This is what they didn’t tell Icarus:
You are allowed to swallow the sun.
Mother, I know you’re scared of the burning in my belly and some days I am too;
there are mornings I spit out ashes in the back of the alley and pray for broken wings.
I’d rather feel embers glowing in my chest than the heavy dark that claims so many hearts:
I was not born into a grave.
Mother, sometimes that ocean seems closer than the sky and I almost forget which I’m reaching for.
I’d rather die with two eyes open and two hands searching, always searching,
than live with both feet on the ground.
Thanks to everyone who sent me messages and were so encouraging as I’ve struggled to continue my stories. The ideas are there but the time and emotional presence I need have eluded me as of late. Here’s the next chapter of Embers. Thanks to @takemeawaytocamelot for being beta for this story. Special thanks to @outlandishchridhe for double checking this piece for medical accuracy.
A full compilation of my works can be found on my home page!
Claire could hear breathing echoing loudly inside her head. Labored, but there, along with the pulse of a quick but steady heartbeat. She followed the blood from her heart through her veins, vaguely surprised at the feeling of occupation as she made her way through the familiar inner workings of her body.
“Adso!” Claire cried, barely getting the word out before choking on a cough.
The air was so thick with smoke she could barely see. Alarms were sounding off around her. She could feel the heat of the fire lurking behind the walls. Sweat dripped down her face and stung her eyes as she crept from room to room.
“Adso! Damn you, cat! Adso!”
He’d been sleeping on the bed when she’d fallen into it this morning, fresh from an overnight shift at the hospital. The fire alarms had jolted Claire awake, bursting through the music playing in her earbuds like a hot knife through butter. Her cat was nowhere to be found.
“Fuck!” she screamed hoarsely, slamming her fist into the wall.
Claire yelped, pulling her hand away from the searing hot surface, hearing the roar of flames coming from her neighbor’s apartment. There was no help for it, she needed to get out. Choking back a sob, she tucked her face into the collar of her shirt, feeling her way to the front door of her apartment.
Eyes streaming from the heat and smoke, Claire stumbled into the hallway, leaving the door open in case Adso decided his hide was worth saving and ran for it. Moving as fast as she could at a crouch, she almost reached the closest stairwell when she heard the crack of burning wood and jumped back in time to see the ceiling cave in a blaze of flame and ash. Coughing so hard she almost wretched, Claire turned and ran the other way.
“Adso!” she cried, seeing his gray, ghostlike shape dart from her open door and down the hallway toward safety, bristled tail held high in self righteous fury.
Claire felt like she was underwater. Breathing was getting harder with each pace, her body moving in slow motion as the world was spinning. She stumbled, got up, fell again. She vaguely wondered if she should be panicking when hands suddenly grasped her and tugged her to her feet.
When did I fall on the floor? she thought muzzily, between racking coughs and gasps.
“Come on, lass. Hold on to me. Quickly!” an urgent voice said in her ear as its owner started moving toward the stairwell.
He was tall. So much so, he had to stoop to wrap her arm around his neck and tuck his own around her waist to help her keep up with his long strides. Claire could feel her body shutting down; the heat radiated around them, pulsing waves that took away what breath she had left. She gripped his t-shirt, clinging to what senses she could still control.
“No’ much farther,” the stranger panted, kicking the stairwell door open and towing her down with him.
Another loud crack.
“Look out!” Claire cried, pulling him forcefully away from the falling debris.
Thrown off balance, he crushed her against the wall as they both fell into it. Claire felt the back of her head slam into the cement block and her knees gave out completely. The world was a spinning, choking mass of stars and roaring noise. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t breathe. All she could hear was the crackle of Death coming closer, bathed in red and blue light as it claimed its dues.