The sounds of the medical staff walking past her room made for an oddly fitting backdrop to Myka’s thoughts as she clutched the locket around her neck and stared unseeing at the grey wall opposite her bed. The mumble and rustling of papers reminded her of being out in the field, on the move, solving puzzles. It reminded her of solving puzzles with Helena. She clutched the locket tighter. Helena had asked her to keep it when she left again, promising to come back for it as soon as she could. But weeks had turned into months without a word, not even a call, text message or letter. Nothing. And then this illness that had come creeping over the year (oh, Myka had felt it coming, but what better way to wish something out of existence than ignoring the tiredness, pain, and blurry vision?) began to consume her. Now she could hardly rise from the bed without someone to lean on, and it was many weeks since she put down her last book. The tumour was pressing on her optical nerve, and the letters of her favourite pages had turned into a blur.
And still Helena was nowhere to be seen. Myka could have insisted on the Regents contacting her of course. She could have written a letter and said all those things that it had never been the right time to voice out loud, but she couldn’t make herself do it. She supposed it felt like giving up, accepting that it was time to say goodbye. And she couldn’t say goodbye to Helena, not again. They had done it too many times over the past years; it had become a pattern of sorts to meet at gunpoint and say goodbye only to find themselves in a similar position again when they least expected it.
So Myka couldn’t accept that this really was their end. It was far easier to accept that the life was slowly draining out of her, because she felt it. She felt her body shutting down, cell by cell, organ by organ. But to accept the fact that this inevitably meant saying goodbye to her family was something entirely different.
It was far too soon to leave this life.
Removing the locket from around her neck and opening it to look at the picture of Christina on one side, and of herself on the other, Myka’s vision blurred even more by the tears she hadn’t yet allowed herself to shed over the coming end. Furiously blinking them away, she whispered to the empty room,
Please come back…
Time had ceased to hold its meaning for her long ago, slipping sideways around her like she was a rock in a rushing steam. Voices moved past her bed, some loud and familiar, others cautious and quiet. None of it really mattered anymore. Myka knew she was giving up; knew that Pete would be furious with her and Claudia unable to understand, but there was a cold inside her that had nothing to do with the air conditioning and she was too weak to fight it.
And so she drifted, not bothering to keep her eyes open. There was nothing in this place she wanted to see now. Her tether was long gone so she cast herself onto the current of Time and let it carry her where it willed, even into darkness.
It was a soft touch. A warm touch, but it caught her awareness as surely as an anchor catching on a rock. Suddenly Time was no longer rushing passed her. A gentle hand gripping her own, tender fingers at her brow and a scent and a voice Myka would know anywhere.
“Please come back Myka, I’m here. Come back to me.” Over and over again like a prayer the words were whispered against her skin and Myka struggled to follow them out of the darkness. The velvet accent hadn’t changed but the syllables were rough, emotion fraying the fabric of their meaning.
It didn’t matter.
Helena was here. Somehow, impossibly, she was here, seated by Myka’s side and holding on to her hand. And despite the drugs and the exhaustion and the aching loneliness that had been her only companion for far too long, Myka never doubted, not for one instant that this was real.
It took so long - too long - for her to remember how to inhabit her body again. To remember how do draw deeper breaths and squeeze the delicate fingers clasped in her own. She heard the tiny gasp Helena drew and then a hand was cupping her cheek, a tender thumb stroking. “Myka, come back,” Helena kept saying and Myka fought to obey.
How long had it been since she’d opened her eyes? Hours? Days? It didn’t matter. Her sight might have been blurry but Helena’s face filled what was left of her vision and it was the most beautiful thing Myka had ever beheld. She could see also, that she was not the only one whose eyes weren’t functioning, for tears slipped silently down Helena’s cheeks and the darker woman didn’t blink, as if afraid to be robbed of the sight of Myka for even a millisecond.
Myka wanted to say Helena’s name, to ask her where she had been and all the questions that had been shouted in the silence of her mind while the cancer and the drugs slowly consumed her body. Instead, Helena pressed a fingertip to her dried lips and shook her head.
“Save your strength Myka. My absence hasn’t been without purpose.” Then she leaned forward and brushed her lips to Myka’s brow. “We’re going to bring you back to us, I swear it,” she whispered fiercely.
And just like that she was gone. Before she could protest, however, someone else was taking Helena’s place at Myka’s side. Someone else whose voice was familiar and comforting.
“Myka, its Vanessa, I just need you to hang on a little longer alright?”