The powerful flow of the river water, engulfing the oak tree carried along the prevailing silence. Marhessi did not even open his mouth. A sudden, brief burst of bright light like an unexpected glint from a reflective surface hit Ladlow, making him recall the last time he had encountered the man standing in front of them.
“I am captain Marhessi.” the man announced firmly. It echoed in Ladlow’s mind and no one around seemed to crack it as a joke. No one would allow to the ensuing laughter jerk him out of his thoughts and restore his state of things. Or simply regain his fixed sense of verisimilitude and order he had been striving to establish. Watching Secilia so close to him, an overwhelming sense of of disorientation confounded Ladlow who couldn’t knock off the dithering words coming out:
“Were you aware of this?” She was incapable of answering though.
Blood was coming out of her mouth, rapidly covering her broad neckline and dripping down to her chest and sleeves. She fell like a book from a shaky bookcase into Marhessi’s arms who noticed the arrows in her back abashed and puzzled. His soldier training forced him to immediately look around for the one who did this but all he could see was birds, his feathered friends fly away in terror. The blood on Marhessi’s uniform could be from his own heart as well. And Ladlow’s abrupt grabbing her from his arms, replaced his vigorous, disciplined military training with the one of a hounddog’s who instictively kills not to be killed. He was taught that this was the cause of his existence, after all.
Yet, Marhessi quelled his anger against Ladlow and ordered his men not to move against him either. Despite the mayhem that broke out Marhessi’s logic prevailed. Ladlow was the only one who could take proper care of her at a time like this. The only reason Secilia despised her life was the only one who could keep her alive. The blood on his uniform, could be from Marhessi’s heart as well.
Ladlow quickly carried her to the carriage his man had and he ordered him to flog the horses to the way home so hard that his palms would hurt. “I swear, I will have both your hands cut off and then bury you with my own if she does not make it home alive!” Ladlow, whose hands were covered in blood, covered Secilia’s face with more than was already there, with his constant caressing of her cheeks. Before he realized it, he was crying, his face burried in her hair, swearing revenge to the one who did this. In his mind the one to blame was Marhessi or Tristan or whatever the hell his name was. The oath of revenge on him never reached Secilia’s ear although Ladlow was standing so close to her screaming. The bitter almond scent of Secilia’s hair followed scenes with them two during supper, discovering a common ground to make their living together bearable. Even for the little digestion lasted.
They shared their misery when passing salt to each other. They consoled one another for all them loses when they agreed to share the last cup of wine. They built up their understanding of what life has made them do , in order to outlast it arguing over new flavors coming from overseas.
“If you live, I promise to live with you the way you deserve to. Don’t die. I command you not to die”. Ladlow was howling as his voice dissolved into the thin air of the vast meadow. Ladlow was on his knees again, praying to a God he did not believe, to give him something that was not his, like when he was twelve and prayed in a picture of the Jesus, the one on the stairs for someone to come and save him from his house. Now his prayers mostly concerned the doctor or of his nurses to be stand by at the house he has ordered them to be day and night. After Rebecca’s death he had them on call 24 hours a day. He even paid for the house they were living in, after forcing them to live near him.
“Live. Live as if you had a choice. Live Secilia, live.” Ladlow kept on crying out and the house was nowhere near his sight.
To be continued…