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Cheery Blossoms


by feather_in_a_pillow

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The sun was high when she heard the news.

      Her beloved Lupe was to be sent off, to fight in the war that held an ever-present curse above Meridell. The war he was neutral in, for he was never one to fight. Why Talgo? The misgiving in her heart was too strong to be ignored. She sighed as a tear trickled down her pale cheek, the colors of the now setting sun reflecting off the liquid. The array of colors danced in the light of the fires flickering nearby. In despair she tucked the one tress loose from the bun that kept the rest of her long, dirty locks behind her ear, looking down at her bare feet. And then the teen named Eria's hazel eyes began to glaze over again as she smelled her darling near.

      She smelled dirt, the dirt that lay on the bottom of their small hut that was always covered with old heirlooms, rusty and ancient. She smelled his fur, the bundle of auburn grease that hung loosely from his skin, which had stood through all the weathers ever known to Neopia. She smelled the remains of their dinners long, long ago. She smelled herself. And most of all, she smelled the sweet aroma of cheery blossoms that never left him.

      She remembered all the times they had been together, all the times she pressed up to him in the cold. The times they laughed together, the times he was her only comfort in the cruel world. The times he told her it was all going to be alright, that he'd work to get just enough for that last morsel of food that kept them going. The times he had first brought her flowers as a pup, after a trip to the fields with his friends, their colors shining as it seemed like all light was on them. She remembered where she put them, where they still lay.

      "Mum," was whispered. His soft, gentle voice that ringed about the air, the voice that comforted, the voice that had brought joy to all that it spoke to. She didn't look up, she couldn't bear even to glance at him. "Mum, look at me." That voice again, how could she disobey it? She hesitated for a moment, before gazing upward into his dark, caring eyes. The brave eyes which had stared into hers when he was born. The eyes that had never experienced a single tear.

      "Why do you have to go?" she heard her own voice choke out, the weak voice she could barely control. He padded to her, never breaking the contact of their eyes as he pressed a comforting paw on her knee. Her shaking hands ran along his neck. She watched as his head cocked to the side, questioning her silently.

      "I have left so many times, Mum. What makes this time different?" His voice was so considerate, so kind. He loved her; she loved him. She opened her mouth as if to answer, but quickly clamped it shut again. Her whole form trembled in contained mourning. "What is it?" he whispered.

      "I don't think you will come back," she muttered, as if ashamed at her answer. Surely he would think her weak, maybe even stupid. She looked down again, watching the dirt as it blew into the past. He lifted her head with his nose, forcing a small smile to reassure her, but to no avail.

      "I will come back. I promise." She sobbed again, hugging him as if her life depended on it as he whispered words of comfort to her. She quivered as she clung, and he nuzzled her in a gentle manner.

     --

      That night she knelt by her pet's cot, watching his chest heave slowly as he slept. She captured his figure in her mind, his muscular build, his slightly tainted ears. He whimpered slightly, and she stopped herself from crying out. The moonlight cascaded from their small window like a silver waterfall, illuminating their forms. And as she wept like a ghost, all hearts would break.

     --

     They were leaving. Eria's stomach was turning over as she ran back inside their shoddy home, traveling to the farthest wall. She had not been back there for years, keeping it as a sort of memory room, only to come back to in times of need. This was a time of need. All around her were old heirlooms. There were small dolls, which were worn and torn, broken vases, and other pieces of useless junk that she had not the heart to let go of.

      She saw an ebony feather, one she had found when she was young. She had been with her old friend, Osta. They had been laughing and tumbling as they frolicked in a clearing, Osta's black hair glistening in the sun. They were dreaming of owning a pet, waiting for the day it would happen… Now she wished it never had. She wished she would never have to deal with his suffering.

     She wondered what had ever happened to that almost sacred companion as her eyes lingered to her feet. Sprawled in front of them were flowers, aged and dry, bound in twine. They were earliest ones given to her by Talgo. Her heart skipped a beat as she suddenly felt sick, reality seeping into her. That was long ago.

     She grabbed them, trying to take in their scent as she pressed them against her nose, though it had faded over time. She cried out, screaming, wanting it all to end… She rubbed her temples with remorse before rocking the blooms against her heart, finding the smallest bit of consolation in them. With a sigh she ambled outside, looking at the ground as she did so.

     "I have to go, Mum." The voice was back again, yet different. It held something new. . . Was it sorrow? She gazed upwards into his face, suppressing a tiny gasp as she saw a tear stream down his maw, his eyes directed to the flowers she held. "But I don't want to." The last part was a murmur, a condolence to both of them. Silently she took his paw, placing the flowers in it, a soft smile of grief caressing her visage.

     "Keep them," she said. As he started to protest, she silenced him with a finger. "Please." He brought them to the pouch that he always wore on his shoulder, eyes turning red as he did so, but nodded. Wordlessly he looked up, bringing his tongue to her cheek in a swift motion, filling them both with bliss for just a moment. They both quivered.

     "Goodbye, Mum," he whispered, staring at her one last time, the blossoms now poking from their leather prison, once-pastel pedals drifting down as it seemed they were, too, shedding tears. Just before he was out of sight, she called,

      "Remember your promise!" She did not know he had lied as the sweet smell of cheery blossoms drifted back to her. And even when she did know, as the officers knocked on her door with the burden of delivering the sober news, even as she locked herself in her home for weeks without seeing a shred of sunshine, the smell of cheery blossoms was still there, enveloping her. And it was then she knew, that somehow, everything would be alright.

The End

 
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