The first few minutes are hazy confusion, the light too bright, the world too loud. It’s like this every time. I never get used to it.
Someone’s tugging on my arm, already attempting to urge me to my feet even as I try to get my bearings, even as the world seems to lurch around me. The tugging is insistent though, the spots finally begin to fade from my vision.
The scene which comes into focus doesn’t make sense. It’s night, I notice the stars through the window, yet everything around me is bright, too bright for night and candles and lanterns. A boy is the one tugging on my arm, but he’s wearing an expression completely foreign. On someone else - anyone else - it might be panic, but the boy doesn’t panic. He is calm and patient, smooth as a deep running river, and never yells, never crashes against rocks or sweeps up everything before him in a fury.
He is not calm now though and it is…unsettling. It is unsettling that his eyes are so wide, that his hands shake, small and tight as he tugs again.
The ground is finally steady - or maybe me, myself, is - and I notice the boy’s partner just beyond, clutching the Small Thing and looking much like the boy. He edges closer as the boy draws back, holding the Small Thing out urgently, pushing it into my arms. The Small Thing doesn’t squirm away or fuss, simply clings to the blanket and huddles into a Smaller Thing.
I can’t hear anything, not really, the world is too loud or not loud enough, and it’s still so bright, too bright. But the boy is tugging at me again, towards the windows now. My steps are slow and clumsy, but the boy doesn’t seem to notice, just keeps tugging. The window is already fully open and I can see why the world is so bright, though it doesn’t make sense. The house has turned into a candle and I don’t know why, but it is making the whole world around as bright as day.
I glance back toward the boy, whose face is wet now, and watches my lips form more words lost in the roar around them. I speak again, yet this time there’s no missing it, the sound curling through my chest instead of the air, lodging in the place where I realize the Waking Stone sits. The Word stays with me, as the boy and his partner kiss the Small Thing, as the boy does his nighttime blessings and presses his fingers to the spot just above the Waking Stone, remaining with him as he clutches the Small Thing close and turns his back to the window and falls, the ground somewhere beneath them and getting closer, stays with me as I stare up at the house turned candle.