Suddenly Kahlan was outside. She was running, chasing Tory as her cousin weaved in between the streets and alleyways of the Barrows. Kahlan followed the wild blur of blonde hair as street signs rushed past her. East Beacon…West Beacon…over the line and into Blackwater turf; running until they were out of the Barrows, until they were out of South Boston completely. Tory had always been fast.
“Stop!” Kahlan shouted. “Wait!”
But Tory’s sneakers continued to pound mercilessly against the asphalt. “You can stop if you want!” Her voice taunted as she increased her speed.
Kahlan’s lungs burned and her heart was pumping overtime as she tried to catch up. But no matter how fast she got Tory was always several feet ahead of her. She pushed on for several minutes, not even considering how far she had gone from home or where she even was.This is insane. She thought to herself but her body seemed to be working on its own.
Finally Tory skidded to a stop so suddenly that Kahlan almost crashed in to her. “Look.” Tory whispered. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
Kahlan looked up and her mouth dropped open. They were standing outside the TD Garden, the bronze statue of Bobby Orr less than a foot to their left. It had to be almost three in the morning but the Garden was lit up like it was ready for a home game. Had they really run almost five miles in so short a time? How had she not noticed, how had they passed no cars on the city streets? Kahlan looked around and saw that everything seemed to be abandoned. Eagerly Tory took a step forward and made her way towards the entrance.
This is a dream. Kahlan decided as she watched the silhouette of her cousin growing fainter and fainter the further she walked away. Kahlan followed after Tory, cautious. Maybe I died too. Maybe I just took a little longer and she was waiting for me.
Kahlan shot awake in a cold sweat with the empty whiskey bottle still clasped in one hand. The other was still crusted with blood from when she had smashed the shot glass against the countertop.She had no memory of crawling back upstairs and yet she was tucked beneath her own sheets in her own bed. She’d even somehow managed to change into sweats. Her head felt as if someone was trying to split it with a hammer and her stomach was in a worse state than it had been the day after her birthday party. There was a thick sour taste in her mouth that just wouldn’t go away. To make matters worse her leg was throbbing. She had to bite her hands to keep herself from reaching down and trying to rub at the stitches. Where the bullet had been lodged in her hip had begun to ache again as well, making the pain twice as bad.
Stretching out towards her bedside table Kahlan’s hand fumbled until her fingers brushed against the bottle of painkillers Arabella had left there for her; extra strength thanks to her mother’s pull at the hospital. Kahlan tipped two in to her palm and forced them down dry. For a moment her chest seized, the back of her throat burned like she had swallowed a lit match. But the moment passed swiftly.
Flopping back against her pillows Kahlan relaxed her let her medicine do its work. Almost instantly the pain in her leg significantly decreased and a pleasant haze took hold of her mind. Against her will tears managed to squeeze their way through her eyes, no matter how tight she tried to keep them shut. Last night had obliterated any progress she had made. How long had she been drinking before it had happened?
You saw Tory first. A dark corner of her mind insisted. Then you started drinking.
“Shut up.” Kahlan mumbled out loud. “Tory’s dead.”
Tory is dead.
The blow never softened no matter how many times Kahlan had whispered the phrase to herself. A thousand times a day, every day in the last two weeks and Kahlan’s heart refused to stop breaking. Every time her chest tightened, every time she felt that familiar pull she wanted to grab one of her family members and scream: “I can still feel her! She isn’t gone!”
But no one would believe her; they’d more likely have her in some sort of therapy, as if talking to a complete stranger about how it felt to feel the loss of half your soul with every breath you took would make any difference. Kahlan didn’t want to talk to any therapists…and she especially didn’t want anyone medicating her, save for her pain killers at least.
The tears were flowing freely now, streaming down her face as her chest heaved up and down from the effort to keep herself in control. Kahlan gripped her hands around her sheets and held fast, trying to keep herself as still as possible but she was powerless against her own body. If it didn’t hurt so much, Kahlan would have curled in to a ball to sob in to.
Footsteps came echoing from the hallway; probably Brian back from his morning run. The sun was barely beginning to leak through the blinds of Kahlan’s east facing room so she doubted that it was anyone else awake at such an early hour. She turned her back to the doorway so that her brother couldn’t see her tears. The pain killers were taking hold now and Kahlan felt her mind completely slipping back in to sleep as tears continued to fall from her eyes.
And then it happened again.
A suddenly rush took hold of Kahlan’s body; it started in her chest and quickly spread throughout her stomach, even reaching her fingertips. It was like the feeling most people got when overtaken by an unwanted body tremor expect it was one hundred times stronger.
