The question pierced the night's silence; it was spoken by a hoarse voice, pleading, desperate, begging.
A gently whispered reply, clearly audible within the artificial quiet of the glass prison.
It was asked every night. A ritual between two lonely souls trapped together. He would ask, and she would answer in the kindest way possible.
"I wish I could give you an answer, dearheart."
She hated the night sky with its thousands of tiny, glinting jewels set against midnight blue velvet. She hated the luminous moon as it waxed and waned through its cycle across that very same velvet draped sky. She hated the vast, seemingly empty space that was subject to no one's whim or sovereignty.
Sometimes though, Drania thought hate wasn't a strong enough word to fully describe the emotions she felt. Rage? Loathing, perhaps? Spite? Whatever she wanted to label it, she felt it with every fiber of her being. The torment and anguish weighed heavily upon her heart. There was only so much one could do for another when the feelings of helplessness overrode all emotion and consumed every waking thought.
At the precise moment of sunset, day in and day out, Drania would regain consciousness. She was just in time to watch the crisp, clean yellow and pink hues slowly be devoured by the domineering blues and purples as seconds ticked by. An unusual and cruel magic dictated the cycle of Dran and her companion, Terrarium's existence. Once the sun had fully set, they would awaken, trapped within their glass prison. A magical sleep would reclaim their consciousness when the sun began to ascend, marking the beginning of a new day, freezing them in place with a blank mind until the cycle began anew. It was a terrifying and hopeless existence that neither creature had any control over.
It wasn't so much the loss of time that caused Dran to hate the night as it reigned supreme. It was watching Terrarium go ever so slowly insane with confusion and unanswerable questions. There was no way out of their glass container, beautifully constructed with tall clear glass panes and delicately shaped metallic rods that held the whole structure together. It was perfect, and completely inescapable. She knew because they had tried for cycles on end trying to find a way out, a way to survive, to break free.
Each night they would awaken, Terrarium would sit before the glass panel looking out through a window at the evening sky. Drania would curl her tail securely around a sturdy branch that grew from the lone tree within the glass prison. Perched, she would watch him watch the heavens, with his lagoon-coloured cloak tied snugly under his neck by a shiny star pendant. She never knew the origin of the garment but Terrarium seemed to find some small measure of comfort in it when he casually touched the bauble at the base of his throat. It was a fleeting moment of clarity, and then the emotions of fear, desperation, and depression would cloud his thoughts once again.
As the cycles passed, Terrarium began to withdraw from Dran. His psychological state barely survived the period of time they were conscious now. He rarely spoke, and when he did, her heartstrings could barely handle the consequential tugging. She was as helpless as he was, but she tried to stay sane for his sake. When they regained consciousness, he would sit watching the moon arch across the velveteen sky and whisper a simple question. It was a question for which she had no answer to give. A question she would never have an answer to until the vicious magic that held them in thrall was broken. A three-letter word that boiled down to a single syllable.
And her heart would shatter into millions of pieces like the tiny stars dotting the very night sky she loathed so much. Only when the moon neared its finished course would Drania breathe a small sigh of relief. The void generated by the magic was both a blessing and a curse. Her heart would heal during that blank phase, the fragments somehow knitting back together in a fragile manner. She knew though, that in a dozen hours, the cycle would begin anew with that simple word spoken by her dearest friend and there would be no answer to give.
Story & Profile Artwork: Buttercream