Purple and Gold

July 16, 2014
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“Come with me.” His eyes glitter with anticipation as the sun rises up coloring the sky pink and orange. He clasps my hands in his. I felt a pang in my chest. I want to. I want to go with him more than anything. But I can’t leave. I can’t leave. I can never leave. My parents will never forgive me, especially with this peasant boy. I am one of the king’s daughters; I’m not allowed to like a peasant boy.
“I can’t.” I look at the ground. I try to pull my hands out of his but he just holds on tighter. I look into his eyes again and see he’s slightly hurt, but then determination takes over and he holds my eyes. I don’t want to hurt him but I can’t help it. “Come with me.” He repeats staring into my eyes, insisting. I shake my head and look at the ground again. I can’t speak for the lump in my throat and I can’t look into his eyes anymore, those sky blue eyes, the ones that always sparkle with emotion. But now I can’t possibly look into those beautiful eyes. I don’t want to be the cause of those eyes hurting.
I turn away from him and clutch my chest, afraid that I’ll fall apart at any moment. “Please,” I can hear the desperation in his voice now. I can’t, I just can’t do it. The lump in my throat rises and I shake my head. My breaths are coming short and my lip is starting to tremble. I want to go. I want to go so badly, but there is no way that I can.
I need to get out of here or I’m going to regret my choice even more. I’m going to hurt him even more. I can feel him reach out for me. I dash out of reach and I start to run. “Wait!” I hear him call out but it’s already too late. I’m far away and I don’t look back to the stables where I know he is still watching my flight.

“The king wishes to see you, my dear.” My maid opens my bedroom door to let me out. I get up obediently and walk past her, towards my father’s sitting room. I have been thinking about the stable boy all morning and there seems to be no way to get him out of my head. He wants me to run away with him, to leave everything I have ever known just to be with him. I have always thought that I would have gone without one backwards glance, but I guess that is easier said than done.
I walk into the sitting room to find my father standing there, looking out the window. He seems to be in a deep place in his mind so I call out to him, “Father?” He turns to me like he is surprised at my presence. But after that first shock his face becomes an unreadable mask and I know that something is wrong.
“Is there something wrong?” I ask lightly, like I have nothing to be guilty of. He never calls for me, and when he does it usually isn’t a good thing. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a piece of paper. “I believe that you owe me an explanation for your behavior.” He holds out the paper to me without moving. I swallow and walk forward and take the piece of paper from him.
It is a note, but it isn’t any note. It is from the stable boy and it is to me. I recognize the note immediately. He had given it to me several days ago, and it holds the location of our meeting place and the time we would meet. My father knows what this is. He has dealt with this before, with my sisters. But I also know the results of such an act. It is custom and tradition for torture and execution for any peasant who crossed the line of friendship or loyalty.

