Emilia's Departure.

August 12, 2010
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The wind snapped at my ears as I left the house. Scanning the riverbank, I spotted Emilia alongside the willow overhanging the water like an awning. I quickly looked down, avoiding the inevitable. I could feel her eyes on me, analysing. A realist might walk towards her, calm and confident, but I’m no realist. I kept my vision down, away from her and the river. I did however take one step at a time towards her, a silence creeping up on me as I drew closer.
‘Please look at me.’ It was a whisper – but a loud whisper. She spoke like the realist I wish I was. However I knew - or at least I hoped - she was going through the same emotions. My feet came to a stop – almost independent in thought – leaving me a few feet from her. She was still looking at me, I could feel it. But I didn’t dare look at her.
If I did, those two eyes would run through me like a rapier of memories.
‘This’ll be easier – for both of us – if you just look at me...’ she said.
Both of us? People use that in ‘disagreements’ far too much. It’s simply exhortation, designed as an offensive defensive.
In the end, I knew what was going to happen, and my not looking up was my way of avoiding it. All the while this void appeared between her and I. Silence chimed around us and fell into apses that needed filling.
‘Please. Grace, don’t make this harder than it has to be.’
‘You know what I think!’ I snapped. I shook my head, a jungle of hair waving frantically about as I looked up at her. Now my eyes were on her. Now she was the one to look away.
‘Who’s the coward now Emilia? Who?! You’re the one who’s making all these decisions; you’re the one who refused to listen!’ I stammered for a moment, collecting myself. ‘I don’t see why you’re doing this now. You say you don’t want to make it harder than it has be, then why didn’t you do it back then?’ I said this last sentence like a plea.
‘You know why,’ she retorted, refusing to raise her voice to a shout – unlike myself. ‘I have to make these decisions, and you know this. They aren’t even decisions. They’re circumstances. I’ve made my peace, said my goodbyes to all but you. We’ve had a good few years, but I have to go. Please, just let me go.’
‘I’m not ready.’
‘Ready for what?’
‘Ready to let you go. I’m not prepared to lose you.’
‘Do you think I want to lose you either?’ Emilia’s countenance – hitherto flawless – now cracked, revealing shaking. I stepped back, not knowing what to say. I have to let her go. I have to. Let her go! let her go! let her go!
Emilia cocked her head, holding out her arms. Her glasses – thick with vapour – hung at the end of her nose. Loose hair spat about in the wind – all the while she looked at me, waiting for an embrace.
So I gave it to her. It’s what she wanted. It’s what both of us wanted. Our clothes were damp and our hair intertwined, but we clung to each other – one last time.

The wind picked up, whipping me on my back. Though I didn’t want to see Emilia go, I knew she had to, and knowing this was wary of the river flooding. We were in Gotland after all, and the Baltic was unforgiving this time of year.
‘Will it be safe?’ I asked.
‘Yes, of course,’ she replied. But the look in her eye told me something different. She was afraid. I was too.
‘You’re not going alone are you?’
‘No, I’m going to take the barge to Visby and then the public ferry to Vastervik... I’ve never been to Sweden before.’
‘Are you excited?’
‘To see Sweden, yes, to leave Gotland, no.’
‘Will you write to me?’
‘Of course.’
‘And tell me all about your travels?’
‘Every day.’
I still didn’t want her to go. I knew she had to, and I knew nothing I could say or do would change that.
Let her go!
‘You really have to go, don’t you?’
‘You know the answer to that question Grace.’

If the conversation had ended here, Emilia had got up and gotten onto her barge and left, I’d have been content. But she said something – something coming down either side of the spectrum.
‘I’m really going to miss you,’ she whispered.
I turned away, quickly, knowing that the tears were coming.
‘I’m...I’m really going to miss you too!’ I screeched. I barely managed to get it out.
I looked back at her. There in front of me stood Emilia Charles, soggy hair draped over one side of her face, and a tear down the other.
She was crying.
Two blue eyes stared back at me.
‘It must be the rain,’ said Emilia, looking up to the sky.
Of course, it could have been the rain. But a part of me believed that she had shed tears – a feat hitherto unaccomplished.
Let her go...
‘It’s time,’ she finally said. She rubbed her eyes and wiped her glasses, then kissed me – a single kiss, no delay.
I couldn’t say anything.

As I watched her walk away, I was scared. I was scared of the future. I was scared for Emilia’s safe journey, and if I was to be honest, I was scared of myself.
But I’m not honest, and that’s the greatest lie of all. I was afraid of everything.
Emilia sailed away, and I like to imagine that she was waving. Perhaps she was – perhaps she wasn’t – but regardless of which, I believe she did. Maybe that was just a childish fantasy, but even if it was, it was my childish fantasy, and that was one thing I was sure of.

Twenty years on and I remember that day perfectly. I remember the willow, my fear, and I remembered the silence. All three were still here, strong as ever. In fact, the only thing different from today to back then is that Emilia was there twenty years ago, and she wasn’t here now. Nor would she ever be here again.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

. said...
Aug. 30, 2010 at 12:20 am
its good, maybe if you could add more and build up on who the characters are, why shes leaving etc!! keep writing :)
RridLeR said...
Aug. 28, 2010 at 4:20 pm
thunbs up good sir! :D
Orpoe replied...
Aug. 28, 2010 at 4:50 pm
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