Rhea’s mum was mad.
Not mad as in a shes-just-embarrassing, the scary mad; the kind of madness that has a posh Latin name, the kind that can pull families apart.
But Rhea’s family was already broken.
At just nineteen years of age, she was sat watching her mother die. Soon she would watch her burial, next to her father’s grave in foreign land where she knew neither of them truly belonged.
Would it have made any difference had they stayed in Isla Paradiso?
Rhea didn’t know. She couldn’t think straight. Her nostrils were blocked with the citric stench of cheap disinfectant, her ears blocked by the sounds of her mother’s muffled cries as she fell in and out of consciousness, her mouth choked by tears she was too despondent to spill.
The doctor gave a desperate look at his assistant and another at Rhea, and she knew this was the end.
The frequency and height of the bleeping machines increased as she got out of her chair and walked towards Gaia’s bed, hoping to wake up as if this had all been a nightmare; her father would be alive and her mother sane again.
Rhea’s mother tossed and turned in discomfort, uttering aloud the same thing she had done for the last month – “Fire, fire, fire!”
Rhea looked at her mother and took in every detail of her prematurely-aged face, knowing it was her last chance. This was the woman she had looked after for a decade of her life, she’d fed her, watered her, bathed her, found her when she was lost on one of her many wanderings.
No tears would come, it all seemed unreal.
“I… I love you mama,” Rhea stuttered, “I’ll never forget you.”
The machines endless bleeps increased in frequency once more and Gaia’s mummers stopped as she seemed to fall unconscious.
“Say hello to daddy for me,” Rhea rasped as though winded.
All of a sudden, Gaia’s lungs refilled with air and her back arched violently up from her bed and she yelled, as loud as she had before hospitalisation:
“The land of our forefathers’ you will transcend,
Build the home of who from us descend,
Beware! Young one, Beware!
It will be fire that will see them end!”
She fell back and the room was filled with the ominous ring of death.