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Forgotten and Remembered

by tatyanne


Illyana sat on the forest floor, running her fingers through the cool earth. It was not quite winter anymore, yet it was not quite spring yet either. It was an overcast day, and a chilly breeze swept through the forest ever so often. Normally Illyana would feel the cold, but today she did not care.

     It was Illusen Day. It was also Illyana’s birthday. The problem with being born on such a celebrated day, was that none of the celebrations ever were for her.

     Illyana sighed in frustration as she cupped the earth, forming a mound. She could let a pretty flower grow here, but the young Earth faerie could not muster the will. She left the mound bare. Illyana rose, flattening the mound decidedly with her right foot. Earth faeries were creatures of creation, but Illyana’s little act of destruction filled her with defiant energy.

     It was not just that her birthday fell on Illusen Day that irked Illyana. Never mind that all the presents that she ever received were Illusen-themed, or that her name had been inspired by Illusen. Most people didn’t even remember her name anyway. To most people, Illyana was the shy little sister of the rather popular, outgoing and extroverted Seiona, and was therefore simply known as ‘Seiona’s little sister’. And so, Illusen Day was a day when Illyana felt more invisible than usual.

     Did anyone even notice that Illyana had disappeared midway through the celebrations? Illyana doubted it. She had tried hard to put on a smile and celebrate. Illusen *was* someone Illyana looked up to and truly admired after all. It was just that this day every year made her feel so forgotten. This year was the first time that she could not bring herself to get through the day with a smile plastered on her face. She had felt like she was going to burst, so she left.

     It felt good to be alone, away from the throngs of faeries, mingling and laughing with one another. It was also lonely. Birthdays were meant to make you feel special. It was difficult to do that alone.

     Illyana plumped down once more. A Faerie Gallion that had spotted Illyana and had slowly been approaching with curiosity gave a start. Illyana looked up.

     “Oh, I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to give you a fright! Come on over and keep me some company,” Illyana apologised.

     She scooped the Petpet into her arms, as she sat cross-legged on the ground. Softly, she began to tell the Gallion about her troubles, while gently stroking its silky mane. She poured out her heart. There were so many emotions, and Illyana felt conflicted, and even a little guilty to be complaining about something that seemed so petty and perhaps even selfish.

     Nevertheless, the Faerie Gallion appeared to be listening intently, snuggling up to her, and giving her comfort. After Illyana got tired of her own voice, they sat in silence. Soon, the Gallion fell asleep in her arms.

     A large raindrop fell on Illyana’s nose.

     The skies had turned an ominous shade of grey. It began to rain. The Faerie Gallion awoke, and flew off apologetically. Illyana sighed. Now she was drenched, and even sadder than before. She decided to head home.

     When Illyana reached a fork in the road, she decided to take a detour. The left fork led home. The right fork led to the cemetery. Coralie, her best friend from when she was little, was buried there. It had been over a decade, but Illyana often wondered how differently things could have turned out.

     The rain had eased to a drizzle, and Illyana could make out a figure kneeling at the grave. It was Coralie’s mother, Raiel.

     Illyana gave a slight cough as she approached. Raiel turned. Her face broke into a smile.

     “Illyana! It is so good to see you! It is your birthday today, isn’t it? Come, come, sit with me. I was just chatting with Coralie!”

     “Oh, I don’t want to interrupt…” Illyana’s voice trailed off.

     “Please stay,” Raiel insisted. “We have not had much time together since Coralie left us, and my, how beautifully you have grown up!”

     “Thank you,” Illyana replied abashedly. It really had been a long time since they had talked. In truth, Illyana had always ducked away when she saw Coralie’s mother, because she simply had not known what to say, with Coralie gone.

     “Tell me, how have you been?”

     Illyana was about to respond with a generic “Everything is fine,'' when she met Raiel’s eyes. There was something so earnest about her, that Illyana could not help but blurt out everything that she was feeling. With every word, her heart felt lighter and lighter, and the words flowed out of her mouth like they never had before. Raiel listened intently.

     Illyana spoke until she felt she had no more words left in her. Raiel pondered for a while. Illyana looked at Raiel’s kind face.

     “You know, when Coralie moved on to the next realm, it felt like time had stopped. Nothing felt real. It felt like the pain of losing her would stay with me forever, because time would never move forward again. Quickly I realised that time seemed to only have stopped for me, but not for anyone else. It was like I was in a bubble, and time outside of the bubble was zooming by in a blur and leaving me behind. I wanted to scream. How was it fair? Why wasn’t anyone else stopping? The world had just shattered, why was no one else trying to put it back together?”

     Raiel paused. She had a sad, faraway look in her eyes. Illyana dared not breathe.

     “I was afraid Coralie would be forgotten. Soon enough, I was afraid I would be forgotten too, even though I was still here. As time went on, fewer people reached out to me, and finally, I was left behind in my own grief.”

     Illyana swallowed. It had been a difficult time when Coralie left. She had cried for a long time, but eventually life did go on, and Illyana had made new friends. She had never truly considered that someone else’s world had shattered beyond repair. Raiel and Coralie had only had each other. Without Coralie, it was just Raiel. Illyana, of course, had been too young to understand.

     “It was not wrong for everyone else to keep living,” Raiel said gently. “I was destroyed, yes. But how many times have others gone through grief, without my noticing? How many times has time kept going for me, while someone else was sitting in that bubble of timelessness? I couldn’t tell you if I tried.”

     Illyana looked up into the cloudy sky.

     “I suppose we all are at the centre of our own universe,” Illyana mused. That wasn’t wrong, or selfish, Illyana thought to herself. It was just the nature of how things were. Everything we see, feel, hear and sense comes back to us, to our own perceptions and perspectives.

     “Over time, my heart healed. I came to realise that time can stop and fly by, all at once.” Raiel placed her hand on Illyana’s shoulder. “What made the difference for me in the end, was to reach out, instead of waiting to be remembered.”

     The two faeries sat for a while more, in peaceful silence.

     A while later, as Illyana made her way home, she thought about what Raiel had said. She no longer felt as bitter as she had before. She could not change her birthday. She could not change the fact that it was Illusen Day. And that was okay. She could always celebrate both. Also–reminding the important people in her life would not hurt either.

     The End.

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