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Soleil’s green eyes flutter open, looking at the same yellow paint in the same yellow room that she now saw every day of her life. A breeze rolls in from the open window, causing her curtains to flutter and dance… the way she would never do again. She had long since quit the struggle, sinking into numbness as her body had done all those months ago. Some days came faster than others, but most days were sluggish and lonely, filled with the stifling weight of silence as she laid in her bed like the sad, pathetic lump she was now. Nothing made her feel better, nothing made her feel anymore. She merely existed. Every day was the same: wake up, talk to Starlight, talk to Daddy, talk to LuLu. Stare at the ceiling, listen to books, listen to music. Watch the picture machine. It was all meaningless. It wasn’t like she could just use magic to get whatever she wanted.

Place your hand down upon a table. Tuck in your fingers, save for your ring finger, and try to lift it. The ring finger, not the hand. That feeling haunted the paladin; knowing how to move her body, remembering what it felt like to move it, yet being unable to. Straining and pushing, her face turning red with effort, and failing every. single. time.

A stray strand of hair falls into her face, making the paladin frown deeply. She blows gently, trying to make the hair fall farther away. She fails. No matter how hard she tries, she fails every time and it falls right back into her eyes. She lets out the loudest, angriest cry, a sort of primal range that had emerged from deep in her stomach. SHE WAS SO USELESS! Her face turns red, straining to make her body MOVE DAMN IT, to roll over, to flop, to fall onto the ground in a terrible, horrible crash that made everyone worry for her. The same way she used to do in her sleep at night as a kid. She felt the flood of memories wash over her, a side effect of being cooped up inside all day with nothing but her thoughts. The sudden thudding upon the ground of her body, followed by the lamp crashing down beside her, the light inside shattering into dozens of pieces. A flurry of hurried footsteps at her door, her bleary-eyed brother looking down at her as he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, hand outstretched. How she longed for that just one more time: to reach out and grab his hand, pull her own self up with her own strength. None of this getting lifted up bullshit.

A knock sounds from the door, gentle and sweet, like the one who did the knocking, to pull her out of her memories. The (former) paladin’s eyes turn towards the doorway, seeing the small and slender figure of her beloved Starlight watching over her with those same blue eyes that she loved so much. They held a certain weariness in them now, a weariness that Soleil knew she had caused. The smaller elf steps into the room, pulling a seat beside the bedside and sitting down politely. She pulls out a small set of paints and a palette, holding them out for the paladin expectantly, ‘what colors do you want today’. Yellow. Green. Orange. She wanted to make a flower.

Soleil clutches the paintbrush between her teeth, using her tongue to move it up and down, biting down upon it and letting go, stiffening and slacking off. She could do this. She knew how to draw, she knew how to paint. She didn’t need her hands to paint. The bed was angled upwards, allowing her to sit upwards and look at the easel, sitting upon a small table laid across her lap. Her tongue moved the brush, up and down, left and right, making a sloppy, misshapen cross. She glares at it. It was ugly. It was horrible and terrible and it was nothing but a giant reminder of just how far she had fallen. She spits the paintbrush angrily, sending it skittering across the floor. Clink, clink, clink. It clatters across the ground, sending paint everywhere it went, leaving an angry mark on the ground.

Every day was the same now. Frustration came to a boiling point, affection and love pushed to its limit as the paladin struggled to keep herself sane. Everyone kept saying it would get better, but how could it? She would never walk. She would never stand. She would never hold her beloved in her arms again. Everything she had worked for came crashing down the cliffside, tumbling into rocks like a bouncing ball down a set of stairs. A slinky, tossed back and forth. She watched her whole world break before her very eyes. ‘Be thankful you’re still alive’, she had been told. Why? Be thankful that I can sit at home, watching the world go on without me? Be thankful that I can watch everyone I ever loved’s life drain from them as they take care of me? Be thankful that I can be helpless? Be thankful to be a burden? It never seemed to get better, it only got worse.

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