Life. You never really realize just how much that four letter word means to you until it's nearly snuffed out. Such a small word, such a huge meaning. My name is Mary Kate McClare-Baines, and I have died.
I remember the entire thing - it replays in my mind like a movie or theatre act; Corban and Halorin, both of them desperately trying to bait the spirit to leave me unharmed - using insults, saying how weak it was to rely on me and my powers. They didn't realize just how serious the spirit's death threats really were. It didn't like being taunted. So it killed me - or so my friends thought. An illusion was cast; I don't know how I managed to make it so realistic, but Corban and Halorin were convinced - and apparently, so was the spirit. I didn't like lying to my friends, but the only way the spirit would have left any of us alone was if it believed me dead; and for total believability, everyone else had to believe I was dead too.
In reality, I managed to crawl to a cave in Perez Park - where I lay, for days, weeks, months; simply building up the energy. I knew that the spirit wouldn't be fooled forever. I had to protect Corban and Leona from that thing. And I did. I killed it. It obviously wasn't quite that simple or easy - but darling, why bore you with the tedious details?
My feet are standing on air, and beneath me are the people who make this world worth living in. They too, can be snuffed out like a candle in a second, but they are not insignificant as their inability to survive might suggest. We need them, we need their faith and kindness to make this city the Paragon that it used to be, a long time ago - further back then I remember.
The ships in Talos Island docks slowly plow their way through the sparkling waters; and as I watch, I can already "see" that one of them will crash on the rocks - and lives will be lost. It will be in the newspapers for days - proclaimed as one of the most devastating disasters Paragon has seen since the Rikti War. And yet I do nothing. It's not my place. I am a hero, the public love me as Comet Woman, but I am not in control of fate - I am but another pawn for its eternal game of chess. Recently, I have found that all too true.
My mind is swimming with thoughts - some good, some bad. My husband, Christopher Baines, the hero Blue Bolt… I haven't seen him in a long time - even for a month before my death I hadn't seen him. I almost think it's a good thing. I'm not sure that I love him anymore - I don't feel anything when I think of him, or hear his name. Does that make me a cruel woman? Perhaps.
Corban. Every time I see him I'm devastated that Leona got him first. He's kind, compassionate, strong and loving - I can't imagine how much it will tear him apart if Leona does actually… die. Chris didn't even find out until two weeks after my "death". How could that happen? Did he not care that I wasn't with him for two weeks? Was it only when he realized that the food wasn't coming in that he went to ask where I was?
And then their Alistair. He was so reliable, loving and caring. Too protective. His feeling of needing to protect his Icons, and his lover was extremely difficult to live with. He was well intentioned, indeed, but sometimes, you just don't want to be protected. And in the end, I broke his heart. I left the Icons to focus on my business - and I left Alistair for something more exciting. I found that in Chris; and when my business was stable enough for me to return to the heroing career some months later - we were wed.
Now when I look back on it, I wonder if it truly was the happiest day of my life - or another bad decision. I wonder if either of us truly wanted this ring on our finger, or if the fear of being alone was enough of a reason for us to be together. I honestly don't know - and right now I just want to rest.