By Scarlett Mosher, TIWP Student
Saffi wiped the blood from the corner of her mouth. The mixture of metal and dust lay in a thin layer across her tongue, sucking the water from her mouth. Everything felt dry. Even her ripped, blood-soaked legs felt like bones dried by desert winds. She wasn’t sure if it was a good sign, but at least the pain had become muddled and unnoticeable.
She heard him yelling from across the plain. His words were muted, but the anger and spite was not lost to the moon’s winds. Saffi wondered if he was looking at the same Earth she was. It would surely fuel the boy’s spite, knowing he could never return home.
I have time, she thought, taking a slow, shallow breath. Matt can hold his own.
Never in her lazy summers had she dreamed of violence or war on this scale. When she and Matt pretend to be superheroes, defenders of whatever planets they could name, they always fought invisible space monsters. Victory was never optional, and that only fueled their courage. Knowing they could win, knowing that no evil was too great for them to vanquish. That’s how they entered this battle, with an unwavering sense of security. It was a security rooted in memories and mottos they repeated to themselves and each other for as long as both could remember. Even the Judge, in her eternal might and knowledge, had only fueled their lie.
Saffi never imagined being thrown across the moon. She never imagined being separated from her cousin, her brother. She never imagined it would go any other way than she expected. But it did, and now she had to figure out how to get back to the reality she created.
She didn’t particularly like this reality anyway.
The voices were growing closer. Two of them now, but one was louder. And stronger. Saffi wanted to stand up, brush the moon dust off her back, and face the stars she’d sworn to protect. The same stars that were slowly disappearing, dying before her eyes.
And if she let him win, her star would be next.
But something held her down. It couldn’t be gravity; there wasn’t much of that on the moon. No, it was something else. Something stronger than gravity. Her own guilt, weight of everything she’d done. Every choice had lead to this unexpected, terrifying reality. This reality, the reality she created. Maybe it was selfish to heap this onto myself. Her hands started shaking. This blame, for everything. To take credit for it. Maybe its not completely my fault.
And yet at the same time, everything was. She blamed herself for setting this in motion. Like a toddler, she knocked over the carefully placed dominoes, sending them scattering across the galaxy. So, they created planets, and worlds, and the life that lived there. Just as quickly as they came, they left, destroyed all by her hand.
“God…” She whispered. Except she didn’t feel like a god. She felt like chaos, an unstoppable force with a heavy, moral conscience. She had set herself apart, and ruined a society. She had tried to be different, and in doing so created a monster. Regret gripped her chest. It had always been there, but never held on tight enough for her to notice.
This is the worst kind of love story.
She didn’t know it at the time, but Saffi was inches away from a rushing river crowded with jagged rocks. She hadn’t stepped over yet, but the first time she saw Angel, she surrendered to gravity and tumbled into the rushing waters.
Ooh, somebody has a cruhh-uhhhsh. Matt had teased, ruffling Saffi’s hair. But it didn’t feel like a crush. A crush was like a mild summer day. It was laying on your deck under the warm sun, feeling the rays push against your skin as you sip lemonade. But this, to Saffi, was completely different. A snowstorm raged around her, suffocating her with its white hands. She had lost all control and was slowly being buried in a snowbank. And yet, through all the cold, there was an indescribable warmth, a spark that kept her heart beating ever so slightly.
And that was just from the first look.
The more she got to know Angel, the more her heart beat, and the snow around her began to melt. Eventually, she could feel the grass under her feet again.
Hey, you want one? Angel held out a soda, cap opened and half-drunk. Saffi took it, and laughed.
I don’t want your cooties on this.
You’re an actual child. Angel wrapped her arm around Saffi. A hilarious child.
Of course, the worry of cooties passed. Because a week later, behind the dorm buildings, the two shared a quick, awkward kiss. At least, for Saffi. She had no idea what idea what she was doing. Angel, a self-described expert, thought this was hilarious.
Spring had finally come, and the snow around Saffi had melted and fed the grass. It reached her knees, and it seemed like it would never stop growing. As long as Angel didn’t stop holding her hand, kissing her, and holding her, it would grow past her head.
But for a while, it stayed the same. Both were too afraid, even the fearless Angel, to admit it to the rest of the students. They both knew that, at any moment, Saffi could be whisked away—called in to duty as a Sentry—and there was a part of both of them that didn’t want to share that sadness with others. And so they wallowed in love and fear and the grass didn’t grow and the sun above Saffi had stopped moving. Everything was stagnant, everything was quiet.