You step closer to me, resting one of your cold thumbs on my cheek.
“I’ll miss you, love. What will you do while I'm away?”
Your voice is soft and I press my ear against your chest, your heart thumping.
“I have recently taken a liking to the beauty of the earth. I think I will explore my curiosities until you return, ” I say.
You run your fingers through my hair, asking me to tell you more.
“Every beautiful thing on the earth has it's own secret. Each one of them. If you take a moment to step outside, stop thinking, and take a deep breath, the earth will greet you.”
“How will that sustain my absence?” You question.
“There's so much to learn and question about the beauty of the earth. I found a book in the cellar filled with flower names and their meanings. Do you know what an aster is, Alvaro?”
I pick up my head, looking up at you and you shake your head.
“What is an aster, love?”
“They are these beautiful flowers that bloom as the leaves fall from the trees. The name aster means “symbol of love.” Isn’t that just wonderful Alvaro?”
Excitement coats my voice as you pull me in for a hug.
“Absolutely wonderful Em.”
I smile into your chest, “am I saying too much? I wouldn't hope for you to mistake me as an improper woman.”
“Of course not, darling. Tell me more, I’m fascinated.”
My smile grows. You always have a way of listening to me go on and on. You probably do think of me as an improper woman. I’m lucky enough for you to not care.
“I found lilies out in the pasture and picked them for a bouquet. Did you know that different colored lilies signify different things?”
“What does a...yellow lily signify?”
I stop, thinking silently.
“I believe they signify gratitude.”
Your voice grows quiet as you squeeze my hand.
“You’ve got a brilliant mind Em. You realize that, don't you?”
I shrug off your compliment.
“Thank you Alvaro, but I obtain other's knowledge through books. None of it is my own.”
“But not everyone craves knowledge and words like you do.”
“It is simply a curiosity.” I persist as you shake your head.
“It’s a sh-”
“Emmeranne! I expect to see you inside for supper in the next few minutes!” I sigh at my mother's voice and smooth out my skirt.
“Will you be joining us this evening?” I ask.
You shake your head and frown.
“My mother would like me home for the last few nights.”
I nod, and you peck a kiss on my cheek before dropping my hand and hurrying away.
I bite my lip and turn around, hurrying inside.
It's weeks later and everything feels bare without you. I fill my days with books and words, but loneliness pulls me away, distracting my brain from all else.
I fidget with the sheets, waiting for sleep to come, but my brain is crowded with information that doesn't rest, so my eyes are forced open.
An aggressive pounding on our front door gives me the excuse to jump out of bed and stumble down the stairs.
I unlatch the lock and pull the door open to find Alvaro’s mother shaking in her robe.
I usher her inside; the door swinging closed behind her.
“Margaret is everything alright?”
I turn to see my mother racing down the stairs, hurrying over to Margaret who had collapsed into an armchair by the fire.
She raises a handkerchief to her puffy and blood-shot eyes.
As mother wraps an arm around her, my eyes fall on the tan paper, clutched in one of Margaret's shaking hands.
I close my eyes, praying my suspicions wrong as my knees grow weak and my heart sinks to the pit of my stomach.
Mother notices the paper too and tenderly unfolds one of Margaret's hands, taking the paper.
Everything seems to slow down, mothers' brown eyes glancing up at me as she bites her lip.
I start to shake my head, wanting to scream as mother hands the paper to me.
“No, no, no, no, no. Please God, no! Why would you do this?”
I swallow down tears as I snatch the paper from mother's outstretched hand and try to get my eyes to read the text.
