Prompt for January 4: The Breakdown

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[Prompt from http://daily-writing.blogspot.com/ . Characters and story from a novel series idea entitled Hand of Fate.]

Tori was still sitting in the chair by the fire, one of Cris’s blankets wrapped around her. The fraying fabric had slid down past her shoulders in the time since I placed it around her. Like everything else, she did not seem to notice her shoulders were once again bare.

“Go ahead.” Neci’s hands were pushing me forward. “We have tried everything. Even got the healers involved. Nothing. She will not talk to any of us.”

In what world was I the last hope for anything? Seeing me, the son of the first life she had ever taken, might actually send her into complete madness.

I took a step towards her. “Tori?”

It was the first time I had spoken to her since the incident with my father and Cris in the field. Even though her wellbeing had been the only substantial thought in my confused mind, saying her name aloud after all that had happened was strange. I used to long for an opportunity to say her name. Now, I was worried that if she did turn to look at me, she might not look at me the same way ever again.

“Tori, it’s me, Vitus. I wish you would eat something.”

Her breath hitched. The first reaction any of us had seen to words. I heard Neci gasp behind me and did not linger to feel her hands push me forward again.

“Ossin caught more rabbit, just for you. Neci cooked it just the way you like, with the outside a bit crispy but mostly lightly cooked. She even rubbed some of Hipek’s spices onto the skin before setting it aflame.”

I was rambling, I knew, but with each word I said, Tori showed another sign of life. By the time I had finished my entire recount of the dinner preparations, everyone in the room had ceased to even breathe.

Tori had turned to look towards me. Her eyes stared through me, into the past she could not escape, but at least she was no longer staring straight into the dancing flames in Hipek’s hearth.

“V-v-vitus?” she whispered.

I took a knee beside her. “I am here, my sweet.”

I held out a hand for her. She slowly withdrew one of hers from Cris’s blanket and set it within mine.

“I’m sorry.” Tears were beginning to bubble up in her green eyes. “I’m so sorry.”

Then, when everyone thought I had broken through the barrier, she let out an ear-shattering wail and dropped her head in her hands, weeping as if every soul’s sorrow was hers to bear.

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