"Am I dead?"
The woman-- My mother continues smiling, shakes her head, takes a 座位 on the couch. Rests those summer-rain irises on me, takes in my shock, confusion, the volume of 问题 written across my expression.
"My God," she breaths, "My little girl's all grown up."
"Mom.. I don't understand," I barely notice the tears slipping down my cheeks. "You died in that fire. 你 and Dad both.." A too-hopeful thought occurs to me and I find myself glancing around the room in 搜索 of the answer to the 问题 I ask next. "Is he here, too?"
I wonder if I imagine the sad shadow drawn from her smile 由 the question. Then again, I must be imagining all of this.
"No. Your father and Daemian have both moved on."
"Why haven't you?"
"Because, Aryess, I wanted to talk to you." My expression must betray the terror I feel. My brain reminding me none of this could possibly exist, my 心 yearning me to get closer to my mother. She pats the cushion beside her, and my 心 wins. I'm sitting beside her before I realize it. Her hand brushes away the stream of loss sliding down my cheeks. The contact of her skin against mine as she brushes away the tears feels so real and I want so much for it to be.
"I know about Declan. I know about Riley. I know 你 were an assassin, that 你 were killed 由 them. Because they wanted me," I turn my head, breaking the contact before it breaks me. "What's there to talk about, Mom?"
"Everything, sweetheart 你 are so young, 你 can't understand all of this yet. And I wouldn't want 你 to."
"Why? I know it's not your fault 你 had to leave, but I need your help!" I'm suddenly frustrated, angry. My life has become a mystery and no matter how hard I 搜索 for clues, all I find is riddles. "Nothing makes sense anymore!" I feel vulnerable, like my mother has cracked my 心 open and thoughts, feelings, pain flows with my blood. "I don't want to keep screwing everything up." I let my head fall, shoulder slump, surrender myself and remember this is what having a mother is like. Someone who could catch 你 as 你 fell and teach 你 how to fly all over again. How did I forget this feeling in a short 8 years?
"I can't fix everything for you," she says in a mournful tone. "I'm so sorry I can't be there for 你 forever. I wish I could go back with you, but I can't do that. But you're strong. And 你 can overcome the difficulties that face you."
I feel like a helpless eight-year-old as I say, "But I can't. It's to much, there's so much. Mom, please. Please come back. Help me."
"I can't do that," she repeats, stroking my hair gently with those warm, too-real fingers. "But there are those who can. Those who 你 can trust. Isn't there someone 你 love, Aryess? Someone 你 want to be with forever?"
An image of dark hair, handsome, well defined features, and steely grey eyes, God, those eyes, flashes through my mind. I feel the heat crawl up my neck and spread across my cheeks. My mother's smile reappears at the blush.
"But what if I'm only putting him in danger?"
"If he's the one for you, you'll be able to keep him safe. You'll protect each other."
I meet her eyes, the crystal-blue eyes belonging to my brothers, my nephew, the mother that I will forever miss. I don't want to let this feeling of being so close to her, of being so secure, safe, to ever fade away. But I can't find my foothold as the world falls out beneath me and the darkness takes over once again.