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Forget Sounds Good
'...Forget sounds good; forget I’m not sure I could.
They say time heals everything, but I’m still waiting…'
I awoke to the clear dawn of another dissimilar day. Though the date was different I knew that this day would be as uneventful as the days that had come prior to it. Days came so slowly now, weeks took month’s time, and a year was like eternity.
I rose slowly and dressed quickly, the Maine air was tight and cold, as normal. Stepping out of my warm cabin I felt the bitter wind break through my layers of wool and bite at my skin. I shivered as I walked briskly to the tavern across from my home. I was careful not to stumble on the broken and black coble stones and kept my eyesight down to avoided glance at the charred buildings. I brushed passed one of my neighbors, who quietly went about his day. I was about to enter the warmth of the tavern when I caught a hurrying figure out of the corner of my eye and heard someone scream out my name.
“Mercedes!” I turned to a frail voice behind me.
“Mrs. Han?” The old woman leaned forward reaching out to me to steady her stance, she panted softly and her pale face was slightly colored; pinked with excitement. Her gray hair had come out of its bun and now flew wildly in the harsh wind.
“There’s someone here.” She managed to get out before gasping another breath.
“What do you mean?” The old woman’s eyes began to bulge as I started to press her for answers.
“A stranger, he arrived just this morning, we, the old maids and I, saw him down at the river early morn today. We were afraid of him; the others said that he was a ghost because his skin was so pale. He looked like one of the ones who had died…” her voice cut off as I looked down to her shaking, wrinkled hands.
I felt my own hands begin to shake as I looked over the woman’s head to the high cliff behind us. I shook away the thought that was dancing inside of me. I sighed and looked down to the woman.
“Thank you for your information.” I slipped a silver coin into the woman’s wrinkled hands and walked off before she could say anything. I kept a steady pace as I marched through the cracked streets of the devastated down. I cleared the city limits in minutes and stormed through the black, charred grass where the fire had started. I held my breath, I hated the smell, and I walked through the patch as quickly as I could. I came to the tall cliff on the outskirts of our village; the cliff our town had been named after “Sumter’s Edge”. I looked up to uneven rocks above me. It had been years since I had gone up the short cut to the top of Sumter Cliff. I looked at my hands, which were not as strong as they had been in my youth. Then before I thought too much I lifted my leg a few feet above the ground to a durable bolder and lifted my body up. I gasped a breath as I began to climb to the first notch in the cliff. Climbing carefully I reached for sturdy rocks, pulling myself calmly and slowly. With each tug of a rock I was sure it would come out and I would fall. And as soon as the thought entered my mind I pulled on a rock that was too loose and it came out of the side of the cliff. I panicked losing my balance and grabbed out to anything I could find. I grabbed hold of a brown root that was growing out of the rock. Then I looked down and watched the rock tumble down the ground and smashed into a pile of dust. I grew scared at this and tired to rush my footing, I reached to quickly for another rock and it slipped from my hand, I tried to grab at the other rocks around my but it was too late, I was about to fall. I looked down as I turned, staring down at my death. When I felt someone grab my waist and I was hosted up to the top of the cliff. I swung my legs over the side of the cliff and crawled on my hands and knees until I was a good distance from the cliff. I breathed heavy and stared down at a pair of men’s black boots.
“Thank you.” I said breathlessly to them.
“How did you survive this long with out me, Mercedes?” I felt my heart stop at that voice. I slowly raised my head following the man’s long legs, thin torso and massive chest to a pale and strong featured face. I stared into his open blue eyes and felt my stomach flip inside of me. My chin dropped and I thought I might be sick. I inched backwards as he leaned down towards me.
“Lan-don.” He pronounced gleefully, and stepped closer to with an enormous smile, but as he did I moved on my hands and knees further backwards. He frowned and then grabbed me by the shoulder. “Stop! Do you want to fall?” I looked over my shoulder and saw just how close I was getting to the edge. I shrugged him off and stood, dusting off my slacks and wool parka.
“How…” I shook my head regaining poseur. “How did you get here?”
“No. I mean I thought…I mean it’s been so long, I was sure that you were-“
“Dead?” I nodded. “Nope. You can’t kill me.” I nodded again and took in every detail of him, hoping at the same that he wasn’t just a mirage and I hadn’t lost my mind.
