That night Rohan dreamed in color.
Emerald trees, and pre-dawn light, and worlds on fire. He woke up with his chest hurting, and the old sense of something breaking inside. The pain left a bad taste in his mouth, and his fingers shook as he tried to keep them from peeling the blindfold off and flinging it away. The fairy girl’s words had burrowed down into his cracking self. What kind of life is that?
He shook the words away, brushed himself off, and stood. His legs felt heavy, and his eyes pricked in a strange way, as if straining to see through the blindfold for the first time in years. He ached with want of color.
Rohan growled, the feeling shrank back, and he went off through the forest.
The day was warm, and as it faded he could feel the air cooling on his skin. I like this, he thought of that narrow frame of day when the air is just perfect. I like…he swallowed it, leaning back against his tree, his hand wandering up to his chest.
“Don’t look so sad,” came the fairy’s voice. Something in Rohan brightened, to his surprise, as if he’d been waiting, hoping she’d come back.
“You’ve ruined it,” he said to the girl.
“How so?” asked Tye, and this time her voice was inches from him.
“We plant seeds, and they grow. We plant them in the ground and get flowers. We plant them in the mind and get weeds. I just planted a question. You let it spread.”
“I was doing fine.”
“No you weren’t,” she said simply, her fingertips skimming his face. Her skin was cooler than most faeries. This time he didn’t shrink from her touch. He fought the urge to lean in, the way his mind kept leaning toward her words.
“Who are you?” he asked, his voice quieter, almost soft. “You’re not like the other fairies.”
“I’m not a fairy. Not really. They stole me away when I was a child, and gave me treats and trinkets, and bid me stay.”
“And you just did? Just gave up everything?”
Her fingers fells away.
“You of all should know, turning away faeries isn’t so simple.”
A drop of water touched his ear, but then he realized it was a kiss.
“Take off the blindfold,” she whispered. “It isn’t worth it, like this.”
It isn’t worth it, the words echoed.
“How can I trust you?” Rohan asked.
“What does trust have to do with it?” she asked, and he could almost see her expression, in his mind, young but pensive. “It’s not my life, it’s yours. But the sunset tonight is so pretty. It looks like the world is on fire.”
The thing in Rohan broke. He brought his shaking fingers to the knotted fabric, but couldn’t get the knot undone.
“Help me,” he whispered, hoping that by keeping his voice so low he could hide the fear and excitement blossoming on his tongue.
Tye’s fingers found their way up his neck to the knot and deftly undid it.
The fabric fell away.
[To be continued…]