That was the first thing he said to me as I approached. A single word, small, and simple. The ring of standing stones, in their bed of flowing grass, that surrounded me were old familiar friends. The silver flame at their heart, was a solemn reminder. An eternal place holder in my memory, for acts better forgotten, and ones never far from my thoughts.
“The stars are pretty tonight,” he said never taking his eyes from the flame the stood between us. A small figure, bundled in a dark cloak. His only movement was the illusion granted by the flickering flames.
I drew closer, throwing back the hood of my own cloak as I approached. He lowered his. His face was that of a small boy, only a few seasons separated from his mother’s apron stings. He was raven haired, olive skinned, and had eyes like hammered silver. I sat on the ground next to him, and he embraced me.
“Mother,” he said, all glee, smiles, and tears as he buried his face in my bosom.
“Little one,” I held him to me, never wanting to let go again, but knowing that the morning will come. As it has. As it must. As it shall, till the last star falls from the sky, the Watcher watches no more, and the eternal flame sparks, gutters, and dies.
“I’ve missed you. Have you missed me?”
“Dear one, I’ve missed you more than the sky the land, or the land misses the sea.” I pulled him closer still, and kissed his hair.
He giggled. “Did you bring me a story?”
“I brought you two things, a story, and a song. But I only have time for one.”
“What kind of song did you bring me?”, he nestled closer. Close enough to touch my heart, the part that was his and his alone. Close enough to ease the ache, while painting its memory in violet and crimson across my soul.
“It is a song without words, dear one. Woven of chords of memory and myth, taken from an age of the earth.”
He looked up at my face, reached up with one small hand, and brushed away a tear. “And the story?”
“It is the tale of all that has happened in the world since I held you last.”
“Then I’ll have both,” he said smiling.
I laughed fondly, “My greedy little babe.”
He giggled as a sliver lock of my hair wafted in the breeze and tickled him.
“Alright I’ll spoil you, just this once. You can have both, as one. Which is fitting, for they are they are one in the same.”
And so I sang. I sang to him every moment since we parted. Each note one youth’s hope, a man’s wish, an elder’s dream; and a whisper of shadow, of nightmare. Every pause for breath, the yawing silence between history and the lies victors tell. Crystal tones of invention and enlightenment, I wove together with the resonances of despotism and want. On and on I sang of these things, and more besides, till the light of dawn began to paint its blush on the horizon.
His eyes opened. Not from sleep, but from contented reverie. We freed ourselves from one another. I kissed him once on each cheek, on his forehead, and on each eye. We stood. He raised his hood, even as I was raising mine. I walked to the other side of the fire and turned my back.
“When will you come again?” he called.
“Sooner than last we parted, and sooner still there after,” I said. Tears joy and sorrow gilding the edge of each word.
The first ray of light fell upon me and I faded from sight. To return to my task. To stand and witness.
“I’ll be waiting and watching,” he said to the memory of me, soft, patient, and sad. With that he sat and resumed his silent vigil.