Echoes and Shadows

Reginald awoke with a start. It was the dead of night in Cerra Holding, hardly a sound to break the stillness of the dark. He sighed heavily and placed a palm over his eyes, rubbing each in turn as the lingering images of yet another bad dream faded into the recesses of his mind. It had been her eyes as usual, her green eyes blazing with hatred, contempt, and disgust. The same eyes he expected his son would eventually have.

“Bad dream?” A familiar voice asked from his bedside.

His dreams had become so frequent—and her corresponding visits as well—that he barely flinched at the apparition of a little girl staring at him. She shimmered a translucent blue, the color of a hologram projected by a holodrone interface. Her hair was a mess of curls while she wore a modest, sleeved dress with a high collar.

“As if you could read my mind, Red,” he closed his eyes, trying to find comfort by pressing the back of his head against his pillow.

“I could help, you know.”

Red’s offer was always at the back of Reginald’s mind. An offer to rid himself of the memories of the recent past, to reset to a time without heartache, abandonment, despair, depression, or fitful sleep. But there was a part of Reginald that rejected that, rejected throwing away the last few years of his life. It was the same part of him that told him that for all of the pain, the image of he and Kat smiling at their newborn son was worth it. He couldn’t forget that.

“I can’t do that, Red. You know the reason.”

Red shrugged her tiny shoulders, “Suit yourself. And now there’s a killer disease ravaging New Eden.”

He blinked, “The best minds are being summoned to deal with Kyonoke. It hasn’t broken containment.”

“But you aren’t even worried?”

“About what?”

“About him? About her? When was the last time you even talked to her?”

Red’s question shot into Reginald’s soul like a steel-shafted arrow. It was difficult for him to even recall the last time he had spoken to his ex-wife. There was a memory buried beneath the pain, of he and his wife enjoying seafood in Kamela. It seemed like an eternity.

“A year, maybe?” He forced himself up, knowing full well he wouldn’t be returning to slumber any time soon.

“How do you know she isn’t trapped beneath the nanoshield? Or stuck on one of the quarantined stations?”

“Because,” he blurted out, “I’m sure that if she or Oberyn were in real trouble, she would contact me.”

“Would she?”

Red’s question lingered longer than the last one. Would she? It was a possibility that had taken root in Reginald’s heart, of the possibility that his ex-wife had fallen in love with someone else, that another man—or woman, possibly—was raising his son. He tried to shake the feeling away, even as his fingers clenched into his bedsheets, curling from the all-too-familiar sensation of frustrated hopelessness that characterized most of his waking hours.

“I’m sure she would,” he replied at last, his voice unsure.

“I don’t like seeing you like this,” Red said as she began to run and skip around the room.

“This is my life, now,” Reginald responded, watching Red’s holoprojection.

I wouldn’t want you to live like this,” she stopped and turned to face him, shooting him an almost disconcerting look.

“She hasn’t responded to anything I’ve written her,” he frowned. He had stopped writing to her over a year ago.

“Maybe you should go and try to find her. He is your son after all,” Red placed her hands on her hips.

“And leave the Holding? Who will oversee it in my absence?”

“Oh, I don’t know. The literal armies of servants that typically run Holdings? And it’s not like you’ll be traveling on foot. It doesn’t take that long to go anywhere these days.”

Reginald chuckled. Always to the point.

“But!” Red nodded firmly, “I think you should try to see them. They’re all you think about. And besides, you have a right to know how his life is progressing, even if you aren’t part of hers anymore.”

“Maybe you’re right,” Reginald nodded as he stood up from his bed.

“I’m always right.”

With that, Red flickered away.

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