It was at first her fierceness which pierced the night sky, striking my being with a fear which impacted my very soul. It was a mixture of fire and calm, a presence which overshadowed my existence with merely a thought. Her figure was hardly visible, only her imperfect complexion unravelling as the side of her face flickered in the haze of torchlight which separated her sight from mine. Although barely visible, a definite orange glow masked her frame, scorched by the raging fire beside her. But still, she was still; a silhouette barely visible through the soft light. I dropped the torch.
In the distance, I heard the faint sound of waves echo through the air. It was not a peaceful sound, but a thundering one; pillars of water lunging face first into the sheer rock face protecting the people who lived there. It was ever so quiet, yet the noise seemed to surround me. I felt unsafe, unsure and unprotected. I was open to the world’s wrath, and I didn’t feel that it was willing to hold back. It was terrifying, but it was as I had always imagined, how it had always been. The air, the flames, the cold; the light.
In front of me I saw the scene of sadness, and yet in a strange sense, all I saw was beauty.
Fiery particles floated weightlessly from the roar of flames, dancing into the night with an elegance unmatched by any human attempt. Charming whispers of air fueled the fire, pulsing the flames and lighting up her features once more. It was a calm, soft glow which grew and shrank as the seconds went by. The moments seemed so insignificant, but I knew how significant they became to her. Dirty brown hair stricken with white became visible in the haze, her hand grasping to take control of its unpredictable nature. I looked up, past her hand.
I found myself confused.
The network of wrinkles on the side of her face became evident through the haze. She seemed so young, however they showed her to be so aged. She had suffered through the hardships of life, and it showed. Gently, I saw her roll a hair-tie down her hand, struggling to grip onto the strands fighting to escape its grasp. It was long enough to tie back, but just. I don’t think it was necessarily her choice.
She was alone; standing barefoot in the sand. Letting herself sink slightly into the beach. As I looked at her, her age began to show. Her silhouette appeared to have changed, her slightly curled back reflecting the years of wear. The gust had disappeared, and once again we were in darkness, accompanied only by the crackle and warmth of the fire between us.
Without warning, she spoke.
“Are you here too?,” she asked, a touch of sadness hanging steadily in her words. Her voice was old and weary, yet wise. She knew her plan, but seemed lost along the path. She turned, facing me for the first time since my arrival with a face I can never forget. It was a face of legends, a face in which every crevice screamed its own story. It was her eyes which distracted me the most, icy flames dancing faintly within each. They seemed to circle in a rhythm matching that of her steady heartbeat. Snap. The words came to me without even a thought. “I am.”
The corners of her mouth curled ever so slightly upwards, breaking her face into a fierce warmth, her smile bringing a comforting expression that reminded me of the days back home, the fire ablaze with the winter winds crashing against the glass ceiling above. She was at home in a world crafted purely in her mind, a world in which she belonged, where she had a voice, where she felt needed.
She was finally home, and so was I.