by Tari Gwaemir
What matters most.

When it happens, it almost escapes your notice that your heart has stopped beating, that your lungs no longer heave against the heavy blankets. You blink and realize that you're outside that case of bone and fat and muscle that you've inhabited all these years, and the feeling is much more unnerving than you expected: the sensation of being immaterial in a material world.

Behind you a throat clears, and you turn and see her. You didn't know what shape she'd take but you recognize her instantly. Her eyes, despite their kindness, are not human.

"What now?" you ask.

She shrugs and twirls a strand of wild black hair through her fingers. "I'm only the guide."

"Funny," you tell her as you follow after her confident pace, "I thought I would feel something. Sad, maybe angry. But I don't."

"Did you have any regrets?"

"Probably," you say vaguely, looking around you. The world looks the same as it ever did, but you are different. You are keenly aware that you don't, in fact, exist, not here, not anymore.

"Did any of it matter?" you ask.

She spins around on a boot heel and smiles, the corners of her mouth both delicate and beautiful. "Of course it mattered. You lived. What could be more important than that?"


The Sandman belongs to Neil Gaiman.

Written for 31_days (December 1st theme).