It was snowing, again, in her dream. The wind was blowing and her furs were stiff with ice. She was shivering cold.

“Cold, ma, cold!” she cried. Her mother looked down and said something, but she still couldn’t quite hear what it was over the howl of the wind. Strong hands held her from behind and pressed her on despite her protests. She moved forward, as she had to, but she couldn’t feel anything.

In the distance, she saw the glimmer again. The fire seemed so far away as it flickered. No! she thought. Warmth and safety would not escape her this time.

She stopped and concentrated on the point in the distance. She focused on the small flicker of light and wouldn’t let it die this time.

The group of people stopped and turned toward her. Their faces were shrouded in shadow and the smell of death was about them. They could not avoid their fate, but she did not want to go through the old motions and repeat the old pains. This time she wanted it to be different. “Fire,” she said as she changed direction toward the glimmer she had seen. She kept her eyes on the bright spot in the distance.

Something changed as she went off the path she had traveled so many nights before. The wind was changed direction, blowing against her, challenging her and hindering her movement. It stung her face, tearing at her exposed skin. She had never felt it this bad, but she had made up her mind and pressed on toward he spark.

The gale finally blew her off her feet. Snow caked her face and slipped into her furs that had fallen open. The cold penetrated into her body, chilling her to her core. She struggled to keep her eyes open and on the flame as the wind whipped around her. She slowly got to her knees, concentrating on the fire she wanted so badly.

“Come, Sen,” her mother finally said, bending down near her. “We walk other way.”

Sen looked at her mother. She could hear her voice clearly despite the fierce wind, when the voice had always been lost before. “Come with,” her mother repeated as she held out her hand. Sen slowly reached out to the little comfort she knew in the cold night, almost turning her head away from the fire.

“No!” Sen screamed as she got to her feet, keeping her eye on the fire. The wind renewed its fight against her, and she fought her way toward the bright spark she had seen in the distance. It glowed a little brighter as she struggled towards it.

The other people spoke to her, discouraging her from going toward the fire. “It not there,” one said. “A trap!” another cried. “We cannot reach it.”

The wind finally stopped. Sen wiped her eyes and blinked for a moment.

“Too late, fire is gone,” her mother finally said.

Sen blinked her eyes clear and saw that the life-giving warmth was gone. She was in the middle of the frozen wastes, abandoned to the fate of the others.

“NO!” she cried one final time. The hope had drained out of her, she collapsed on the snowy ground and started to sob, wet tears falling into the snow. The smell of death started to close in on her as the cold seemed to reach into her soul.

“Fire,” she whispered. It was all she wanted, all she could think about. She imagined the fire in her mind, the life-giving essence of heat and light helping her survive. The fire in her mind became brighter and brighter, filling her with light and giving her a small amount of warmth. She heard the roar of the fire, smelled the ash, tasted the smoke, and felt the warmth on her face. The light flickered just beyond her half-frozen eyelashes. She wiped the melting tears away from her eyes and saw the fire roaring in front of her.

Slowly, the shades around her started to fade. One by one, they joined life-giving flame. The man was the first one, then his mate holding their dead child. Next came her father, then the old man, then the other young girl, then the others. Sen’s mother looked at her and smiled as she joined flame. The flames circled Sen and warmed her. She felt the heat through her frozen furs, felt it spreading through her limbs and warming her very soul.

Sen finally understood the sacrifices they had made. She was special, that they were giving their lives to give her the chance to understand her destiny. The warmth filled her mind and she understood what the dream meant.

She opened her eyes and sat up in her sleeping furs. The whole cave was ablaze with fire, burning everywhere.

Sen screamed.


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