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Fire and Ice - The One Stuck Between (Part One)
What if you were stuck between three worlds? Drifting from one to another.
What if you didn’t know what was real? Which of the worlds was a dream, which reality.
What if . . . someone was fighting for you? Over you.
Caught in the struggle between Fire and Ice, what will you do? One burns your skin, one chills you to your very bone. You can’t escape. You must choose. If you don’t, they will continue to fight, continue to bring torture to your every day. But what will you do . . .
When you don’t know it’s happening?
You awake cold. Always cold. Confused. Where are you? How did you get here? You push yourself up off the bed, bring your knees underneath you. Every movement is difficult and brings pain. Slide first one foot onto the floor, then the other, steady yourself with your hands on the bed. The wood feels comparatively warm underneath your feet. You go into the bathroom, stumbling in a half-asleep stupor, and look in the mirror.
You are unaware that it is procedure. Every morning is the same. Wake up on your stomach, always your stomach. Lay in bed wondering for a few minutes. Get up. Look at yourself in the mirror. Reach into the cabinet. Pull out a wash cloth. Run it under warm water.
You hold it to your face, feel it start to burn, but your skin is still cold. The relief is only momentary. You strip to nothing, glance at the mirror before stepping into the shower. Your arms are burnt, but not by heat. You prod at it gently, wince in pain. The area is red but cold, colder than the rest, icy. Burnt by ice. A quick assessment shows that there are similar spots down the length of your body, why it hurt to move.
You step into the shower, turn the water on. It pours down over your head, shoulders, down your back. You turned it on too warm. Your skin tingles, burns, hurts, but you stay put, wait until you thaw. When you can move easily once more, you step out, dry off, get dressed. It’s morning, but you have no appetite. You don’t work today. You crawl back into bed, hope the dreams don’t come again, wonder if you’re already in a dream.
There are only three choices and you can’t decide which is reality. One is this house, where you always awake confused, unaware of how you arrived. But soon memory comes back and you know it is your home between homes.
The second is a beautiful yet barren place. On land, snow covers the ground, the trees, anything that’s there. And on the water are icebergs, just the tips. They twist and curl, shining radiantly in different shades of blue. You can’t stay long.
The last is a wasteland. A forest that holds no life. The trees are no longer standing, broken off and charred. The animals have long since fled. The ground is covered in debris, wood scorched black. Ash sometimes drifts down from the skies, clinging to skin and clothes. Disgusting.
You thrash in your sleep and I feel you pulling away from me. I reach out to you, feel warmth radiating from your body. I can’t follow. You’re leaving me. You’re going to Her.
I curl in on myself, drift between the two worlds I can reach. Soon, you will return. Soon, you will be mine again.
You awake only when ash falls gently onto your skin. You open your eyes, look up at the sky. Small flecks of ash are falling and you hold a hand up over your face, shielding yourself. You sit up slowly, look around. A vague sense of familiar fills you, but you can’t place it.
You stay in place for a moment, look around. The wasteland makes you pause, think about what has happened. Everything is burnt and from what you see, has been for a long time.
Shifting onto your knees, you set a hesitant hand on the ash covered ground. It’s warm to the touch. With both hands, you begin to sift through the ash, looking for something. Anything. You don’t know what it is, but you search. Every time.
In just a few seconds, your hands are turned black, but still you search. Unaware of the wind shifting slightly, the ash ceasing to fall. Your purpose is unclear in your mind, but it is there. You must search. Something is there.
You move closer to a tree, continue your search. I try to stop you, but as I reach for your arm, you flinch away. Something incredibly warm had gotten too close. That’s all you know. But you can’t see it. You dismiss it as your mind playing tricks on you. Lately, it’s been happening a lot. More and more frequently.
I pull back away from you. If I touch you, I know it will hurt. So I stand back and wait. You can’t see me. You wonder if you are still sane even as you continue your search. Silently, I wish for you to stop, to just sit there and stay with me, even if you don’t know I’m here. You get closer to your target and I am forced to speak up, but all you hear is the wind. To you, that is my voice – the wind rushing past your ears.
And then you find it. Your hand hits something small, hard and warm. You dig further into the ash, pull it out carefully in your hands. An acorn. Something so simple, yet it brings a smile to your face. It is a sign. A sign that the forest will grow back, as strong and sturdy as ever.
I take joy in that small smile, but I know it will end in pain. When you find it, you fade slowly away from me. Back to Her. Back to the cold. I can’t stop you without hurting you, scarring you. As much as I want you to be mine, as much as I want to know that she can’t hurt you . . . I have to let you go.
Again, you are mine. Again, you run from Her, back to me. I drift closer to you. You lay on your back and I know you won’t awaken. As I come within a few feet of you, I feel heat. It has come from Her. Anger surges through me.
The heat burns me as I move closer, but I bear it for you. I sit next to you on your bed. The heat is intense. It must be unbearable. But soon it will be gone.
You turn your head away as I reach for you, startled by the sudden cold. But I press forward. I lay my hand on your chest, fingers curling around your left shoulder. You make a strangled noise, but I must take the heat from you. It is Her sign and I will not allow it.
I know it hurts you. I know you don’t like it. It confuses you. She never leaves her mark, but I do. I have the courage to brand you, to show that you are mine. To show that she can’t take you from me. That soon I will have you and never let go.
You convulse under my hand, spine arching upwards as you draw in a ragged breath. The heat leaves your body and we drift. Slowly. And arrive in my world. The snow is still there, as always. We are separated when we arrive. You push yourself up off of the snow, stand up, look around, assess yourself. There is a pain over your heart where my hand used to be. You wrap your arms around yourself.
I freeze in place. Shivering. Your body trying to regain its warmth. It disgusts me. Before I can stop myself, I am in front of you. I strike out at you.
You see nothing, feel only the pain of my palm against your face as you fall back into the snow. Your eyes widen at the unseen danger. You push off the ground, turn away from me, run. You sprint through the trees, think you are a safe distance away. You hide behind a boulder made of ice, sit and tremble. But this is my world and I know everything that goes on within it. I simply wait for you to settle and follow.
I drift up behind you, unseen, unheard. I can hear your panting breaths. I lower myself onto the boulder on my stomach, reach down, wrap my arms around your shoulders. My hands come down and I lock them together over your chest. You writhe under my touch as the icy cold rips through you. Your hands claw at the snow as you slowly go numb.
For a few precious moments, your heart beats, but your lungs cease to draw air. You will die. I am forced to pull away. You start to fade once more, to return to your home between homes, but I have left my mark.
You are mine once again.