She Lived

Jul 12, 2013 by

Blade-Runner-2-RachaelIt’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?

It was hard to kill that question in my mind. After we ran, it lingered like a bad taste from a drink at your favorite bar that usually sold pretty damn good drinks. It’s the middle of the night and I should be sleeping. The flickering light from a huge grid ad spills into the window–some ridiculous commercial with an alien touting about how puny humans will enjoy coke. I’ve seen it a million times from the window and I hate it already. But I watch it anyway, because it’s better than remembering what Gaff said, over and over and over again.
I didn’t want to keep remembering.
I wanted to gather Rachael up right then and there; bruise my mouth against hers desperately to remind myself she’s alive. I’m alive. We’re alive together. I wanted to feel her skin. I wanted to take my fingertips along her hip and tap out words I’d never say: living isn’t pretty, but it’s real.
It was easier than thinking about how much time we had left. Scratch that; how much time she had left.
I’ve done a lot of things in my life that have put me so close to death I could smell it.
None of them frightened me more than the concept of time and how much Rachael had left. It brought me to cold-sweats, my mind fluttered through images of sorrow faster than leafing through ancient books. I kept seeing her stilli and cold and kept seeing myself old and broken. Every second brought her closer to the end, every night my stomach clenched as if bracing for a punch that would never happen and never end.
The commercial had stopped playing and had moved on to another–but I turned my head to glance to the pillow beside me and find her dark eyes open and studying me, my profile in the dim light. For a long while I didn’t have anything to say really but helplessly stare back. She searched me, my face like it was the last message in a bottle someone lost on an island could send–and then she smiled. Just the corners of her mouth really, but it held so much. So much life.

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At night, I’d always doubt. Alone in my hotel room surrounded by empty bottles and empty memories, I’d hear what Gaff said: It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does? Did she live? Did I let her live? Would she have been better without me?
But then I remember that night–that night when I caught her staring before she smiled.
Everything about that smile told me different. Rachael had lived more of a life in her short time than I ever would.
She lived, I thought back to an invisible Gaff. She lived, and that’s good enough for me.
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Mr. Bitey Teaches a Lesson

Jul 7, 2013 by

Lightsabers_In_PS_by_Vasper

“Master?” A piping question from down below his hip came, the notes in her voice held both curiosity and trepidation. It had only been a few weeks since he had taken her from her home world, her parents, everything she knew and loved. He still remembered the sound of her mother quietly crying. He tried not to dwell upon things he could not change.
“Yes, Nalla?” He reached down to guide her shoulder out of the path of two very busy as well as not paying attention twi’leks, their head tails twitching madly in gossip. Above them, hundreds of lanes of vehicles dotted the sky of Coruscant. Their puttering motors and gleaming metal were as much part of the city as it’s graceful durasteel towers and glittering lights. He caught his Padawan staring agog at them more than once and said nothing. She would grow used to it in time.
He watched her round blue eyes flutter briefly to a couple head to head on a bench facing one of the many gardens that dotted the way toward the Jedi Temple.
“Will I marry you when I am old enough?”
He nearly walked himself into the two twi’leks. They sent him a glare and he bowed gracefully and apologized before pulling his Padawan off to the side.
He forgets, sometimes, just how different his home world is from hers.
“No, Nalla. The Jedi order forbids marriage or relationships like such. Especially between two jedi.” His double hearts finally stopped beating like they’d been surprised by a rancor.
Her little nose wrinkled and her mouth puckered in a half-frown, half very heavy thoughtful expression.
“You can’t love anybody when you are a Jedi?” He could hear she wasn’t sure she liked or understood the idea.
“There are many types of love, Nalla. A Jedi must have room in his or her heart for all as well as the Force. To love someone above all or the Force can lead a Jedi down a dark path that is difficult to recover from. It is too easy to let jealousy and passion rule where peace and calm must remain. “ He never knew what to expect with Nalla. She was his first Padawan and she had kept him on his toes more than any of his Masters at the Academy.
She wiggled small and still chubby-with-youth in spot, signalling she was giving her Master’s small lecture great thought. She was, after all, only a youngling and quite new. It was generally unusual for a Master to pick a padawan at such a young age. But the bond between the two had been strong and obvious at the start. He did not question the Force, he merely followed it.
“Do you understand?” He finally prompted her, gently. She hadn’t stopped wriggling about.
“I think so…It’s like when Nalla chose Mr. Stuffy over Mr. Toothy and Mr. Toothy felt sad and jealous and said mean things. So I shouldn’t be like that, I shouldn’t choose Mr. Stuffy or Mr. Toothy but love and help both to conquer Mr. Bitey, because Mr. Bitey is just very bad– but not to yell at them because I am a jedi and I must not give into anger.”
…He was very sure that his slow blink was  heavy enough to be audible. It took him several moments to remember the tattered collection of stuffed toys she was unable to bring with her; these must have been their names?
The Temple really did not prepare him for this.
“Just so, Nalla. For a Jedi to love one above another–” He paused here, cleared his throat, “–there is a chance to become just like Mr. Bitey. So–”
“When can we practice again, Master?”
He felt guilty as he rose and heard himself let slip a sigh of relief.
“When we get to the Temple, Nalla.”
As he answered each of her questions as patiently as he could: where is the temple again? Why is it taking so long? Why do we have to walk? Why can’t you carry me? Do I have to wear the same robes you do? Why do you have horns? Can I paint the horns? Why–he could not help but feel that it wasn’t just his padawan that had learned a lesson that day.
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