I clutch my chest. I run. I need to get out, I need to get out. I can feel the bottle bouncing against my leg in my pocket. I can’t think about that. I keep running, hoping the night will cover me. I can see the stable in the darkness in front of me. I slip inside, trying to make my breaths softer. I look in the stalls, every stall. I can hear the horses and their loud breathing. It’s soothing in a way, but there is nothing that can sooth me right now. The hay crinkles under my feet as I move forward and my footsteps echo from the concrete floor.
I see him and I flinch, remembering our talk this morning. He’s sleeping on several hay bales in the corner of one of the stalls. I reach him and shake his shoulder, hard. He starts moaning and I slap my hand over his mouth. He’s startled for a second but then he sees me. He gets up slowly in confusion. I take his hand in both of mine and drag him to his feet. His eyes un-cloud and he finally seems to realize what’s going on. He knows as well as I do. This day would come and it has come. He knows the plan.
He quickly grabs a horse and puts on its bridal. He hops on then reaches down to my outstretched hands. He grabs my arm and pulls me up behind him. I dig my forehead between his shoulder blades and wrap my arms around his waist and hold him close. I never wanted this to happen.
We gallop out of the stables and down the road towards the edge of town. I can feel his heart beat racing under my hands. I can feel his arm muscles flex when he pulls on the reins. I find myself holding on tighter. His heart beats quickly and it’s like a pulse going through his whole body. That pulse will soon slow and stop and it will be all my fault. But there is no way to get out of this. If there was any other way then I would take it. But there is no other way.
We pass the small little cottages and the town pub, all so peaceful and silent. Everyone is sleeping. The gravel road stretches out before us and into the darkness. We soon come to the fields. They flow over the hills and dip down towards the creeks and brooks. Such a beautiful place, the place I’d wanted to live my life.
We stop at a hay field at the edge of town. The hay had been cut a few weeks ago so it was just starting to grow back. It was up to my knees. He helped me off and then got off himself. He slaps the horse, hard, and she runs off in the direction of the stables, ready for sleep. My heart speeds up. I’m scared about what is going to happen.
He turns to me and this is the first time I’ve seen him since that day. I look at the ground trying not to remember. He comes up to me and places his hands on my arms hanging by my side. “You have it?” He asks calmly. I nod tentatively and look up into his eyes. He just smiles and takes my hand. He leads me into the field. I follow. We have a little time before they find out and get here, so we’re in no rush now.
I start noticing things I hadn’t really noticed before. I guess death has a way of opening your eyes. I can hear the wind rustling through the leaves and I can hear the brook bubbling some ways off. I always loved how the stinging cold felt on my feet in the summer. I remember playing on the rocks and pocking around to try and find fish. I created my own little watering hole by clearing some weeds. It was my little hole and my little getaway. I can smell the late apples that have fallen to the ground. I can see the wind rippling the grass. The grasses sway to and fro like they’re in a dance. It’s slightly chilly but still quite warm. The wind plays with my hair and whips it around gently like it wants a play mate.
The old stalks of grass crunch under our shoes as we move forward and tread a path through the waving stalks. I remove some hair from my face and put it behind my ear. My skirt moves back and forth as I walk and tickles my ankles.
He finally stops after what seems like a life’s journey. He turns to me, “Can I see it?” I take it out of my pocket and hand it to him. The vial sparkles in the moon light. It’s pretty purple and gold stopper doesn’t beautify the contents it holds. It could be a perfume if I imagined hard enough. But the only thing it holds is death. He holds it in his palm and all we do is stare at it, thinking.
He sits on the ground pulling me with him. He sets it down behind him and out of my sight. He pulls an orange out of his pocket. I look at him in confusion, “I don’t understand.” He smiles sadly, “I brought it for you.” I stare at him. “I…” no words seem to come. I feel tears well up in my eyes. I scoot forward on my knees and fling my arms around his neck. My tears fall silently and I sniffle. He wraps his arms around me and holds me. His scent fills my brain.
All his thoughts had always been for me, always putting me first, making my world perfect. And it made me love him more and more. He was my guardian, my love, my friend. I hold him close. His small acts of kindness had always touched me, but this was different. I love him, god knows I love him, only god knows how much. This was it, the best and last act of love for me. I’d rather see this orange than the foam on the ocean or the great pavilions in Rome. His love handed to me in an orange, a simple gift, but a true one.
“Thank you.” I say after a while. I feel him nod and I pull away to see his face. He’s crying as well. I smile and wipe them away with the cuff of my shirt. “May I kiss you?” He says with conviction. He was more saying it like a fact instead of a question and I smile tentatively. He leans in slowly and touches his lips to mine. He starts to move away but I kiss him back, willing for this never to end. But it would all be over soon.
I sit back and eat my orange, the flavor exploding in my mouth. I offer him a piece but he shakes his head. And it’s gone too soon. I look at him scared. It’s over. My hands start to shake. He sees them and takes them in his. He kisses the backs of my hands and I’m crying again and so is he. He takes out the vial. He takes out the dropper and with one hand on the back of my neck for support he drops three drops onto my tongue. It tastes bitter. He puts some in his own mouth and quickly throws the bottle as far away as possible.
I feel my heart beat racing. He takes my face in his hands. “I love you.” He says it looking into my eyes. I nod, “I love you too.” “I will always love you. I will always be here for you. Trust me. I love you.” It seems almost ironic he is saying these things when we are about to die instead of saying them in our wedding. It kills me inside. He takes my hand again and we lay down.
I look up at the stars. They twinkle and sparkle like some far away fireflies. The moon is full. It’s so bright. I can see its craters and its peeks. I can feel my shaking subside, like my body is falling asleep. The soft breeze caresses my cheek and it reminds me of my mother’s kisses before bedtime. It is almost bedtime. It is coming soon.
I squeeze his hand and he squeezes back. At least he’s still with me. I can hear the crickets chirping. One chirps very loudly next to my ear and I try to turn away but I can’t. I shut my eyes. I’m ready, as long as we stay together. I’m ready. I hear my heartbeat slow and stop. I try to squeeze his hand one more time but I can’t. But I know he’s with me. I feel myself melt into the stars as I let out my last breath with a sigh. I love you…

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