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Sayuri

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Lightening flashes and rain falls in torrents against the stonewalls; the city is flooding. The sky is black, the clouds striking upon the cathedral high above me. Dark creatures swoop down from above, their tattered wings fluttering against the spark of electricity.
My villagers scream.
Water is beginning to pool in the roads; at first just puddles, which became ponds, which became rivers, flowing downward, dragging the innocent along with it.
My streets are no longer a place of bartering and bustle… they are now the arena of a mass genocide. Hands grasped and faces stared, unseeing, through the rapids. A thin shriek pierces the night, turning my face to the east. There is a small shape; nothing more than a scrap of fabric and a muddy mess of hair. She clings to the side of a roof, her small hands holding desperately to the stone of a roof and her eyes closed in a horrified sob. The child’s face is covered with grim, streaked by the heavy tears, which stream from her eyes. Her bare feet begin to slip against the slick rock, sliding out from under her as she tries desperately to grab onto something, but it’s too late.
She screams against the rumbles of thunder as she flies, down, down, down the slate towards the edge, toward the bloody river, toward the rest of my people. I watch, unmoving, as she drops off, like a water droplet from an icicle: her wail ending with a splash, leaving nothing more than a torn scrap of cloth, fluttering in the gale.
I do not move. I do not speak. I do not think. I make no attempt to wipe the waterfall that flows down my back, nor pull my hood against the wind that throws hateful fists of water against my forehead. Rain pools in the hollows of the ancient rock banister, the drops clinging to my fingertips. The balcony, which no longer looks across a prosperous city and a green country beyond, has become my last standing place; one from which I can watch the annihilation of my people. And then it will be my turn, to join with them in the shadows.
My hair thrashes about, stinging my neck and cheeks. The rain flows on; harder than before, washing my city down its dark drain, like color sucked from a petal. I no longer hear screams… nothing more than the screech of the creatures of dark and the evil which circles about me, waiting for me to fall, dead, into its claws. There is no more city to lead, no people to look upon, no reason for my existence. Why not end it now? What do I have to lose?
I take a deep breath, stepping to the edge of the balcony and leaning over the railing. The malevolent water churns below, white froth capping the waves that now slap against my castle. I see the pale bodies of my city float by; their mouths open in unsounded screams, the blood already leached from their wounds. How wonderful it will be to join them! No more pain, no more feeling, no more… anything.
I continue to lean farther over, my hair falling over my shoulders, my boots barely brushing the ground. I can hear my father’s voice in my head. “You are destined for great things, Sayuri. Do not carry doubt within yourself: for if you do, you will fail. Lead only with goodness. Ignore no plea. Turn down no challenge. Face no problem with fear. And then, and only then, my dear Sayuri, can you never be defeated.”
But oh, my dear father, you are wrong. I have not turned down a challenge: I have accepted it! I have not faced this problem with fear: I have embraced it! Then father, tell me, why have I been defeated?
I close my eyes. I can feel the storm beat faster, anticipating my arrival into its open hands. My boots come off the ground. My heart beats slowly. I breathe one last breath, silent in the pound of water around me and tip my head forward. I feel my stomach slipping across the stone and slowly, slowly, slow-
-an arm wraps around me, swiftly pulling me back over the railing. I cannot see; my head is crushed against someone’s warm shoulder, fingers pressed against my back, keeping me close. He smells of milk and wood, his pale hair tickling my forehead. The gale throws itself at us, full force, but he does not falter. Wind flies our capes around our bodies, encasing us in their soaked wool, and my hair is torn from its ribbon, the filthy piece of silk carried down toward the river below. His voice speaks next to my ear.
“Don’t you dare think about doing that,” Will says, his lips brushing the side of my neck. I pull away slightly so I can look at his face.
It looks no different from yesterday… the same funny nose, mottled blue eyes and dark eyebrows. Lightening flashes, painting momentary white moons in his pupils. Raindrops skim down his cheeks, washing away the joy that, only yesterday, was permanently splayed into his features. No, he doesn’t look the same as yesterday after all.
He looks back at me, his eyes scanning my face, and all at once I break down. I have failed; I have failed to do what my father believed I could do. I am not who my father believed I was. I am a failure... a failure to my parents, a failure to myself and a failure to my people. They thought I would guide them to safety… they thought I would lead them with the same compassion and goodness that my father had… they thought that I would defeat the darkness. And now, because of my failure, they are no more.
I cannot distinguish the tears from the rain. Liquid runs down my neck and hysterical sobs wrack my frame. Noise is all around me. Will holds me tightly against him, my arms balled against his chest. All I want to do is get away, away from all of the death and destruction and evil. Away from my 18-year-old world and back to my 8-year-old. I want to disappear into his warmth. The sounds of the squall recede, the winds seeming to die down, and I was lost within his warmth… forgetting for a few small moments that all around us, our lives were slowly being washed away.
“Come, now,” He says in his kind way. “We need to leave.”
Will steps back, toward the door, but I do not follow. Instead, I run once again to the edge, hands hoisting myself up onto the railing. Standing on the edge, I send as much loathing as I can muster at the ink sky, my utter hatred stopping me from teetering. And with the loudest yell I can summon, I jump into the black oblivion. Captains always go down with their ships.

Epilogue
“Who’s that, Master William?” The girl asks, pointing to the painting on the Cathedral wall. I can only smile sadly at the memory.
“That’s Queen Sayuri, little one,” I answer, kneeling down beside her.
“Who’s that?”
“An angel,” I whisper, leaning in. “She watches over us from above. When we don’t realize it, she is there, protecting us. Even now, she is watching you.”
“That’s not true,” the girl affirms, shaking her childish curls. “That’s just a story. Angels aren’t real.” And with that, she turns and bounds away.

I sigh and run my hand across the painting on the wall, now 70 years old. The paint feels dry and lifeless; a pity. Then, taking my eyes from her face, I look out at a prosperous city and a green country beyond. Just a story…huh?



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