... who you are …
Ran stirred. Her brows were locked tightly. Her eyelashes fluttered.
“Awake?” a deep voice asked.
“... Mufasa …?” Ran was confused, she slowly opened her eyes.
“Hahaha,” the voice laughed.
Ran tilted her head and saw the laughing Rikku standing by her side, “What was that?”
“Lion King,” he replied as a matter-of-fact.
Ran narrowed her eyes.
“Thought it might help your sub-conscious. Worked for Simba,” Rikku said clearly amused.
Ran harrumphed. She looked around, “Where are we?”
“Same place. The horses died,” Rikku replied as he sat near her.
“You burned yourself to death and back. The bear too. When you collapsed, he was still twitching on the ground. I managed to crush the core on its forehead and it finally died.”
They didn’t talk for a long time. Ran was lying on a quilt under a tree. It was already morning. She was staring at the dance of sunlight through the foliage. The breeze had cleared out some fumes of blood and fire.
“Aren’t you going to lecture me? About risking my life and all?” she asked.
Rikku laid down by her side, watching the moving leaves, “I had a very long imaginary discussion in my head about it. It was really dramatic and moving.”
Ran chuckled, “Really?”
“Yep. It was a long speech about how I understood you. How I get it, you’re sad, you have issues and you don’t know what to do anymore. I told you how suicide wasn't the solution. I said how selfish you were to want to die alone in front of us. You were self-centred to only think of your pain and not care about the one you leave behind - who is me, of course. I told you not to give up, that things would get better, that you just needed time. You could leave your old life and scars behind. This was a brand new world, you could start over and move on. You cried. I told you how I would stay by your side, that you could be who you wanted here, that nobody would judge you. I dared you to move and lift yourself up. I dared you not to give up on yourself. Not to give up on the world. I said there was still hope, where there’s life, there’s a way. You cried, even more, told me how grateful you were, I was your saviour. My eyes were wet. It was moving and then, we left in the sunset. It was touching, really.”
“I can imagine,” Ran stayed silent for a minute, “What made you change your mind?”
“Too much bullshit, you wouldn’t buy it.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Because I don’t buy that. Things will be better,” he harrumphed, “Who cares about the future? We want to get better now. We want to change now, to sever everything. We want it all like normal people, right now, without making much effort. We don’t want to work on our issues little by little. We want - no, we need a miracle cure that works on the spot, don’t we?”
“You are struggling. You know it, I know it, everybody sees it. You don’t know what to do with yourself. You’re tired, you’re annoyed, you’re angry at yourself. Angry about who you are, who you couldn’t be, who you should have been,” he paused, “Who you expected yourself to be.”
“You’re angry because you want to change. You’re even angrier at the fact that you are changing. The truth is … you don’t want to change.”
“... If I were to move on, if I were to leave the past behind, I feel like I would let them down. As if I haven’t suffered enough to make up for what I did.”
“Really? Isn’t it because it’s just too comfortable here? Being at the bottom. It’s dark, it’s neither cold or warm. There’s no one to hurt you or betray you. You don’t expect anything of anybody, even less of yourself, and you’re away from everybody. There are no ups and downs, just constant sadness and nothingness. If you don’t feel, if you’re dead inside, you don’t have to deal with complex emotions. You don’t have to think. You’re just floating, neither here or there.”
“It’s scary to change. You have to put yourself out there. You have to think about yourself. Worse, you have to learn to live with yourself and maybe, even love yourself. And that’s terrifying. You have to learn back simple things, how to be genuine, how to look forward to stuff, how to deal with disappointment. You have to take the risk of being alive, feeling alive, and there’s nothing nastier. Life’s a bitch and nobody wants to deal with feelings and emotions. When you think about it, it’s easier to stay at the bottom. At least, it’s comfortable and you’re used to it. You have your little nest made of sad memories and tears; self-blame and self-loathing. You know where it hurts, so once in a while, to indulge yourself, you poke at a sore spot until it bleeds to make sure you can still feel something.”
“It’s not touching at all,” she sniffled.
“No, it’s not. The truth rarely is. I’m not preaching. I’m not prying. I know how enticing those intrusive thoughts are sometimes. They are like sirens dazzling your broken soul. I know. Been there, done that. I also know you hesitated just a second. Just a second. You fell, sure, yet you didn’t give up. Give yourself some credits. You’re still fighting. You’re still trying. You haven’t given up yet. People don’t change in a day, we all need time. I don’t ask you to forget. You won’t and I’m pretty sure, you can’t. You want to punish yourself, but isn’t the one who needs punishment already dead? The one you were back on Earth or wherever you were, is already dead and gone. That’s the point of atoning? I mean, at the end of the day, Ran is Ran and Ran is here, right now. Who cares about who you used to be before? Gives Ran a chance. Who knows what kind of girl she is?”
She sniffled, tears were flooding her face, “If we were in an anime, it would be the cue for the string of filler episodes full of flashbacks and sad music,” she chuckled while wiping her tears.
Rikku chuckled as well. They laid there, immobile, watching the blue sky peeking through the leaves. The breeze was cooling and the forest calm. They dozed out slowly.
Sounds of footsteps were making their way towards the two.
“Still alive?” Parvian asked.
Ran stirred and sat, “Still alive.”
Parvian sighed in relief, “Let’s have lunch.”
Ran nodded, “I’m going to take a bath first,” she pulled a bathtub out of her storage and starting to fill it with water.
Rikku stood up and watched her for a minute, “Where did you get all that water?”
“I emptied like a fifth of the pond back in the castle in Linestone.”
Rikku blanked out for an instant, “Why didn’t you just drown the beasts instead of fighting them?”
Ran stared at him with eyes the size of saucers. Her jaw dropped, she was speechless.
Rikku shrugged, turned around and left, “Just saying.”
Parvian blinked before laughing out loud, “Alright. You’ll do that next time!”