Never Forget--Chapter Three
The horse ran through the field, his long black mane shining in the sunlight. It was a tall beast, with a broad chest and delicate lags built for speed. Its chestnut coat, dark mane, and arched neck seemed better suited for a royal procession than hard farm work. The horse had been bought with the understanding that he would work for his feed, but the boy watching him had often dreamed of riding his horse across the finish line of the kingdom’s most prestigious race. Gerhard leaned against the top post of the split rail fence and watched his horse.
The stallion tossed his mane and kicked his heels toward the sky. He thundered around a small birch tree, every muscle rippling under the shiny coat. Gerhard rested his chin on his folded arms and wondered what it would be like to have Thunder in the city, with every horse harnessed to a cart or in the employ of the king. He raised his head at let out a piercing whistle. The bay wheeled around and cantered to the fence were his master stood. Gerhard reached out and let his hands slide over the silky hide. He climbed to the top of the fence and dangled his knees over, looking off into the distance and twining his fingers through the soft mane. He slid off the fence and walked around to the horse’s head. The soft muzzle went down in to the palm of his hand looking for a carrot or apple. He pulled the shiny red orb out of his pocket and listen to the contented crunching of the horse.
High above them, a golden eagle spiraled in a rising wind. Impulsively, the boy grabbed the dark name and swung up on the broad back. He twisted his fists into the mane and tightened his knees around Thunder’s girth. The horse rose up on his back legs with the boy clinging like a burr under his cascading mane. As one they galloped over the rolling hills. Gerhard closed his eyes and felt the wind ruffling his hair. Faster and faster they went, the wind whipping by them. Tears gathered in the corners of the boy’s eyes and threatened to spill over. The rocking gallop gradually slowed to a walk and Gerhard slipped off. He threw his arms round the neck of his horse and stood there trembling like a little boy, but when he drew back, it was a man that stepped back.
The young man turned from his horse and climbed back over the fence. He looked once more back over his shoulder at the prancing stallion then turned away, squared his shoulders and walked down the hill.
Two girls sat together on a wide swing. Their eyes were slightly red and puffy and the smaller girl clutched a handkerchief in her hand. She sniffed and pushed a strand of her long blond hair out of her face. The two girls sat in silence for a moment, the swing rocking gently back in forth. Donawyn looked over at her friend and tried to pull a smile on her face. The other girl’s lips curled up slightly at the corner but her eyes were still filled with immense pain. The silence around the two friends was heart wrenching. They glanced over at each other again and then burst out laughing at the woebegone expressions on each of their faces.
They both sniffed after the merriment had ended and stood up off the swing. Donawyn slipped her arm around the younger girl’s waist and they walked toward a small cottage on the side of the hill.
“Will you really miss me that much, Annette?” She asked as they neared the house. The other girl whipped her hanky out again and raised her voice,
“Don’t ask things like that, you’ll make me cry again!” the two girls laughed again through their tears.
“I’m sorry,” Donawyn sniffed, “But will you?” Annette pulled back,
“Of course I will; don’t be silly! Why don’t we talk about something else? Do you know what you’re going to do when you get to Falkerharb?” She leaned against the log side of the house and looked up at her friend. Donawyn sat down on the chopping log and leaned her chin on her knuckles. Her eyes seemed to look beyond the chinking on the cabin, the waving grass in the meadow behind, all the way down into the valley below. She sighed and straightened up again.
“I really don’t know. I would like to find someone who knew Sir Doucam and find out some more about the things that he mentioned in his letter,” She stood up again and turned to look down the hill. Her friend walked up behind her and wrapped her arms around her.
“I’m sure everything is in God’s hands, and I know…I know, He will take care of you and your brother,” Donawyn laughed and returned the hug.
“Well, I should probably go say goodbye to your parents and say thanks,” Donwyn whispered during the embrace. Annette laughed and they turned to go through the door.
“Oh, just so you know, Koen is visiting from the city so you might want to say goodbye to him too,” Annette spoke again as they linked arms. Donawyn slowed down and her heart started to thump, but she pulled the most uninterested look on her face that she could manage.
“Oh, you’re right, I probably should say goodbye to him even though I’m sure he doesn’t even remember who I am,” Her heart started sinking as they neared the house.
