She walked by the seaside. The air was humid and salty; she could taste the salt on her cracked lips. The day was close to its glorious end; the last show of colors was reaching its high note, only to abandon the stage for the sensations of night. She liked the night; it allowed the sense of smelling and hearing to paint a different view of nature.
She had missed day and night. The sea and the shore and the trees and all the stories the birds told to each other. The mid-July warmth and the color of the sky were distant memories, a bittersweet feeling engulfed her; for the first time in a long time she felt free.
Who knows how long it had passed? Who knows if time flows the same way here and there? Maybe it does, maybe the ten years she spend there were ten years lost here. Maybe she was lucky; and the ten years she had to survive there, were ten seconds here. If time passed the same way, she couldn’t tell anymore.
The Void sucked your soul; the darkness, the cold, the emptiness. It was no wonder it sucked time as well. The creepiness of the place, the harshness of the things she had to do to come back home were written in her dark eyes and heaved down her hair on her back. All the murders she committed could be counted in the grey of her hair, all the murders she avoided were scars on her skin.
How do you survive a place worse than Hell in one piece? How do you live through companion’s deaths and the loneliness of a forced hand? How do you keep yourself being yourself? You don’t.
How do you go on? She couldn’t tell what the others had to lurch on, what small light existed in their miserable mind to guide them forward. She could tell though what was that made her go on: home. She wished for her mother’s touch and her father’s food and her young sister’s endless chatter. She wished for the smell of tobacco late in the evening and her grandfather’s war time stories. She wished for the place she was safe and loved.
In the end her grandmother’s words were true: Your heart will always lead you true.
And now she was free.
Then she opened her eyes and knew that her heart had betrayed her. This wasn’t home, the city on top of cliff didn’t look like the village she grew in. She cried bitter tears, as she recognized his descriptions: a nameless City at the Edge of the World; that is how he had described it. He, he. The only person that didn’t try to stab her in the back, the only other person she could trust. The only other person that she ever felt safe with except her family.
There was always a longing in his presence; she felt like a piece of her old life had found her deep in the caverns of horror. The rare moments he laughed, a memory of music came back to her. Like sunshine in a rainy November morning. His eyes were imprinted in her soul, a sense of safety and love filled her. He left her though; he escaped before her, without her and left her feeling sad for herself.
The City at the Edge of the World seemed like a horrible and fascinating place to be. He always described it as something mythical, something wondrous; people there knew what the Void was. His own family had migrated generations ago, when they lost someone they cherished a lot in the mists of fate. The myth was that the city at the edge of the world was the only place in the universe where the mists of the here and there intercepted often, making the passage between the two worlds easier. His ancestors had thought that if they moved here, their lost child would find the way back to them easier.
But they died without finding their lost child again.
With a heavy heart she started walking towards the city. The twilight colors had replaced the sunset’s colors and when she entered the city the night was upon them all. It was a lovely night; and yet she felt numb. All the happiness of her being free was lost somewhere in the way.
A small part of herself wondered where she would stay, where she could go. What would she do? Was it easy to go to her small fishing village from here? Where exactly was the City at the edge of the world? She pushed her thoughts away and let her traitor heart lead her for a while longer. Without much attention she walked through a city that didn’t belong to her time; it was not hers to live in. Unfamiliar lights, sounds and smells invaded all her senses. This was not century, it was his.
Mindlessly, she ignored all the things she didn’t know. Aimlessly, she moved one foot after the other and before long she found herself to a new place, at the edge of the City at the edge of the world.
The cemetery was a quiet place with the tombs hanging a breath’s distance from the sea. The waves splashed beneath, a faraway echo just came up to her. Without being certain what she was looking for, she started moving up the rows of the dead, neatly put in their last resting place.
Why was she here? Deep in her heart she knew why she was here. She came to find him. Deep inside her, she knew he had lived and died, the way humans are supposed to do: in loving peace. And it was true, she found his grave. There was his name and his face in an old photo, one that depicted him young and carefree for forever, unlike how he was during his time in the void. He smiled. Next to him was a woman, tall and beautiful with happiness in her eyes instead of guilt.
A small part of herself felt content that he lived the life he deserved. Even if she wouldn’t meet him again.
All was for nothing? Did it worth it? A soft kiss they once had to lead her here? On the grave of him and his ancestors? Did she lose her family over hope in the cold? Tears stung in the corners of her ears; she had refused to cry the last decade of her life. Her feet carried her onwards, passing all the graves with his deceased family members. On the walk towards the past, she saw that his family name had suffered slight changes; its form and sound change till it was as familiar as her own name.
And at last, she reached the end of her journey. There she stood at the edge of the cliff, the weather eaten tombstones were barely recognizable, but she could tell it was them. There was the last home of her mother and her father; her bubbling sister had lived to be a hundred. Above their graves there was a saying written, one that was engraved in her heart: Your heart will always lead you true.
She was finally home.