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Historical Fiction Short Story

Willow Haven

The night air was thick with the smell of sandal wood as the firelight danced around my room in warm, softly vibrant hues.

My balcony window showed off the darkness of the night, the willow trees swaying through the darkness, almost out of sight as I took a deep breath and plunged backwards into my hot bath water, looking up through the silence of the water to the ceiling fan high above.

I brought my head slowly up, wiping the water from my face as I gazed with distant eyes around the empty room.  It had been three weeks since I’d last saw him.  The rich memory of our last moment together played out vividly in my mind.  I leaned back into the hot water as a cold breeze blew suddenly from outside.  I closed my eyes as the memory engulfed me with the silence of his eyes.

Sunlight speckled his then ruddy face as his blue eyes shined through at me amongst the red dust of the day’s work.  In certain perspective, it was that of a retreat center where we now lived…where we had met only two months before.  Really it was my aunt’s small southern mansion, and she was a woman with a heart of gold.

She took in every stray human being walking blindly through the night, brought them in, and offered them a safe haven…a place to stay for a while; a place to get strong before venturing back out into the cold world.

I, her lonely hearted niece, was no exception to this.  For years I had lived alone, fighting my own fears, my own heartaches.  My alcoholic tendencies finally drew me down into my own self-made hole, one for which I knew no escape.  I was homeless, unable to pay my rent.  When my aunt got wind of this, she came and fetched me up as if I was a priceless queen.

She brought me here, to the Willow Haven, and gave me all I needed to heal, to become strong, including the endless love I was so desperately craving.

Ethan was a slightly different story, having wrecked just outside of town on his motorcycle, an acquaintance found his unconscious body lying in the ditch of the country road and immediately drove him to my aunt for care.

He had remained unconscious for several hours before waking at Willow Haven and his memory seemed to complete evade him as he jar bled in incoherent babble about trains and such.

We were just two of many roughed up, beat up and loved deprived occupants, and ranging from teenage ages to those in their golden years of life.  Some came, some went, but Ethan and I understood each other.

I knew he would leave soon, that wild streak so un-killable inside of him…and he did, those two months following his arrival; and though he promised to stay in touch, in my heart I knew he would not.  I knew him, how he was wired, how he was made.  He was man that lived on the breeze of his current vision, and I knew no longer seeing me would cause the vision of our friendship to fade.

I took the bar of soap from the ledge of the tub and slowly lathered it between my hands, watching as the suds poured over my fingers and into the steaming bath water surrounding me.  A smile came to my eyes as I remembered the last frame of his face when he had left…I was picking blackberries and he was handsome.

His blue eyes were intoxicating as he approached me from the field. He took the berry bucket from my hands and held it, walking with me as the rich cascade of the golden sun set over us that evening.

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