Engraved Apology

From SotS

I am engraving this message for my sister, whom I love. I will leave it here where the sun will catch its lines. We have studied the songs of steel for many moons together, and I know you recognize my voice, even if I am reduced to scratches on a shell. To no one else is my name important, beloved. But all those who can read are welcome to know why I chose the Black Sea.

You carry our child within you. He sleeps in your sea of warm blood. I have touched his tiny dreams and sweetened them for many months, giving him my love, and hints of the joyous life to come: light and air, cool water on his skin.

Now I have breathed my last, for him and for you. I pray that you will never fully understand why.

You did not come to see me take the last breath. Lingering at the surface, filling my lungs with that sharp, pure sweetness. Remembering the first moment that I surfaced at my mother’s side, and she squeezed the fluid from my lungs, and taught me to drink air rather than blood. I wanted to feel the warmth of the sun on my back, but it was cold that day, and the sun was hiding. I tried to gather myself, to fully comprehend myself as I was at the moment, and forge a pure pearl to bury in the depths of my being. I tried to bask one last time, and treasure the basking as a gift I could give to others.

It would have been good to touch you as well, to feel your warmth, to make love to you. But you could not understand my reasons for dying and you would not come when I called.

Several of our family had joined the ones who swim at the Black Gate. Their minds were a wall of why. I could barely withstand the forged chains of their grief, their anger, their disgust, the sheer weight of innocent curiosity: why would I do such a thing?

I had to gather all of my strength to pass them. I had to close my mind and become a ram of steel, forcing them aside. I shot into the dark iris as swift as a tiny fish. When the valve closed behind me, and their voices were muted, I was grateful that I had not let them see the answer.

The water changed. The good warm sea of home drained away…the chamber filled with darkness and cold. Nonetheless I did not hesitate when the portal opened. They were waiting for me in the chamber beyond, shadows moving in the dimness. Their minds were cool, quiet, strong. They held me, and I drowned.

My training is now complete, and tomorrow I will be among the stars. I am a swimmer in the Black Sea. I am dead, to you and the world—even to come here I wore my containment suit. I will not touch the warm sea and drink clean air again until the day that I can be reborn.

I hope this day will come. I hope I will swim beside you again. I wish that I could somehow make you love me without having to understand what I saw, the day that I finally won the game and found the thoughts that our Elders have been hiding, for so many years. But such pain is not for you. Never for you. Never for the one that swims within you.

When night comes, and the stars shine, think of me. I will be here, in the cold and the black, and somehow I will hold them back. Until then, I sweeten my dreams with memories of the light and air, cool water on my skin, and hints of the joyous life to come.

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SotS 2 Codex