I am

"She was made out of pure spirit and life. A star on earth. Yet a hurricane in space. Cassiopeia Turow was different."
I am a girl who dared to dream. I am someone who sought adventure. I am a person who will learn and thrive and satisfy curiosity. These are all qualities most people share. But most people can't say that they overthrew a monarchy or helped burn down the world.


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42. "Time was a monster,"

 

THIRTY NINE

“Time was up.”

“But time was a monster, a terrible, terrible monster.”

 

Now.

The Cemetery.

 

She dressed in the outfit that she had worn when she had first arrived at Irille and the robe that signified that she was a Sect member. Everyone came with her, her family, and she had to hold back the tears. In fact Cassiopeia didn’t know how to feel about dying, she felt rather numb about it all. It had all took its toll on her and it had wrecked her.

But she had to remain strong.

A priest and Hadrian were at the grave, an open grave with a casket open at its side. Cassiopeia gulped. Hadrian didn’t look at her. He never looked at her.

The Priest looked at her however and grimaced sadly, “It’s time my dear,” and she approached him.

She turned to her family, “I love you all,” she blubbered, “I’ll miss you.”

There was another round of hugs and tears and strong, strong arms around her. “I’m sorry this is how it’s ended,” Samantha whispered to her, “You are a fantastic girl, a wonderful girl. Give them hell in the afterlife alright?” and Cassiopeia nodded.

Next was Tommen who didn’t want to let her go. They shared a deep kiss, their feelings pouring out of one another. They didn’t want to let go of each other but they didn’t have time. “I love you Cassiopeia Turow, I will always love you,” he whispered and kissed her again, wishing he could take away her pain.

He ached with the unfairness of it all.

“I love you too, I have loved you for a while and I will never forget you.” Cassiopeia answered.

Lisa stroked her hair when she hugged her, “You’ll be alright, we’ll be okay, you’ll be fine.” She was like a broken record and Bruce just hugged her with all he was worth.

Nox was a statue as he came to hug her. “I’ll look after him for you, I'll make sure he is okay,” he murmured referring to Hadrian who appeared an angry statue in the corner, “You’ve been an excellent trainee, Cassiopeia, and a far better person than I am.”

“Don’t sell yourself short Nox,” Cassiopeia laughed and hugged him fiercely.

Avery looked gaunt that morning, “I’ll see you in the next life girlie,” he murmured and held her close.

“I’ll haunt you if I can,” Cassiopeia mumbled back.

Then it was time to crawl inside her casket. It was time to die. She stopped herself from crying as she caught the last view of her family, holding poppies (her favourite flower) in their hands and tears in their eyes. Then the door was shut and darkness covered her.

 

“You are sentenced to death by earth.” Hadrian’s voice as he delivered the verdict then and there was harsh and unforgiving. It was the first time he had spoken to her since everything had happened. It stuck in her throat and in her mind as they lowered her down into the unmarked grave. Her tears fell freely and they stuck to her cheeks. She would never see her parents again and all they would hear of her death was from a letter. All they would have to remember her by since she had left was a stack of postcards and a few letters. What had she done?

The casket that she was in was simple and small. It was where she would take her final breaths. “Please,” she muttered hoping that Hadrian would hear her, “I’m sorry, so sorry,” but she knew that the words could do nothing.

She remembered seeing Tommen’s face last.

Cassiopeia could feel every shovel of dirt that was being packed onto her casket and she counted each one of them. Sixty eight. Sixty nine. Seventy. She knew that the poppies would come when she was pronounced dead. Cassiopeia closed her eyes and allowed herself to reminiscence. She thought about every event that had happened since she had been born and she didn’t count the minutes that went by as the oxygen ran out.

 

She remembered when she was an infant and she walked for the first time, clinging onto the kitchen table for dear life. It was an early memory, something hazy because of how early in her life it was. But she remembered it because her mother had dropped her plate in shock and took her in her arms in wonder. Her mother had called her father in and they had cupcakes for dinner in celebration. Her mother’s laugh was light and fluffy, like cake batter and it had been music to her ears.

 

She remembered when her father taught her how to skip rocks. The small, wet pebbles that lined the beach sparkled in the lingering light of sunset. The water was almost still, small waves occasionally hitting the beach with little force. She had reached down to pick one up, running her thumb over its smooth surface. It was perfectly round, with no sharp edges or jagged curves. She swung her arm back and flicked her wrist like her father had told her, watching the small pebble skip across the surface of the sea. She threw her arms up in happiness and yelled into the sky, “Roll me in glitter and call me a unicorn!” She had been a little obsessed with unicorns at the time and the remark only made her father laugh in glee at her. After he was finished laughing he sprung her around in a circle, his arms strong and warm around her. He wouldn’t have dropped her, he never had so far in her life. She must have been only six or seven but it was a good memory.

 

She was six feet underground and the people around her would stay until they knew that she was dead. They had a time which they knew would be the cutoff point.

What an awful way to die… forever waiting for the inevitable to happen quickly.

It was a terrible thought. A terrible last thought to be exact. But it was true, time passed so achingly slow here and she hated it. She loathed the whole situation.

Cassiopeia could admit that she was scared, she was terrified. She was afraid of what it would feel like, her breath already being hard to take. She was terrified of what people’s reactions would be and if she would be forgotten about like she was worth nothing. That is what happened to criminals and she was a criminal now.

She couldn’t compare her experience to when she nearly drowned. She had been unconscious then. This experience was meant to make her suffer. It was meant to be painful and a time of reckoning. A time of failure because you couldn’t do anything to escape your fate now.

