“My name’s not Mary,” Clarisse tried to explain again. “I’m Clarisse. Remember?”
Chris muttered a string of nonsense words while Clarisse tucked the blanket around his shoulders. She sat back in the chair next to his bed.
“It’s me, Clarisse. I’m right here, Chris. I’m here.” Clarisse tried to talk in a soothing voice but a large lump had begun to form in her throat. She stroked Chris’s shoulder tenderly. He lay on his back, staring blankly at the ceiling, still muttering incoherently under his breath.
Suddenly his face contorted in an expression of agony. He squeezed his eyes shut and clenched his jaw. Clarisse jumped to her feet and leaned over the bed.
“Chris, are you alright? I’m right here, Chris, do you hear me?” She could try to make him drink some nectar. But the last time she tried he’d backed into the corner and yelled that she was an illusion.
She looked at his now pained face and could hardly believe it was the same one she had seen on his first day at Camp Half-Blood. Now, compared to the smiling Chris she had met so long ago, the person laying in front of her was almost unrecognizable; with his face twisted in pain, he looked fifteen years older than he was. The new scars covering his arms and face made Clarisse’s stomach swim. She had been in enough battles to know it took a lot of hard hits to get that many scars. Clarisse gently touched a long scar on his cheek.
“You could have been safe,” she whispered. “I would have kept you safe.” Her voice caught.
With a groan, Chris rolled on his side and resumed muttering about Mary. Clarisse slowly sat back down on the edge of her chair but kept her hand on his trembling shoulder.
She began to wonder if she would ever get Chris back. Maybe he was just in shock from whatever happened to him in that labyrinth. Maybe the Chris she once knew was locked somewhere inside and would only take time to coax out. But what if his sanity had been pushed too far? He might be stuck this way forever, believing Clarisse was an illusion named Mary and only eating what she forced him to.
Clarisse smoothed Chris’s brown hair. A tear made its way down her cheek. She didn’t brush it away.
“I’m right here,” she repeated quietly.
Inspired by Battle of the Labyrinth