Inspired by “A Trial of Crows and Blood” by Dead Melodies

A fire crackles in the distance. Your head still throbs. The fever still weighs heavy on you. You open your eyes and find yourself lying in a bed inside a small cabin. You remember collapsing suddenly, so you could be awake. Someone might have found you and brought you here. But you aren’t sure. There’s a fuzziness about this place that you can’t quite name.

A familiar figure approaches you. “Easy. How are you feeling?” he asks.

“Dad?!” You bolt upright in surprise. It’s been two months since you were last together. He died in your arms that day, blood soaking your hands from the fatal knife wound that bandit gave him. “Is it – is it really – how are you…?”

Dad sits on the edge of the bed and puts a hand on your shoulder. His face is solemn – that look he makes when he’s utterly serious. “You’re dreaming,” he tells you. “I’m not actually here. I am your memories of me.”

Darkness claws at your heart as the realization hits you anew. Your throat tightens. Your vision blurs.

“I don’t mean to upset you, but you’ve been through a lot lately. I thought I could help.”

Tears spill down your cheeks. “I miss you, Dad.” Your voice quivers. “I miss you so much.”

“I know. I know.”

You fall forward, choking on your grief. Dad catches you and holds you close as the tears flow freely.

He whispers, “Listen. We’re apart now, and the divide between us can’t be crossed. But as long as you remember me, we can meet in your dreams like this. It’s not the same, but the memories are yours to keep. This piece of me will always be with you. You don’t have to feel alone.”

The tears slow after a while. Only the fire fills the silence. You stay still, doubly exhausted.

“You were this sick before,” Dad says. “It was a rainy winter night. We were staying in a house like this one. You were six – still small enough that I could hold you in my lap.”

You whisper, “I remember. You told me stories.”

“You hardly moaned that night, but you were burning with fever. I knew you had to be suffering. I was scared, but I didn’t know what else I could do.”

“It helped a lot.” You know what you want, but the request sounds awkward as it leaves your lips. “Dad? Could you – one more time?”

Dad chuckles. You hear it rumble inside his chest. He guides you back down onto the bed then, smiling, asks, “Which one do you remember?”

“That time in Phinas with the dancer. I was there a few weeks ago. It was just like you described it.”

“So you’ve seen the city by the sea. Gorgeous place, isn’t it? Those sandstone buildings. Colorful rugs hanging from every window. It was festival season when my mates and I were there. The market was bustling, and the breeze carried the smell of fish and a hundred spices. Thirsty, hungry, and coin in our pockets, we headed in toward the sound of music.”

You don’t hear how the story ends. You don’t need to. That familiar voice and those words you’ve heard a thousand times are enough medicine to soothe you to sleep.

©2019 Joyce Lewis. All rights reserved.