Rey couldn’t remember the last time she felt so content. It was like she was floating on the cloud of softness, covered with a fuzzy blanket, making her feel oh so warm. With an occasional touch of the mother’s loving hand added in the mix.
And then the dream ended.
She released an agonizing gasp as her consciousness slowly returned. She once again became aware of every cell in her body and the pain that came along with it.
Why was she always in so much pain? Was this a way of revenge for something she did in her past life? Because if the answer was yes, she had to do something horrible.
“Careful, my love,” a soothing voice of a woman sounded close to Rey’s right ear, “you were asleep for a very long time. Don’t push yourself so hard.”
She understood what the voice was telling her, but she couldn’t wrap her head around the meaning of the words.
What did it mean by a very long time?
She opened her own mouth to ask, but the only thing that came out was another gasp of discomfort.
“I know, my darling. You must be hurting now. But don’t worry, the pain will subdue while your body gets used to being awake. Try opening your eyes slowly.”
The woman spoke with so much softness in her voice, she could only be one person Rey thought about.
“Mom?” She whimpered.
“Yes, my love. I am right here.” The woman’s warm fingers clutched Rey’s cold skin, but something about that touch felt foreign.
“Try to open your eyes,” the woman challenged her again.
Rey wanted to. Desperately. But it felt like giants were sitting on her eyelids and her strength wasn’t enough to move them.
“Slowly, my love. Don’t push yourself too hard.”
Her eyelashes did flutter open in the end, but the brute force of sunlight that hit her closed them back down.
She tried again. This time opening them so slowly, she feared, she wasn’t moving them at all. But the small source of light coming through proved otherwise.
The process was painfully slow. At last, her eyes once again took in everything the room, she was in, had to offer.
There was nothing but a blank, white wall in front of her, so Rey tilted her head to the right in hopes of seeing the mysterious woman.
She was sitting in one of the not very comfortable wooden chairs, but the smile she had plastered on her face, was so big, Rey feared she would get lost inside it.
Despite the smile, the corners of the woman’s eyes were decorated with fresh tears. There was something very familiar about her eyes. In fact, about her whole face.
But something also felt very bad.
“Who are you?” The words came out as strong as Rey’s parched throat allowed them.
She feared for a second, the woman wouldn’t understand her, but she did: “Don’t you recognise me? My name is Alya. I am the woman who gave birth to you.”
Hearing the name, Rey’s doubts strengthened. She shook her head and whispered: “My mother’s name is Brynn. Isn’t it?”
Rey witnessed the exact moment the woman’s heart broke. “I guess, I deserved that.”
She wanted to ask her what she meant by it. But there was another question fighting to come out, and she asked it instead: “What happened to me?”
Alya, or whoever the woman was, gifted her with a concerned look: “Don’t you remember anything at all?”
Rey closed her eyes again to search for the truth in her own mind. But there was not much to find there. An invisible wall stood between her and her memories.
Slowly and surely the pictures started to fill out.
The first memory, that came, was of her as a chubby little baby she was, held in her mother’s embrace with her father keeping guard above them. It was a part of the picture, one of their neighbours was kind enough to paint for them.
The painting hung over the furnace in Rey’s childhood home for years. Until the memory of her father throwing it to the ground showed up next.
It shattered into pieces just like Rey’s heart.
But why would he do that?
Oh, right. The boy.
The beautiful smile of the boy who made her feel things, she never felt for anyone else before.
She felt so happy, so very full of life every second she got to spend with him.
Her eyebrows formed into an ugly grimace as another wave of memories hit her.
Not those. Anything but those. She thought to herself as she begged for them to stop.
And they did stop. With the kind eyes, mischievous smile, and sharp tongue of her new family.
She didn’t know what her mother read in her eyes when Rey opened them again, but she said: “Welcome back.”
“I could say the same thing about you,” Rey retorted.
“I would come a lot sooner, had someone bothered to tell me.”
Her mother was still clutching her hand, but the touch no longer brought comfort.
Quite the opposite, actually.
She released her grip when she traced where her daughter’s eyes went and put her shaking hand in her lap.
“You didn’t really have to bother to come, you know. It is not like I am dead yet anyway.”
“Rey,” her mother sighed, “Me and your father both made a mistake, but ...”
Rey interrupted her: “No, you didn’t. Plucking a healthy leaf of a flower instead of the dead one is a mistake. Saying hello to someone while thinking it was someone else is a mistake. Separating a young girl from her mate ... it was a choice. A choice you both made. And now I have to live with it.”
“If I could go back, I would change it in a heartbeat,” she confessed her words with so much sincerity behind them that Rey believed her.
But what was she supposed to do with it now?
With the hunted look on her father’s face? With the sincerity behind her mother’s words?
What was Rey to do with them?
It is not like they changed anything.
Was some higher power waiting for her to find enough strength in her heart to forgive them?
Because it would wait for a very long time.