an orbit is an anchor - amethystendless (2024)

Once upon a time there was a star.

Like all other stars, it followed its path in the ever-swirling-ever-spiralling-ever-moving-never-changing dance of the heavens. It moved past its siblings, greeting and parting and catching up on lost time and bidding farewell. Stars are always moving towards or away. They can never be still with each other. To be near each other, in stacicity, is to be drawn together in an inexorable death spiral of mutual orbital decay.

The star was happy in the dance. It had always existed in paradise, it had never known anything other than bliss.The star was bored out of its celestial mind. It was dimly aware, somewhere in the edges of its corona, that there was existence other than the one it knew. That not all things were beautiful and eternal and shining. That there were worlds of the temporary, of tempestuous clay and blood.

Once upon a time a star looked away from its orbit and slipped, fell, crashed, died, drew breath.

Once upon a time a girl ran away from the people who raised her in search of truth and adventure.

The feeling that something is wrong starts to flicker and burn inside Lyra’s heart before the spell is even complete. Her form is still halfway between the world of the material and the world of their goal, the spell dissipating her and pulling all the infinitesimal pieces of her somewhere new. As the pure, sweet notes of the invocation fade away in her ears, unfamiliar sensations begin to creep into the edge of her awareness.

The first feeling she understands is that her eyelids itch. She closes them as she instinctively raises her hands to scratch them. It doesn’t work. Her eyelids don’t block out the glorious light that permeates this place. Her hands freeze halfway to her face, and even they don’t fully cover her view of any of the blazing points of sublime fire that speckle the space around her as far as she can see. She opens her eyes. The edges of her hands are starting to fade away, blending in with her surroundings. She opens her eyes again. She opens her eyes again. She can see the shapes of her companions through her palms. She can see her little found family looking at her in fear and horror, can see them in a way she’s never seen them before. She opens her eyes again. How many eyes does she normally have? She can’t remember.

She can’t sleep anymore, not since her family helped pull her away from that place. She shines too brightly. The stars that trace constellations across her face and shoulders keep her awake. It’s not just the light, although she misses the comforting embrace of the dark under the weight of the blankets. It’s why the light is growing brighter. The stars keep twinkling into existence, more of them every time she tries to count them. She keeps counting them, hoping that maybe this time there won’t be less of her.

Is it less, she wonders? Or is it more? This burning light inside her that she’s trying so hard to keep in, is it her? It doesn’t feel like Lyra. Lyra is a child with a family. A strange child, but still a child Lyra keeps them safe, and they take care of her. Because she’s so young, barely an adolescent, she can’t take care of herself all on her own. She has pale hair and pale eyes, she’s 4 foot 6 and left handed, and as far as the people who raised her could figure she’s 12 years old. Lyra is who she is, who she’s always been!

She knows that’s not true, not entirely. She can remember now.

It comes in flashes. She remembers being larger than anything in the world, older by far than any world. She remembers… calm. Peace, by way of stagnation. Lights around her, large and distant. Family? A dance that span for uncountable ages without deviation.

It makes her head hurt to remember. It doesn’t feel like the kind of memory a person is supposed to have. The kind of memory Lyra is supposed to have. But she can’t remember who is supposed to have those memories. Not one of the flashes has any identity. No names, no feelings to ascribe to them, no opinions of their own. They don’t feel like a person.

She’s terrified to lose herself to that again. There's no monster or villain that could come close to that fear. Dissolving, the boundaries of her fading away and mingling with the world around her, it felt like a fate worse than dying. At least if she died she would have remained herself. When she was younger, someone told her that when people die, their souls live with whatever god liked them best. Oh gods, does she have a soul? Do whatever-it-is-that-she-is have souls? What will happen to her when she dies? Thinking about not being a person sets her spiralling into a panic attack. Scrambling out of her pile of blankets, she bolts upright.

Frantically scrambling out of her pile of blankets, she bolts upright. She’s hyperventilating. Her robes are stuck to her back with sweat and her hair is plastered to her forehead. Her heart is pounding so loudly it’s a wonder it’s not waking her sleeping companions. It’s almost comforting, in a way. It’s an awful experience, but all of the horrible feelings are still feelings. They remind her that she’s here, she still has a body She’s still 4 foot 6 She’s not. She’s grown. But she still has pale hair and ink smudges on her left hand. Yes, okay, keep focusing on that. She’s here. She’s not floating up into space. She can feel the ground underneath her, the night breeze on her skin. She still has skin, even if it does feel sometimes like she might catch on a thorn and tear open in a blaze of light. She hugs herself tight enough to bruise her delicate arms. Bruising was fine. Bruising wasn’t going to tear her open. Focus on the pressure. Focus on breathing. She still needs to breathe. In, and out, counting slowly.

The glow coming from her glimmers, slowly fading and brightening. She looks around at the sleeping forms around the embers of the campfire. Everyone's exhausted. They almost didn't make it out yesterday. She couldn't heal everything, and she can make out the silhouettes of a few bandages and a split under sleeping bags. That panic that was just beginning to fade flares up again as she realizes how bright she is. Worrying that she’s going to wake up her family, she throws a blanket over herself. It's stifling compared to the cool air. Her breath is still hot and fast, and the blanket reflects it back onto her face. It's so much harder to keep herself calm like this. But she has to, for their sake. She can't be the reason everything falls apart now.

Breathe in. Breath out. Don't get so emotional. Heightened emotions make the light shine brighter. Stop being afraid, stop being angry, stop being excited. Stay calm and keep it dim and maybe the fragile shell she's lived in for twelve years will get to spend a little more time in this place she loves enough to… enough to what? What did she do, out of love and curiosity? Her head starts to hurt.

Lyra is scared, in pain, and feeling more than a little foolish for sitting on the ground with a blanket over her head. She doesn't know what to do, doesn't know if there's anything that can be done. So she does the only thing she can right now. She gives in to the urges of her body, and bursts into very quiet tears.

an orbit is an anchor - amethystendless (2024)
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