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Falling Twice

She was falling.

Wind whipping her skin, whistling in her ear, stealing her breath.

Her bright eyes fell shut against the force. She curled into herself, her hair cutting across her skin like little whips.

She wondered if they would leave marks.

Her tears were cold as they left her eyes, chilled droplets that shared her fate. Brushing her eyelashes before they were pulled from her, stopping for less than a second before being subjected to gravity. Would they even make it to the ground below? Would they even be noticed?

Perhaps she’d fade before she reached the ground. Swallowed by the beckoning darkness before she hit the ground. She hoped so. Crashing to the earth wouldn’t be pleasant.

Burning agony filled her core. The fleeting sensation of warmth rushed across her chest, staining her clothes and flesh a dark crimson. She chokes, unable to catch her breath; claws coiling around her lungs and squeezing.

Images flashed across her mind. Her childhood; filled with warmth and laughter. Of happy days with her parents and the sister she would later lose. Would they be waiting for her on the other side? She hoped so. She had missed her older sister and her parents so much.

The images changed to the year after; endless days filled with work. The pain of funerals, of pitying gazes and meaningless words. The weight of too many responsibilities thrust upon her. The determination to be her best, to finish her beloved sister’s dream.

Sleepless nights and long hours staring at a computer screen, buried elbows-deep in machinery.

Fixing and inventing. Learning and advancing. Decisions to make, people to fight or submit to. A cycle she could only ever escape briefly. Fleeting moments where she remembered she was still a child. Still full of life, and allowed to have fun. Until she was called back to an adult life she chosen.

Until, of course, she gained an excuse. No, not an excuse. How could she ever consider him as such? Her friend, her co-worker, the boy she loved.

A different pain echoed through her bones. Tears burned in her eyes, blurring her vision as she opened them. Useless as it was, but even so; she saw him. As if she could stretch out her arm and touch his cheek.

‘I’m sorry.’ She thought, eyes closing once more as darkness in. Alone as she continued to fall. How long had she been falling? Would it be over soon?

Another minute, she suddenly wished. Calling out silently to anyone who would listen. Fear swelled in her heart. She didn’t want to die.

No one answered.

More memories played across her closed lids. How they met, every moment they spent together. Every date, every mission, every day leading up to now. She drowned in the loss of the tomorrows she would not be around to experience. Her heart ached with the knowledge that he would suffer in the grief she will have caused. That he would spend the rest of his life blaming himself.

She wanted to cry, to scream to the heavens that it was not his fault. She had made the choice.

The decision to push him out of the way had been hers.

She had taken the killing shot meant for him, out of her selfish need to protect him. Because he would survive the loss, but she would not have. She wasn’t as strong as he was, she would have died with him. Leaving behind a broken body without a soul.

But he would recover, he would push forward and be better. Find someone else to love and share himself with. Someone else to bare his soul to, someone else to hold and cherish and kiss. He was strong.

Sixteen years wasn’t so bad. She had spent them well, had finished her sister’s work, had saved her friends. They would move on too, grow and become their best selves. She regretted that she wouldn’t have the pleasure of seeing that.

She regretted few things, but most were minor or the silly wishes of a child. She had completed all she had set out to do, and wasn’t dying better when you did it out of love? When it was done to protect, or doing something heroic or meaningful?

No. A voice replied, sounding suspiciously like the young man she loved.

She smiled. Not even in her own mind could she lie.

She was nearing the end, the ghost of lips against hers the last thing she felt. She didn’t hurt anymore; in fact, she couldn’t feel anything anymore.

The darkness felt so soothing; like her sister’s comforting embrace. The rushing wind sung her a final lovely requiem.

She said goodbye to all she had loved. A remembered whisper of his voice echoing in her ears.

“I love you.”

And then, she hit the end.

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