Friday, February 3, 2023

If You Were Here

 She was sitting, perfectly poised on the shore. The water licked at her toes which moved absently as she stared out over the water. She had broken away from the group and found her way on her own to the abandoned stone house. Its walls were carved and smooth, holding a lifetime of memories and pain. The stars glimmered on the lake which was situated behind the house. She was surprised no one had come to build around the area. As it was, only this house stood, solitary and dark. 

The wind shifted and he appeared beside her. A dagger was plunged in the sand between them as a warning but he sat silently and seemed to take reverence in the moment. His features were dark and impossible to discern but she knew who it was. She supposed for a moment she should act afraid. Wouldn’t that be what any normal girl would do in response to a vaguely threatening stranger appearing beside her?

“How do you know of this place?” His voice was gravel and as she turned to look at him she noted the stars had caught in his eyes. She must choose her next words and actions carefully.

She startled and flushed at the late timing and believability. His eyebrow ticked a notch higher but he didn’t turn his face. “Do you know what happened here? It feels so sad.” His eye twitched and she knew she had done well. 

“You didn’t answer my question.”

She paled and looked down at her bare feet. “I was out foraging. I was living on my own…newly on my own. There’s a nice berry patch about twenty paces that way.” She pointed towards the mountain. “When you find a good spot you tend to remember. Anyway, I saw the house in the distance and knocked.” He inhaled sharply. “Realized it was abandoned so I thought it’d be ok to come and spend time outside its doors.”

“The door is unlocked.” He blinked slowly as he stared over the water. She knew any stranger to the house would stand, excited. They would tiptoe to the door and test his words. They would explore and look for clues to the house’s history. She was no stranger to this house and was not ready to be immersed in its memories.

“Oh…” She stretched to get energy out. “I never tried. Didn’t seem respectful, you know?”

“Respectful.” He rolled the word off his tongue, tasting it. “Of a place you thought abandoned. When you were new to being on your own and foraging for food.” He nodded slowly and stood, pulling the dagger free from the sand. “You’re a bad liar.” The dagger slid into his holster at his back. “Your friends are looking for you and hoping to pack up camp. You’ve got to move if you want to stay on track.” 

“Ok, thank..” 

She found she was alone once again.

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