"Coldness In Moonlight"
I sit and stare silently out the window.
It's eerily quiet now. The side walk below is gleaming in the pearly moonlight, luminous against the inky blackness of the sky. Trees that had been swaying maniacally only a few hours before now stand silent and still. Debris litters the small park that sits adjacent to Smallville General, leaves and hay scattered haphazardly in a patternless eddy that reminds me of the terrifying vortex that had almost claimed my life.
The thought doesn't terrify me half as much as the silence that now permeates every particle of my room. I want to run and hide from it, because now when I'm sitting here alone in my too-quiet room, my mind wanders and I'm powerless to stop it.
The silence almost shatters my ears.
In another few hours the sun will crest the horizon. The dawning of the new day will be one of serenity and stilted silence. It will be as if nothing has happened at all.
It's quiet. So very, very quiet. A stark contrast to the way things were just a few hours ago, when the tornado had hit.
A siren wails mournfully in the distance and I find my gaze drawn to the small speck of red that crests the hill, follow it as it winds its way down quickly towards the hospital entrance. Doctors and nurses scurry to clear the way for the approaching casualty. I catch myself wondering whether I know the unfortunate soul who's being gingerly transferred by the paramedics, a dark figure running by its side. I wonder if they'll die; wonder if they have a mother and a father and brothers and sisters who really cares what happens to them, cares if they live or die.
Or I wonder if he or she's like me. Without parents to care whether I lived or died.
Sometimes when I'm too happy, I catch myself. I catch myself forgetting the fact that my parents aren't with me, that they aren't here to watch me grow up to be more than the fairy princess they had known and loved, aren't there to care whether I lived or died. And I'm dragged down from the heights of the few rare moments of snatched happiness that I carve out for myself, back down to the hollow core of my being - the place where my parents should have occupied, that place in my soul that's reserved for them and only them, because they're my parents, and they loved me.
But they left and now I'm alone. So very, very alone.
Despite what Nell is to me, helping me grow up and loving me as both my mother and father should have done, I miss them. I'm not ungrateful for what she's done for me; far from it. But I can't seem to shake off this phantom pain of loneliness, this ache for something that I can scarcely remember but that has never gone away in the sixteen years of my life.
I draw my knees closer to my body, curling up within myself. I'm shaking. Why am I shaking?
Most of the time I can handle it. I've become adept at pushing the pain and ache away, burying it inside the vaults of my mind like some horrible, deranged nightmare in the light of day, hoping that no one can get close enough to dig it back up and show me its reality. Hoping that today will be the day when I'll wake up from this overly long and painful dream to find my Mom and Dad smiling at me, their faces alight with ecstatic joy and relief that I'm safe.
"Honey. " Mom says while Dad looks on, her voice smooth as silk and choking with unshed tears, "We're so glad you're safe."
I want to smile and bask in the loving glow of that hopeless dream, hoping that no one will be cruel enough to shatter it, because it isn't real.
But no one has to remind me it isn't real. I do it fine all by myself.
I frown, looking down at my pale hands shaking with an emotion that I cannot control. My hands are smooth in the wan light of the moon, but that isn't what catches my attention as I contemplate them almost wonderingly.
They feel so cold. So very, very cold.
The walls in my hospital room are a dull, rancid white, the harsh edges softened by the pearly light streaming in through the windows. I touch the window gently, moulding the contours of my hands and face against the smooth glass, wanting to feel something colder than myself nestle against me.
I expel a breath in the cold stillness, watching as the cloud of steam leaves my mouth and mists the window in front of me.
And still the silence hangs in the air, taunting me with its timelessness, a discordant note in a symphony that drags endlessly on. I want to scream and plead for it to stop, but the night doesn't hear me. No one hears me.
I hear a bustle of activity approaching my room, rolling nearer before drawing away again. There are voices; there are suddenly too many voices for my dazed consciousness to deal with. Doctors and nurses battling to save a life. The high pitched whine of the defibrillator as it's administered, a desperate plea from someone - was it a man or a boy - to save his father.
The sounds jar me, and for a moment I'm confused. Had I really wanted the silence to stop just a heart beat ago?
I'm torn by the compulsion to go outside and the need to stay cocooned in this isolated cage of my own making. Let them think the fairy princess is sleeping, awaiting her prince in the warm light of day.
I laugh hollowly at the thought, and the sound reverberates around the empty silences of my room. A princess awaiting her prince, living in a fairy tale with glass slippers and a happily ever after ending.
If only my life is really like that. If only I'm really the fairy princess in that fateful picture that so many believe I am. Life would be so much simpler.
I sense the door opening but I continue to stare blankly out the window. Maybe if I'm really quiet and still, they'll mistake me for a living statue, cold and silent and unreal.
"Lana?" I sigh at the unmistakable siren call of my name. It binds me to a person that doesn't really exist outside the imagination of those who use it. Lana is the happy cheerleader who dances and smiles like there's no tomorrow, the grown up Smallville princess with a heart of gold and a golden haired boyfriend to match. Her life is perfect ... and utterly unreal.
I turn and stare silently at the intruder. His form is haloed by the harsh glare of the light from the hall, but that isn't what catches my attention.
I'm suddenly assaulted by the silent strength he's emanating. His tall smoothness, holding a world of strength and something more, something so much more.