ᴏɴ ʙᴇʜᴀʟꜰ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ ᴅᴇᴘᴀʀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ ɴᴀᴠʏ ɪᴛ ɪꜱ ᴍʏ ꜱᴀᴅ ᴅᴜᴛʏ ᴛᴏ ᴄᴏɴꜰɪʀᴍ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ʏᴏᴜʀ ꜱᴏɴ, ꜱᴀʀɢᴇᴀɴᴛ ᴀʟᴠᴀʀᴏ ᴊᴀᴍᴇꜱ ᴅᴀʏ, ᴜɴɪᴛᴇᴅ ꜱᴛᴀᴛᴇꜱ ɴᴀᴠᴀʟ ʀᴇꜱᴇʀᴠᴇ, ɪꜱ ᴘʀᴇꜱᴜᴍᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ʙᴇᴇɴ ᴋɪʟʟᴇᴅ ɪɴ ᴀᴄᴛɪᴏɴ. ᴛʜɪꜱ ᴘʀᴇꜱᴜᴍᴘᴛɪᴏɴ ᴡᴀꜱ ᴍᴀᴅᴇ ᴜɴᴅᴇʀ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘʀᴏᴠɪꜱɪᴏɴꜱ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ ᴍɪꜱꜱɪɴɢ ᴘᴇʀꜱᴏɴꜱ ᴀᴄᴛ ᴏɴ 19 ᴍᴀʏ 73. ɪ ᴇxᴛᴇɴᴅ ᴛᴏ ʏᴏᴜ ᴍʏ ꜱɪɴᴄᴇʀᴇ ꜱʏᴍᴘᴀᴛʜʏ ᴏɴ ʏᴏᴜʀ ɢʀᴇᴀᴛ ʟᴏꜱꜱ. ʏᴏᴜʀ ꜱᴏɴ ᴅɪᴇᴅ ᴡʜɪʟᴇ ꜱᴇʀᴠɪɴɢ ʜɪꜱ ᴄᴏᴜɴᴛʀʏ.
That’s as far as I can go before my legs give out and I drop to the floor, curling my knees into my chest.
“Why did you take him away from me, God?”
Mother brings over a second paper, and hands it to me, as if she expects me to be in a state to read it.
I shove it to the side and lay back, slamming my head into the wood floors.
“Take me, God. I want to see him again. Please, I'm begging you. I cant do this alone. Take me too.”
I squeeze my hands together until my knuckles ache and plead, calling out for someone to save me from this cruel world you’ve left me in.
I see you. You’re everywhere I go. In my mirror, delivering newspapers, in the newspaper, in a puddle. I could never get rid of you when you were here either. We stuck to each other like glue. You remember that, don't you? I-I miss that. I miss you.
And I see you know as I stand in your mothers backyard. The same backyard we dreamed of getting married in one day.
I stand under the willow tree in your mothers backyard.
The same willow tree you fell out of the day I told you I loved you.
I hear you in my head as I take out the still unopened letter.
I force myself to read it, trying to keep my hand steady.
𝐼’𝓂 𝓌𝓇𝒾𝓉𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓈 𝓌𝑒𝑒𝓀𝓈 𝒷𝑒𝒻𝑜𝓇𝑒 𝐼 𝓁𝑒𝒶𝓋𝑒. 𝐼𝓉’𝓈 𝒿𝓊𝓈𝓉 𝒾𝓃 𝒸𝒶𝓈𝑒. 𝒮𝑜 𝒹𝑜𝓃'𝓉 𝓁𝑒𝓉 𝓂𝓎 𝓂𝑜𝓉𝒽𝑒𝓇 𝑔𝒾𝓋𝑒 𝒾𝓉 𝓉𝑜 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝓊𝓃𝓁𝑒𝓈𝓈 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓌𝑜𝓇𝓈𝓉 𝒽𝒶𝓅𝓅𝑒𝓃𝓈, 𝑜𝓀? 𝐵𝓊𝓉 𝓌𝑒 𝒸𝒶𝓃 𝒽𝑜𝓅𝑒 𝒻𝑜𝓇 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒷𝑒𝓈𝓉.
𝐵𝓊𝓉, 𝒾𝒻 𝓎𝑜𝓊’𝓇𝑒 𝑜𝓅𝑒𝓃𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝓇𝑒𝒶𝒹𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓈, 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓌𝑜𝓇𝓈𝓉 𝒽𝒶𝓅𝓅𝑒𝓃𝑒𝒹.
