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Clare Martin Clare Martin
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soul mates

Air is scarce. My lungs can't seem to process it. I am afraid.
I begin to breathe fast, too fast, and I can't control the breaths.
I'm standing and the ground seems a million miles below me.
Fingers point in my direction and eyes widen in alarm and indecision.
I am falling, falling into eternal darkness. The ground is unreliable.
It's too far below me and will not catch me before I'm gone.
It will not shake me out of this fit. I begin to scream, searing,
Hoarse yelps escape my throat. They hear, but do they care?
Why am I still falling? Why won't somebody catch me?
Sweat runs down my face. The stars are out again. It's midday.

I'm caught by someone. Arms grip my shoulders and I see nothing
But darkness, nothing but an eternal road which my feet cannot find.
I feel no pain. I feel no more fear. I've stopped writhing and shaking.
My heartbeat is back to normal. I feel overcome by fatigue and smoke.
The feeling is somewhat peaceful. I want to stay here, in this world.
The light is miles away from where I float, because I've just realized
I am floating. There's no ground beneath my feet, of any sort. I'm flying!
I see stars. Maybe I'm in space. Funny, they always said one can't breath here.
Perhaps the government wants us confined to Earth forever, and so fed us
This rumour. Maybe this planet is our prison, and they are the real prison guards.

I think of my classmates, no doubt huddled in a circle around my unconscious form.
I remember Sandra, the girl who tried to help me control my breathing before I went.
How is she enduring what she sees now? I can't be sure if I've just passed out or
If I'm having a complete fit. It wouldn't be the first time, but I can't see her now.
My classmates...can they bear those searing, blood-filled breaths and screams?
I know I can, but I'm used to it. I remember the fear in a young boy's eyes one day
When, despite his best efforts, I fell into a state of helplessness. He was twelve.
I remember my brother. Even though he's six years older than me, when he collapses,
I play my role of the responsible sister, holding his head on my knee until it's over.
But the first time he had a fit...I was delirious. I thought I'd lost my brother.

The light returns. I'm still trembling. My tongue hurts; I've bitten into it.
Blood is coating my tacky school uniform. Water is forced down my throat.
I'm unaware of the tears until I feel one drip into my ear. I'm lying on my side.
"It's over," he whispers gently, my best friend. "You're going to be okay now,"
I know he's right. But the fear is back. Where I was, it wasn't bad. Perfect, really.
It's just now, this very second, that I realize how solitary I truly am. I walk alone.
But it's all of my own accord. Hands have reached out and I have brushed them aside.
Some roads I will always walk alone. But there are always footsteps to follow.
And, for the first time since I learned to walk, I take the hand that is offered to me.
The hysteria is over. I accept the water and allow myself to fade back into reality.

After all, no soldier, no matter how solitary she may be, will stand alone in battle.

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