His face is shrouded in darkness and a jolting feeling of familiarity hits me. It's a darkness that reflects my own.
I swallow, surprised to find my throat parched and dry. "Lex." I say, my voice harsh and uninviting even to my own ears.
He gives me a small, compassionate smile without warmth. "I noticed your name on the list of casualties. Just thought I'd ... come in and check up on you." He searches my face and suddenly I know he reads as much of me as I'm reading of him. We're on the same page in almost identical books.
He steps further into the room. "Where's Nell?"
I shrug almost casually, turning back to stare out the frostless window, gazing blankly at the inky night sky. "I told her to go home. She's going to come back in a few hours."
He nods in understanding. "And Clark?"
I shrug again. Why do I feel so cold? "He's out finding his dad." Lex's footsteps echo as he steps further into the room, silently closing the door behind him. In the silence that shrouds us, I can hear his breathing clearly, soft and regular and so very, very muted.
"What about you?" I ask blankly. There's no trace of curiosity in my voice. I'm making conversation the way I usually do, the motion so automatic it briefly scares me. It's as if I'm not really here in my own body; I'm hearing someone else flick the switches and go through the motions. I want to say that I'm on automatic pilot, but that sounds too cliched for even the fairy princess of Smallville to utter.
"My dad." He replies simply, as coldly as I feel.
I find myself turning around at the tone in his voice, that velvety smooth voice that I had always thought so calm and controlled. Now I realise that it's anything but calm. He sounds tight and uneven, as if desperately reigning in the emotion that must be rampaging through his veins.
Our eyes meet across the darkened room, my dark cocoon of safety against the reality of the world. My eyes flicker at the brilliant luminescence in his pale blue eyes, the emotion unchecked for only me to see.
A stab of understanding shoots me through the stomach, almost fells me with its intensity. He understands, I suddenly realise, blinking rapidly in the darkness.
He understands what it's like to be alone.
I feel the coldness that had settled into every sinew of my body begin to thaw. Somehow, he understands what this feels like, this crushing feeling that you're utterly alone in the universe. That no matter what happens in your life, it'll never go away. The dead don't come back to life, and miracles don't happen.
"Is he okay?" I ask quietly, whispering in the darkness.
Now it's Lex's turn to shrug, an almost nonchalant gesture that belies his cares. He looks tired, more tired than any person his age should look. His shoulders are hunched and he looks like he wants to sink down and melt away into the smooth coldness of the tiled floor.
My ears strain to catch his whisper as it drifts its way across to me in the too-silent room. "He was ... trapped for a few hours. But I think ... the doctors say he's going to pull through."
"That's a good thing, right?" I ask sharply, vaguely surprised that the question even made its way out of my mouth. What kind of a thing was that to say to a son?
He smiles in detached irony. I frown; I don't pretend to understand why he's feeling so ambiguous about his father's survival.
His smile changes into a bittersweet smile that somehow looks all too comfortable on his smooth, unlined face. "I think so." He whispers, expelling an uncertain breath. He seems battered, lost in a wave of emotions of his own making. And I'm standing by the seashore in the distance looking on as he's assaulted time and again.
I unfurl my legs from their cramped position, stretching my too-tight muscles in the process. I'm not used to sitting in the same position for so long.
I slide off my perch on the window ledge and sit gingerly on the side of the bed. It has a soft, pliable mattress, catering to arthritic backs and aching bones. No place for a sixteen year old ex-fairy princess incapable of letting go of her own emotions.
I want to reach out to him, this man, this boy, who's so obviously feeling the same pain as I am. Want to use my hand and reach out to those long, slender arms, touch and feel the smooth skin that's shining piercingly in the moonlight.
I want to touch the loneliness that's haunted me for so long.
He seems to grasp my vein of thought because in the next moment he's beside me, the bed groaning under our collective weight. My legs are dangling off the side and I find myself gazing at them absently.
Cool air flitters across my back, and I'm reminded that I'm wearing a thin hospital gown that does nothing to keep me warm. Does nothing to keep the warmth in, even if there's any warmth in me to keep in.
I shiver, sending spasms and goosebumps careening up and down my body. He reaches back behind us, spies the discarded blanket and throws it carefully around my shoulders. It almost makes me laugh, the way he so carefully wraps it around me. As if I'm a delicate China doll, frail and easy to break.
If only he knows there isn't anything in me that hasn't already been broken.
I glance at the contours of his face in the growing light, silhouetted against the whiteness of the walls behind him. He looks drawn and tired, and cold.
Unthinkingly I unwrap the blanket around my shoulders, weave it so that it now wraps snugly around both of us. He's surprised by the gesture; a tiny smile makes its way onto his face that prompts me to smile impishly back.
I leave my arm wrapped around his slender yet strong shoulders, feel the momentary tautness of his muscles before it dissipates. I sigh softly and dare to lean against him, laying my head hesitantly on his shoulder.
He breathes deeply, and I don't know whether he's just calming himself down or drawing comfort from our close contact. I don't really care.
He draws me further in and this time I don't hesitate, nestling into the crook of his neck, feeling the warmth of his lingering breaths on my hair. I close my eyes as I feel his chin rest on my head; I'm resting and I feel safe against the reality of the world.
We sit in the eerie silence, waiting in the pre-dawn light for the coming of the new day. And I find strength in his arms, because now I'm feeling something I've been missing for so long.
I feel warm.
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