She missed the plains. Or rather, she missed the night sky above them, especially the late summer nights, when she felt exposed to the universe.
She'd lie on her back, knowing if the Earth ever stopped turning she'd be flung off it, propelled into those endless stars. The thought scared her, made her clench the wet grass in her fists, nails scraping against the rich dirt. But it was also romantic in a way, becoming one with the sky. It was poetry. His poetry.
She'd breathe in the sunflowers, waving in the wind, framing an edge of the sky like a windowsill. He stood nearby, smiling at her, leaning against the fence, relaxed, his curls bobbing in the breeze, chewing on a long stalk of golden wheat. He smirked at her. She had never told him.
Nor could she again. She opened her eyes. Bit by bit she sat up from the creaking dorm bed, leaning against the hospital green colored walls, painted over a dozen times at least. It smelled so chemical-like and chilled her through her worn cotton shirt. She looked out the window, open just enough to allow a breeze, but never far enough for her to slip out it, even if the barrier wasn't there. So many lights were burning at night. She couldn't sleep even though she was exhausted.
"I need to get away," she said, but knew that was more of a dream than the plains themselves. So far from home.
The words echoed in the bare space, carrying the weight of her emotions. She wanted to leave yes, but could she leave? Perhaps not could, but would, she amended. Would she try to escape? She pressed her fingers against the barriers, watching the ripples of magic flow along the walls, moving along all sides of the room until they lost momentum and faded. She pulled back, her head aching. How had they built such a room? They didn't have magic here.
She pressed her palms against her eyelids, so caught up in her nightly woes that she almost missed the envelope that sailed under the door, skidding along the cold tiles, a light scratching noise. She looked down to her side and stared hard at the envelope, for a moment disbelieving in its mere existence. But the red seal upon it, pressed in real beeswax, she could smell it, it was fresh and smelled like the hives of the plains. She could not ignore that.
Scooping it up she felt the material, paper linen, flipping it, rubbing a finger over the calligraphied ink, smudging her name, which though familiar, felt so foreign as of late.
Was she going crazy? Had she imagined this small token? Dragging the edge along her finger, she winced, seeing a drop of blood form. No dream. She sucked on it lightly, looking at the envelope.
She hesitated, wondering if this wasn't some kind of trick. Was it laced with poison? Perhaps a paper-thin needle to prick her finger on? Wouldn't a swift death be better than being trapped here, she argued, shoving down the paranoia threatening to deafen her with its banshee warnings. Ripping the edge off, she squeezed it open, letting the contents flutter onto her duvet.
The paper smelled of lavender. She held it up to her nose, breathing deeply. If it was a poison, let her at least die smelling a scent so dear to her heart. A wind blew through, lifting her hair and it was like she was back in the plains again, leaning over the wild lavender, his hand squeezing hers, quiet words passing between them.
She opened her eyes and peered at the blank paper. It was a trick. A cruel one. She thrust it against the window, wanting to break it with her fist, but like everything here, it was reinforced, beyond her powers to shatter it. Her fist glowed briefly against the barrier, but the color drained and she shuddered. She felt numb in its coldness. Tears fell from her eyes as she looked up at the paper, ready to rip it to shreds.
Words fading into view.
She spread her hands to the edges, holding it up against the glass at the moonlight. There were words there, glowing softly, written lovingly by hand. Her eyes fell to the last word, a name she knew so well. Prospero. She had spoiled herself and smiled. It did not matter what the rest of it said, so long as his name was among the words.
If you're reading this, I've
finally broken through the
compound's barrier. Coming
to get you tonight. Polished
your daggers. Sorry it took
me so long.
A loon's call echoed across the darkened campus. She pressed herself against the window, peering down into the courtyard. He stood there in perfect stance with a black shaft loaded into his obsidian bow. A smirk as he released the arrow, her heart flying with it as it exploded into the barrier, rippling violently, knocking her back as a shower of glass crystal rained everywhere, her hands shielding her face from the debris.
When she looked up he was crouched on the sill, a hand extended, offering the ivory handles of her twin blades. Her hands closed over them, relishing the familiar weight, the comfort from gripping them, the energy flowing through them, marks glowing along the blades. She could feel the locks holding down her magic releasing now that the barrier was gone.
"You missed a spot," she teased, the first time she's smiled in weeks, setting the daggers lovingly on the sheets beside her. His face was serious.
"I missed you."
She drew him into her arms as he knelt before her. His bow fell beside her blades. She pressed her face against his neck, smelling the scent of the plains, smelling him, a mix of sweat and leather.
"Forgive me," she said, "I failed."
"You only fail when you give up hope," he said. She could feel his breath flowing through her hair like a warm summer breeze.
A siren sounded behind them, men running across the grounds, swarming like bees to a broken hive. He pulled her to her feet, both of them retrieving their weapons.
"There's so many."
"We're together now, aren't we?"
She smiled. She could feel the plains' magic in the hand touching hers. It increased, the bubble surrounding them, lifting them off the ground. All the magical energy that had been repressed in her exploded in a rush, a bursting hydrant of power that she could not stop and didn't dare try. He grinned.
They leapt down from her prison, the wind cooling the burning heat at her forehead, their feet brushing only lightly against the ground. They sped through the guards, repeling them with sweeping movements of her daggers and shots from his bow, their combined magic arcing off the bubble's edge like lightning. She could see the break in the barrier ahead, glowing a swirling blue. They blocked it, five men deep. They put away their weapons.
Joining hands, they thrust their opposite hands forward, fingers splayed. The men went flying in all directions as they crossed through the portal. They tumbled endlessly, losing contact.
She landed hard on the ground, face down in tall grasses, barely missing ramming her skull into a tree. For a frightening moment she couldn't find him beside her, but she heard him say "Up here!" and looked up into the tree. There he was, hanging from a branch by his ankle. He was laughing.
"Welcome home," he said, his eyes so bright and happy.
In those eyes, she was already home.
Thanks for reading!
If you loved it, hated it, or somewhere in-between please let me know. I'm always open for improvement. If you like this one, why not read some of my other #FridayFlash entries?
I write new flash fiction every Friday. On Tuesdays I update one of my #TuesdaySerials: Last One Standing Tall and Eleven & Counting.