The two girls opened the door and entered the low ceilinged room. A plump woman with Annette’s same blue eyes was leaning over the stove stirring a large pot. A tall, sunburned man sat in a fur cover chair with a weathered book in his large hand. His deep voice, reading the faded words in the book, rumbled smoothly through the atmosphere of the room. He lifted the book up slightly to catch the light, but when the two girls entered he closed the worn covers of the manuscript and flashed a welcoming smile in their direction. Donawyn smiled sweetly at the familiar row of pearly teeth that peeked out from under his bushy beard.
The woman at the stove set down her spoon and reached out her plump arms toward the tall girl. Donawyn came closer and lingered for a moment in the softness of the Mauri’s embrace. Annette laughed behind them,
“Everyone looks like Donawyn is going away and she’ll never be back. She can still come visit us!” Everyone laughed and Mauri squeezed her shoulders again.
“Sure and you’re right, Annette me dear. We should all be a-getting over this sniffin’ and cryin’ or our eyes ‘ill be closin’ up on us,” Everyone laughed again and the girls seated themselves at the low table. Hourman drew his chair closer to the table and his wife stood behind him, her plump hands resting on his broad shoulders.
“So what time ‘ill you and your brother be headed down toward the village?” His deep voice filled the room.
“Early tomorrow morning,” she replied. Everyone talked quietly for a few minutes around the table. Donawyn had just stood up to leave and was about to give Annette one last long hug, when the door swung open. She turned around and looked up into the dark eyes of Annette’s older brother, Koen. He stood in the doorway, his slightly curling hair brushing slightly on the top of the door frame. His black eyes look deep into Donawyn’s wide grey eyes. Donawyn’s heart started pounding, but she pulled a slight smile onto her face. Koen smiled slightly and entered the room.
“So,” His rich voice made Donawyn’s heart thump even harder, “I heard you and Gerhard are getting ready to leave for the capitol,” Donawyn nodded wordlessly, she didn’t trust her voice at the moment. Koen leaned against the wall and crossed his arms. Donawyn could feel the eyes of the other members of the family boring into her back. She wondered what they were thinking and her cheeks flushed “That’s quite a large undertaking for such young…” His voice broke off as Donawyn lifted her chin defiantly. Koen cleared his throat nervously and looked at his toes. Donawyn turned once again to her friend for a final embrace and then pushed past the boy. The family stood in the doorway shouting goodbyes as she walked down the hill.
She had just reached the foot of the hill when she heard heavy footsteps behind her. She turned to see Koen jogging down toward her,
“Donawyn, wait! I didn’t mean it like that. I’m sure you and your brother will be fine in Falkerharb; I just was a little bit concerned,” Donawyn nodded at him to communicate her slight thanks.
She turned to go again, inwardly fuming at herself for thinking that Koen would look at her any differently now than he had three years ago. He had always treated her as the tag-along, the little girl that was tolerated only for his sister’s sake. He had been her hero at age five; her enemy at age ten; her knight in shining armor at age 14; now he was the man whose name made her heart beat faster. She wasn’t sure if it was just an infatuation, but something about him sent chills up her spine. She took a few more steps away and then her heart smote her. She let her stiffened shoulders relax and turned again.
“I’m sorry I was acting like that, Keon. I know you were just voicing your opinion,” the furrow between the boy’s eyebrows softened and he smiled widely for the first time since he had been home.
“Like I said, I was just concerned for you; there has been more and more talk of revolution in the city. The...” he broke off and cleared his throat, “The man I serve seems to have access to every piece of gossip that there is in the market place,” Donawyn smiled again and look out across the valley.
“I used to never want to leave this place, but now the world down there seems to be calling to me,” she turned to meet the young man’s eyes again and timidly asked, “Could we come visit you after you have returned from your visit up here? It would be so nice to see at least one familiar face,” Koen smiled and laughed a little.
“Sure you can; I get a somewhat lonesome for the people up here too. I’d be right glad to have you. I think the family is planning to see you two off tomorrow morning, I see you then,” Donawyn nodded and wondered what it would be like to be embraced by his strong arms just once, then she watched as he climbed the hill again, the sun reflecting off of his thick hair. She turned her face toward home for the last time and fought against the tears that welled up in her eyes. The tears that came from that deep longing for love, tears from losing her friend, tears from having to leaving her childhood home, but most of all the tears that came from the fear of what the future would hold.