Esther jerked awake and shrugged off her fatigue as a deep grumble sounded from the dull, grey sky. Is a storm approaching? She took a breath, and the heavy humidity confirmed her suspicion. Clearly, she was not the only one who was disturbed by the impending storm: whispers of hushed chirps in the harmony of leaves was replaced by a much harsher song, while the wind cut at her cheeks and found loose strands of her hair to tussle.
“Perhaps it would be best to head indoors,” She said to herself, hoping that the thought would be more propelling if said aloud and thus able to tear her away from her fascination for the temperamental nature.
Yet she was wrong. Her aged bones remained seated upon her chair, her watering eyes ever so fixated upon the way the scene before her danced and flashed; the wind lifted the leaves’ underside in a display of fresh greens to dull white lime, late birds scurried for shelter with its mate in dots of blue and brown; the grim sky at this early hour bestowed an ethereal blue upon all. There would come rain, sheet tasted the moisture in the air. There will be bitter rain.
Deep down within, she found a little girl in her favorite hyacinth gown, gaping at the showers of icy droplets crashing against the world outside the window of her father’s library, her breath fogging the pane of glass and — what she used to think — cushioning the rain drops in their steady descend to the earth. Stupid girl. She should have been playing with dolls or instruments, not documenting her observations of natural phenomenons around her. Had she wrote and read less and philosophized less and smiled idiotically more, she would not have attracted…that man. Perhaps, her having been a normal idiot would have saved them both from love, and had them parted ways. Or, to be fair, he could have just been less heroic to prevent their first encounter. Or he could have just been less secretive, less desperate, or…just less of whatever he was.
A stroke of lightning did not warn her sufficiently for the proximity of the next thunder. The boom deafened her from her yelp of surprise as her shoulders perked from their stiff places. She did not notice that she wrung the silks of her gown in a sad attempt to keep her heart in it place, and in this struggle the deep pounding of her racing heart resonated against her skull to awaken a dull ache that she naïvely thought a quick nap could dispatch. She groaned inwardly, her free hand shot to massage the nape of her neck and her temples. At this, another bolt crossed the sky, and the flash of shadow it casted from the lush trees to the park morphed into a legion of a familiar figure, whose lean frame upon the scaffold were brushed by the harsh howls of the blood thirsty wind.
“Ugh..” She clasped her head in her hands as it threatened to explode under the well-timed insult of the roar of thunder.
Esther had enough. She scrambled upon her feet despite her throbbing head, entering her cabin in a wobble. Immediately one of the maids came up to her in observance of her agony, though she excused the girl with a lady wave of her hand and began her retreat up the wooden stairs towards her study.
“My Lady,” the maid stopped her mid-ascend. “There is a letter from Young Master Ca…”
“Ah,” The throbbing of her headache skipped a beat. “May I?”
The maid quickly shuffled up the steps and handed her the envelope, and once again inquired after her health before bidding good afternoon, descending the stairs and out of sight. So, she continued her ascend, clutching and feeling the corners of the envelope to distract herself from her agony. Oh, her blessed child, with his sweetest tempers that, for a second, lessened her headache, before she was reminded of how awfully similar the boy’s tempers are to that of his late father: the lively airs masking sophisticated sensibility so dedicated to putting all before himself. Ah, how such character only comforted the common mind, and only serve to torture hers with remorse.
She managed to stumble into her study, wading through the loose blanket of abandoned drafts of her pointless musings, and collapsed into her chair. No, she said to herself as she placed the letter on far corner of her desk. I shan’t taint the pure bliss that I should have in reading my dearest’s letter with useless regret. Instead, she drew out several sheets of paper and a split pen, abusing the former with the latter, which was haphazardly dipped in ink, with a random assault of mindless scribbles. But, somehow, as the black mists of her unhappiness transferred itself onto the flimsy papers, it morphed into a familiar scenery. Tamed trees framing paved walks by a lake of calm waters graced with a pair of mindless ducks, where from a distance, a stately mansion overmatched the beauty of nature. Of course, only her mind knew how to relieve her from her pain, by recalling the day she was made the happiest of the face of this planet, even though her uplifted spirits only dove into a downward spiral from that point on. Her mind cleared, and she now remembered, that it all took place in her father’s estate on a dreamy afternoon.
It was a few days after the ball when Sirius was officially introduced to the Gilabres. And, his handsome features accentuated by his noble manners easily won her mother’s favor in a swoon, while his connections as the son of the late Baron Crisiota and his now inherited title of aristocracy were more than enough to gain her father’s approval. As for her, though she now cynically questioned the impetus of her infatuation simply being hinged upon the fact that she met Sirius before her parents, she was fully, if she could say so without blushing, in love. Never once did her heart cease leaping in those afternoons when he sometimes read some volumes aloud under her mother’s repeated request, or when he joined her in balls, or — as her parents became too convinced of his excellent breeding and eligibility of taking their only child’s delicate hand — when he joined Esther in her afternoon walks, occasionally accompanied by an unusually stoic Corah.
But, on one particular afternoon, Mrs. Gilabre insisted that she requires Corah’s assistance making arrangements for unspecific reasons. So, Esther found herself in the company of her love, striding on the paved paths of her father’s property under the cheery chatters of wild critters. Soon enough, the two lost their way deeper into the estate, down the winding paths and its share of scenery. Soon enough, the birds’ songs were overtaken by the bubbling of a spring, whose melodious murmurs increased in volume each step they took upon the trail.
“Isn’t it lovely here, My Lord?” She chided, though immediately regretting so superficial a comment that only her nervous self thought wise to verbalize.
“Absolutely, Miss Esther,” His voice was thoughtful, though still gentle nonetheless as he greeted her inward panic with a smile.
