The Orphan Chapter 18

One Girl's Love

By Kate Lorraine

The attic was covered with seventeen years worth of dust. Rinoa sat there looking out the single round window that graced the center of the attic. She kneeled there on the floor hugging herself, lost in deep thought.

In an act of habit, she reached up and put her hand around the two rings that hung at her neck. Yet today, she felt no reassurance from the double bands of white gold. She remembered back a few days ago when she was watching Irvine and Zell play triple triad in the Quad. How foreign that seemed as though it happened in a dream. Back then she had believed that standing beside Squall she can overtake any sort of danger. She had beaten the most powerful sorceress of all time beside her black knight. But now she knew what a fool she was. The worst dangers came not from the outside but from within. Squall had always carried within him a time bomb and all it took was one sorceress to light the fuse.

Alexandra. She was more evil than Ultimecia.

Rinoa stretched her legs and wrapped her arms around her knees, hugging them to her chest.

She heard footsteps on the stairs leading up the attic. She closed her eyes. She didn't want to see him, anyone but him. But of course, it was.

"What are you doing here Rinoa?"

Rinoa squeezed the double rings. Mother, give me strength.

She felt him coming closer.

"What's wrong Rinoa?"

He kneeled down beside her. She glanced at him, at his frown and at the dark slash between his eyebrows. In all of history, being cut across the forehead has been a symbol of wisdom, of intellectual ability and finally of godlike power. All the time she had known him, she had believed the second one the most. He was a cunning warrior, always a few steps ahead of the likes of Ultimecia. But now she was beginning to see that in fact, it was not the second, but the last that defined who he was.

He had such power over her that something as simple as her importance to him could be the definitive factor in whether she lived to see the next spring rainfall.

One person should not be able to weld such power. Power over a nation, power over her heart. Especially one who had such intellectual ability but no wisdom.

"What are thinking?" he asked her.

Rinoa bit her lip and remembered suddenly his response to the same question she had asked back in Deling.

***"What are thinking Squall?"

"I was thinking about how much I enjoy your company.".

"No, that's not it."***

She looked at him.

"About how much I enjoy being with you, Squall."

He was silent.

"About how I know you truly love me and that you would never lie to me. I know that although you never say it, that when I need you the most, you will come. That no other holds the place in your heart that I have."

She smiled sadly, "I know all of that even if you don't. Even if you have ceased to believe that what you felt for me was real. What does it matter what I feel, Squall? It is only one girl's love."

He said nothing and in doing so his silence said it all.

She fingered the ring around her neck.

"My mother sang a song once, Squall. It was the first song she ever sang, on the stage on her own."

Rinoa looked at him. He took his eyes off her and looked away with a faint degree of shame. Rinoa chuckled with a bit of irony.

"She called it 'eyes on me,' but she should have called it 'my eyes on you' because I know that even as I see your eyes watching me, you don't see me anymore."

She sighed.

"My last night with you had passed a long time ago. You're not here anymore. You are with her. Right now, across the oceans and deserts that separate us, I send you my love."

"Stop it Rinoa, I-"

"Squall," She interrupted. "Think carefully about what you choose to say, because I will believe every word of it, I always do, no matter how hard it is to."

He shook his head and looked at her.

"I've abused your love horribly Rinoa, and that is my confession. I can't ask for your forgiveness or for your affection. The truth is that the distance between us is too vast to cross. I'm standing here between two worlds. Alexandra's fantasy and your reality. I don't know which to choose. But you don't understand what I am saying do you?"

"Squall, I can never enter your internal world without being invited. I won't use my loneliness or my tragedy as an excuse to come in. I'm not Alexandra. If you ever want me to understand, it is not I that must change but you. And when you do, you will see that I am both fantasy and reality, child and adult, lover and friend. I will wait for you to come to that realization yourself, even if all existence turns to dust and time comes to an end first. I won't force you to love me. I want you to come willingly."

He was silent once more, lost in a reverie, seemingly.

"I can't Rinoa. You should stop, stop gracing me your love. I can't . ."

"I never stop loving someone, once I've begun. I want you to know, Squall, that if you want my life, I will give it to you, no matter how mislead I think you are. I will always stand by you. You see even more than I want to have you, I want the best for you. And if it is Alexandra that you have invited to dance beside you underneath the midnight moon, then I . . then I have no regrets."

With that Rinoa got up and ran out of the attic. She didn't look back to see if Squall's eyes were on her. Even if they were, it probably wasn't her that he was watching. The realization hit like a ton of bricks. He never loved her and worse yet now she knew that he never even wanted to love her.

She ran down past the bedroom and out the front door. She kept running, out of Winhill, over the bluffs, running and running watching the ground pass under her feet. She needed to get away from him. She ran even though she knew that she had no control over where she went. That she will be forced to live beside him, watching him love another woman, the woman that was inside her.

She collapsed somewhere on the bluffs, watching the blue grass wave in the wind. It was grassland surrounding her, petals flying in the breeze. She sat there a begun to cry. The landscape was a silent witness to her sorrow. It indifferently watched all the petty creatures that lived upon it live out their short lives. These beings made of flesh that strut and fretted away their short time on earth. They sing nothing but songs full of sound and fury, meaning nothing. And today the girl that kneeled there crying meant nothing. She was just another girl, another sad song. It was just the love of one girl.

Rinoa rubbed her eyes and hugged herself.

What was she going to do now? She couldn't return to Winhill, she could never return to Winhill. To see him, to see him lie to her over and over. Surely there was somewhere that she could go. Timber, Deling, Trabia, it didn't matter. As long as she was far far away from the town closest to hell.

"Stop crying, please." Rinoa suddenly heard someone whisper.

She jerked her head around trying to see who it was. When she saw no one she realized that the voice had come from within her. Alexandra.

"What do you want?" Rinoa asked, dragging her arm across her eyes. Yet she realized as she sat there wiping her eyes that the tears refused to reside. Sorrow gives birth to tears and sorrow, unlike energy, heat and matter, was not conserved. There was no set amount of sadness in the world and there was no bound to how much could be brought into existence. From that limitless bound of sorrow came her infinite river of tears. She knew then, that they would never stop flowing. That even if the water in her body were to drain away, the tears would never stop that from that moment on there will always be a part of her - crying.

"I want you to stop crying, Rinoa."

"Why should I. Do you understand my pain Alexandra? How can you understand such a thing. This is all a game to you, a fantasy game and we are your puppets. My life is your entertainment. What do you care if I cry?"

Alexandra was silent. The only sound was the whistle of the wind as it flew across the landscape blowing the petals and leaves into the sky. Rinoa's sobs grew into a tiny whimper. She wished that Alexandra would leave her alone, but even more so she wished that Alexandra would not force her to return to Winhill.

"Rinoa, get up," Alexandra finally said.

"Where are we going?" Rinoa asked as angrily as she could possibly sound despite her helplessness.

"To Deling."


*Author's Note: In Greek mythology Zeus was cut across the forehead to give birth to Athena. Therefore, in psychological terms, it is generally accepted that a slash across the forehead symbolizes wisdom, intellect and power. I don't make this up!

**Author's Note: Notice that Rinoa accuses Alex of playing with them as though their lives were a game. This could be interpreted as a parallel between our role as a player of FF8 and Alexandra's role in the story as a manipulator.


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