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between the sand and the stardust

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The strings are little more than faintly translucent lines tied around his pinky finger. At night as a child, he wraps his fingers around them tightly, holding them close to his heart. With them so close, the little twinges of emotions not his own are stronger – enough that he can almost discern them.

Durae doesn’t know what it means, and wonders if he should ask his mother.

But she’s always busy, managing a household with as many children as theirs has. Everyone has their role, their part to play, in making sure that things run smoothly. But Durae is the odd one out, the youngest by far and his older sisters are quick to remind him that he’s too young to be of much use.

Sechen swoops him up, off the floor, and takes him for long walks about their home and the surrounding wilderness.

“What do the strings mean?” Durae asks, one day, perched as he is on his brother’s shoulders. He keeps trying to catch the strings in his fingers, but the see-through strands are difficult to see – much less catch.

“Strings? You mean you have more than one?”

Durae nods, even though his brother can’t see him, “Yes. There are two.”

“Well! That means you’re doubly blessed, Durae!” Sechen grins, squeezing his shins. “The strings connect us to our soulmates – surely you have felt some twinges of emotions in you that are not your own.”

There were the nightmares, Durae remembers. The loneliness that stings along the edges of his mind. The pain that had made his heart ache so, as faint as it had been it had been so strong. He’s felt twinges of pride and sorrow and joy that are not his own – that much he knows.

“I’ve… felt them. But they’re not always good. They’re very lonely. And sad. I want to make that go away.”

Sechen tilts his head back enough so that Durae can see his smile, “One day, you will meet them and can make that happen. They will not have to be alone again, then, will they?”

“Because I’m going to be with them forever, right?”

“That’s right,” Sechen says. “And no one could possibly stay sad with you around, could they?”

“You always say that.”

“Because it’s the truth! You’re like a little ray of sunshine, Durae!”

Now you’re being ridiculous, Sechen.” He pauses, then asks, “Does everyone else have strings?”

Sechen nods, “Everyone has one. You’re just extra special and got two. But they are only visible to their owners. And the closer you get to your soulmates, the brighter and stronger the colour of your threads.”

“What colour are they supposed to be?”

“Red, I believe. At least, mine is red.”

Durae looks down at his threads, squinting his eyes, but the colours are too pale and faded for him to make much out, “I think one is darker than the other.”

“Hmm, I’ve never heard of anything similar.”

“Do you think it means something?”

“It could, but you likely will not know till you meet them.”

“I hope they’re nice, like you.”

Sechen laughs, throwing his head back, his smile splitting his face, “Well, thank you very much, Durae. I’ll keep that in mind.”