She stands near the edge of the Pacific…

She stands near the edge of the Pacific, the gently crashing surf masking her moans and groans.  Sleep is her only respite from the pain of age, but she can only snatch at it in fits and starts.  The bustling giants to her left and right remind her of the glory years and send what’s left of her mind reeling into the past.  Her hundred eyes blink open sporadically, trying to drink in the present, before exhaustion forces them shut again.

Sometimes she rouses from her memories to notice she has left lights on and doors open with no memory of doing either.  Was she sleepwalking?  Has her mind fractured into multiple personas?  Is she being targeted by mischievous children?  She grasps for answers that are beyond her reach.  She’s too tired.  She’s too old.

She knows her mind is slipping.

Her guardian, Merry, from what should be the pole position for keeping watch, assures her that everything is fine.  There was a time when that would have been enough, but she learned over the years that Merry can’t always be trusted.  There is much that goes on that the guardian misses.

Merry never mentions the lights burning at odd hours, the doors left open to creak and sway in the ocean breeze, and the emptiness that stands in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle around them.  As guardian, Merry should have noticed and reported on all these disturbances and abnormalities.  The lack of any mention troubled her greatly, though she never asks Merry directly about any of it.  She isn’t sure she wants to hear an answer.

In some of her moments of lucidness, she wonders if Merry has gone mad.

But then her eyes close again and her thoughts are lost in a jumble of dreams and nightmares.  Reality, the present and past, twist and distort as her imagination slice and splice demons and angels together.  An eye blinks open.  A light flickers on.  The hallways fill with voices from the past.  Soft footsteps walk the worn carpet halls to disappear into rooms unused in decades.  She struggles to rouse from the haunting, but she has lost sense of night and day and is no longer certain what is real and what is dream.

She shivers from cold, even in the height of summer, as eyes from the neighboring giants linger upon her.  She can feel their loathing, and fear.  She can sense their unease.  She wishes she understood why they felt that way, and what happened to her, what is still happening to her.  She shivers, too, when the giants’ eyes close in slumber, but she still feels a presence within.

As her moments of wakefulness grow shorter and father apart, she claws at them desperately.  She knows what waits for her in the long sleep.  She knows the darkness and silence, and she is not yet ready to give herself to them.   She knows her fight is futile.

In time, all that will remain are the ghosts of her memories, and they will haunt her halls until she is claimed by the sea.

Otel

ripples in the water

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As the day drew to a close and the lake guests went their separate ways, Devon and Amber pulled themselves out of the water to rest lazily on the dock and watch the sun set.  It wasn’t often they got to enjoy those quiet moments together as the lake grew busier and the responsibilities of their lives pulled them elsewhere, so they made sure to enjoy the sunsets they could.  They knew life was too short to squander those fleeting moments.

It had been another magical day.  They’d each saved a couple lives as they patrolled the water.  Their assistance had been vital for the young and old alike.  Sometimes all that was required was a push towards shore to get little legs back on solid ground.  Sometimes it was a steadying hand or calming influence for tiring bodies.  Sometimes it was giving someone a boost up from the depths when too much playing had sent them floundering below.  Whatever the need, the couple were their to offer aid.

When not needed elsewhere, Devon and Amber were able to steal moments together to enjoy the warmth of the sun and the cooling kiss of the water, their touch, their companionship.  Then duty would call and they would rush off again to help one of the visitors, one of the many thankless tasks of their daily lives.  Sometimes the youngest ones would know enough to say thank you, but it was a rare occurrence and seemed to be getting even more scarce with each new sunrise.

From their perch on the dock, as they reflected on the day, their arms intertwined, their bodies leaning towards each other, they marveled at the stillness of the lake.  So many people were playing, splashing, rowing, swimming, from sun up until the moments before it set into the horizon that the lake seemed normal only when it was choppy.  It was easy to forget that calm was normal too.

That didn’t deter them from letting their fins dip into the water to create a few tiny ripples swirling away from them as they kissed.  Then they slipped back into the water as the sun disappeared to rest up for the next day.  The ripples in the water were the only evidence they had been there at all.

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Since I was a bit late this week, and had already read a couple other responses, I wanted to do something a bit different.  Hopefully, you didn’t catch on that they weren’t human until the very end.  Anyway, this was my response to this week’s Once More with Feeling prompt provided moi.

What do you see when you look at the picture?  Write it, link it, post it!