The Crystal starts with frustrated growling, uncharacteristically heavy footfalls treading a line in the floor.
“I can’t breathe. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I don’t… know what’s wrong with me. I’ve been fine. I’ve been fine! I haven’t done anything wrong I –“
The sound of pacing, back and forth, back and forth, rapid, shallow breathing.
“Vyn and Gael say talking about this will help – like it’ll make me realize it sounds stupid or something but – but it’s not stupid. It’s –I’m stupid for thinking it can change.”
More pacing, punctuated by frustrated growls, unable to verbalize the storm in his head.
“I shouldn’t have taken the fucking sheet off the mirror.” Grunting, scraping of wood on wood, jostling as he wedges himself between the heavy dresser and the corner of the wall, hiding like a mouse in a hole. His breathing starts to slow in the safety of the tight space.
“I shouldn’t be here. There are so many layers as to why I shouldn’t be here. It’s illegal. It’s dangerous. If I’m caught – I don’t know. I’ll be killed or jailed or – I actually don’t care what happens to me if I’m caught. But what about Doc Bendon? What about Ash and Jiira? They took me in, they’re protecting me, and they can’t say they don’t know what I am. I mean they could. I hope they would. But Ash speaks Thalassian. Would they think that was a black mark?
I used to be so jealous of the others, of Kae, of Aida, for having that affection. That… protection, I guess. I wanted it so bad. I could feel the jagged edges of my soul – I mean, not… not literally. Maybe literally. I’m getting off – It hurt because I needed it. Like… hunger. But in my chest.
Hunger is an old friend…
But… yeah. It was… the same feeling I got during the Festivals. The smells of the food, the happy people eating, the waste. The under appreciation of something so… precious. I would get so angry. Angry at the people for having what I couldn’t. Angry at the wind for teasing me with the scent. Angry at myself for not being able to just walk up and try to join. For resorting to stealing from trash cans.
Even when someone tried to invite me into it… I… I couldn’t. Those things aren’t… meant for things like me. They’re for people and I’m… Not a person. The longer I stay here, the more I… start to forget that. And that’s…. That’s dangerous. For everyone.”
Steady, shallow breathing.
“And it was the same feeling when I first got here. I was jealous. And I was… hurting. And I was hungry but in my heart. What is that feeling, there has to be a word for it… Lonely? Maybe lonely. I wanted what they had. But that’s not something you can steal from a trash can. And then… one day I slipped. And they let me. So… I tested it. I pushed it… And they allowed it. They let me in and… suddenly my chest didn’t hurt so much anymore. And those jagged edges were smoothed down. And all I wanted was to make them proud, and…
And it feels so good. And I don’t hate myself as much anymore. And… And then the other day we were outside Stormwind meeting another Sin’dorei and when she asked if I was their friend, they said I was ‘so much more’. And… and it makes me feel good. And strong. And like… I have a future. And for once I realized that I’m only eighteen, I have… I have so much life ahead of me. And for once I felt like I could live. I could see that horizon stretched out before me and it wasn’t scary at all. It was the edge of dawn breaking and… and everything has only just begun. And I felt alive.
And I was fine. No, I was better than fine. I was happy. And I went to bed happy. I let myself enjoy the feel of the bed instead of moving back to the floor like I said I would when I wasn’t as injured. And I took the sheet off of the mirror and spent a long time just looking at myself. I took the bracers off my arms, used the leftover poultice Jean had made me. I went to bed and felt that it was okay. It was like I’d been spending my whole life trying to walk through a poison fog and now… finally… it was starting to lift. I could smell fresh air and it was going to be alright. I had a future, a long one with opportunities. I was allowed to be happy.
I slept a few hours like that but then… this creeping dread came. Because I realized I was wrong.
Because I am not a person.
I look like one. I sound like one, I sometimes even act like one. But I know deep down there is something fundamentally flawed with me. My mother knew it, that’s why she was so eager to get rid of me. She hates me because she can smell it on me. Totegar knew it. I think even Vyn knows it, but he’s too… …nice… to let go of me. I am not a person, and whatever disease I have in me will taint everything and everyone around me. At best I’m a stray dog, but there’s a reason you don’t take in strays. We’re dirty, we infest the entire place with fleas, and – and you don’t know what sicknesses we could have. What if we bite? What if we go rabid? You don’t take in strays.
I think I know why this feels so wrong now. I keep wanting to run, but whenever I think of running I don’t… think of that spot in Eversong anymore where the roots of the trees make a burrow. I don’t think of the bushes that line the fountain that shade the noonday sun. I don’t think of the shop with that tailor who is slowly going blind, hiding in his rafters with stolen silk. Or the Tauren fur trader. I… I think of here. Right here, wedged in here safe. The only place that compares is Vyn’s apartment in Silvermoon and… …that’s off limits right now.
This place is starting to feel like home. And that’s terrifying, because… because any time I get too comfortable with something, something awful happens. I am a curse – a disease and I need to leave before someone gets hurt but I’m too afraid to leave.”
There’s a dull thump as he digs in his heels, pushing himself deeper into his corner.
“I’m hungry but the thought of food turns my stomach. I want to get out of here but I can’t leave my room. I need to run but I just want to hide. I’m safe here. But I’m not safe to be here.
Talking was supposed to make me feel better. I don’t feel better.” A clatter as the box is shoved away, then long silence until the crystal times out.