(Continuation of story that started on June 28th.)
Spring wasn’t beautiful yet. It had been months since that evening by the fireplace when she finally let it out. It had been the first time he had ever seen her cry and there was nothing he could do but to let her.
She had left two days later with warm clothing, and food. Knives had been her weapon of choice ever since she was seven. Fortunately, they had a good stock. And then she was gone like she had come and he wondered if there would, someday, be a storm named in her honour.
She remembered the look on his face when she spoke to him for the last time and promised she’d return. It was only then that she realized that he had never considered it a possibility that she might not. His cheerful, easy smile disappeared in a second to be replaced by a wild look of fear and desperation.
He realized how much he had grown used to her company: her offhand comments, her ever-questioning smile, her delicate, warm hands, her chestnut tresses, her gentle laugh, twinkling eyes that now bore into him with guilty concern…
And then, somehow, he was kissing her, his hands in her hair holding her close, like she was the most valuable piece of wonder in all the universe, and yet, held the power to set his veins on fire and drive rationality for a vacation in to non-existence. Her fingers fervently traced his shoulder blades as their hearts beat as one and their thoughts felt like they were inexplicably fused, once for all.
“I shall return before the irises bloom.” she whispered as she pulled away. In her hand, she held out her silver leafed bracelet, her eyes reflecting his reluctance to part.
Words would bring tears, so they parted in silent understanding, companionship, friendship, perhaps love.
The iris buds were still asleep, but not for long. He thought wistfully about how she had always smelled like lemon and vanilla. She would return today.
Winter had been colder without her although the snows had been deeper the previous year. Days were quiet. Sunsets were full of nostalgia. Nights brought forth his darkest fears.
He shook his head. It wouldn’t do to think about darkness now. She was coming home!
‘Or was she?’ asked a quiet voice in his head. He hadn’t heard from her since New Year’s.
“Am well and safe. Have found Lumina. Cheer up, you darned idiot.”
That’s all it was. He wondered if it was a code and she was in danger. Perhaps, she needed a brave knight in shining armour on a swift white mare… perhaps a night-mare, knowing her… But she was no damsel in distress… he could never be a prince, let alone charming.
But she was coming home. She had to be coming. There wasn’t another option.
He delicately traced along the edges of the silver leaf. It was so much like her. Subtle, strong and dangerously beautiful, captivating, thrilling, blinding, wild and free.
There it was, the slight distortion that he was looking for between the sea and the sky at the horizon. He stilled for a moment. What if…
He took a deep breath in and huffed it out in a sigh. He picked himself up and walked down to the dock, fidgeting nervously, distractedly with the bracelet. First briskly, then slowing down. His nerves would surely snap if he had to stand and wait much longer.
The wind was wild and chilly at the dock. The ship was moderately large and almost at the wharf. He stood there, still, expressionless, waiting.
In only a moment she would come out, he tried to tell himself. All he received in response was a heavily sarcastic ‘Sure.’
‘Old people, young people, tall people, short people, heavy people, skinny people, passionate people, bored people…’ Studying the crowds that poured steadily out of the vessel, he felt like a rather inadequate version of Dr. Seuss.
He watched, discreetly, as the last boxes and pieces of furniture was unloaded. The last few people trickled out…
He walked up to the burly seaman unloading the last crate, “Was there a young lady with a child in here? Dark hair, dark eyes…”
“Sho’ am sorry, suh. Me ‘n mine folks sho’ don’t remember no dark ‘aired lady on board, suh. ‘Ain’t you ‘eard from ‘er, suh?”
He closed his eyes. His fingers closed tightly around the bracelet, her bracelet, as if to search for a little bit of warmth, a little piece of her that might be hidden somewhere deep inside it. This, he had heard, was the most painful experience he would ever have to survive, the ripping. He felt his fingernails dig into the palm of his hand.
“I’m sorry.” he said almost at a whisper. To whom, he did not know. “I’m sorry. Please come back. Come back to me. I know you’re there.”
“How did you…?”
He froze. “Whozair?” he asked quietly as he turned around.
She stood there, her hair cropped short, a dark green cloak over her shoulders, a hint of a smile at her lips and her eyes happier than he had ever seen. Beside her stood a little girl, about twelve, lighter hair and eyes just like her sister’s gazing at him with a look of awe and defiance, reminding him rather strongly of himself.
He let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding, with a half a laugh and a sigh of relief, as tears rolled down his cheeks.
“You’re only a boy…” he said, his voice cracking slightly and that lopsided smile breaking through the tears.
She threw her arms around him; there he was, the darned idiot.
He held her tight and whispered “Look who’s thinking…”
The silver leaf bracelet reflected the golden-peaked waves as the sunset blended into the sea.
T. E. Pyrus