She was thankful for his genuity and learned to distract herself with a trivial occurrence at the meeting of the brook and the land: a small frog pulsated its slimy throat in silent croaks. It was nothing heeding her attention, until she noticed something…odd. Right before she tore herself away from the sight, the critter froze, its large watery concave eyes reflecting blankly her puzzlement and distorting it into fear. Then it began to..shiver? She was not aware the amphibians are capable of such an action, but she realized that it was not the cold that made the little frog tremble. Across its throat was a…pair of sticks. She looked closer, and noticed how the sticks extended to a solid bodice attached to the back of the critter. Ah, a water bug. She decided to spare herself from the gruesome spectacle as the vermin fed, sucking away its fellow creature’s life in one foul breath.
She returned her attention to a much more desirable subject, whom she had accidentally left in ignorance and momentary loneliness staring the tips of his boots, his hands folded behind him and his thoughts seemingly occupied. He shifted his weight from one leg to another, adjusting himself as though the slightest mistake in placing himself may earn him scrutiny. At this uncharacteristic fidgeting she chuckled, startling him and prompting him to attempt to hide his embarrassment with a friendly smile.
“I am sorry, I do digress,” She then took his hand, allowing him to lead them astray from the aimless stream and towards the western part of the park, predominately composed of large expenses of opened fields dotted by wooded clusters.
Somehow, her young mind thought it appropriate to embark upon a conversation that could only be deemed untimely and altogether horrifyingly impertinent (her mother would have fainted out of embarrassment had she been present). Perhaps it was the effects of having watched the water bug’s nonchalant feasting of a melted frog.
So, she started,” My Lord.”
“Do you fear death?” Her voice, crystalline and thus seemingly indifferent to the morbidness of so bold an inquiry prompted the wind to take a breath from its courting of the trees.
He chuckled, though not out of scorn or uneasiness, “Why the melancholy, Miss Esther?”
“Oh, there is no melancholy, but simply…inspired curiosities.”
There was a pause, “To tell you the truth, I did fear death, and the mere reminder of its steady approach used to horrify me to the core.” He looked forward as he spoke, his deep, dark eyes vacant and blankly reflecting a truthful image of the scenes of the field and her question back to her. “I have exposed my cowardice at your pleasure, now prey, if I may, would you enlighten me with your sentiments?”
She was too distracted by her theorizing over the significance of his use of past tense in his response to assess the haughtiness of her answer, “I don’t think one should fear the inevitable.”
“But, how does one come to terms with the inevitable?”
“I believe one can come to terms with it, once one understands that the end really doesn’t define or affect the value of the process.”
“Does it really not?”
“I choose to believe not.”
He paused in their stroll, alarming her as to how crudely she had spoken up until then. Before she could apologize for her language, however, he said.
“I truly admire your capacity of composure and calm, Miss Esther,” She contradicted his compliment immediately as her cheeks flushed red with embarrassment. “Would you care to enlighten me upon the subject of accepting the fear of a different inevitable?”
From the corner of her eyes she saw a hare hurrying across the path. Perhaps it was losing a race against time.
“What is it, my Lord?”
There was a long pause before he began, “Tell me, Miss Esther, what is one to do with the irrepressible emotions so encompassing that it draws an individual to despair in each moment of separation from an object of fixation, so irrational that it drives this individual in question against his usual conduct to give a poor impression as a helpless clown?” — she read the unspoken things, drawing him closer as she unlinked their arms and took his gloved hands in hers instead, a steady hum drove the previous, much grimmer discussion away from her mind — “What is one to do if he is to be drawn, as though by the cruel strings spun by fate, towards a perfection that he learns to adore and admire though he clearly does not deserve it?”
“Perhaps he is deserving of it, and ‘perfection’ is merely a flattering exaggeration,” she whispered, the wind thankfully cooling her enough from directly bursting into flames here and there.
“I can assert you that it is certainly not,” at this he daringly rested his arms around her waist as she tugged herself against him, her hands contradicting her institutions of propriety and meandering to rest upon his chest. “But, Miss Esther, how could he affirm that he is deserving of such happiness?”
He leaned down to whisper the rhetorical into her ear, his warm breath somehow misinterpreted as cold as she shivered involuntarily, “He will…just have to ask?”
“Then, Miss Esther, I am afraid that I have to bother you with another question then,” His hand traced the small of her back and to her shoulder, finding its way to the crook of her neck and cupped her cheek. “Would you kindly make me the happiest man of the world of existence?” He tilted her head gently to face him, since she snapped away earlier to hide her idiotic grin.
“Gladly so, Sirius…” And, it is I who is made the happiest woman in the world since existence by you, this line, though unspoken, was communicated soundly through their gaze.
She briefly brushed away a strand of hair that the slight breeze would not left alone, fearing that her wayward hair should break their gaze. Then he smiled, his boyish, bright beam that glowed with sheer joy. She knew that she was smiling too, but in a much more idiotic and less attractive fashion. Her eyes fluttered closed as his thumb brushed against the corner of her mouth, tracing her jaw and tilting her chin. In the same careful tremor he leant down and kissed her.
Her naiveté tasted the promise of eternity in his lips, his gentle and enveloping love. Eventually he pulled back, both of them breathless as he rested his forehead against hers.
“I…I love you.”
She merely embraced him tightly and whispered back, “And as do I.”
Once again Esther jerked awake from troubled dreams, and found the little ink sketch before her an incoherent splotch of happy fantasy. So, she allowed herself to crack yet another mask for her beloved and smiled. Oh, if only, if only. If only scenes such at these were the only reminisce she had of her past. The storm was upon her, the atmosphere bearing upon her frame made meek by time. Why must things turn out such as this? What went wrong?
All she knew was that her wedding tunes were actually an elaborate prelude to a requiem.