Sunday, March 11, 2012
Thousand Word Thursday Excerpt from Carole Cummings
From Aisling Book Three: Beloved Son
“You should’ve had a happy boyhood,” Wil whispered. “You should’ve had so much more than what you had, you should have so much more now.”
“So shouldn’t we all,” Dallin answered, just as quietly, dropped a kiss to the top of Wil’s head. “You should laugh all the time, like you did today.” He took hold of Wil’s arms and pushed him gently away. Wil could almost see him, once again, put away the small bit of his past he’d allowed himself to remember, bury it and then move on. He turned, gestured for Wil to follow. “C’mon, I want to show you—”
He kept walking. “—how clear the water is. It’s all rock here, so you can see right down to—”
Dallin paused, but didn’t turn. Wil took the few paces over to him slowly, laid a hand to his arm.
“Do you put everything away like that? Do you bury everything that hurts?”
You keep saying you see me, and I believe you do, because you bother to look. Well, what if I want to see you, too?
For a moment, Wil thought Dallin wasn’t going to answer; he bent his neck, mouth twisted tight, like he was angry, but it didn’t feel like anger. “We all do what we must, Wil.” His voice was heavy, tired. “We take what the Mother gives us and do our best with it. This is my best.”
Wil tilted his head, genuinely curious. “Pretending nothing hurts you is best?”
“Not pretending.” Dallin was staring at the ground, lines of tension knotting his shoulders, vibrating beneath Wil’s hand. “Accepting it and then moving on.”
Dallin slumped a little, closed his eyes on a weary sigh. “Wil, can’t we just—?”
“And if I die?” Wil paused when he saw Dallin’s jaw lock, twitch. “Will you bury me twice?” he pressed. “Once in the ground and once in your heart?”
Dallin lifted his head, locked his gaze to Wil’s, steady and hard. “We’ll never know, will we?” he answered stonily. “Because I don’t intend to let it happen.”
He stared at Wil, sudden anger, daring Wil to negate the statement he no doubt saw as mere simple fact. Wil bowed his head, wishing he had the courage to tell him that it wasn’t really his choice.
“You’re borrowing trouble,” Dallin told him, “you always do. You’re so much stronger than you think you are, and you keep forgetting that I’m not going anywhere. I won’t let—”
“I don’t think I can beat him,” Wil said, a little more wobbly than he would’ve preferred. “I’d like to think I won’t be another of your ghosts you pretend you don’t see.”
Wasn’t that strange? He’d spent so much of the past few years willing people not to even notice him, to forget him as soon as they’d served whatever use he’d had for them the moment before. Now, all he wanted was to know he’d be remembered, remembered by someone who’d looked at him, someone who’d seen and not looked away. Not invisible. Not merely the sum of his sins. A real person, no one’s dream, whole and the man he was reflected back in his Guardian’s eyes, enhanced and cleaned of tarnish and imperfections of the soul.
… a Guardian who loves him above all.
How very terrifying.
How very… consoling.
Dallin was silent for some time, quietly seething and trying very hard not to. He took Wil once again by the arms, turned him so he faced the falls. Roughly, he wrapped his arms about Wil’s shoulders, dipped his face to the crook of his neck, held on tight. “Then don’t die,” he finally answered.
Wil shut his eyes, shook his head. “I can’t—”
“I don’t want to do this now,” Dallin whispered, a heavy note of pleading in his voice, and he squeezed Wil a little tighter, just enough to constrict breath the tiniest bit. “Look up at that water, at the rock it carved its way through—scoring its way through everything to find its true path.” A tightening of his grip and a small shake to Wil’s shoulders. “That’s you. You are the river, Wil. Stronger than earth and rock—stronger than fire. And now you’ve got the strength of Lind behind you, or you will.”
His voice… it blended with the song of the water, just as strong, just as sure and clear. He made Wil almost believe every word. All of those things inside him and his Guardian at his back, pointing the way.
“And you,” Wil said. “You’re behind me.”
“And me,” Dallin promised. “Perhaps you can’t beat him, but we can. I know how this has to go, and if you want prophecies, if that’ll make you feel better, I’ll give you one, all right?—I’ll get Thorne to put it in the Songs. A prophecy from the Guardian to the Aisling, are you ready?” He didn’t wait for Wil to answer. “It’ll be dark, it’ll be terrifying, it’ll probably hurt, and you might even want to die. It’ll be the worst thing either one of us has ever seen or lived through, but you will come out the other side, understand?”
Wil reached up, gripped Dallin’s arms in both hands. “How—?”
Understanding didn’t really seem to be the point. Not even a little bit. Trust. That blind faith that Dallin so despised, and here he was, asking for it, demanding it, and he didn’t even seem to know it. And here Wil was, wanting to hand it over.
I will do whatever it takes. I want you to survive, Wil.
Do I look like I don’t know what I’m doing?
Just trust me, I won’t let anything happen.
Wil shifted a little, sank himself deeper into the embrace.
Oh, I trust you. I can’t seem to help myself.
Trust and faith and give and take, and closing his eyes, following blind and believing without even thinking about it that his Guardian wouldn’t let him fall. That it was all right to be weak sometimes, because there was another there to be strong, to balance you, propping you up in your moment of frailty, not waiting to tear out your throat the minute you bared it. There was a strange sort of strength in that, one you could give back, because it didn’t have to define you, and ‘weak’ didn’t have to mean ‘not strong’.
Wil twisted his neck, laid a soft kiss to Dallin’s throat. “I understand.”
He let Dallin support him as he leaned back, watched the falls. Watched the brown, sunlit ghost of a gangly, tow-headed little boy plunge from the top of the Stair, laughing and shouting, long arms and legs flailing, as he splashed down into indigo-froth.
Smiling a little, Wil closed his eyes, breathed in the day, and wished with all his heart it never had to end.
Oh wow do I love this book, the whole trilogy. Review for Part Three to come shortly, 5 divas and marbles and stars, and you lucky people get to read this small but important chunk. Read the whole thing, I promise you solemnly that this is a wonderful wonderful story.
Newfound love might not be enough. Trust holds the possibility of both salvation and damnation.
Circumstances having forced them to seek asylum in Lind, Wil and Dallin find themselves at the center of an approaching convergence they’re not sure they’re strong enough to face. The power of the land and the Mother wait for Wil in the bowels of Lind, but it comes with strings attached. With Dallin's help, he must find a way to defeat the soul-eater and save the Father, Her Beloved, and manage to keep his soul in the process.
Friends are not necessarily friends. Trusted mentors are not necessarily to be trusted. And good intentions are sometimes the most dangerous sort.
Through deduction and magic and mutual strength, Dallin and Wil must accept their roles as the Guardian and the Aisling, and stand together against a ruthless god in a climactic battle of dreams and wills, the fates of both of their souls and those of all mortals hanging in the balance. Except, what good is the strength of love, if the one who needs it doesn't know how to trust?