It’s been days now. She’s just sat there. Watching me. Waiting. She is used to me though. I can move, sleep, wake, shuffle, piss… she’s okay with me being here. She’s sleeping now. She sleeps a lot. Screams often. Cries always. The abuse and grief blanket her body like a veil of death. I managed to get close, bidding my time. She’s dreaming again. She’s kicking. I brace for the whimpers. Those dreams are the worse. Sure enough.
I’m up. I can’t stand it anymore. I crawl to her and, as she sleeps, I take her up into my arms. I expect her to wake and run. Despite her edginess, she doesn’t need much provoking. As I pull her into my arms, she nearly falls into me.
“Hush now, Angel.” I wipe back her hair and just like that, she sighs into me and relaxes.
“I’m here,” I mutter. “You’re safe now.”
I rock her and hum a little something I wrote centuries ago.
As I sing, a tear falls and I wipe it away.
“Hush, mo-craid,” I mutter. “You’re safe now.”
It’s all I can say. “You’re safe now.”
She clutches my chest, and I feel her calm. For the first time in her life, I sense a peace finally settle. And just like that, I understand my purpose… and why Elizabeth every needed me.
* * *
“Raven.” I stopped him before he could answer. I didn’t want to know if he had read Broken. Somehow, just like that, it didn’t matter.
“It’s been a year since…” I couldn’t finish the thought. Not that the memory hurt, but that it didn’t hurt.
“How are you, lass?” he asked.
How am I indeed. I thought of everything recently. I could walk into the store and talk to people. I could talk to men and not fear them. The fear was gone. When did that happen? I could make love to my husband in peace. No more tears. No more fear. “No fear.”
I knew Raven heard me, but he waited. I gardened, and made love to my husband. I thought so little of Raven any more. For the first time in my life, I knew that everything was going to be okay… and it was.
“I am well,” I said, smiling.
“And who are you?” he asked.
Isn’t that what started this all? Who am I?
“I am.” I sighed. Peace rose up in me, and all at once everything was clear. “I am mother, sister, wife. I am creator, artist, dancer. I am lover of life. Bird watcher.”
I was reminded of Bilbo talking to his dragon and I grinned and rose my voice no longer afraid.
“I am singer, composer, gardener, tree loving, rain dancing, bare-footed singing nature lover.”
I was hardly done.
“I am me!” I shouted.
“Strong! Persistent! She who endures! She who smiles in the rain and dries my tears in the sun! I am dreamer. Lover. I am me!”
The louder I spoke, the less I needed him. I needed this. I knew me.
“I am Irish lover. History lover. Cat lover.
“I am strength! Perseverance! I am Endurance! I hear music in the wind and song in the rain. I see story all around me and I love it! I want more of it! I am this and so much more! I am made up of the parts that love! And I am what I love! I am me! And I know where I am! I know who I am! I know… I know where I belong.
I looked at Raven. He was fading. He was all but a shadow now… taking the shape of a raven.
“I am me,” I said. “And I know… I know now where I belong.”
Erik. My Isaac. Angel is silent. Bergen is with her. Raven. If there was one thing left to say…
“Please get help,” I called into the darkness. But all that was there was my echo and the caw of a raven as it flapped its wings and was gone.
And just like that, I realized… I wasn’t alone anymore.