“Why are you looking at me that way?” I blinked.
“I’m not looking at you any way.” He laughed heartily.
“O yes you are, don’t deny it.” My face grew hot and I thought quickly to change the subject, but Landon sensed my embarrassment and did it for me. “Gah!” He said grabbing both sides of his arms, “It’s so cold up here, why don’t we go for a stroll on the beach?” I almost turned with him but then I realized that throughout our conversation he had avoided looking at the village below.
“No. Let’s go for one in town.” He looked away and I knew that I had him. “Whets wrong Landon too much of a coward to admire your glorious handiwork?”
“I did not burn down this town, Mercedes.”
“You might as well have, you helped contribute to it more than anyone!”
“Are you saying that it’s entirely my fault that this happened?”
“Yes that is exactly what I am saying.”
“Well I didn’t see you complaining too much about my presence, ten years ago when I was all over you. You could have told me then that you didn’t want me around, that you wanted me to leave; but you didn’t Mercedes. And for that the blame is half yours as well.”
“I already know that. I was foolish and ignorant and I had no idea what I was doing, and what I was getting myself into.” He caught the sudden sadness in my voice and spoke up.
“What were you getting yourself into, Mercedes?”
“Trouble.” I saw his face fall at the word and he looked passed me towards the beach. Without saying a word he walked on. I hesitated a bit but as he walked forward I felt a pull, almost like a magnet, towards him. And I had no choice but to follow. I came up beside him as he hiked ahead, looking beyond the town and beach to other villages and hills. I wondered what he was thinking, what he could be remembering as he walked over the hill with me. Then in the instant it took me to blink he held a bouquet of Dandelions in his hand. I eyed him carefully as he turned towards me.
“Landon-“I managed to put my hand out before he could blow, but it did no good. Within seconds I was covered in a thousand white stems from the Dandelions and Landon was rolling in laughter. I scowled as I brushed them off my clothes and tried in vain to dig them out of my hair.
“You haven’t changed.” I huffed and he smiled sadly.
“Neither have you.” I coughed a laugh at that.
“Yea, right.” He stopped and turned to look at me, and I stopped to look back at him.
“True, you’re a little watered down, but your still as fiery as last I saw you ten years ago. Climbing the short cut on Sumter Cliff proves that.” I said nothing to this comment because I knew it wasn’t true. I was far worst then watered down; I was drowned.
“The girl you knew ten years ago might as well have died in that fire along with her family, for she no longer exists.”
“Yea well so is life.” I marched ahead of him, as he fell behind looking out unto the black streak of land that was once a beautiful meadow.
“The fire caught it too?” I knew what he was talking about by the resentment and sorrow in his voice and nodded.
“Yea, the fire caught everything.”
“Did no one come to your aide?” He heard me laugh highly and I stopped looking past Sumter’s Edge to the other four villages.
“Yes. The villagers from Brookeville sent over their young to help us and all those hooligans did were rob us of the last crops we had and tell everyone in the surrounding villages that our new name would be “Dead’s End!” I heard him snicker lightly and whirled around to face him. “Don’t tell me you find that funny.”
“No it’s what you said…hooligans! You sound like an old maid!”
“Well some have no choice but to grow up.” I stated flatly and walked away.
Landon sighed and punched at a tree next to him.
“Nice going, Landon.” He muttered to himself before disappearing in the fog around him.
I stood barefoot on the beach near the edge of town, my toes sinking in the sand, watching as the three children we had left splashed one another in the icy water. Despite my protests they had decided to play in the water today and there was nothing I or anyone else could do to make them change their minds. I recalled my own childhood, playing in those same gray-blue waters with my siblings, looking back to see my parents laughing at me. But these poor children would turn back and see only me, a thin, frail figure of what a parent should be. After their parents had died in the fire, I had taken them in. My manor was the only place big enough to house them, and when I had seen their soot-stained faces, eyes large and wet, I could not refuse them. Two were related, a boy and girl, Jeremy and Jasmine who were thirteen and eleven, and the youngest was Adeline who was eight. Adeline had been barely saved when her mother died while giving birth to her. No one knew who Adeline’s father was, so naturally I took her. As I had thought, I had lost count of the children and as I stared ahead I saw only two small figures amongst the blue.
