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Secrets

By Courtney Bles

The vision before you, something you would never have thought of had brought you here. To this place … this clearing in the woods, with him. The fire crackles and springs to life, dazzling your eyes like nothing you have ever seen before. He stands there against the darkening sky, the fire lighting up his features. The strong jaw, vibrant forest green eyes with a shining gold circle around the pupil. His dark brown hair looks almost black as the sky darkens and the stars and moon appear.

One by one the stars brighten and twinkle with age-old light. The moon, a brilliant orange, meshes with the flames and seems to itself almost burn. As the night deepens, the sounds of the forest around you heighten. The call of the birds, the creak and sway of the trees. You breathe in the depths of the night and watch his eyes sparkle as a wisp of the flame comes near him.

He smiles a lopsided grin and reaches out toward the fire and it responds, sending another wisp of searingly hot flames in his direction. The flame meets his hand and he doesn’t even flinch, just continues to watch the flames dance in the ring of stones. The scene before you is beautiful in a way that calms and lulls you into a light sleep.

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He watches as she finally falls asleep a safe distance from the fire. Before standing and moving himself into the forest, he takes in the sweet natural scent of his surroundings, where he could be wrapped up by the trees and the simple sounds of the wind as it swirled through the branches.

Finding a low branch in the dark of the night, he swings up onto it and climbs no higher than the first few branches. He finds a large enough nook in the part of the trunk and branch and settles down, keeping his eyes toward the fire. Inwardly he knew he should have stayed down there with her.

But something nagged inside him that she could hold her own and might not need him. Near as much as she claimed. He tried to leave, especially when it seemed like she didn’t need him, which many times seemed to him like nights like these — peaceful in the forest, the soft crackle of a fire and her laying there.

Painstakingly he tried to ignore the scent of lavender that was floating up into the trees. Her scent. He was keen to it. Even with her asleep on the ground he could detect her scent from where he was in the trees. Eventually he closed his eyes and tried to sleep. They were getting on a boat in the morning in the next port village. They were headed for anywhere but here, when the next full moon will rise in two days.

 

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