I can’t wear the knitted tunic until I cut holes in the back, so I fold it into a rectangle and layer it on top of the wool blanket, which I realize now I took with me. I would feel bad about stealing it, but it’s like there’s a molasses surrounding me that just makes me want to cry, and I think it’s fine that if she gets to make me feel like this, I can at least steal her blanket. I unzip my sweatshirt again and place the tunic and blanket at my stomach before zipping it back up. I don’t care that I look stupid. I don’t have a backpack or anything else to carry them with, so this’ll have to do.
I’m a couple dozen feet from the lighthouse door, just behind a hill so I can no longer see it. The bluffs rise up in front of me, just a black mass in the darkness. I want to fly again to keep the molasses from weighing me down.
I backtrack to the top of the hill again, not caring if Merida sees me from whatever windows her living quarters have, but keeping my eyes averted for my own sake. Moving on, I tell myself, physically and mentally.
Moving on, I think. It launches me forward into a run and as the hill dips down I jump. Down-beat, repeat; I murmur habitually. The skirt is awkwardly long but seems to be doing a good job at keeping me warm. I don’t worry about freezing to death anymore, but my bones are still chilled. I’ve had days like this before, where my body can’t get warm because my mind is too cold. I try to shrug it off as I rise toward the stars, try to let their light pass through me and give me peace.
I’m continuing down the coast now, with numb hands from the cold and a numb brain from the time. I should be asleep by now, I think. I can see the moon if I start rising again, because it’s floating just above my head like a halo. The thought almost makes me laugh. I’m like an angel.
The thought will just keep on coming, I know. Just like the cliffs keep on rising beside me.
I’m wondering if the lighthouse path trails up the cliffs when the coast sharply veers to my right, and following the coastline with my eyes I’m confronted with hundreds of sparkling lights, beautiful like the stars above them and reflected shimmeringly in the ocean below them. They pull me towards them and I feel a tear streak icily down my cheek, followed by more that make my eyes feel like they have icicles hanging from them. I wipe under my eyes, not sure why I’m crying about these lights. But I am.
I approach the village quickly and descend in wide circles, the flickering lights dizzying in my spiral. I wonder if this is some sort of tourist location when I notice that each light is a single flame, all held in lanterns in front of houses and along the streets. Many of the houses are in disrepair or otherwise patched with wood planks. Maybe they were hit with the explosion and couldn’t be repaired yet. I falter in my circle, not wanting to land in a populated area. A lone lantern winks to me from the edge of the village and I glide to it. I hope I don’t make much noise as I land, and I stand by next to a tree - the first I’ve seen on this coast, although I’m sure there are more in the village - and I pull the tunic out from my sweatshirt. I don’t have to fuss to get it off this way, so I just put the tunic on, over my wings and all.
The lantern is in front of a cabin-like house, all alone on a dirt path. It illuminates the weeds growing around the door and the wrong side of curtains in the windows. It’s not a very welcoming place. But I’m not expecting to be welcome. I’m expecting to find a shed I can bunk in for the night.
Everything seems darker with the lantern’s brightness to compare to, so I take slow steps around the perimeter of the house, taking a good look around when I’m out of the light’s reach. I’m surprised to see a hulking building behind it, on the other side of rows of indeterminate plants. A farm, I conclude. And the building I’m pleased to conclude is a barn.
I can actually rest tonight, I realize with a sigh that loosens my whole body and threatens to make me cry again. I step lightly over the plants that look a lot like basil to me, making toward the barn doors at an angle. The smell of must and green waft to me comfortingly.
I am laying in the hay at the top of the barn after opening it up with gentle fingers and closing it behind me as best as I could, and then climbing a wood ladder to the shelf for hay bales. I have the itchy blanket wrapped around me again and I stare into the pitch of a dark barn listening to the soft noise of horses below me. The quietness itself seems warm and it encloses me gently in its arms. A tear falls from my eye and beads on the knitted tunic just before I sink into the soft sleep.