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what death will leave behind

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It’s quiet now in the house. It was the bickering, the playful jabs, the teasing that she missed. The constant conversation, even if it was nagging him about not finishing some fish on his plate, nothing should go to waste after all.

She missed it. Lilith knew she could be a loud woman; she could fill the quiet with her own voice if she had to. But it wasn’t the same.

She remembered her cries filling the space the quiet had left a few nights after she realised Stahn wasn’t coming back anytime soon, maybe never. She remembered wailing and yelling at herself while grandpa was out the house; if he had any suspicions about her red eyes when he got back, he never raised them with her.

Keeping busy is all she can do. Stahn leaving doesn’t mean her life has to stop. He can walk out and leave but it won’t be the same if he… when he comes back.

 

 

It starts with the small things, she finds herself cooking too much, too accustomed to preparing three plates of food each night.

“You were hungry Lilith?” Grandpa had asked at the sight of the food.

The third plate would have been Stahn’s.

“Yeah! I didn't get to eat lunch today!” she replied quickly.

They both knew she had, but neither of them said anything about it. She could barely finish her own meal let alone the third, growing colder by the minute as it sat untouched next to her.

 

 

Lilith could sleep through anything; bunk beds and a certain brother taught her how quickly. Any person would be overjoyed that their noisy top bunker was gone.

She was so annoyed that she missed his snoring of all things.

 

 

When she opened the door and saw Stahn in their village looking like he’d never left, casually chatting with her neighbours, she wasn’t sure whether to laugh, cry or scream at him. This had to be a dream.

He must have felt her gaze on him, his smiling started to falter as he slowly he made his way towards her.

At least he knew he was in the wrong here on his walk of shame towards her. He gave a nervous smile.

“I’m home Lilith.”

She didn’t say anything, just sighed and moved aside, letting him walk in. She’d save the anger for later.

 

 

A month passed and they fell back into routine. He still slept like a rock and she still woke him up with her frying pan.

 

 

Another month passed and she wondered if this could keep going. He seemed restless and withdrawn. Stahn would do his chores, he’d go out and buy her whatever ingredients she needed. He’d eat dinner with them. But sometimes she’d find him in the kitchen just staring, not really focusing on anything in particular.

Lilith had demanded he tell her about where he’d been and what he’d been doing all this time and he’d talked about the people he’d met, how he’d saved the world. She was proud of him. She really was but…

He obviously wanted to be with them again, away from the monotonous life. Her sending him off to gather some vegetables was delaying the inevitable.

 

 

The last month passed. When she let a green haired girl into their home, she knew this was it.

Lilith didn’t hide the fact that she wanted him to stay; she never made it a secret to Stahn either about how much she’d hurt her when he’d just up and ran without a word. Apparently, he’d tried to write letters home to them, to reassure them he was okay, but they never were sent. She was just left with constant worry and no knowledge of where he even was, let alone if he was alive.

Last time she hadn’t seen it coming. This time she couldn’t stop it.

“Lilith, please try to understand,” Stahn said softly.

No… she understood. This was for the sake of the world. But why did it have to be him. Why her brother? Out of all the people, why was it her idiot, oversleeping, soft hearted brother of all people?

She let him go though, there’s no way she could stop him.

 

 

Stahn came back though. Lilith was sure it was the end of the world. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe in Stahn and his group but when the earth and land around her was being destroyed and the world turning dark, she thought it was over.

But her brother came back. He saved the world for the second time and the first thing he did upon returning was collapse in bed. On her bunk.

She’d save the lecture til after he woke up; ‘Heroes need their rest,’ she thought, smiling down at the mess of blonde on her pillow. Her brother was back.

 

 

She lived alone now. But it wasn’t silent and cold like before, her brother had left this time to travel with Rutee. Lilith approved, they seemed to be a good match for each other and were now settled down together. They ran an orphanage, had a child of their own, Kyle they’d named him.

Now and then when she visited the nearby cities, she’d see something that reminded her of her brother. Or something that Rutee might be able to put to use in the kitchen. Or a toy that Kyle might love.

This time she’d seen some hair ties. Stahn put had his hair up in a ponytail the last time she’d seen him.

The small tiny fluffy sheep face attached to the hair tie was perfect. Lilith had been meaning to write a letter as well, this was the perfect excuse.

 

 

Stahn has been killed.

Those four words didn’t feel real. Not her brother. Why her brother?

She set down the letter on the table and just stared at it. 

Lilith didn’t cry the whole day. Nothing was amiss from the usual, she cooked, she cleaned. No emotions ever crossed her face though. She was going through the motions.

And when she went to bed that night, staring up at the empty bunk above her, she broke. The silence was suffocating. Her lungs felt clogged up as tears and sobs wracked her body, hands coming up to try to stifle the cries even though nobody would be hearing them.

The only witness to the scene was the package left on her bed side table which would never be sent.