Forever Not

The morning hue was magnificent with voracious and vibrant colors. A light and misty fog grazed over the field of sunflowers. A late resting owl swooped down into the field to catch his breakfast. Songbirds were singing a delightful melody of peace and joy. The morning was fresh and inviting. However, Anton was not happy. He could not find any pleasure from the beauty that was right before him. Always before, when he came to this place, his spirit was refreshed and rejuvenated, but not today. He had hoped that by coming to this special place, that he could once again ‘feel’ what he was missing, but alas, today was not the day for this be accomplished.

Sarie was a beautiful and exciting queen. Though not truly royalty, to Anton, a queen none the less.  She was five feet seven inches tall. Her hair was long and full of life. When the wind would catch it just right, her hair would flare like the tail of peacock and though her hair was brunette, when it was in the fan of the wind, it was a multitude of colors in the sunlight. The closest comparison would be a sun catcher in the window. Her laughter was child-like and immediately you were entranced in her humor. All problems were withdrawn as soon as her voice was heard. The magic she possessed permeated a room or an area the moment she walked into your life. You could not help but fall for her kindness, her levity, her gentle nature. She was a queen.

Anton and Sarie met in the market on a rainy Saturday afternoon, when Anton was in hunt for fresh produce for his weekend meal. Sarie was filling in for her father.

Sir Tom of the village was known to have the best prices and the best food. Anton was first on scene bright and early. He needed shallots and garlic scapes. Sir Tom never has failed him, though they were not in season, Anton was confident that he would find some with Sir Tom.

The sun was fighting for dominance in the east, the church bell rang loudly to notify of the time and that the market was now open. With exuberant excitement, Anton marched to the middle of the market where Sir Tom was always set up. As he approached the centermost part, Sir Tom was not there. There was another stand there. Not Sir Tom. Where had Sir Tom gone. Anton, looked cautiously around to see if he could find his favorite vendor, but to no avail, Sir Tom could not be located. Discourage, Anton approached the place where Sir Tom normally was, and started to search the produce haphazardly. He did not ‘feel’ as though he was going to locate what he needed since Sir Tom was not there. All the other vendors were not as well prepared as he.

Handling this bundle and that bundle of shallots, he found one that he liked, it appeared as though this marketeer had quality as well. The crispness of shallot was inviting. Anton search around, but he could not find the garlic scapes. Discouraged, he was about to leave when this captivating voice said, “Sir, may I be of assistance in helping you locate something you desire?” Anton turned and locked eyes with he most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Stumbling over his thoughts and words, he asked, “Do … Do you …Do you have any garlic scapes?” The woman smiled, “You must be Anton. Uncle said that you would be coming by today. He had me set these aside for you.” She reached into the cart, retrieved a bundle and handed them to Anton. “You desire the shallots as well sir?” she asked. “Um… yes. Sorry. The shallots and the garlic scapes. How much do I owe you?” Anton stuttered. “That will be 20 sheckles today sir. Anton searched his pockets, retrieved the money, and paid the lass. “My lady, you have done me a great service today. I will now be able to prepare my favorite dish.” With a smile on his face, Anton retreated to his cottage.

Sarie watched as he stumbled across the marketplace and down a small alleyway. With a smile on her face, she said to herself, “I shall marry him some day.”

Anton unloaded his treasures on to his tabletop. He could not focus on his task for the marketplace queen had captivated his mind and thoughts. She was so beautiful. Her voice so mesmerizing. ‘I am going to marry her one day’, he thought.

No longer able to focus on his meal, Anton returned to the marketplace and to her stand, he decided that he was in need of carrots and celery root as well. Though he had no idea what he was going to use it for, he had to speak to this queen one more time today. He was not going to be able to finish anything, until he spoke to her again.

As he approached the stand, his palms were sweating and all of a sudden, though the temperature was quite cool, he felt like he was on fire. Calming his entrance to the stand, he asked, “Excuse me miss, would you have carrots and celery root as well?” With a hearty laugh, Sarie replied, “Why yes sir, I do. You are standing right in front of them.” The both of them laughed and Anton made his purchase. Just as he was to bid a farewell, he turned and asked, “Miss, would you do me the honor of joining me for dinner on my front patio this evening. I would like to share with you the bounties of your stand.” Blushing a bit, Sarie accepted his invitation, expressing that their meal must be outside in the public view for she was a proper lady. Anton agreed and smirked that he was a proper gentleman.