𝐼’𝓂 𝓈𝑜𝓇𝓇𝓎 𝐸𝓂. 𝐼’𝓂 𝓈𝑜𝓇𝓇𝓎 𝐼 𝓁𝑒𝒻𝓉 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝓈𝑜 𝓈𝑜𝑜𝓃. 𝐼’𝓂 𝓈𝑜𝓇𝓇𝓎 𝐼 𝒸𝒶𝓃'𝓉 𝒷𝑒 𝓌𝒾𝓉𝒽 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝓇𝒾𝑔𝒽𝓉 𝓃𝑜𝓌. 𝐼’𝓂 𝓈𝑜𝓇𝓇𝓎 𝓌𝑒 𝒸𝒶𝓃'𝓉 𝑒𝓋𝑒𝓇 𝑔𝑜 𝓈𝓉𝒶𝓇𝑔𝒶𝓏𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝒶𝑔𝒶𝒾𝓃, 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝐼’𝓂 𝓈𝑜𝓇𝓇𝓎 𝓌𝑒 𝒸𝒶𝓃 𝓃𝑒𝓋𝑒𝓇 𝒽𝒶𝓋𝑒 𝓅𝒾𝒸𝓃𝒾𝒸𝓈 𝒾𝓃 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓅𝒶𝓇𝓀 𝒶𝑔𝒶𝒾𝓃. 𝒟𝑜 𝓂𝑒 𝒶 𝒻𝒶𝓋𝑜𝓇, 𝑜𝓀?
𝒴𝑜𝓊 𝓈𝑒𝑒 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓉𝑒𝓇𝓇𝒾𝒷𝓁𝑒 𝓈𝓀𝑒𝓉𝒸𝒽 𝐼 𝒹𝒾𝒹 𝑜𝓃 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒷𝒶𝒸𝓀𝓈𝒾𝒹𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓈 𝓁𝑒𝓉𝓉𝑒𝓇? 𝒢𝑜 𝒽𝑜𝓂𝑒 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝓁𝑜𝑜𝓀 𝓊𝓅 𝓅𝒾𝓃𝓀 𝒸𝒶𝓇𝓃𝒶𝓉𝒾𝑜𝓃𝓈 𝒾𝓃 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝒻𝓁𝑜𝓌𝑒𝓇 𝒷𝑜𝑜𝓀.
𝐼 𝓂𝒾𝓈𝓈 𝓎𝑜𝓊, 𝓁𝑜𝓋𝑒.
𝑅𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓂𝒷𝑒𝓇 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝑔𝑜𝑜𝒹 𝓉𝒾𝓂𝑒𝓈.
𝐿𝑜𝓋𝑒 𝓎𝑜𝓊, 𝐸𝓂.
I fold the letter, holding back tears and start my way home, following your orders.
Your sketch isn't as terrible as you say it to be.
I’ve seen carnations before with their ruffled petals.
You could've gotten better at drawing if they hadn't sent you away.
We could've learned together.
I push those thoughts away and drag up the stairs shutting myself in my room. Carnations is near the front of my book and I follow your directions, looking specifically for the pink carnation.
As I start the paragraph, I skim for a meaning.
“Pink carnations symbolize gratitude.”
As I read farther into the paragraph my eyes fall on a note scribbled in your handwriting.
𝒴𝑜𝓊 𝓂𝑒𝒶𝓃 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓌𝑜𝓇𝓁𝒹 𝓉𝑜 𝓂𝑒 𝐸𝓂.
𝒜𝓁𝓌𝒶𝓎𝓈 𝒽𝒶𝓋𝑒 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝒶𝓁𝓌𝒶𝓎𝓈 𝓌𝒾𝓁𝓁.
𝐿𝑜𝓋𝑒 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝒻𝑜𝓇𝑒𝓋𝑒𝓇 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝒶𝓁𝓌𝒶𝓎𝓈.