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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 19th day of Swimming, Yr 26
The Neopian Times Week 139 > Short Stories > Smiling Through Tears

Smiling Through Tears

by niskala_biru

He walks down the paved streets with the dawning of the day, down by the narrow road by the rocks and down into the docks shadowed by pale mists, touched with shades of silver and scarlet. The gulls fall into silence at his coming as if some aura of him has bound them to the stillness which he wears around him like a cloak. Darren is his name but many do not know it, rather, they call him Silver-Eye, for his eyes are silver, and they gaze upon others as if he looks down on them even if he is quite short for his kind.

     The Blumaroo stops in his tracks and throws his icy glance over the awakening Krawk Island. Alone he stands, as still as the trees, gazing down at the scarce-lit docks beneath his feet. Alone, and more alone, for although he seems yet young, the sorrow in his chilly gaze speaks of years and years of wisdom, grief, and joy. Yes, there is joy in his eyes also, a joy that lives on even through his hard life and long voyage by the seas.

     It is empty still, but she will arrive soon, he thinks. And with that thought came also the memories of long-forgotten years when he had known only joy. He can still remember her face, her smile, her voice, her laugh, her love. Her tears.

     He remembers the day he woke to the sound of her crying in by her own bedside. He had tip-toed into the room, trying not to disturb her yet wishing she would realize his presence and stop crying. Every sob that echoed through the house had ripped his heart to pieces as he neared her curled figure. When he came close enough, he had placed his paw on her shoulder and she jumped, startling him also. He had known that he would see her swollen eyes, but the knowledge did not lessen the pain at seeing her so tortured. A being so beautiful should never have been hurt.

     She smiled through her tears and muttered his name as she stroked his head gently. Even when she was in sorrow, she could still give comfort to others. Darren had been very young at that time, and he could not decipher why she was so sorrowful. He also did not know that he should have comforted her, brought her into his embrace so she would stop crying. And so he just stood there and muttered her name, Kayla.

     Her smiling face was the first thing he saw when he was born into the world, and she had brought confetti, exploding one in front of his face, almost making his heart jump out of its socket. And her crying face was the last thing he saw when she left him in the pound for some other person to adopt. He had for once felt angry at her, no, not angry –he hated her, hated her for leaving him behind like that. She was his everything; his angel, his light, his mother, his protector, comforter, and everything. Did she not know that he could never survive one day without her? She must have known, surely. And yet she left him there, shivering in the cold cell, lit only by the gloomy old moon.

     He had cried for days and days when every person comes and takes a Neopet other than him. It had always been another, never him. He grew angry and hateful to everyone, including the other Neopets in the pound. And they kept away from him also, knowing that trying to calm him down would prove pointless. Yet a wise Aisha had insisted that he listened to what she had to say. She explained that his former master had gone broke and that she put him in the pound for hope that he would find another master who would be more capable of taking a good care of him.

     If he had just listened, and understood, and forgave her, maybe everything would have been different. But he had not. He screamed and yelled at the Aisha to mind her own business and not defend her who had so irresponsibly disowned him. He returned to his corner and drowned in his self-pitying and loathing some more until night slithers in like a burglar and planted ideas in his head of escape and freedom and a whole world waiting to be explored. In his anger and foolishness, he escaped the pound in the dead of the night and hopped into a tiny boat docked by the Neopian Harbour, rowing to nowhere.

     In his foolishness, he had not thought of food for the journey nor anything else. Luckily, he was found by a group of pirates who then took him up to sweep the decks and clean the plates for them. He had not loved them, nor despised them. They were just there, giving him what he needed, and he was just there, doing what they would have him do. Years and years passed, he is now a famous pirate. There is not one soul in Krawk Island that does not know his name, but he is not proud of that. Even with all the fame and treasures he has, he has never felt like he owns enough.

     He thinks once again how odd it is that his heart can still beat without hers beating by his. But for all that, he kneels down in the dew-soaked sand and gathers them in his calloused hands. They escape through the spaces between his fingers and pours on to the beach in lumps, browned because of the water they hold. He breathes in the salty smell of the sea, the soothing sound of the waves lapping against jagged rocks.

     And he rises, and sees her, as he half knew he would, standing with her knees soaked in the salty sea, an alabaster shell resting in her slender hands. The sand about them is thrown about, unlike the rest that are still smooth and untouched. Her face is tanned and yet still radiant, even if it is turned away from him, the first light of the day reflected in the brilliance of her eyes. Her hair cascades down her back in a loose ponytail, sand interwoven in the wet locks, luminous against the black.

     And yet it seems to him, having her before him after years, that she who stands before him is not truly there, nor in the reach of his yearning heart. He can see the morn’s dappled light, fading from scarlet through rich amber to the soft shade of newly churned butter, glistening through the fabric of her dress, the skin of her high cheeks, as a lamp shines through the glass which shields it. His eyes drop, and his arms fall down at his sides, releasing the grains of sand held there only moments ago. A sob rises in his chest, and it chokes the very air from his lungs.

     “Good day, miss.” He bows deeply, his ears sweeping his filthy boots, its aged laces blur before his eyes by the tears he willed himself not to shed, for a life he cannot forget.

     “It is a fine morning for a walk, dear child.” She smiles gently, and it is not the smile of a mother, nor of a master or a friend, but of a being so divine that she should have never answered him.

     “Indeed it is,” these words are not his, and he knows not where they came from.

     For a brief moment, they stand in silence, his eyes on the dawning day and hers upon his. He feels that he should say something, but cannot, and how can he who had hated his own beloved master be worthy enough to speak to someone as pure and divine as her?

     “What brings you here so early? For what purpose do you come to these shores when even the sun has not yet risen?” he asks, his voice cold and hollow.

     “I came looking for something I have lost, that which is very treasured.” Her voice seems casual yet it pierces his heart like a thousand daggers slicing through and through.

     “Even in these shores, such things are not to be found if you are not aware of your own wants.” His voice sounds harsh to him, and as a double-edged knife, it hurts him too when he utters them.

     “That I know, but I had hoped for that treasure to find me before I have to look for it.” And when she says that, the gulls start crying at each other, and the first rays of sun touch the linings of the clouds overhead. Their cries grow into a crescendo and the waves lapping at the rocks rise in reverberation as if to contest the gulls. And there are tears in her eyes, even as the sun shines upon a lone tear sliding down her cheek.

     And yet he does not see, for he finds that he cannot raise his eyes. She comes to stand before him and takes his sand-covered paws in hers, placing them on top of her heart. Tears fall in abundance, but the hand she places under his chin neither wavers nor trembles as it raises his face to look into her deep-blue eyes.

     “Look at me.”

     And he does, and she smiles through her tears to let him see that face again, even when she has not allowed him to until that moment. “Could you not have said that in a nicer way, Darren?”

     He looks into her eyes and smiles again, even as he had never done so for years, she is there before him again in the full light of day. “I forgive you.”

     She chokes back a sob, and she is not a divine being anymore. She is back to Kayla, his only master and friend and mother. She draws him into his embrace and they both drop onto the wet sand crying and yet laughing. There are no more words needed, and still a long time to go before they become necessary.

The End

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