Had I not have slipped her hand, she would be alive, right next to me. I am getting recurring dreams of that moment, when I had left her hand, a day ago.
After the prophecy had finished, the fire had already spread, and we hadn’t realized. I had jumped out of the only window in the room and caught her hand as she hopped near the window. But only if I hadn’t missed it, she would have been alive. The burning roof fell upon her and I knew I could never save her. I am nothing like her, she didn’t know me and had helped me and here I lay, with my eyes numb out of crying, and it can’t produce other tear. My nose is runny and my Chef’s shirt wet of wiping it.
I barely remember the words of the prophecy. What all I can think is of the woman, whose name is even unknown to me. Her hurt tone as she said the fire that burnt everything but left her, but now the fire took her away too. It’s all my fault, I realize. Had I not met her, and peacefully died, what harm would have come her way?
My eyes are longing for tears but none comes off. What all I can do is barely see anything and sit under this tree among the chirping of crickets.
My head is in my hands and I can’t sleep. I know I’m sleep-deprived but if I do, I will relive that painful moment and I know dying is better than that.
Even more time passes and I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. The crickets have stopped and it is a moonless night today, what I think it is. What little I can see in the sky is twinkling, shiny dots that must be stars.
Soon enough, I can’t stop and fall asleep. Thankfully, I do not see her but the words of the prophecy.
I’m not sure if they were the exact words but some is what I can recall. Before I could even interpret what they actually meant, I have a dreamless night.
The next day, I realize I am very hungry and thirsty as well. I lost my bag in the fire and have nothing else to eat. There’s nothing else here. A few trees and wild bushes. I wonder how they survived the fire the woman was talking about, but then I recall that the fire had been unnatural. I get near the bushes and notice they bear berries. I have never seen such fruits. In fact I’ve never seen anything raw, everything comes cooked at the table. I feel I must have peeked into the kitchen at least once. The berries are small,dark-coloured and sleek in appearance.
I’m so hungry to eat them that I do not think if they are poisonous. My white trousers have pockets and I fill them with as much as they could hold.
Meissa does know about the wild, I do not know how, but she’d spent one whole school-day in the kitchen with the chefs, maybe from there. I pop the berries into my mouth, and the juice breaks in, very sweet and sugary. I pop in more until I realise I need to save more for later. More berries are there inside of the bush and I put them all in my pockets.
I sit back again by the tree and think of the prophecy.
It was of course subjected to me since it had said my name twice before the speaker started.
“On the arduous must she go,
following the path of the hunter,
for the six lost face the foe
She, the brightest must undergo
The fiercest of pain to set them free
else would have millions to owe”
Of course, I had to go on a difficult task and I know that. But I do not understand what it means by the hunter. In what sense? The people who hunt in the wild or does it refer to something else? I do not know.
And what does it mean by the ‘Six lost’? Don’t I have seven siblings that are lost. Maybe the staff didn’t know it themselves. I probably have six other siblings with me adding to seven. That’s news, something I could really understand out of it.
The fourth line confuses me. It’s the same Mr Cohen had said. I am the brightest. Brightest by wits? I couldn’t save the woman. I’m sure I must be the dullest in the seven, or well the six of us.
And I have to suffer pain. I wish losing the woman was enough. What else is painful than that? I have a thought of Meissa and refuse to believe it. But I know The woman can’t and won’t be my only pain. I silently prayer for Meissa. ‘Not her, please!’ I whisper to the omens, as if they can really hear me.
This has started to anger me now. Couldn’t I just lead a peaceful and sound life in the orphanage? Why these omens had to exist? Why is it in the tradition to go out, to get welcomed by death?
I try to keep my cool, since they must mean something. They have to. The woman didn’t give her life for nothing.
And then there’s this condition, If I refuse to suffer pain, I’d have to owe millions of people. I hate owing people, really. And I still owe to the woman. And the only way to repay her is by dying…
I brush the thought away and start to brainstorm about the hunter, as I toss the berries into my mouth.
The sun is about to set and what all I have done today is tossing almost half of the berries into my mouth. I sigh deeply and prepare to sleep. Maybe I’ll just think about it tomorrow?
Next morning, I realise all of the berries are finished.Oh, I’ve been so careless and have ate them all! Only because of them could I have my water and my food!
I decide it’ll be wise to move. Desperate to find food, I move towards my west, where the trees and bushes were, hoping to find more. I walk for about two hours without changing my direction. My throat is dry and my stomach hungry.
I can hear water flowing nearby and the ground here is muddy,too so I decide to move just a little longer. Soon enough, there are large trees and wild bushes. I desperately check the bushes for berries but they carry only wild flowers. I shove the bushes aside and a few spines enter into my skin. I shriek out of the pain and try to keep my cool.
One by one, I take them out with my long nails. A little pain, and they’re all out. I know it might spread infection and I almost curse myself for going through those bushes. Now that the damage is already done, I find myself in front of a narrow bank of a river. It is only about fifty centimeters but the water is very clean. I sip some of it and treat my wounds.
It’s cold but is efficient in front of the heat of the sun. Until I feel I have enough of water,as much as I need food, I continue walking in search of any omens.
I jump across the river and roam around it. Since I know I need the water, I do not go far.
Except the few trees near the river, the land is barren, nothing in sight. I have a funny feeling of living the remainder of my life here, beside the river or until the water refuses to fill my need of food as well.
As I’m walking around in the barren land and I notice a creature, which is not difficult to spot at all, with white fleece. It rushes a bit closer to me and I feel it is a rabbit. And suddenly, I recall that rabbits are quite useless, or how Mr Wilson says it. They aren’t helpful in finding any omens at all, just little punks who get predated often.
