Clear Blue Eyes
Sometimes I feel kinda sad. Like I don't wanna keep breathing. Is that normal?
I don't think that's normal. I think I need help.
I just don't know where to get it.
Breathe in, breathe out. You’re doing great. Clearpaw’s breathing was troubled, tears choking his throat. He wanted to hold everything in- when you didn’t try to speak, or breathe, than you never cried. Clearpaw didn’t want to cry. Gotta keep breathing, Clearpaw. Things get better.
Clearpaw also didn’t know why he had to go through this every time he wanted to sleep. Normal cats didn’t cry before they went to sleep. Why him? He did his best. Didn’t he? Was his best not good enough? The tabby swallowed hard. I don’t want to breathe anymore.
But he had to breathe. It was common knowledge. When you don’t breathe, you die. Clearpaw didn’t want to die. Not yet. But he knew he would die, that was common knowledge, too. His breathing got funny again. Maybe he shouldn’t be thinking about this before he went to sleep.
If he went to sleep. Clearpaw knew that some cats didn’t sleep sometimes. He was one of them. He also knew that it was normal, if not inconvenient. Clearpaw knew a lot of things.
The tabby closed his eyes slightly, pressing his head to the nest. Through his eyelids, he could see the other apprentices. Asterpaw, Baypaw, Mistpaw... they were all asleep. Asterpaw and Mistpaw were girls. Baypaw wasn’t. Clearpaw noticed that this split the genders half and half. Strangely, Baypaw didn’t spend time with the she-cats. “They’re gross,” he had told Clearpaw. Clearpaw didn’t understand this. The she-cats seemed nice. He wanted to spend time with them.
He shut his eyes. You have to breathe in your sleep. How did his body keep breathing throughout the night? It always did. Will it continue to do so? Even when he had sinus issues, and was having trouble doing it, his body always found a way to keep breathing.
Clearpaw curled his tail around his body. Ever since he started having breathing troubles and sleeping problems, his mother had been acting very different. More careful, more antisocial. Clearpaw often wondered if there was a connection between the two things. Maybe he got a sense that something was wrong, and it affected him. His father acted different as well. But in a different way. His mother and father didn’t seem to get along anymore, and that made Clearpaw upset.
Warm tears slipped from Clearpaw’s eyes and down his cheeks. He exhaled loudly, tucking his paws under his body.
“Clearpaw, you need to stop doing this.” The voice was faint, and familiar. Clearpaw’s eyes snapped open, seeing his brother, once again, standing in front of him as a misty apparition. “You have no need to cry,” Adderpaw meowed.
Hearing his brother just made Clearpaw cry harder. He missed Adderpaw a lot. His death was much more brutal than it needed to be- he was hit by a train. It made Clearpaw very angry that he died so young. He had so much potential- he was kind, and generous, and outgoing. Everyone liked him, just ‘cause he was so likeable.
Clearpaw was very used to Adderpaw appearing, so much so he didn’t get startled when he heard a strange voice.
Adderpaw knelt down beside Clearpaw. He visited his brother every night, even if the tabby didn’t realize it. “Come on, Clearpaw. Chin up, bud.” He lightly placed his paw under Clearpaw’s chin, gently bringing it up to eye level. The tom’s name suited him- his eyes were bright and clear, even though they were often tear-filled and red-rimmed.
“It gets better,” the brown tabby assured him. “You don’t know that,” a dejected Clearpaw responded.
Adderpaw drew in a breath. “You’re completely right,” he said after a moment of hesitation. “Stuff isn’t going to get magically better. You have to take the initiative; you have to make it a better life for you. And no matter what happens, you’ll make it through alive. I'm rooting for ya, kid.”
Clearpaw sniffled, strange sounds coming from his choked throat. “But there’s so much to worry about, sometimes I wanna stop breathing. And then I’d get to live with you again.” Tears ran down his face.
“Listen up, Clearpaw. Don’t sweat the small things, and sometimes, everything is a small thing.” Adderpaw’s tone was gentle, but his voice definitely had a hard edge to it. “You have so much to live for, but you gotta stop crying and see the world clearly.”
“I can’t see clearly when everything is askew.” Clearpaw tilted his head to the side, wondering if his denmates could hear him. Did they think he was talking to himself? Or were they too deep in their sleep? Could they hear Adderpaw? Was Adderpaw even real?
“Adjust the picture, Clearpaw! Wipe those tears away!” Adderpaw exclaimed, brushing a freezing cold paw across his brother’s eye, flicking away some of the tear drops. Clearpaw flinched at his touch. He wanted Adderpaw to be real again, to feel his warm embrace. The tabby should feel happy to see the tom, but he just felt sad and empty on the inside. He felt sad all the time.
“You have to learn a lot of things, mon amie. There won’t always be someone to dry your tears, so you have to do it yourself,” Adderpaw meowed. “I sound like a broken record by now, I’m sure, but everything I say is true.”
“But-“ Clearpaw started.
“Hush, Clearpaw.” Adderpaw snapped. He winced. “Whatever you think, there’s always gonna be a cat who cares about you. Whether or not you know it.”
“You’re talking to me like I’m suicidal. I’m not,” Clearpaw meowed.
Adderpaw shook his head. “Don’t forget what I said,” he meowed, his voice ebbing away as he faded into the long shadows of the den, leaving about as quickly as he came.
“Clearpaw, wake up!”
“Huh?” Clearpaw’s tired eyes slowly opened, letting out a yawn. Baypaw was leaning over him, his bright green eyes sparkling in the light that seeped in from the room of their foliage den. Clearpaw rubbed his eyes, trying to rid them of sleep dust. The small tabby bit his tongue, swallowing.
“Vinestar called a meeting,” Baypaw responded. “I think she’s promoting Rosie’s kits,” he added, his voice showing no trace of disgust that other’s usually had when they mentioned the former loner. Clearpaw thought it was unfair. Rosie was hurt and starving, and she needed shelter when she came to the Clan.
“Alright,” Clearpaw murmured, continuing to clean his eyes. See, when you cry, sleep dust forms in your eyes, and it hurts. Clearpaw didn’t like it, not one bit. His jaws stretched open widely in a yawn as he pushed himself off his nest. Baypaw was paused at the entrance, waiting for the other apprentice.
The two emerged from the den just as Rosie’s kits, Redkit, Flashkit, and Koikit scurried out into the audience of cats, tails held high and happy expressions on their beaming faces. Vinestar looked down at them fondly, her eyes warm.
“We’re gathered today to witness three of our Clan members become true members of ShineClan.” Murmurs ran rampant through the camp, and Vinestar silenced them with a glare. “They’ve endured hard times, and now they’re safe. Koikit, Redkit, and Flashkit? Could you please step forward?”
The three kits scampered forward, eyes bright despite the hostility of their Clanmates. “Koikit, you shall be known as Koipaw until you become a warrior,” Vinestar meowed. Koipaw’s pale eyes sparked with excitement.