Life Is But A Dream
By Damian Dydyn
The warm water danced along the curves of his body, squeezing at him gently. It was serine, almost hypnotic to feel the lucid flow of the liquid all around, licking at his skin, saturating his hair. The darkness was inviting though, tempting him to ignore the burning in his chest as it spread slowly through his torso. He stiffened suddenly, a pain ripping through him and his eyes fluttered open. For the first time, Tidus wondered where he was. His features were masked by confusion for a moment as he glanced around, to the left, then right and finally above, where a glowing light filtered through the vast ocean now surrounding the young Blitzball star. An explosion of air spewed forth from his mouth as his lungs were unable to hold on any longer. Two massive bubbles slowly tumbled up toward the surface, surrounded by a flurry of tiny dots. He reached up toward them as if to grasp onto the air that had just escaped him. Powerful legs kicked hard as unconsciousness crept in from the corners of his eyes, suffocating his vision in darkness. Opening his eyes wider, he hoped to ward off the impending sleep long enough to reach the surface, straining against the fire that had spread through his whole body.
The surface seemed so far from him, almost unreachable. The cold water pulled at him, tugging him down, but he continued to push on toward the warmth of the light above. The grip of the merciless ocean finally receded and Tidus emerged from its chilly depths, gasping wildly for air. His vision continued to darken though, and a swirling began in his head. Blinking hard a few times, he tried to clear his vision but only managed to buy a few more seconds of consciousness. Before the darkness finally overtook him, he glanced out at the horizon to see clouds so thick they were black. Lightning and rain tore through the air as a storm approached and suddenly a chunk of concrete slammed into the water beside him. With his last ounce of strength, Tidus twisted around to see the last thing he ever expected, before darkness finally engulfed him.
Several hours later, the young Blitzball star found himself laying in the street beside a shattered statue. Behind him lay the ruins of the Blitzball stadium and bodies were strewn over much of the debris. With a light groan, he pulled himself up off the ground and stumbled toward one of the carcasses. "Juri," he muttered, recognizing what was left of his former teammate. Confusion began to course through him then, the events of the past weeks flashing before his eyes. Yuna, Lulu, Wakka, was it all a dream?
"Tidus!" exclaimed a voice from behind him. Turning quickly, he saw the form of Jihan, another teammate. "You’re awake!" The blonde haired star of the Zanarkand Abes glanced around briefly, still racked with doubt. "I wasn’t sure if you were gonna wake up, man. You ok?"
"Yeah," he responded slowly, "I think."
"What was that thing? It wrecked half the city!"
Tidus glanced out at the ocean to where he had seen the black storm clouds. "The Final Aeon," he said so quietly it was barely a whisper.
"What?" the exuberant Jihan asked. "You feelin’ alright?"
Tidus ignored him, staggering off into to ruins of the city. He was amazed at how similar it was to the Zanarkand he had just been in. Aside from the bodies and fires, it was almost exactly the same. Only a few feet to his right, Yuna had asked him about ‘his’ Zanarkand. She was so curious about the world he had come from. "It was all a dream," he asked. "It couldn’t be." His weak legs stumbled over the chunks of concrete and steel. "We were the dream," he said more firmly. "I was the dream." Dropping to his knees his eyes shot upward as he screamed, "I was the dream!"
The isle of Besaid was calm and tranquil as it always had been. A warm tropical breeze caressed the palm trees and sent the tiny grains of sand from the beach tumbling over themselves. Waves gently lapped at the beautiful shore as the sun set in the west, igniting an explosion of color. Fiery orange ran across the length of the ocean’s curve contrasting its deep blue like the sun peeking out from behind an eclipse. The trail of fire reached straight into the beach in a thin line, splitting the water in two as the setting sphere reflected in the bay. Above the horizon, orange gave way to pink, then purple and finally a deep blue in the east as the night sky forced its way out.
Yuna sighed but maintained a weak smile. Lulu came up behind her and looked down on her with pity. "It can’t be easy for you, I know. But the pain will go away."
"I know," she responded, slowly standing up, still gazing out at the magnificent scene.
"Come," the older woman suggested. "Dinner will be ready by the time we return." Yuna didn’t reply, but turned to walk with her long time friend. Arm in arm they strolled back to the village in silence, the summoner thinking mostly of Tidus, Luna filled with sympathy.
The village was relatively quiet and aside from the random greeting here and there, they were left alone. They stopped in front of Yuna’s hut and Lulu let go of her arm. "We’ll wait for you before we start."
"Thank you," she said meekly. "I’ll only be a minute." With a nod and a smile, her friend and mentor turned and walked off, leaving her by herself. The solemn look resting on her face deepened as she glanced to the spot where Tidus had first spoken to her at the bonfire. A heavy breath quelled the sudden rush of tears that threatened and she moved into her hut quickly.
Inside her personal belongings were laid across the floor next to her cot. Most were inconsequential or of little value to her. What stood out was a wicker box, locked and tucked away near the corner of the room. She reached down and picked it up, stroking it gently. Pulling the key from her pocket she allowed a smile and opened it. Inside was a crystal container, glowing brightly as she held it. With a sparkling tear trailing down her cheek she lifted the lid slightly and peeked inside at the secret she had held since the day Tidus had left them.
An Aeon, the last Aeon in Spira was held captive by the crystal casing. "We’ll be together again someday." She whispered, tears now streaming down her face. "As long as I have this, you’ll always exist somewhere."
Closing the lid once more she tucked the sleeping Aeon away and dried her cheeks. Taking a deep breath, she composed herself and headed back out into the village. The others were waiting.