You’re not crazy.
Kahlan’s eyes snapped open. Tory’s face hovered a few inches above hers, that stupid familiar grin plastered on her face. Kahlan shut her eyes tight again. “You aren’t real.” She said out loud, her words lazily meshed together. “You’re dead.”
“Then I guess I’m a ghost.” Tory’s voice was the exact same as Kahlan had grown up with. “But that doesn’t mean you’re crazy.”
Shifting, Kahlan impatiently shoved her head beneath her pillow to try and block out the noise.It’s the drugs. She thought to herself.These painkillers must have a weird hallucination side effect.Kahlan’s chest clenched with pain. This was something she could not rationalize away and it was terrifying her. The past two weeks her grief had been eating her alive, but this was something new entirely.
Thankfully Tory’s voice went away, but Kahlan could still sense her cousin’s presence. They had always been like that; more than attune to one another’s thoughts and emotions, more like two halves of a single being. It had always served them well in the past to know what the other was thinking without words, what the other would say before it was said, and how they two were even physically revolving around one another constantly during hockey; able to place themselves on the rink’s ice as if gravity was keeping them in check to one another. Kahlan had never been that way with Kieran.
It had been Kahlan’s grandfather, her McDara grandfather who had given their bond a name: Anam Cara. It was an old Celtic term meaning ‘soul friend’ that had fit them perfectly: It was a bond that could always be felt and never broken. Not by time or distance, nor death so it appeared. But feeling Tory’s presence after her passing was one thing…seeing and hearing her seemed to be quite another level of mental instability entirely.
Around noon Arabella came in to check on her daughter. With a heavy heart she smoothed the hair off Kahlan’s face and saw that her cheeks were stained from crying. “A leanbh na páirte.” Arabella said softly and shook Kahlan’s shoulder gently. “Wake up honey.”
“Mum?” Kahlan mumbled. She sat up and let the covers slid off her shoulders. Kahlan rubbed at her eyes. They were dry and raw from crying.
Arabella enveloped her arms around her daughter and pulled her in close. She let Kahlan rest her head on her shoulder and whispered, “Hello darling.” Arabella ran her fingers through Kahlan’s long black hair, identical to her own. “How are you feeling?”
“Awful.” Kahlan pressed her face closer and breathed in her mother’s comforting scent. “I keep thinking that my mind hates me.”
“What do you remember Kay?” Arabella asked. “Is there anything?”
“I honestly don’t remember much.” Kahlan admitted. “Bits and pieces come in flashes every once and a while.” Kahlan’s hands curled around her sheets. “The force of being shot but not the pain, hitting my head hard against the ground and then…”
“What?” Arabella pressed and leaned in closer. “You can talk to me Kahlan, you know that.”
“I remember being in the hospital and Tory being there.” Kahlan shook her head. “She said she’d ‘see me when I got out’.”
“Kahlan you know that’s…”
“Of course I know it’s impossible!” Kahlan snapped.
Arabella saw in shock that a bright red flush of anger swarmed Kahlan’s face in a matter of seconds. She’d never seen Kahlan so quick to snap: that was always Tory’s department. It was almost impossible for Arabella O’Rourke to be cowed, but seeing Kahlan,herKahlan in such a state struck a nerve.
“You’re bond with your cousin will never fade Kahlan; even though she’s gone. But the important thing is to remember that Tory is dead Kahlan and you must keep on living.” Arabella told her daughter. “You will never stop mourning for her Kahlan, but you need to stop grieving…Tory wouldn’t like that.”
“I can’t just forget…” Kahlan choked off as fresh tears fell from the corners of her eyes.
“Baby you’re not supposed to forget.” Arabella wiped away her daughter's tears with her sleeve. “You’re supposed to find ways of honoring those that you love and have lost along the way.” Her eyes searched Kahlan’s room and fell on her bookshelf, so large it took up nearly an entire wall.
Arabella had named her daughter after Kahlan Amnell who had always been her favorite character in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth Series. She was a strong woman, one her own Kahlan had grown to admire. Smiling Arabella answered, “And you can’t quit Kahlan.” She held her close. “And you still feeling Tory near you doesn't make you crazy, so never think that. You've always been close, ever since you were babies. Love that strong doesn't just end when someone's life does."
"Anam Cara." Kahlan whispered.
"Yes." Arabella agreed. "Your roots are sewn deep in the soil of Cavan my dear Kahlan: you've always carried your culture proudly. Never forget the lessons it teaches you." She kissed Kahlan's forehead fondly. "It will never let you down."