“Jeremy!” I cried out and moved closer to the water. “Jeremy?”
“Right here.” I turned to my right as he had so suddenly appeared.
“You gave me a fright, sweetheart.” Then I looked down at the object he held out to me in his tiny hands. “O my goodness!” I proclaimed as I looked down at the beautiful bouquet Jeremy handed me. “Where did you find these?”
“There from the chap in the red scar. He said for me to giv’em to you as a present. Is he a friend of yours, Mercedes?” I did not answer his questions, as I looked ahead. I could scarcely see through the light mist and sea fog but then as I strained my eyesight a strip of red appeared out of the thick gray and then there he stood.
“Annabelle.” I spoke loudly over the roar of the waves, to my head maid who appeared behind me. “Watch the children, and once it gets dark make them come in. Hang their wet clothes to dry on the hearth and send them to bed.”
“Thank you.” I walked slowly through the coarse sand, keeping my eyes only on him. When I reached him I found that he held yet another glorious bouquet of wild blues, brilliant reds and wonderful greens. I gasped as he handed them to me.
“Where did you find these?”
“Two villages over in Greenwich.” I laughed lightly, Greenwich was forty miles away, a trip that would have taken a carriage a week, took him merely a few hours.
“Do they fancy you?”
“O dearly. Thank you, I haven’t seen colors of this shade in a very long time.” He smiled then spoke.
“Will you come with me, please?” I looked into his clear eyes and saw only pleading, I nodded.
“I suppose, since I have nothing else to do.” He laughed and led me up through a path of tall weeds, lacing between a few trees and into the shade of the forest beyond the beach and just before Sumter Cliff. He snuck behind me and covered my eyes with his hands.
“Landon?” I asked alarmed but he lowered his head and whispered in my ear.
“Trust me.” A lump filled in my throat as memories filled in my head, Landon leading me to secret places where we could be alone, him and I jumping to the ocean below the cliff, him taking me to the caves where his family had hid, and lastly when he first kissed me. I was too choked up to answer but I nodded. He moved me forward and then removed his hands. I opened my eyes to see a wooden table and two wicker chairs nestled in the shade of a few saplings. On the table were assortments of china, glass cups, silverware, mugs of juices, and bottles of wines. Bowels filled with steaming soups and loaves of bread, silver containers keeping their inhabitants hot, and trays of fruit tarts and sweet breads. I was aware that my mouth was gaping and I feared that I might be drooling. Then as Landon bent over to look at me I closed my mouth and straightened up.
“Do you forgive me?”
“Excuse me?” I turned to gawk at him.
“I mean for the comment I made yesterday.”
“O yes I do.” Then my nose interrupted and I gazed over to the meal laid out before us.
“Where did you get all of these wonderful foods?” I asked hoping my excitement was not coming through too much.
“My travels.” A smile of mischief forming on his lips; he led me towards the table, and then pulled out my chair. I smiled lightly to him. “Please enjoy yourself, it is my birthday gift to you.” my smile widened as I marveled at the feast.
“It’s been years since I’ve had dairy. O my…butter!” I nearly screamed as he handed me a steaming roll covered in melted butter. I watched him as he stared at me, and I couldn’t understand why at that moment he looked so sad. I ignored him for the second as I lifted the silver lid and took in the glorious aromas around me. Landon laughed.
“Shall we dig in?” I eyed him suspiciously as he lifted a fork and took a bite of his sugared ham. I watched his face intently as he chewed and swallowed.
“Since when do you eat human food?”
“When you starving even human food taste good. I’ve come adapted to it. It’s not so bad.”
“No its not. Not when you eat like this.” I took a bite of my own ham and savored the taste. We both finished our meals silently, not having the strength to add in any common dinner conversation. Then as I finished the tart he had handed me he raised his glass.
“Happy birthday, Mercedes.”
“Twenty-nine.” I whispered miserably after I took a long sip of my wine. “And you haven’t aged a day since last I saw you.” he nodded grimly.
