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A Short Story by Kittyluvver

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Do you still love me?

I never knew that there are so many different kinds of dust. There is that warm, dusty sort of dust; thick, hard and heavy, the dust that coats memories in a protective gloss and clings sticky and smudged to your fingers and will not let go.

I'm sorry I wasn't enough.

There is the quiet, musty dust, the dust that smells of old pages and dark, secret places, the dust that feels like the velvet wings of moths against your skin. The dust that likes to lurk in libraries, and churches, and the basements of old schools. The dust that speaks of creaking wood, crumbling marble, tarnished glass, pale ivy tendrils; fading grandeur.

I'm sorry I couldn't protect you.

Then there is the dust of the city - hot and gritty, the kind that blows in your face and makes your eyes sting with tears unshed. The kind of dust that always carries the sickly-sweet scent of garbage on warm nights. The kind of dust that tastes foul in your throat, and can choke you if you aren't careful and breathe too often.

I'm sorry I couldn't make you happy.

There is the dust that looks like sand but isn't. Wild and untamed, it blows across desert, scrubland, bushes, and forests, following the wind wherever it goes. It is the dust of the mountains, the steppes, the plains, the scorching deserts. It is the dust that sometimes lingers out by your front doorstep, but is quickly gone as soon as the wind picks up. It is wild and proud, and will never content itself to be caught and trapped by brooms and dustbins.

But I still love you.

Then there is my favorite; the joyous dancing dust, that drifts and ripples on the silent air and glitters like a million shards of starlight when the sun hits it just right. Thousands of tiny motes spiral and swirl as one in endless harmony; never stopping, never colliding. Forever in flight, never to return to the ground below.

I will always love you.

The room is dark and yet filled with sunlight; though the lamps and lights are off, sunlight streams through two shaded windows and sends a thousand motes of dancing dust twinkling and twirling as one in their spirited waltz. 


Do you still love me?

***

Brown felt is glazed by choking dust; glassy silver eyes stare sightlessly at an empty dragonet’s room. Once glossy, now soft chocolate fur is threadbare and worn from countless hugs, years of companionship and adoration. Black button eyes are filled with nothing but sorrow, nothing but love.

"Do you remember me?" the teddy bear asks. "Do you remember those sunlit days? Do remember you took me into the garden, and you held me in your arms, and you gave me life through nothing but your imagination and your love?"

"Do you remember those lonely nights, when your blankets were cold and your pillow was wet with tears? When the faceless monsters hid in the shadows, and filled your heart with nameless fear? Remember how you held me, and told me you loved me? Remember how you asked me to protect you, to never leave you? How I kissed your brow and stood watch over you all through the lonely night, until I saw the windows gilded with the golden light of dawn? 


"I will never leave you," I promised in silence, as I watched your eyes close and your face grow smooth. "I will always be here. I will protect you. I won't let anything hurt you." And you smiled in your sleep, and my heart filled with joy and love.

And so passed so many golden days, and you grew big and tall, your paws long, your wings so glossy and sleek. And so passed so many murky nights, and I grew old and weary.

***

And then the night has become too big and too dark. The shadows grew deeper, and my paws grew weaker, and I couldn't fend them off. I couldn't protect you, couldn't save you from your fears. Our world grew dim and filled with shadows, and my heart filled with dread.

"Little one," I told you on a midnight gray, running my limp paws through your tangled hair. "Star of my heart. Be brave. Be strong. I want to protect you. I want to save you, because I love you. I love you so much.

"I'm sorry, little one. I'm so sorry," I said, my eyes shining with tears I could never shed. "I promised you that I would always be here, that I wouldn't let anything hurt you. But that is a promise I cannot keep - for there are so many things in this world that are dark, darker than even the night, and I cannot save you from them.

"I cannot keep the night at bay. In your life you will see evil and darkness beyond the blackest night. You will know pain and sorrow; loneliness and loss will walk in your shadow. This I know, and for this I weep because I cannot change it. I love you, but I cannot save you.

"But you don't need me," I tell you, my paw caressing your pale cheek. "Come out, my love, for you have never needed me. I have seen your heart, and it is good and true and beautiful. You are more than I ever could be, and I am so proud. So be brave, my little star. Come out and face the night."

And I saw your eyes, so beautiful and bright, emerge from behind the blankets that had hidden you for so many years.

And I was so proud.

***

Now I've watched you grow, turn into a grown-up so beautiful and brave. You became someone I am honored to call a friend. You faced your own shadows, vanquished your nightmares, all without me. You grew strong, and my heart was glad.

And now I am tired and broken. My fur falls out, my legs are tired, my eyes are dull, the light is gone from my eyes. The life I never had is fading. I have no more strength left in my paws. I am no longer pretty, no longer new, and you don't reach to me anymore. I grow weak. I grow old.

You don't need me anymore. And all I have left are my memories. All I have left is my love. I wish you happiness, I wish you courage. I wish you joy with all the strength that my threadbare heart can muster. May your days be filled with light and love. May your nights be calm and quiet. May the dust dance at the sound of your name, may your monsters fall away in your shadow.

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