak, too?"

Arleigh took a moment to respond, rolling the words around in her mouth. "No. Because there's no shame in trauma. Ever." She reached out and placed a hand over Raina's. "We've all seen our fair share of horrors. It eats away at you, sometimes at your mind." She glanced down to the crew. "It's hit Finn hard. And Maeve, no matter how harsh she tries to seem."

"We all have different ways of coping."

"And you?" Arleigh asked. "Have you found yours?"

A lump formed in Raina's throat. "I'm a work in progress," she got out. "Yesterday, I felt lighter than I had in ages. But it's like there's a chain wrapped around my chest, and if I let too much in, if I feel too much, it begins to tighten, to choke me even as I'm breathing just fine. It's like I'm running out of air, but I'm still alive." The wind picked up, a blast of cold on her cheeks as she blinked back a tear. "I just don't know how to handle it, and still lead the crew. I'm scared," she said, turning to face Arleigh. "I'm... I'm scared that I won't be enough."

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