Sleeping With The Telephone A Final Fantasy XI story about two lovers.
I knew who he was when I took his name I smiled tearfully at him as we whispered “I do” and he kissed me. Behind us our friends cheered. No family, they were all gone now. He swept me into his arms and carried me to the celebration. I laughed and pushed playfully on his chest, trying to get him to put me down. And we danced until we could sneak off. The others would understand. He was leaving in the morning. They wouldn’t begrudge us some time alone. We ran laughing to our room, and by the time the door shut behind us, we were already in each other’s arms. But somehow knowin’ is just not the same I knew he had to go that day, as I knew he had to go every time following. But just because I knew didn’t mean I realized how much it would hurt to stand on our porch and wave goodbye. How much it would hurt to have to go to work as a healer and local adventurer and wait for him to return. Somehow, just because I knew what would happen, doesn’t mean that I realized how much it would hurt. Late at night I lay there staring up at the ceiling. The spell that will tell me if he returned to the Kingdom glows brightly on my nightstand. I listen in case a messenger comes to the door, and I wait as the night passes in our bed. He knows the danger but he does what he does He laughs whenever I say be careful. He knows how dangerous the beastmen can be, yet he keeps going out. I beg sometimes for him to stay and he just shakes his head and holds me as the tears stream down my face. He knows the danger as well as I; we both used to do these missions for our countries, but he goes anyways. So, I wait because I gave up danger for him and our daughter. He calls it duty but I call it love He apologizes and says that it is his duty to his King and the Kingdom that takes him away again and again, but as soon as his back is turned I smile knowingly. Once in a while, he catches me smiling and he always asks why. I just shake my head and whisper that it is nothing. I know better. He doesn’t do this out of duty. He does it for love. He loves his King and country. He does it for the people and for his family. And I know, no matter how much he denies it, that he loves being a knight.
So here I am While he’s gone to some foreign land So, I stay here because he asks me to, while he is off in Kazham or the Altepa Desert. He doesn’t want me to be in danger, but he says it’s for the sake of our daughter alone. He says that we can’t leave her to be raised by a caretaker or risk her losing both her parents. But I stay here not just for her. (She stands beside me as I write this, tugging at my sleeve. I believe she is about to ask me for dinner. It seems to be about that time.) I stay because he asked me to. Because I love him. Chorus: And I cry ‘cause I’m all alone At night I curl up and cry when no one can hear me. I don’t want to upset our daughter; make her think Daddy won’t come home. Our big, empty bed hurts more at night when all I want is for him to be here to hold me. And the nights get so cold and long That night drags on and I shiver because I hadn’t bothered to get under the covers. I just lie there watching the spell and waiting for a knock on the door. And I wait till the cold light of dawn strikes my window before moving. I get up to start another day and put on a mask for the neighbors and our daughter. And I try not to think he won’t come home I whisper just before the dawn is fully risen, “Please, Altana, bring him home alive.” It is the only time I let myself face the truth. Because as much as I try not to think about it, I must at some point. And if I face it this once, I can deny the possibility every other moment of the day. But I’m sleeping with the telephone Nevertheless, I gather up my spell and I put it in my pocket, where I can monitor it the entire day, discretely. And tonight I will watch it again as I lay in our bed. The yellow ribbon on my neighbor’s gate Always reminds me that someone’s awake Just like me There is a flag of the Royal Knights of San d’Oria flying from the neighbor’s balcony. Her son is in his unit. They are both so different. We laugh about it sometimes; how my husband and her son could be so different, and yet so similar, giving their lives to protect the rest of us. The flag always reminds me of one thing: I am not the only one who lies awake at night, watching, waiting.
