Author's note: I wrote for a contest at first but then I ran out of time and decided to write for my friends,... Show full author's note »
Wait and ReturnRising early the dawn cracked and tore through the cream colored curtains, sinking into my warm skin. I pursed my lips and thought of him, as always, when I awakened. He would go to church with me, as promised in his letter. Finally he may hear God for the first time. I know he can change. Change for me. Then we would go downtown and see the Gold Spring parade before eating at a Café. I went to my desk and reopened the letter he sent to me a week ago so I could make sure he truly promised to attend mass with me. A soft knock invaded my thoughts. I was not even dressed yet. I rub the crumbs from my tired eyes and opened my door.
“Vinita. Sorry to wake you up so early but…”
“But what, Sister Roberta?” I slowly yawned, not minding.
He stepped into view. Sister couldn’t help but to smile at my horrified expression. Simeon is here fully dress in an extravagant uniform of a true solider and here I am in a baggy nightgown with rustled hair. He stands stronger and firmer but there is still that same softness in his somber eyes.
I screech, startling both of them and I throw myself against him. We topple down. Some of the students rustled out of their rooms to see the blissful commotion. Simeon held me close and I felt his slight smile pressed against my forehead. He leaned back and got a good look at me.
Simeon’s smile started to fade and I feared the worst of his reaction.
“You’ve grown up so much.”
Mass ruptured our ears with heavenly music from the enormous quire of young nuns. Simeon’s shadow shelters me from the colorful pouring of sunlight from the glass stained windows. During the long sermon Simeon rested his head down against the pew in front of us and opened a bag of assorted sweets. I nestled closer to him and discreetly snacked with him, popping hard fruit candy and soft chocolate in each other’s mouths. We silently laughed at the pettiness of it, causing an elder to give us a stern glare from the front. “And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.” Father said a little louder. At that moment Simeon glanced up and kept his eyes on him as if he were talking directly to his soul. I turned my head to see the mean freckled girl, Cassandra, glaring at us. She mouthed the most dreadful insult – but I was unmoved by my fury.
I loved the parade. Spring is my most favorite season of the year – it is the beginning of earth’s replenished beauty. There were a few booths on the streets, claiming great prizes if successful in the game. There were two new bikes hanging on one of the booth’s walls. I spent half of my money on that game, losing each time. I couldn’t get all the rings into the hooks of that cursed spinning wheel. I whined for Simeon to try. He won so quickly I didn’t realize the man in the booth was handing over Simeon the two bikes.
“You know how to ride a bike?” Simeon asked, climbing on top of his.
“Of course.” I replied, reluctantly getting on mine. Simeon zoomed past the influx of people on the street and I panicked doing my best to catch up with him. I wasn’t very good at these contraptions, but I was determined not to make a fool of myself in front of him.
We were out of the city, riding onto a rocky road that led us to a golden wheat field. He rode through, skidding ever so often to look back at me and sigh. I caught up with him as we past the windmill.
I pedaled hard, forcing each to turn to be harder than his own. I would win this race. I laugh and I take a few peeks behind to see if he has caught up. Suddenly he flew past me, sending a cloud of dust over me. My poor bike creaked from stress and I heard something snap. I tumbled to the side and fall into a thorny bush. Simeon skidded to a halt. I hold in my breath and watch the sunset glow its last performance of the day. This was such a wonderful day. It was a dream I wanted to live forever.
“Vinita…” Simeon kneeled by my side and wiped the debris of my cheek. Tears were rolling down my face. Not because of the deep scratches – but because I am too happy to even care. I smile at him then stick out my tongue.
He ignored my childishness and swooped me up in his arms.
“We’ll go back and-”
“No!” I shouted. “I’ll be fine! It’s just a bruise and a few cuts.”
He raised an eyebrow at me as if I were lying.
“And I want to set up your camp now!”
“Yes, before the sun goes down.”
