My chest cracks open like a wine cellar on a special occasion, wood creaking and whining as it separates from its ancient binds. I am an icicle freshly severed from its roof, fallen to the frozen hard ground, shattered into a million pieces all screaming out for some recognition in the land of the living.
I’ve already come back from death once. I don’t want to repeat it, but I have to, I have to, I have to-
I can’t move my limbs. There’s a light flashing behind the relative safety of my eyelids. I try to squeeze away the light- out of sight, out of mind, right?
Nothing is in my mind right now.
“Serlis! Answer me!”
Searing hot coals touch my skin, burn a hole straight through me like I were foam sliced open by a searing hot knife. I am split in two. Maybe I could send half of me back to Miralay with Eponine and keep half of me here to take care of the Miralayans-
A sob escapes my lips, a pitiful sound. My eyes crack open, and everything is foggy, worsened further by the tears threatening to freeze my gaze in place. A faint feminine shape- Amelia Rouge? Some other caretaker?
Maybe it’s my dead mom, and I’m at my funeral in a casket, and she’s weeping for me instead of the other way around, the way it should have been.
Hands grip my stiff sides and pull me out of the sleeping pod, muttering all the while. I’m positioned on a heated table, or maybe it’s a bed without sheets- I can’t feel anything beyond the constant frost. Someone’s calling my name over and over and over. I wish they would stop. It doesn’t do anything to abate the slow roasting seeping into my legs.
“Looks like hypothermia and slight tissue damage from the stasis pod caused by an incomplete thawing before revival. Her mental state is to be expected. Serlis should fully recover by the time Eponine is out of surgery.”
I’m on Miralay. I’m too far gone to figure out the time or the difference between Earth’s gravity and the artificial gravity of Miralay, but I’m on Miralay, and I’m going to be given all the care I’ll ever need. Nobody will ever shove me inside a sleeping pod to rot in obscurity ever again.
The lights change. I am an artisan glass ornament, polished in the fire, fragile, immobile. But I can open my eyes- I’m a newborn puppy seeing for the first time. Just the stone of the ceiling and the lights, flickering in between too fast for me to comprehend. I have the brains of a newborn puppy too, it seems. I think- I think I’m leaving the spacecraft? There are people escorting me out, keeping me out of the public’s eye. I can’t be seen. Not like this. It’ll lower morale.
“Serlis.” The voice comes from behind me. It’s deep. I don’t recognize it. “My Providence.”
“S… Say it again,” I manage to croak out, my tongue immediately going back to its rigid state once I get the words out.
“My Providence? My Providence.”
My breathing quickens. At this rate, my chest will melt and turn into liquid and float the rest of me away.
I am the Providence. I am his Providence.
“Our gift from the gods in the stars. Our loving mother and caretaker. I am so glad to have you and Eponine back on Miralay. Everyone here is. This is where you belong. This is where you will always belong.”
I am everyone else’s Providence as well. I have a purpose, and it fills me with a fire inside- but my limbs still hurt and my skin is still glass, so I can only manage a faint smile. My heart has left its chest, escaping the weak atmosphere beyond the underground complex, and has swelled up to the size of the planet, painting the planet more and more red with each heartbeat. Breathing life into the planet with each breath in my cracked open chest.
Man, I really am out of it. Maybe it’s best that I go in the medical ward for now and defrost.
Defrost. It makes me sound like I’m a Thanksgiving turkey ready to be roasted and served on a silver platter. In a way, I am- the spacecraft is the freezer, and now I’m being carried off somewhere to defrost and be prepared to be stuffed with someone else’s substance. But it’s for the good of Miralay, and I’ll still ultimately be me afterwards…