Her breaths rattled in her chest.

Another memory was thought of.

She couldn’t move. Couldn’t think. Couldn’t distract herself anymore. Her memories stopped abruptly as her heart stuttered gasping for air. She was suffocating, slowly dying as the oxygen plummeted to nothingness. Her lungs ached. Her heart felt sorry for itself.

It hurt. She hurt. She was sorry.                                        

Then it just stopped. She figured deliriously that it was then that the oxygen ran out for good. But when it came down to it, it was a lot more peaceful than what she had thought to be. In the darkness she was alone in this finality. Death was like falling asleep after a really tiring day, her head lolled, her eyes shut on their own accord and her brain took over, replaying a dream until it blinkered, like failing lights and the light went out altogether. It was in one heartbeat to another that she felt herself fading and fading, like turning and spinning softly.

It was okay and in the end she no longer hurt.

But everyone on the surface ached terribly.

Tommen’s grip on his poppy was enough to break his bones. His skin buzzed, his fingers shook and his head felt like a tornado raged where his brain should have been. He watched as the dirt was covered over Cassiopeia, as the Priest looked at his watch constantly as he ticked the minutes down.

Three and a half minutes. That was the time he was waiting for. That was the time it took to die from suffocation.

The day was cold, colder than the forecast had said. Cassiopeia had never mentioned it, Tommen knew that she hadn’t even noticed it. Not on this day. This day meant something else to her.

Hadrian didn’t look at the grave as the dirt piled up. He didn’t look at Cassiopeia as she was lowered in. His eyes had remained on the sky, the crisp, cold sky and they never wavered.

Lisa let out a sob as the time was called. “That’s it.” The priest had said and Lisa had had to crouch so that her poppy would not fall to the ground.

Avery was the first one to lay his poppy down on the ground of her grave. His eyes were determined as he kneeled down and spent moments just looking at where Cassiopeia now lay. He swallowed a hard gulp and stood pressing his hands into Tommen’s back.

Tommen stumbled across the short distance with unbalanced steps. He fell to his knees, the poppy tumbling from his fingers and onto the dirt. His eyes shut, his head bowed and his hands came together. He seemed to be praying and he hoped that it had not hurt. His breath rattled and his heart ached.

The unfairness of the world was crippling him.

Avery didn’t know how to comfort his son, the pain exuberating from him was too much and it nearly crippled himself. It was Lisa who came up and gripped Tommen’s shoulder.

“She’ll be looking down on us,” Lisa murmured, “And up there she will be free as a bird,” Lisa was reassuring herself as well as the younger man.

Tommen nodded and stood, watching the poppy where it lay.

 

“Why is the poppy your favourite flower?” Tommen had asked one night on the ship, they were lying under the light of the lanterns swaying with the rocking of the ship.

“On Sars there was a whole field of them, near the far corners of the island. Whenever I was sad I would go to that field and brush my fingers over the red flowers. It would calm me, make me smile. Poppies remind me of home.” Cassiopeia had smiled.

She had pressed a flower into the sketchbook from when she had saw one on the island they had passed that day and a nostalgia came over her. It was a nice feeling, to be reminded of the place that anchored you, that made you grow and not feel bound to it so much that you had to go back there.

“What’s your favourite flower Tommen?” Cassiopeia asked, lolling her head to the side to look at him more.

“Sun flowers, there may have been scattered sun on Marta sometimes but they would always survive. We had a massive one when Grandad came home,” Tommen’s eyes wandered as the memories rolled over him.

Home would always call and they would answer it to comfort themselves but not to go back and stay there. They were travelers now and it was written in their bones, engraved with the very fiber of their being.

Before they left Cassiopeia made sure to present him with a sun flower. The smile on his face had never been as wide as it had. His cheeks had almost split with the force of it. 

 

The memory of the poppies made him stagger and almost fall into Avery. Lisa stayed where she was, placing the poppy delicately in the middle of the grave.

“Sleep well Novy,” She whispered and smiled sadly down. Bruce came up to her and placed his poppy down next to Lisa’s.

“Sleep tight with sweet dreams young lass,” Bruce uttered and swung an arm around his wife’s shoulder, tucking her head onto his shoulder. Cassiopeia had made quite an impression on them and that would be everlasting, no matter if she was alive or dead.

Nox and Samantha came as a pair, placing their poppies in an S formation as they curved the stems. “The afterlife better be deserving of you,” Samantha asserted.

“Cassiopeia will be the queen of the underworld,” Nox smiled as he brushed against Samantha. He looked over his shoulder at Hadrian but the other man avoided his gaze. His eyes were still on the sky, clouds drifting over.

For a moment Hadrian’s eyes went to the grave, for just a moment. He found a grave of a girl covered in poppies and devotion and memories. He had put her there but she had also put his brother in the same predicament.

Poppies reminded him of the blood blooming on Lucian’s chest, his gaping, gasping breaths. His final smile and wandering eyes. Hadrian gulped and walked away from the group. The Priest followed in his example once his legs started to move.

Hadrian couldn’t stay there not when the memories threatened to rise to the surface like hot air. Nox’s eyes followed his back before snapping back to the grave.

He would look after Hadrian, but today was for Cassiopeia and her memory and her life, taken sooner than it should have.

That left a group of six people, people from different backgrounds with different experiences but they were only united by their grief and by the wonderful girl who had pounced on their lives and changed it with her presence. 

 

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