“Vampire.” He softly reminded me putting down his glass, and then he looked over my head towards the horizon. “Look at that.” I turned around and followed his gaze towards the setting sun. I stood and walked closer to the edge to get a better view. I heard Landon do the same behind me. We stood side by side watching the golden sun sink below the dreary waves and the black night cover the sky.
Standing next to him I felt as if a small piece of my childhood had been put back into me, but still I was not whole. I sighed heavily and leaned up against a tree next to me.
“Can I ask you a question?” I grunted as an answer and he went ahead. “Why don’t you leave this place? You have more than enough money to buy fare and settle down somewhere else.” I was quite then cleared my throat and my eyes glistened over.
“I-I can’t leave this place. No matter what this is my home, I don’t belong anywhere else. Yes the raid nearly killed off everyone I knew and loved, but it doesn’t matter. I see them everywhere I go, and I fear…” he stepped closer but I turned away from him. “I fear that if I leave they will leave me as well. And I can’t dessert their memories, even if these memories our imagination or ghosts I care not. I can’t go one with out them and as long as I get to see them, feel them in some small way, I know I can keep on living. Does that make me insane?” I asked honestly, back to him. He stepped closer and I let him.
“No. It makes you human.”
“Do you remember when we decided what we would do to stay together?” I asked a memory on my mind.
“Yes.” He said grimly. “We were very foolish, and I’m so thankfully we never had the chance to do that.”
“Why?” I asked hurt and he caught the pain in my voice. He raised a hand to my face and skimmed the outline of my cheek with his palm.
“I would have never turned you into one of us. You were too gently, too beautiful to become a monster.” I became aware then, of how close he was too me, so close that I could smell the sweet scent of his breath on my face. I felt tears sting my eyes and turned slightly away from him before he saw them.
“I love you.” I faltered for half a second at his words, but quickly reminded myself that he was just lying.
“You left me here.”
“Only because I love you-”
“What?” I said turning back to him.
“Calvin was coming. He was after us again. I couldn’t have you get hurt.”
“And you couldn’t talk to me either?” I snapped back. “You couldn’t warn me? You couldn’t warn this town?” I nearly yelled spreading my arms out, forcing him to back up. I brought them down wearily and came closer to him again. “We lost half the town’s population that night, including my mother, father, Amelia and Demetry-“I stopped as their names hit a wound but I shook off the pain and continued. “They all died a horrible and barbaric death. A death no human should ever face, a death only a Vampire should fall victim of. A death you should have had.” I whispered bitterly to him in the darkness. His eyes grew wide with my rare hatred.
“You don’t mean that.”
“But I do. I’ve waited ten years to finally let you know how much I loath you Landon. How much I hate you!” I turned and ran then, I ran as fast as my bare feet could carry me. I thrashed through the trees, flew downwards passed the weeds and trudged through the sand in the dark, using only the stars as light. I stumbled up towards the town and gasped for air as I leaned against the tavern’s side. I ventured a glance upward towards the land below the cliff and saw a white figure staring at me. I shook my head as stubborn tears leaked from my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. I slowly made my way across the black street and into the warmth of my home.
I found him the next morning in the same place I had left him last night; standing next to the cluster of saplings and yew trees, staring at the low morning sun.
“Do you never sleep?”
“Not when I’m troubled.” He said hoarsely not turning to me.
“Is that a Vampire’s way of saying you have nightmares?”
“No. Because nightmares are human’s visions of things that they fear, things that more than likely will never happen to them. Things I see at night, these things that plaque me have already happened, and they won’t leave me alone.” I reached out to him, then bit my tongue and lowered my arm. Something was gnawing at me, something that I had wished to ask since the moment he had arrived alone.
“What’s bothering you, Mercedes?” I made a face at his back at how he always knew what I was feeling.
“What happened to your family?” I watched him intently as he still avoided my gaze.
“The same thing that happened to yours.” He said dryly then without warning jumped up the higher formation of the cliff’s side. I stared up at him.
“I know it’s all you know, but you can’t always run away from your problems!” I called up to him but there was no reply. I turned with a sigh and leaned against the cliff’s surface.
“Come up here.”
“And how to you propose I do that?” I heard him sigh and then he lowered his self over the edge of the rock formation he sat atop of.
“Give me your arm.” I lifted my hands to him and with a rush of wind he pulled me up to the space next to him. “Look.” He pointed to a patch of land over the cliff; I strained my site until I found what he was pointing at.
