You were my constant star in the overwhelming dark, when I was fearful, all alone, with the skies too large and the world too heavily set upon my shoulders.
But where did you go?
Didn’t we say we would be forever? You said that even if I let you go, you would still come back to me.
Where did you go then? When will you return?
I’m still waiting here, at the same place we first kissed under the light of the Moon and blanket of stars, amongst the blooms of spring and flowers; I’m still sitting here on my knees, praying that you will come back to me; I’m still asking the Moon to guide you home to me.
Why won’t you hear me?
I walk along the bed of flowers, inhaling a scent that brought you to the forefront of my mind, and my wistful longing almost convinced me that you were right beside me. I listen to the water flowing gracefully, absorbing every patter of the gentle waterfall into my heart to calm the quakes that ricochet inside. Thirteen days have passed since you left, and I’ve accompanied your mom every day with Marlene, nursing strength into my body little by little, but I won’t think twice to bolt to you and throw my arms around you once I see even the edge of your ribbon over those steps.
I miss you so much it hurts, but I push those feelings away with a deep inhale to start my morning routine. I control my breathing as I move my body to a slow hum, letting the water guide my movements: fluid, precise, controlled, calm, I do all I can to feel like I’m still living in the present. After days of being bedridden, this was an exercise that helped sooth both my body and mind. Your mom told me that it was something you would do at times besides praying, so I do the latter too, hoping that my daily prayers and wishes to the Planet will bring you safely home. I should have followed you, never mind the injuries that weren’t even severe.
You knew I would follow you to the ends of the earth even on my hands and knees and broken toes, so you told me to stay, tucking me into your bed under covers that enveloped me with your scent. You smiled at me, bright, gleaming emerald gems of eyes illuminated with tears that were probably because you had to go on without me, and you kissed me on tenderly on the forehead, your hands lingering on mine. You never left my side until you had to leave, and even then, your goodbye was lengthy, and I watched you go, my gaze never leaving you until the tip of your red ribbon disappeared. And ever since then, I’ve learnt many things.
I learnt that saying goodbye was a part of life, that everyone eventually says goodbye that it wasn’t supposed to be this sad. But with you, I learnt that it was not just a regular goodbye, for I trembled at the thought of having to wait to see you, because deep down, I knew that I was afraid: afraid I would never get to see you again, and maybe it’s a lasting effect from all those years of losing people that I love and losing my one and only remaining home and comfort of Seventh Heaven.
It is this fear that keeps me at the front of the house, at the bridge, facing the hills as I went through my daily exercises, just so I could be the first to see you return. Every day, it was the same old cool wind that came to greet me, but today, it came with a gust of something approaching, a feeling that brought a chill down my spine and my throat to dry. I leap to my feet as my eyes widened, the anticipation ripping through my chest as I throw my hand towards the sky with glimpses of the party that was returning home.
I wanted to run down the bridge, but my exclamations of joy must have drawn your mom’s attention, for when I turned, Elmyra was standing beside me, watching with a soft smile on her face that brought crinkles to the sides of her eyes as crow’s feet, Marlene jumping excitedly. We waited, reining in our impatience, bodies shaking with excitement. Today was the 14th day since you had all left, and I couldn’t wait anymore. When the party – Barret at the front – came into view, I run to meet it halfway, eyes actively searching for that pair of green eyes that I had missed. But all that greeted me was the weary eyes of Barret who shifted his gaze, Red hanging his head low, and Cloud.
Cloud's eyes were distant, unfocused, empty, filled with a concealed emotion that I couldn't fully understand.
"Cloud? Where is Aerith?" I ask, hope filling my voice even as my smile slipped, Marlene coming up beside me, the little girl walking up to her father and reaching for his hand. At Elmyra's approach, everyone in the party stiffened and the air thickened. For moments, the only sound that penetrated through the silence was the continuous flow of water, but I kept my gaze on Cloud, silently willing him to answer, and every second that passed only heightened my anxieties. My bright expression had fallen, and my heartbeat slowed as I stood there stiffly, waiting in the stillness that started to suffocate me.
Cloud finally looks up, his face paler despite the dark circles under his eyes and forlorn, and even before he spoke, I knew what he was going to say.
"Aerith is -"
Before he could finish his sentence, my heart went cold and I collapsed.