I hear sirens and I watch the news I hear horns call an attack on a group of Orcs living in the woods surrounding the city, and I think of him fighting where it is so much more dangerous. I think of that, even as I run to help because some new adventurer always manages to get in over his fool head, and my services as a White Mage, a healer, are always needed – even if it is minor. When I get back, I look for the gate guards and ask for the latest news. They are always glad to give it to me. It seems that some of the respect others have for him has spread out to include me. I know the day that they don’t easily pass on the news is the day I dread coming. He laughs and leaves with his gun and his blue uniform He always laughs off my worries and says that he’ll be fine and he’ll come home soon as he can. He gets dressed in his shining white armor, but he keeps the helmet off as he straps his sword to his back. Still laughing and smiling, he gives our daughter a hug and a kiss before sweeping me off my feet into a low kiss. And I pray god keeps him safe from harm I watch as the helmet goes on after he waves goodbye in the distance and he becomes the Protector. “Oh, my knight, please come home to me,” I think to myself before I utter something barely heard. “Please, Altana, bring my knight home alive.” Our daughter looks up curiously. “Did you say something, Mommy?” “No, sweetheart.” See? I already deny that he won’t come home. Chorus And I cry cause I’m all alone I am crying again this night. I’m waiting for the sun to rise one morning, and to see him walk through the gates of the city. I don’t want to be alone anymore. And the nights get so cold and long I shiver, but tonight, as the night drags on, our daughter crawls into bed with me and pulls the covers over both of us. “Don’t cry, Mommy. I’ll protect you. I’ll become a knight just like Daddy. I’ll be strong and protect you.” I gather her in my arms and cry harder. Could I bear to wait for both of them? Could I stand to lose them both? And I try not to think that he won’t come home She strokes my hair just like he would. They’re both so similar; she really is his daughter. But this just reminds me that he may not return to us, and I try so hard not to actually
think it. But it is his daughter that calls me back. “Don’t worry, Mommy. Daddy’s coming home. He always does.” But I’m sleeping with the telephone I smile down at her. God, I love her, both of them, so much. “I know, dear heart. I know. Let’s get some sleep.” And I listen to her drift off after a whispered, “I love you, Mommy.” I close my eyes to sleep, as well, but not before checking my spell once again. I lose him in my darkest dreams I wake up bolt upright. As I let the shudders course through my body, I thank the Goddess that our daughter is off tonight at a friend’s house. My throat felt raw, indicating that I had been screaming in my sleep. It was that dream again. The method changes every time, or almost every time, but the result is the same. In every one he dies. Yeah, my blood runs cold and my heart skips a beat My heart nearly stops at the thought. I stare at the spell, checking it. Still glowing brightly, it sits there innocently. I glare at it, needing to take my fear and anger out on something. I know I won’t be able to sleep again tonight. I never can after one of these dreams. So I get up, I can’t take any more I get out of bed and get dressed. I can’t stand to be in that empty bed any longer. I stalk downstairs, leaving my spell upstairs for once. I don’t think I can bear to look at it any longer. I begin breakfast, but just end up staring at a bowl of soup instead of eating it. Sometimes I hate how much I love him Angry with myself, I sweep it off the table and the pottery shatters and soup goes everywhere. “Arrgghh!” I scream in anger. Sometimes I hate how much I love him. That I would stay behind instead of being at his side to heal him when he hurts and watch his back as I used to. I hate being here, waiting. I hate it! But everyday I love him more But my eyes soften when I look down at the ring on my finger. I have married the most amazing man in the world. And every day he is gone, his love and devotion only amaze me more. I fall harder for him every time he comes home, and even when he is not here I fall deeper. I love him more than anything in the world, and that is what sets me to cleaning up the house and picking up after our daughter. That love keeps me alive, and I will smile honestly at my daughter because I can see him in her.
And I try not to think he won’t come home As we eat dinner tonight, I ask her about her day and what she wants to be. She tells me the same thing every time. She wants to be a Royal Knight, just like her daddy. It hurts, but I always tell her yes. She’s too much like him; I can never tell either of them no. As I clean up and send her up to get ready for bed, I try hard to think of a future with him. Watching him training her in the sword while I work with her on healing and protection spells. I try to keep that image more than any other possibility. But I’m sleeping with the telephone But nevertheless, tonight when I go up to bed, I lay the spell next to me in his place. And I once again watch, wait. I fall asleep for once, unlike so many other nights, and I drift into dreams. Something awakes me from where he should be Something awakes me from deep sleep. I can’t tell what, but I remember dreaming of him, and that is it. No details of the dream remain as I reach over to pick up the spell, but the amount of light stops me. It is the first light of dawn. The time when I must face the truth. I reach for him, the telephone rings Worried, I reach for the dimming spell. I knew it would dim for two reasons. As I pick it up, I hear a knock on the front door. I race for it, fearing the worst.