I can never understand why I must be the one to take the brunt of the damage. I would give anything for someone else to take it.
I stand in the shower, the hot water pounding on each and every bruise and cut. Every wound stings, but the water almost soothes it.
The blood from the fresh cuts mingles with the water. My hair is in my face. My muscles are still tense.
I try to relax. I really do. It's too hard to focus on. I can't stop thinking about the battle. My mind races with the things Cronus said. And I can't help but feel my eyes burn for the three year old children that were killed because of Cronus's selfish desires.
I shouldn't care this much. They were another sacrifice made. They were supposed to remain dead. They weren't supposed to come back just to haunt me.
I begin sobbing, the salty tears mingling with the water dripping off my face. They were just children. They weren't supposed to be dead. Those children had their whole lives in front of them. They were supposed to be home by now, with their parents.
Seven three year olds were killed. Cronus taunted, "They'll grow up to be just the same as you." He fired a blast of pure energy toward the play structure where those kids were playing.
I can't think of it anymore. It's just too painful. It's worse than the bruises and scars. It's worse than Cronus actually pursuing me. It's worse than having my heart broken. It's worse than feeling an incurable venom course through me in my final hours.
It's by the grace of God, and the twist of fate Herry managed to pull off on my sixteenth birthday. In one timeline, it was supposed to be my last.
In the midst of my despair for the children, I feel the water is shut off. Someone wraps me in a towel, and carries me to my room. There, I start to come out of it.
"Are you going to be okay?" Jay asks. His intentions are good, his touch is nervous, and his eyes are sad. He's seen me naked before, the first time blushing furiously because of an accident. This time, he's not embarrassed. This time, he is concerned.
I nod, snorting back snot. I wipe my eyes with already wet hands.
Jay presses his forehead to mine. "Liar," he sings.
The waterfalls begin running again. "I can't help but think about those kids," I croak. "They had their whole lives in front of them."
He presses a careful kiss to my lips. "It's okay, Colbie," he assures. "It never gets easier. You can take my word for it."
"How do you deal with it? The pain."
Jay tenses as the question leaves me. "I think of what more damage Cronus can do, give him the chance. It helps steel the nerves. The pain, I can't deal with." He gives me a bitter smile. "According to Cronus, you are showing weakness by grieving."
"Grieving is human. Grieving is holy. Jesus grieved."
"And, in Cronus's eyes, you're imperfect because you're human. Humane. Empathy is a tricky thing."
"But it's something I'm good at."
He hugs me tightly, squeezing every bruise and wound that covers my arms and back.
Who knew bruises could hurt so much?