“A stream I think.” He smiled down at me. “Wanna go see it?” I was about to ask how we would do that when I remembered and moved away from him.
“No-“But it was too late he had already gathered me into his arms and lunged low over the side of the ledge. “Landon you know I hate this!” I screeched as he bounded off the small rock surface and flew through the air. We landed smoothly on the other side, where he lowered me with a high pitched laugh.
“I know.” He pointed again to the
line of blue water and I sauntered over to it. I bent down next to it and looked down at the stream. It was so clear and peaceful; the wonderful noise it made was so majestic and spirited. I smiled in spite of myself as I looked down at the happy life swimming in the crystal clear water. Then I jumped as Landon’s reflection suddenly appeared next to mine. I looked at his sad eyes; he still hadn’t really answered my question.
“How?” I asked looking at his reflection in the water; he heaved a sigh but looked at my reflection and spoke.
“They found us, even after we had split up into four different sects, they found each of us. Calvin’s men tracked us then divided and killed us all off, group by group. When they finally came for my family, only one of the other sects was still living, so we thought to join together, perhaps double our chances of survival. But we were as successful with that plan as we were with the others we had had. They invaded us and then wiped us out. Father pushed Aidan and I out through tunnels he had been working on. We ran as he told us to, for he had promised he would follow. He told Zachary to go with us but he refused. We ran for a day, and waited in a secret cove where Father had told us to wait.” He sighed heavy and I turned to him. He nodded and raised his gaze to the sunless sky. “We waited for three days, cold, tired, filthy and starving, but no one ever came. It was Aidan’s idea to go back through the tunnel and look for Father and Zach. I didn’t want to say it to him, but I had known the first day they didn’t show that they were both dead. But I followed him as a brother should, and we walked out onto a blood stained field. Calvin and his men had disappeared, leaving two hundred bloodied men, woman and children to die. We walked the field for hours until we found Zachary. He looked as if he was a sleep, and then we saw the blood seeping from his back and realized that he wasn’t going to wake up. We couldn’t find father’s body amongst the chaos. We spent two more days there, hoping that Father would show. But he never did.” He grew silent and seemed to have told me everything, but I knew he hadn’t. Aidan wasn’t with him, so I wanted to know where he was. I opened my mouth to ask but he spoke before I could. “Aidan died a year later. To this day I don’t know what he died of. Back then I thought he had drank fowl blood, but now as I remember the weeks prior to his death, I think it was because he was broken hearted. Because I wasn’t enough-“he coughed and turned his back to me and I realized that he was crying. I stood and placed a hand on his quivering back. “I shouldn’t be crying anymore. I’ve grieved enough for him, its been so long since his death.” He tired to apologize but I stopped him.
“Do you truly thing time heals pain?” He turned to me, his eyes puffy and red.
“No, hence the reason I’ve returned.”
“Landon don’t say that. You’re just emotional right now.” I backed up but he grabbed my arms.
“No, I’m not. You know I love you. I’ve loved you this entire time. And I know that you love me too. I can tell, not even your hard exterior can hide it Mercedes.” He moved closer to me, and I tried in vain to drown out his words. “Mercedes look at me and tell me that you don’t love me too.” He moved even closer then, his breath enveloped me, memories began to rush in my head, my heart thumped quickly in my chest and my lips longed for his. And as if he were reading my mind he slid his head closer to mine; now his lips were inches away from mine. I began to breath heavy as I battled with my heart and mind, and then in an act of emotion I reached up and slapped him.
“I don’t love you!” He pulled back immediately and withdrew my arms. I turned away in embarrassment and put a great distance between us. I took in a few hundred ragged breaths trying to regain my composure and tried to think of what I could say to apologize to him. I heard the slight coughing sound of Landon behind me, and I thought he was crying again. I pushed back the impulse to comfort him, and bawled my hands into fist at the thought of him crying over me. Then the sound changed into a muffled cry, which sounded both painful and sinister at the same time. I frowned as he made louder sounds, sounds that sounded as if he was being suffocated or attacked. I was going to turn when his voice startled me.
“Mercedes go away!”
