Chaos in The Silence
Darkness was everywhere. It was so thick, Arsha felt like she was suffocating. No matter where she crawled, she couldn't escape the thick blanket that coated everything like the honey that stuck to her hand when she helped Mother make sandwiches.
Ever since Mommy went outside and found Daddy and Kuruk asleep, it had felt different. At first, nothing happened, Mommy was just sad and wouldn't leave Daddy. But when the sun started setting, I heard whispers. Not normal whispers, but scary ones with scratchy voices and weird words. Then I saw things in the corner of my eye. Blurs, shapes, but when I turned to look at them, they weren't there. And then I started feeling things. I felt cold and lonely, even though I was cuddling with Mommy. And cold winds would blow though me, making my insides feel shivery and sick.
The murkiness was inescapable and depressing. So, so depressing, the kind that seeps into your thoughts and makes them turn bad. It exhausted the brain and muddled it up, making it difficult to think. It brought back an unpleasant memory to her mind...
She was suddenly back in the summer of last year. She could see her four-year-old self playing along the bank of the river. Singing 'Happy Birthday' as she hopped along a group of stones bordering the edge of the waterway. Hey birthday was next week and it couldn't come any slower, so she decided to celebrate it early, by herself.
In the summer, the water levels of the Abonloe rise significantly from the runoff coming down from the tops of the valley's hills, causing the river to become remarkably rapid and more dangerous than usual. Of course, Dason had reminded Arsha of this many times, but it always seemed to slip her mind whenever the big, shiny, perfect-for-hopscotch rocks came into view.
So here she was again, disobeying father for the second time today. Skipping was one of her favorite things to do. She loved going as fast as could, knowing that she could fall at any moment, but trusting her balance enough to know it wouldn't happen.
And she never did fall... usually. Today was one of the exceptions.
Arsha was far away from the house now. She had almost made it to the Sea Brother's stone that lay elevated by two other stones half its size, right above the river. With her eyes fixed on her destination, Arsha didn't see the gap in the rocks until it was too late. With a small yelp, she slipped into the stream and smacked her head on the rocky surface.
Drifting down the stream, bloody and half conscious, Arsha was scared. Being young, she didn't know what death was, but this was as close as she got to understanding it. Surrounded in cold, dark liquid with unknown gurgling noises all around her, she felt alone. She couldn't stop the shivering that consumed her body, preventing her from bringing herself to safety.
She was going to die.
But right as Arsha's eyes started drifting to a close, a silhouette haloed in light, appeared over her. Without time even to process what she saw, Arsha was lifted out of the water and onto a warm bed of grass where she instantly felt better.
But the light shining over her was too bright, and she could not fully open her eyes to identify her rescuer. Is it daddy?
"Daddy?" She asked, clinging to the arm that held her.
She heard a chuckle, "No, no little one. You do not know me by that name."
"Arsha!" A familiar voice in the distance called.
The voice holding her sighed. "I expect that that is your 'Daddy'." It stood her up and patted her head, "Be safe my little one."
Arsha heard a splash, and the blinding light was gone. She looked around, but they were nowhere to be found.
When her father ran up to her, she tried explaining what had happened. But given that she no longer had any cuts or bruises, there was no evidence and father scolded her never to come this far without him again.
All the way back to the house, Arsha's eyes darted back and forth over the whole valley, searching for... what? She realized she didn't even know what to look for. It was a man, she suspected, but how could one really know? All she remembered was the warm, soft touch of their hand against her cheek.
Arsha woke to the feeling of fingers stroking her face.