As I played tag with the fireflies, Simeon arranged a khaki wide tent beneath the willow tree, and then gathered supplies to start a camp fire. He wanted to stay out there for his visiting nights, because he was so used to it. He called me over to help him load his sleeping bag into the tent and he started to unpack a few of his belongings. A deep brown case caught my eye as he pulled it out from his knapsack.
“What is it?” I asked, tapping the surface.
“You play the violin!” I cried shocked.
He nodded and opened the case. The violin was the most beautiful I’ve seen. Its curves were perfect and sleek and the stings were narrow and strong. I carefully picked it up and plucked the strings.
“Could you teach me? You know how terrible I am and my teacher is the worst.”
He took the violin from my grasp and positioned it between his shoulder and neck. The sweetest song floated smoothly off the thin strings. Simeon’s eyes softened as he gracefully moved the bow across the instrument. I never heard “Amazing Grace” played so beautifully. Shock settled inside me. He knew this hymn? I murmured the lyrics to the song and felt the swift breeze of afternoon cool my skin. Tears built up when the last verse came. Finally he finished resting the violin back in its case.
“Why do you play it so sad?” I asked a little exasperated.
“Most of the time…violins are sad. They are sad instruments.”
I had a strong desire to spend the nights with him out there in the fields, but he wouldn’t allow it. It made me cross but he let me stay out late with Sister’s secret permission. Nightfall came and the stars took their place. We lay side by side next to the small fire and talked about our future together.
“I cannot wait to be with you forever.” I yawned, closing my eyes.
“Two more years.” He said.
“Where shall we go?”
He flipped over to face me.
“America?” I raised an eyebrow. “What on earth shall we do in America?”
“I’ll have enough money for the both of us to travel and establish a home in North Carolina. There is more opportunity there than here.”
“What will you do to earn money?”
“I could be a farmer.”
I laugh. “And we could buy another horse. Name her Lolita. I do miss that horse.”
“I do too. I will try to remember that.”
“How about me? I could work. There are libraries in North Carolina, right?”
“I am sure. You want to be a librarian?”
“I just love to read. I would like to work in a place where I am surrounded by my most favorite things. After all you are the one who sparked my interest in books.”
“And also… a singer!”
“Will you sing to me before I go to bed at night?”
“Yes. But why would you want to hear my voice?”
“Your voice is comforting.”
“I wish you could see me in choir. Maybe in America I can join a church and start my own. Simeon, would you go to church with me?”
Simeon said nothing and frowned.
“What is wrong, Simeon?”
“I am just tired.”
He didn’t look tired – he looked very upset. In his previous letter he said that the British army lost a lot of men that day. He must have had friends die by his side.
“Is war…it’s not pretty at all is it?”
Simeon closed his eyes for a few seconds, and then gazed at the slim moon above.
“Sometimes soldiers will shoot themselves in order to be discharged…or to just die to end it all.”
“Do you ever get scared?” I knew my brave Simeon would never be scared of anything – but I asked to make sure.
“All the time.” He whispered. This startled me. Suddenly I wished that he never entered the army.
“I…I will pray for you.” I reached for his hand. “For strength. God’s strength.”
“It is time for you to go to bed.” He replied coldly, sitting up. I bit my lower lip and a troubled pang entered my chest. I had truly thought that the message today had an effect on him, but I was wrong. He began to trek out of his camp site and I followed him to the school’s gate.
“Good night, Simeon. I shall see you in the morning.”
He stopped me.
“I don’t want you to worry about me. Worry about your schoolwork.”
Moonlight glazed the left side of his face. I clutched the pocket of my skirt and looked away from him.
He tipped his head towards mine and kissed me.
It was so strange. So different from when I kissed him.
He left causally, and I staggered to my dorm and fainted on my bed.
When he left I tried to hide my devastation. I sank into my bed that night relishing on the memories we had just created. I could wait. Always wait and without doubt know that he is to come for me.