“What?” I turned around towards him, his back hunched over, his hand squeezed tightly over the thin trunk of a yew tree. Then he arched his back with a growl and I saw the crimson color taking over his eyes. “When is the last time you drank?” I rushed towards him but he swung his arms out at me.
“Mercedes you know to stay back! Go!” His voice was shifting; it was no longer soft and cool now it was rough. I looked franticly around on the ground; I remembered the last time he had been like this. But it was so long ago I couldn’t remember what I had done.
“What do I do?” I begged Landon but when I looked up at him he had sunk to the ground and was clawing at the ground. I looked next to him and saw a large round rock, I moved towards it, but just as I lifted its extreme weight Landon grabbed my ankle. I screamed when he looked at me as if he wanted to suck me dry. I lifted the stone and brought it down on his head. I watched his eyes change back and then his eyelids fluttered before closing and he fell to his side.
I leaned over his unconscious body and tried not to gaze at him too long. He looked as peaceful as he had been on the nights we had shared together so long ago. I remembered lying under a canopy of stars, his arms wrapped protectively around me. His cold body felt so natural next to mine, his sweet breath sending chills down my spine. I remembered his lips on mine, moving gently never too rough. But I remembered his words most of all.
Mercedes, do you love me enough to trust me? To come with me? To run away from here, and go somewhere where we will be safe? Sadie tell me you love me.
I had loved him enough. But as I stared down at him, I felt that vibrant love I had once harbored for him fade away. Because I couldn’t forget that night after that one; the night I was awaken by screaming, and flames. The same night I lost my father to the Vampires that had come through my town, the Vampires I had thought I befriended and the Vampires I had loved, just as I had loved Landon. But as I walked to the cliffs that had been their hide out, I found it evacuated. Landon and his family had left, and with him went my heart and our love.
“I loved you once…” I moved back a strand of his hair and smiled as another wonderful memory filled my head. But with each memory no matter how wonderful they were, a spurt of pain followed behind it. Each memory brought back the heartache of the years I spent alone, of the longing I had felt for him. And then finally I had allowed my pain to melt into anger. I finally cleared away the memories and only remembered the night he left. I lowered myself over him so that I could whisper directly to him. “I loved you so much.” Tears filled my eyes and though I tried to force them back, they still came. I looked to his perfect eyelids, covering the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. Self-consciously my hand slid down to his cheek, and formed under the strong line of his jaw. My eyes fell to his lips as tears slid down my cheeks. Before I could think twice, I lowered myself the remaining distance and hesitating for a second, pressed my lips against his. I shot up a second later after my brain caught up with my heart and I realized my actions. I moved away from him and held my mouth; which felt like it was on fire, I was afraid that it might burn off from my doing. Shaking my head my thoughts danced in my mind.
I don’t love you anymore. I don’t love you anymore. I can’t love you anymore. I don’t want to love you anymore…
I had somehow managed to drag Landon through the sand of the beach and with the help of Annabelle, place him in one of our spare rooms to sleep. I then advise her to keep the door locked at all times. That even if she heard noise that she should not open the door. She looked at me oddly but nodded in awareness and helped me load my rifle. She was a good maid, she never questioned me, and was very gently with the children. I kissed them goodbye that night, promising them that I would be back before tomorrow night. They like Annabelle did not question me, but bide me a safe journey and showered me with their warming love. I closed their door behind me, doubled that the spare room where Landon slept was locked and then set out to Brookeville. I dreaded the place but they had the largest forests near by. And I had to get Landon some game before he decided to eat the villagers.
Fear must have been what fueled my adrenaline for I reached Brookeville in the account of four hours. Though I was tired, hungry and nearly drained I ignored the welcoming sounds of taverns and inns in the center of the town and instead headed to the dark forests. As I entered the deep shadows of the forest I wished dearly that Landon was with me, and though I felt childish for thinking it, I couldn’t help but feel safe around him.
I jumped as a streak of lighting lighted the sky and I saw a figure rush past me. I withdrew my small rifle and waited for it to move again. Then it did, the deer shot from its hiding place and just as thunder roared over head I shot. I ran over to the body and quickly tied his limbs together. I was about to lift is heavy body onto my shoulders when a flock of crows tore from the trees in fear and flew away. I watched them screech away in fright and looked around me as I heard a thousand echoing noises.