The market closed promptly at four in the afternoon. Sarie finished packing up the small portions of produce that did not sell. Sir Tom had told her that the marketplace was a delight and profit was abounding. He did not lie. She barely had anything left to pack away. As she bundled up her cart, Anton arrived in full cloak to gather her up to be a proper gentleman and escort her to his patio. Though the cart was nearly empty, he was grateful that he lived so close by, for it was quite sturdy.

The two of them sat on the patio, observing the towns people, and enjoying the meal that Anton had prepared. They spoke of Sir Tom and that he had fallen ill last evening, thusly asking Sarie to cover his stand for him. They chatted well past sundown. Anton cleared the table, brought out yet another cloak, wrapped Sarie up in it, and requested the honor of escorting her home…properly. She accepted.

The two of them had several dinner dates as this over the course of the next year. They had become quite a couple of love and kindness. Together they would help with the homeless and orphans. Anton became a second hand at the marketplace to assist her in the unloading and displaying along side Sir Tom. Anton had been invited to dine with them at their home as well on several occasions. It was becoming apparently clear that the two were well suited for each other.

One day, while Anton and Sarie were on a walk through the fields to the river, he asked her, “Why do you live with your uncle?” Sarie smiled and said, “I do not. Tom is my father. We have a joke between us that I call him Uncle. It started when I was just a little girl, and it has stayed my whole life. Mother gets annoyed with it but sees how it makes us happy and had just accepted it.” After they had traveled a little bit down the path, she asked him, “Why do you ask?” Anton replied, “I was just curious. It seemed weird.” Anton maintained that there was no deception, he was just honestly curious. However, Anton was planning to ask for her hand in marriage and had to understand the complexities of her living arrangements. Proper requests are made to the father, however, with her calling him Uncle, Anton was confused. Now that he knew … he could make his request known in accordance with custom.  

The two sat along the riverbank and enjoyed the scenery, not only of fields that flowed, but of each other as well. The sun began to fall and Sarie asked if he would wait to walk her home until after night had fallen. She wanted to see the stars with him. Anton reminded her that they both professed to proper, that would not be advisable without consent. Slightly disappointed but also happy that he would not be swayed, she agreed and the two of them started for town. Dropping her off at the front door, as promised, Anton kissed her hand and wished her a good night. While he was walking past the back of the home, he noticed Sir Tom in the back garden. Anton decided that now was as good a time as ever, he approached Tom and requested a meeting and walk with him. Sternly, Sir Tom agreed to walk with Anton. Sir Tom knew what was happening but wanted to see Anton sweat just a little. With his most fatherly voice as low as he could sink it, “What do you want to talk to me about Anton?” Never hearing this voice before, Anton sank into his cloak. They walked a bit and then Anton took a deep breath. “Sir. Your daughter…Sarie … she is a queen to me sir. I hope that I have shown myself to be a gentleman and I wish to declare my love for her to you. In doing this I also wish to ask you for your daughter’s hand in marriage.?” Anton rushed through his presentation and then promptly stood to hear Sir Tom’s response. With a glare in his eye, a firmness in his face, Sir Tom looked squarely at Anton and said, “You have my consent”. Prepared to defend himself and his intentions Anton began to beg, but Sir Tom stopped him mid-sentence and said again, “You have my consent” Anton stood their stoically and confused. Then it hit him, ‘HE SAID YES’. Anton, with complete and total excitement thanked Sir Tom and headed off for home. Now he had to plan the proposal.

That night Anton practice and practiced and practiced his approach to Sarie. He barely got any sleep and was exhausted when morning hit. Preparing for his journey to her home, making sure that he was prepared as a proper gentleman, there came a knock at the door. He was not expecting anyone, so he was confused as to why anyone would be here at this hour. He opened the door; it was Sir Tom.

“Son, you need to sit down. We need to talk.” Sir Tom began.

Anton found a table chair and sat down as instructed. “What is wrong sir?”

“There has been an accident. Sarie went for a walk last night …” Sir Tom paused to regain composure “Sarie is gone. She…She is dead. I am sorry.”

Anton was in shock. What just happened. Sir Tom did not give a lot of details and Anton had lots of questions. He was going to marry her. This could not be happening. Sir Tom left Anton’s home, leaving Anton with questions and no answers. Anton’s world was now in turmoil. His queen was no more.

The investigation ended within a couple of weeks. The conclusion was that she had misgauged her footing to the edge of the riverbank, she slipped, hit her head on a rock, fell into the river and drowned. Her body was recovered ten miles downstream. Anton wished that they had stayed to watch the stars, maybe had they stayed she would not have ventured out after dark. His world was a shambles. His quiet place no longer soothed him. He was not sure that he would ever recover.

September 26, 2023 15:44

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