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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Sara was in a dead sprint by the time she reached the showers. Word had spread fast and hard like a wildfire in August. Word fueled by rumors, innuendoes and speculation. All anyone knew was there had been an accident, the death toll still climbing even as Sara's feet skidded to a halt.
She could hear water from the shower spray, the air thick, heavy and wet, mist cutting visibility to nil. She stepped cautiously, slowly into the shower room. Guided more by a sense of urgency, fear and dread than any directional cue. Followed the sound of the lone shower head spraying water onto the floor.
Sofia was huddled in a corner, knees folded up to her chest, one arm wrapped around them. Her eyes glued to a closed fist before her. Under the harsh fluorescent lights, through the mist, and the water showering her, Sofia didn't look like a person, but a half-thing. The water cascaded over her in rivulets of crimson down her skin, pooling around her body before circling around the drain. Half her head, the side not directly under the spray, was mottled and dark, spattered with dark, wet things. Things Sara did not want to ascertain because she was certain those bits used to have names and faces, and now there wasn't enough of the people she used to know to fill the coffins they would soon be burying.
"Sofia," the word choked from her throat as she Sara knelt next to Sofia, ignoring the water saturating her clothes. Ran a hand over the side of Sofia's scalp, trailing down to caress her face.
"They're all gone," Sofia mumbled. Her eyes still glued to her clenched fist, arm shaking heavily as her fingers clenched tightly.
"I know," she spoke softly, drawing her arm around Sofia's shoulder.
"I dropped it. When I reached down to pick it up, it.." her voice trailed as the words drowned in the back of her throat. Her face contorted and twisted like a child trying desperately not to cry and failing, as her chest heaved spastically, wracked with deep choking sobs. She turned into Sara, into the warm, comforting arms wrapping around her, fighting not to close her eyes because she knew the nightmare visions waiting beneath the straining lids.
"Shh," Sara whispered. "I've got you."
She drew her fingers over Sofia's closed fist, gently eased the fingers open revealing a gold band with a tiny diamond strung through a now broken chain. Sara had never considered herself the sentimental type, and she certainly wasn't one for weddings. But, it had seemed right at the time. And, just mere hours before, she'd dreamed of a day surrounded by the people she loved, making a commitment to the one she loved the most.
She'd been broken once and they'd put her back together. Now, nothing could bring them back, nothing could put them back together again. All she had left was Sofia. And, maybe if she was lucky enough, and loved her enough, Sara prayed she could put Sofia back together again.
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