I sensed the danger but couldn’t pull the pieces together, and then a whirl of wind rushed passed me a second before he caught me. I stiffened instantly as he laced his freezing cold arms around me.
“Hello Mercedes. Remember me?” My heart froze inside of my chest, as the demon from my nightmares whispered behind me.
“Where is he?”
“You know who!” He yanked down on my hair, and I cried out softly, trying not to give him the satisfaction of inflicting pain on me.
“I don’t.” He then slid his nose against my cheek and laughed sinisterly.
“I can smell him on you.” I swallowed, my throat suddenly dry. “Which means he’s back in Sumter’s Edge. What a foolish boy, returning back to that place is the greatest mistake of his life.” He lowered his head onto my shoulder and pressed his lips to my ear, his fowl breath encircled me and I coughed in disgust. He began to whisper to me and I would have rather killed myself than listen to those words again. I closed my eyes as he finished and pulled away.
“Send him my message, Mercedes, and perhaps I’ll leave the rest of that miserable town you call a home alone.” He pushed me forward and I staggered into a thicket of thorns, I whirled around but I was alone again. I sunk to the muddied ground and shivered. Tears poured from my eyes and I didn’t care if Calvin was lurking somewhere watching me act like a pathetic human. I didn’t care if he saw that I was cringing in fear or that I was torn by the decision of giving up Landon for the villagers or dooming all of them to save him. I stopped caring right there weather I died or lived. I only cared about one thing now, one very important thing. And with that I gained the strength and courage to stand and make my way back home.
I was at Landon’s side when he awoke that night, the thunder must have been what aroused him. He blinked dazed, as he looked to the bed he lay in, my dripping clothes and to the freshly killed deer across from him.
“Do it fast and don’t make a mess. I’ll be outside, we need to talk.” With that I stood and left him to his business. I waited outside the hall for a few moments before Landon emerged from the dark room. I gawked as he stepped into the candle light dressed in fresh clothes and his hair pulled tightly in a braid.
“I’ve disposed of the body. Thank you Mercedes. I just want you to know how thankful I am and how sorry I am for what happened. It’s been heard finding any game around her lately and I…”
“Follow me.” I cut him off and walked down the dark hallway, moved quietly down the stairs and stepped out into the dark night. I led him to the beach; because I knew that there we could be as loud as we wanted without disturbing anyone. I looked up to the stars scattered in the night sky and I wanted to fly up to them, I wanted to be up there, anywhere other than here.
“Mercedes what is going on?”
“I loved you for five years after the fire.” I took a deep breath before continuing. ”I would wake up each morning and pray that I was just dreaming, that I might awake and find you lying next to me. But with each morning I’d awake and find reality; that you had left me here alone, to suffer and perhaps even to die. I’d get up and go to the caves and hope to see you there waiting for me, to take me away like you promised we would. But each time I went I found them empty, just like my heart was becoming. I started to age quickly; pain was all I had in my life. I found no joy in the cliff or the beach or the memory of the meadow because each of those brought back horrid memories of you. Memories that made me ache and cry out in pain.” I turned around to face him. “And with each night I’d crawl into my bed and I’d cry myself to sleep and sometimes Landon I would beg for death. Because death would be a merciful act to the pain I would feel the next morning. But death never came, slumber did and then I’d awake and find that again I’d have to live yet another day without you, and pain would course through me again. And then after five years I realized that if I stopped wishing for you, stopped praying and hoping for you to come back, then the pain would stop…” I broke off gasping for breath as the pain I had locked away, welled up inside of my heart again and I was afraid that it might burst.
“Don’t call me that!” I barked tears burning my eyes.
“I never meant to hurt you.”
“But you did hurt me.” He looked up at me as my sorrowful voice cut into him. “You hurt me when you left. When you left and took my heart with you! Now go, Landon just go! Do what your good at and leave.”
“I’m telling you to leave! Go away and never come back!” I turned around so that he would not see tears shining in my eyes.
He stared off at the dark night as I turned away from him. He wished he had had time to speak with me before they had left. That he could have explained. That some how I would have known his love was still alive and could only flourish. But as I walked away he remembered the last night he had been in Sumter’s Edge.
