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Reuben Wragg



'Your head laid in my hands

Your skin was warm

Your face was draining

Your eyes vacant

Your mouth foaming

Your throat choking

Your heart gone

 

I remember how love had once been,

The love I once believed.

I linger on the scent of flowers.

Once the flowers glowed,

But now they wilt.

 

Why couldn’t you leave this little girl?

She clamoured to be free.

Why couldn’t she just be?

Why couldn’t you leave?

 

Now with your skin so cold

With your face so pale

With your eyes empty

And your mouth twisted and curled

 

Did you see the writings on the wall?

Or is this a surprise?'

 

 

I was fourteen when I met him.  I was a girl with everything and yet a girl with nothing at the same time.   I fit in and yet I was an outsider.  As a little girl, I should have been happy, but I never was.  I feel foolish now looking back on those days.  When I met him, the sun sent beams of deep reds and pinks cascading through the sky.   The river sliced through the rocky cliffs tumbling and swelling in its little valley below us.  Town sat just behind us with smoke rolling into the darkening sky with its gentle glow from fires within the buildings.  I remember all of this so clearly really.  Because when I met him, I thought everything was going to change.  I thought the world was going to change.

That is not how it works by the way, in case you were wondering.  You do not actually meet someone who changes the world.  Actually, you meet someone and no one even notices or cares.  I remember other girls would dream of meeting someone who changed the world.  They dreamed of someone sweeping them off their feet.  That the wind, the sky, the world would change.  They said that was what love was like after all.  Honestly when I was younger, I thought the world was on my side and I grew up romanticising a love I could never truly feel.  It is a long road to wisdom, but a short road to defeat.

Anyways, I met him atop of that hill beneath the flames of the sky and above the raging of the river.  It was a brief meeting before I could hear the voice of my mother echoing through the air calling me home.  It was hardly the last time I ever met him though.  I cannot tell you in all honestly, why I thought that running away and marrying this man after only a handful of encounters I had with him was ever a good idea.   Perhaps it was because I never thought another would love me.  Perhaps it was because I feared my own inner feelings.   Perhaps it was because I found an escape from the perfect imperfect life I lived.  Perhaps it was because in my adolescence, I was incapable of judging reality in the way I should have.  Perhaps all of these were factors into it.  Regardless, I fled.  And the worst part is, even to this day, I cannot remember the last words I said to my parents.  They died when I was gone and I cannot even remember my parting words to them.  It took me nine years to realise I could not remember. 

“Reuben,” I remember saying as I leaned back in the chair in our home I had become accustomed of never leaving, “Do you remember what my parents said when we proposed marriage to them?”

“Hm?”  He did not bother to look up to me, “I don’t know Edda.”

I do not think he actually listened to my words.  Running my hands over my stomach, I imagined the little life growing inside of it.  My eyes drifted towards the window nearby as the droplets of water flickered the dim lighting from the cloudy day outside.  “I remember what Fye said,” I continued despite knowing he was not listening.  “She told me it would be a mistake.”

“Yeah?” he absentmindedly responded as he continued writing.

“She told me not to do it,” I said with a faint frown. 

“Edda,” he finally sat down his pen and looked up to me, “Must you bother me while I work?”

I looked back to him as I felt my shoulders wilt, “Well, it isn’t like I could go outside on a day like today.”

He rolled his eyes, “Just be quiet and let me concentrate.”

I fell back into my chair and grunted faintly, “Of course, sweetie.”  I felt the shimmer of sarcasm scratch my throat, but he did not pay attention enough to notice. 

A moment passed with no sounds but the pattering sound against the window and the gentle crackle in the fireplace.  Suddenly when a rhythmic banging filled the room, both Reuben and I leapt to our feet in surprise.   My eyes landed on the doorway, the source of the pounding, while Reuben glided across the room to open the door.  There stood a man with hair clinging to his head and his clothes saturated in rain. 

Reuben, however, immediately hugged the man regardless of the wet attire, “James, oh how great is it to see you again… although…” He hesitated and pulled away, “Please tell me you are not bleeding this time?”

James let out a laugh that I recognised.  It had been a year since he last came to visit.  Reuben and James had been friends for a long time now, but last time he came he bled out and sought our help.  Pulling away from Reuben’s hug, James responded, “Of course not, Reuben.  May I come in?  It’s awfully cold out here.”

“Of course,” Reuben stepped back and opened the door wider for James to enter.

Stepping through the doorway, James’ eyes fell on me as he smiled and inclined his head.  I remembered his face from before.  With soft eyes and a strong jawline, James was the kind of boy that girls in my village always giggled upon seeing him.  In fact, now that I think of it, he actually might have been one of the boys.  He was the same age as me (unlike Reuben) and he was from the right place. 

Smiling to me, James walked into the house, “Good day, Mrs. Wragg.  It’s a pleasure to see you again.”

I smiled back as my eyes flickered to Reuben to gauge his own expression, “Yes, you as well.”  I said when I saw the calm smile on Reuben’s face.

“James, let us speak.  Edda, dear, can you go into the bedroom for a while and give us some privacy?”  Rueben spoke up now.

Frowning, I began to ask, “Can I not sta-”

Reuben’s hand lifted though to cut me off, “Please, Edda, do as I ask.”

Pursing my lips, I simply nodded, “Yes, of course.   Excuse me.”  And with that I slipped past the two men into the small room that marked our bedroom.  

To be continued