Her first breath was cold, beautiful, and tinged with pain.
She gasps, hands jerking to clutch at her throat and claw at her chest. She coughs, tasting copper and dust. Her lungs burn with every breath, but not in a bad way. It hurt the way a fading cut stung, or the way a healing sprain ached. The acknowledgment from your body to take it easy, but that you could press onward if you needed too.
She opens her eyes, and is blinded by the splattering of bright lights across a void of velvety black. She breathes, every breath steadily getting easier, every gulp of cool air soothing her throat. The lines she’d clawed against her skin tingle, but even that pain is fading. Stolen by the cool breeze.
She lies there for a moment, basking in her cosmic view, soaking in the bliss and agony of sensation. Of the feeling of life. Of living.
She breathes, painlessly, chest rising and falling in gentle waves. She smiles, delighting in the pull of her lips, and moves her hands. Sand (how does she know that word?) shifts under her fingers, and for a second, she worries that if she presses her hands just a touch too firmly, the ground she lays upon will swallow her before she has the real chance to see. To rise and look upon more than her dazzling sea of lights amidst the dark.
Stars. Her mind supplies. It’s nighttime. And though she is ecstatic at the knowledge she gains, she cannot help but wonder how she knows these things, when she cannot recall learning them.
In fact, she can’t seem to recall anything before her awakening just a few moments ago. Yet she is sure there is a before.
Her stomach turns as her thoughts swirl. Her smile drops, and the reaction of her body draws her out of her fear. How curious, she thinks. All these new sensations — how many more were there to experience? How much more would the strange depths of her mind teach her? How many words will she learn? Relearn? What has she forgotten that will be returned if she ventures out?
She thinks she has forgotten something important, but has not the inkling of what. She recalls only snippets of feelings, flashes of colors and sounds. But the deeper she presses, the worse the ache in the back of her skull grows. Someone or something wanted her to forget.
There is nothing to be learned from lying here and doing nothing. She thinks. What would be the point of this air in my lungs, if I do not give it a reason to be expelled? What is the point in feeling, if I do not move?
Her grin returns on her next deep breath. She braces her hands against the sand, moves her feet and braces them too. Then, she pushes her hands down — and the land does not give. She pushes herself up, and hair (oh, she has hair! How wonderful!), long and silken falls down against her bare back.
She looks upon the newly discovered world and smiles wider than she ever has. (That she can recall anyway.) She bares her teeth, fingers curling into the sand, and stares with wide eyes. The vastness of life lies before her, shadowed by the darkness, but she knows that darkness will not last.
A flicker of memory, of a light so bright it changed the color of the sky and outshone the distant cosmic lights. Again, she wonders how she knows this, about what she had known before. She wonders what forces gave her breath to be, and what forces may have stolen the life that lingers in shattered slivers in the back of her head.
Perhaps she will seek them out. Perhaps there will be confrontation, or peace. She does not care which it will be. Only that there will be new things, new feelings for her to taste. She only cares that there will be new air in her lungs.
She laughs (decides she loves that sound) and rises, with minimal difficulty, to her feet. She breathes one final deep breath, then takes her first careful step into her future.