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Paril took an unsteady step. The small light from the Elk’s Rack had faded to nothing behind her, leaving only grays and blacks. The rainy mist cut visibility further. She had only an impression of the saddleries and pens and stables she knew lined the cobblestoned street. The cobblestones were slick in the mist. That last tankard had been a mistake.
About halfway to the caravansary, she thought. A sound penetrated her brain through the drip of water off empty roofs. A scuffle, like leather on cobble, from behind her, perhaps a rat. Perhaps not. Opening her pouch at the Rack so all could see her stash of silvers to get the two-ducat instead of the five had been a mistake too.
She felt watched. Another step. Left hand touched the hilt of the dagger tucked into her belt and she felt better. Another sound, this time ahead and to the left, a water rivulet interrupted to strike something solid instead of the puddle on the ground. She fingered her belt pouch. The candle and flint were there. Folly, her rational self intruded. The light would be too feeble in the open street. Phantoms anyway, she chided. Ghosts of an ale-swimming imagination.
The day began like any other
Clocks striking midnight
Waves and sand, wind and land
No different a minute before
No different a minute after
But men would talk of this day
From this day and who was there
On the coast of northern Fance
On this henceforth known as
The Longest Day.
Emotions still run high
For those who now remember
Though those there then will soon
Be gone, their deeds live on
And if we remember
Their reasons and their valor
We shall not suffer nor have cause
To repeat their great endeavor.
Another spring comes and I plant marigolds
I plant marigolds and think of you;
Of the golden prospects never to be realized,
Of the many flowers I plant to remember.
Another summer comes and I celebrate
Vibrancy, and warmth, and the color of love
All those things you brought with you
Wherever you went, no matter the season.
Another autumn full of reds, oranges, and yellows
The colors you used to paint for all of us;
The fallen leaves we piled up and jumped into
Before we became too cool or too old.
Another winter, the trees covered in veils,
Icicles sparkling in the thin sunlight.
I feel you most often in this season,
In the drafts and shadows and winds.
I never pity you; you never wanted pity.
I never ask why or wish it was me instead;
The question has no answer; I, too touch life.
More I miss you a little every day,
Wish you were here too, Sis,
Happy every time that chill passes me
‘Cause I know you are still nearby.
The land lay waiting. Spring had come with all the chaos of seeds bursting forth into new plants and old plants stretching their roots. Summer had come with all the activity that the warmth and the light brings to the myriad living things. Then fall had come with the frenetic work of the harvest and the winding down and retreating to a lazy, drifting rest for the plants and animals that would overwinter. And now the land itself was ready for its long winter nap, happy to rest, at least for a season.
Unpublished, by Greg Schroeder