He remembered his father coming back to their camp, coated in fresh blood and weary from the loss of it. He and his brothers had been sent out to scavenge the forests for any survives from the surprise attack. But there were none. The only ones who had survived where his father and the ones who had stayed in the caves. They were ordered to move out, to find longings in the next save haven; immediately. He had protested this of course, for he was young and in love. And though he had always been warned by his parents to never speak of his affection towards Mercedes, he made the greatest mistake. Upon begging to stay in the cliffs, he slipped and mentioned her name. The council member in control of the camp ordered him and his family the first to leave, so that he would not slip away in the night. Again he protested but his older brothers knew their places, and made him stop. He remembered being dragged out of the caves and propelled into a life of turmoil and struggling for survival.
“I’m not going anywhere because this isn’t over. I still love you and you still love me.” I turned around and stared at him as his tone grew softer. “It’s going to be ok.” He looked down for a second and then looked up at me with a faint smile,” You know what, you’re just like the stream we found, Mercedes your time of peace is not gone, it’s just hidden.” My chin began to quiver as he came closer to me. “Our time together was too great to be completely gone. Fate brought us together and now here is our second chance. Don’t you see, Mercedes I can’t live another day without you.”
“You have to just forget me.” I whispered trying to hold back the tears.
“That’s easier said then done.” I tried to turn away again but he cried out. “Mercedes wait-“
“I waited ten long years Landon. I’m not waiting any longer. Now Calvin will be here soon, so go. Just go away for good this time…” I hadn’t meant to mention Calvin; I didn’t want him to know he was near. All I wanted him to do was leave, to get as much distance between them as possible. Although Calvin had told me to make Landon stay, so that he could finish the job he started ten years ago. I had never planned on following his plan, even if meant never seeing Landon again, even if it meant that the rest of the town would suffer, I didn’t care anymore. All I cared about was knowing that he was still alive. But then, naturally he began to argue.
“I won’t do that. I don’t care if he comes here and he kills me. At least the last person I’ll see will be you. And maybe if I’m lucky you’ll hold me as I die. And then I’ll be able to hear your angelical voice before I go.” I felt my knees give and I sank to the cold sand beneath me, Landon rushed to my side and sat down beside me.
“Please go. Please. Please.” I begged, my hands coming together, tears blurring my vision and running down my face. Landon moved closer to me, and rested his forehead against mine. “Calvin is going to come here for you. Please leave, if you don’t…If I have to watch you…”I broke off when a gigantic sob erupted from me and I leaned against him. I felt him wrap his arms around me and I clung to him. I was sure that I was dreaming as I had so long ago. But I didn’t care; I just clung to him and took in as much of his memory as I could. And then Landon spoke and with what he said I knew it wasn’t a dream.
“Mercedes, will you take me back, if I can find a way to stay?” I lifted my eyesight to him, I meant to speak but all I could manage was a nod. He smiled and cupped my cheek in his head. I watched his lips flicker from my eyes to my lips and then we moved as one together. I felt my hands slide to his face and his traced circles in my hair. We did not part until Landon realized I was running low on air, but refusing to pull back. He pulled me back by my waist and rested his head against mine.
“Easy, Mercedes.” He murmured smoothing back my hair. “That will not be the last time you will kiss me.” I smiled at the idea, but a distressing thought crept back into my mind.
“What do you have planned, Landon?” He smiled down at me.
“It’s a secret that I’m going to tell you when I get back.” Though a tiny knot formed in my stomach at the fear of him against Calvin, I smiled up at the thought of him coming back to tell me his tale.
“You promise me?”
“I promise, I will come back, Mercedes. We will be together again. I love you.” I nodded as he lifted my chin and lowered his lips to mine again. He kissed me goodbye before he stood and looked to the top of the cliff. I watched him as he hesitantly made his way through the beach and then disappeared in the darkness. I sat there for hours watching the darkness, praying with all in me that he would be safe. That even if he didn’t uphold his promise and come back, that no matter what, as long as he was alive I would be here in this shattered town, remembering his love and waiting till the end of my days to kiss him again.
“And I love you Landon...”
'…Forget sounds good; forget I’m not sure I could.
They say time heals everything, but I’m still waiting…'