Author's Notes: These are from my new morning writing routine. They don't really tell a complete narrative-yet-but I'm enjoying them, so I thought I'd share. I may or may not be gearing up to finally write Rain's second book. We'll see. Either way, enjoy this little tidbit that most definitely falls after Haven 1.
The in-between days were always the worst.
When she was fully in one world or the other, it was easy to forget her other life existed. Finals and BFF crises were of universe shattering importance, when they were allowed to be. When wind and wilds and earthsong filled her heart, the cares of a teenaged girl were but the blink of an eye. But when she was in-between, moving from one life to the next, nothing mattered. Everything was muddled and muddied and wrong. The whole point of keeping life balanced with death was so that life mattered. But the little things that made up a human life were so trivial, so tiny…
It was hard to feel like life was worth protecting when people cut in front of you at the Starbucks line.
But she wanted this. She had to keep reminding herself that she wanted this. Star and Fox and everyone in the valley seemed so cold sometimes, so distant from mortal cares… She didn't want to become that. More than anything, she did not want to become that. She did this for her mom, for her best friends, for Jordan and Brenna and Katie. She did this for Zig and his stupid cute baby. She did this for Chris and Nat and Marie. She had to care about people, about the things that mattered to them, or she couldn't trust herself. She didn't like the person who would be making such important decisions if not tempered by her petty teenaged self.
And it was petty, she knew that. She knew she had to balance tiny mortal cares against large, world altering matters. But it was because those large matters would affect the small ones that made them matter. In and of themselves, the world would adjust to almost any apocalypse. Plants would keep on growing, birds would keep on singing—or they wouldn't. The world would keep spinning—or it wouldn't. The sun would keep burning, until it didn't. In that long, long view, nothing she did meant anything.
So she had to keep it small, keep it tight focused. And that meant coming home every chance she got, coming back to a world where no one knew she could melt their faces off if they didn't stop stepping on the back of her shoe. She shifted her weight, sliding her foot back into her sandal, trying to remember why she'd come to this soulless corporate place instead of going down to the Early Bird. If it came down to saving Starbucks, she might let the world burn.
She sipped at her tea thoughtfully, then made a little sound of disgust at her own stupid thoughts and set the can down with a forceful thump. This was stupid. Coming back to this place was stupid. Drinking tea and watching the world go by while she waited for chicken pad thai was stupid—and a waste of time. Going home wasn't going to get any easier. And hyping herself up at old familiar haunts wasn't going to help. She wasn't the girl she was before she left. Trying to pretend was only making it worse.
A wintry hint of mint kissed her thoughts, cooling her own sense of agitation at herself. She carefully framed the thought that it was a very nice effort but that reminding her she wasn't alone in her own skin anymore wasn't helping. The minty impression retreated. The waiter returned with her food.
She ate mechanically, tasting the food but not savoring it, feeling its warmth sit in her belly like a separate plane of existence. Ugh. Totally not helping. She bought another can of tea as she paid for her meal, then set off into the rain to start the long walk home.
Rain stared out over the lake, knowing it was just a lake, but feeling like it may as well be the edge of the world. They were called The Great Lakes for a reason. The water just seemed to stretch on and on, and out here, standing straight against the wind, she felt like she was staring down eternity.
A single crow hopped from branch to branch in the windbreak behind her. She ignored it, not caring if it was Rook or just a solitary wanderer. The former could go fuck himself, and she didn't have anything to offer if it was the latter.
"Learn to take care of yourself," she muttered, swinging her umbrella halfheartedly towards the trees. There wasn't enough energy left for much more than that.
She felt so stupid carrying this thing. She'd spent the summer calling elemental forces, commanding winds, conjuring storms, but back home, she still had to carry an umbrella in case of showers. It was all just so stupid! What was the point of cosmic powers on a world altering scales if she was never meant to use them? Why shove these powers into a teenage girl, telling her "the time will come" and "you have to learn" and "you must be ready"-ready for what? To watch her step-father die? To watch countless of people die, one after the other, in a long endless line she was never meant to stop?
"What's the fucking point!?"
She screamed up at the sky, fury building within her to match the whipping winds from without. The lake frothed and seethed, chopping waves building from so far out she could never hope to see them, breaking small and useless against the man made docks. She shrieked into the wind, sound gobbled up instantly by the growing storm. The storm was hungrier than she was, but she was angrier.
She hurled her umbrella into the wind, a useless makeshift javelin. It spiraled wildly off course in an instant, not that she'd been aiming for anything in particular. It snapped open, spines bending instantly out of place, canvas snagged and snarled against its own spines turned against it. Rain watched the thing tear itself apart in some small amount of satisfactions, though it was a cold and empty kind. She watched it skitter and dance down the beach, tumbling heedless in a wind that did not know or care that it was there. She heard the staccato croak of the crow calling from the woods, and another answered it from far off. Rain turned and marched back inland, full of nothing and learning nothing from screaming into the wind, her burdens only lightened by the weight of a single umbrella.
"It is beyond dumb that I still can't sleep."
Rain sat with her back against the rough brick, knees tucked up close to her, and watched the snow fall. She felt each tiny prick of ice against her skin, knew it was cold, knew it was wet, but was unmoved by the knowledge. It was winter. It was snow. They were meant to be wet and cold. Things were as they should be.
But this old soul in her also knew that she was barely into her second decade. That she was still a human child—still a little girl, at heart—and still felt the return of every solstice different than the impartial nature of Nature within her.
Frost lay lazily sprawled across most of the length of the tiny balcony, hot, wet breath huffing out over her feet as he snorted. Her thoughts were filled with an echo of the sentiments of before, knowledge of her youth and mortality, as well as the comfort of surrendering to the Wheel—but also understanding what it was like to be outside that wheel, never quite invited.
Rain leaned over, burying her hand into thick, plush coat of his shaggy winter fur. She couldn't tell if the ice crystals she pushed through were his own, or the snow. It hardly mattered. Once her hand was in up to the wrist, it was like being inside a living blanket. She scooted more, shifting position so she could snuggle in with both hands.
"It's not even like I care about Christmas," she breathed across his shoulders, watching the puffs of breath dance into clouds. "I just… It's supposed to matter. Right?"
He shrugged, choosing to communicate physically just to jostle her in her snuggling. She snapped at him playfully in return, wrinkling her human nose in a very inhuman snarl. Impossible laughter rumbled in the great wolf's chest.
Be at peace, he thought at her. Enjoy the snow. Observe the night.
She rolled over, laying across the great furry back. Despite the snow, she could somehow see the stars, high above the thick layer of clouds. She had long since gotten over the disorientation of it, seeing too much of reality at once. As Frost had suggested, she gave into it, noting each kiss and tingle of each flake, feeling the heavy presence of the Longest Night.