But, I really like his little ears, winding along with him. I’m not sure why he is running, probably desperate to find someone in this desert.
I’m walking towards him, to have an animal as a companion at the least.
I almost catch him in my hands, but instead I hear a high-pitched screech and a pair of talons almost squeeze his body and fly him away.
I was so close to them, that the hawk’s talons gave me a cut on my forehand. I see the hawk squeeze the rabbit in its talons and I know the rabbit’s life is gone.
I sigh deeply turning to the way I had come from. I’m all alone again, and just wish I would have got to touch the rabbit’s fleece. But those rough talons took him and his life away.
The sun is setting and I am hurrying back to the trees, to have the company of the crickets at the least, if not the rabbit.
Sure enough, they have started chirping. Very carefully, dodging the trees, I reach near the banks of the river. I sit beside it and take sips.
No omens till now. Nothing I’ve learnt about.
A thought tingles in my head. Am I not like the rabbit? I’m so vulnerable that anybody could just squeeze me in their talons once and I’d not breathe anymore. But I do not know what to do, I’m so helpless and vulnerable.
Today is a cloudless and a moonless night. I see thousands of stars in the dark sky above me. As if they were emeralds in some dark fabric.
I notice the stars form shapes when I imagine lines in between them. They’re present in such way that sometimes I see horns, a box with a string, arrows and most interestingly two stick-mans drawn in the sky.
I stare in awe at the group of stars but one of the arrangement of stars catches my eye for long. It looks like an hourglass at first, but I feel it’s something different. The hourglass is just the body, the person looks like he’s holding a bow and arrow. This man in action is just in front of the bull I’d seen earlier. I realise they must be present for a person who’s hunting the bull.
A person who’s hunting the bull.
My mind doesn’t take long and I know it very soon, that the unanswered question from the prophecy has answered itself. I have found the Hunter.
I am unsure about it at first but my mind says I’m right. Isn’t that an omen itself? When your mind says you’re right, the future could be bright.
How accurately these stars have been placed here. Eight in total, the same I and my siblings are. Far away, longing to meet.
“They say you are the brightest”
“She, the brightest must undergo”
It all makes sense now. I’m the brightest of all of us, probably the one at the bottom right of the group of stars, that is quite bright. All others are my siblings who face the foe.
I think of it for a moment but I recall the prophecy had meant only six of us were in trouble. But I’m too ahead of returning now. I have left the river, in excitement, with just a few sips of water in the morning, and it’s noon right now.I’m heading towards my west, the opposite direction to the sun and since that is where I had seen the neighbouring star. If I’m the bottom right one. After all, the omens couldn’t have been wrong,could they have been? The rabbit to tell I must move and what I think. What if I’ve mistaken in interpreting them. What if everything was natural and nothing is actually real in what way I think of it, because the prophecy says it’s just seven of us but the constellation has eight of the stars. I am beginning to worry on deciding too hastily, because prophecies can’t make mistakes. The only one who can do that is me.
What if the two of us all are safe? I guess it’s correct, since the prophecy doesn’t say it’s only six others. Maybe me and the other one who’s safe have to together find all others to unite. Maybe.
I walk on the barren land, under the scorching heat of the sun. I’ve barely changed my direction, I’m moving where the sun is, towards the east.
I walk, until my throat is too thirsty to let me move. I spot something at the far end on the horizon but I’m too tired, and my eyes closes, and I’m asleep in a matter of seconds.
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The next time I wake up, I’m in the same place I had slept before, the land barren but a bit cooler because it is night time. I’m getting dehydrated, and I know it because my lips are very dry and my head is aching too badly. I’d done a big mistake coming here. Living and dying there was better, the water could’ve at least help me live for a few more days.
Fatigue takes over me as I begin to sit. I can spot the Hourglass- or the hunter- in the sky. The brightest- which is probably me- is shining faintly and the others even lesser. I feel like this is really telling what is happening in the present. I’m really not the brightest right now and the others are in difficulty,too.
“Rigel!” I hear a voice to my far right.
“Are you okay?” the voice speaks.
I turn my head and see a tall figure. How do you know me? I think.
The figure is quite close to me and I can feel their hand on my forehead.
“Oh my goodness, she’s burning out of fever!” I see her-she’s definitely a girl with her long untied hair- ascend and tap her foot incessantly.
“Who are you?” I ask her, almost inaudibly.
She doesn’t turn, instead runs from where I lay, and vanishes out of sight.
I try to get up, really slowly and curse myself.
What had I been thinking of? Finding someone on the basis of how stars are placed? I’ve been such an idiot, wandering without even having received a proper omen! I try to dig my head in my hands and think of crying, but I really cannot, afraid I’ll lose more water out of my body.
What the girl had said now comes to sense, my head is burning, I literally feel like it’s burning as I place my hands near it. Its effects are already there, my dizzy vision, my fatigue and my increasing dehydration symptoms.
I fall down on the hard floor, unable to hold my body weight any longer.
“Rigel!” I see the girl racing towards me, but I feel her voice is far away. Is she teleporting? I hadn’t seen her come here.
“Rigel!” she cries again. She seems to be closer to me, but her voice, something is wrong with it, as if she’s calling me from the orphanage itself.
My eyes are half-open and I’m laying in the most uncomfortable sleeping position ever, the right side of my face entirely cold since I’m laying on the cold land, my legs are tangled and my hands are in a funny position, they appear to be broken, can that be possible?Somehow, it really sounds funny to me. I prepare for a giggle, but instead I exhale a lot of air, as if it would be my last exhale and see the brutally wounded face of Mallory Jones.