First there was her voice, a stray thin thing I couldn’t hold onto. I could feel it, the air passing between our lips, her breath on my face. Then I felt those lips. Soft. Shaking. They pleaded but when I opened my eyes, in those first flashes, lashes ripping free, irises burning, all I could see were the flames.
That’s what I remembered. It pinned me to the bed, a dull ache that started in my fingertips and then it raged, filling me up, burning me from the inside out. There were other hands holding me down, gripping me hard. Faces blinking in and out. Strangers, all of them, except for Bryn.
She was standing in the corner, small and breathless and afraid. She looked at me, reached for me, but they pushed her out of the way. I watched her lips move, my name hanging on them. But above the whirr of the machines, the scuff of shoes on the linoleum floor—the chaos the two of us had somehow set in motion—it wasn’t her voice I heard. It was mine.