By C.S. Wolfe
Fire and Ice Books
I heard soft footsteps coming down the stairs to the dungeon and waited. Mindy stepped into the room, followed closely by Dad. Her face was full of fear and her eyes wide.
I stood up and went quickly over to the cell door. “Mindy!”
Mindy ran over, put her hand in, and took mine. “What’s going on, Rurik?” she asked in a small, frightened voice.
I stared with trepidation behind her at Dad.
His eyes were very dark and angry still, and his jaw was clenched. He opened the cell door and took Mindy’s arm. She looked terrified when he directed her into the cell with me, and then walked out and shut the door behind us.
I put my arms around Mindy and held her next to me. “It’s okay, Mindy,” I said reassuringly. Then I turned to Dad. “What are you going to do with us?”
To my surprise Dad appeared to be in turmoil. I could tell he was anguishing over his responsibility as the ruler of this country. He shook his head. “You’ve broken some very serious laws. There needs to be consequences.”
I held my arms tightly around Mindy who was now trembling. “I know that. I take full responsibility. Just don’t punish Mindy for what I decided to do.”
He didn’t say anything for a moment and then sighed, his eyes as black as coals. “I’ll give you five minutes alone together, and then you’ll never see each other again. Ever! Is that clear?”
Mindy gasped and turned to me with sadness, tears running down her cheeks.
“Dad,” I tried to protest. “Please don’t do this. We love each other.”
“Stop it, Rurik! You have other plans for your future. I’m sorry, but you have no choice in this.” His eyes were menacing. “I’ll be back in five minutes.” Then he turned around and walked out of the room and up the stairs.
I looked into Mindy’s face, so sad, so heartbroken. My heart was breaking too. I loved her with everything in me. I put my hands on both sides of her face, brushing away the tears streaming down her cheeks.
“I love you more than anything, Mindy.” I leaned down and gently kissed her soft sweet lips. Then I pulled back again, staring at her closely. “I promise that someday we will be together again. Okay?” I didn’t know if it was true, but I had to say that to her, to give her hope.
She nodded and tried to smile at me. Her lower lip quivered, her expression crushed. I gently caressed her face and hair. I sighed and brought my lips to hers and kissed her, wrapping my arms around her warm body and pulling her as close as possible. She held onto me tightly and we fervently embraced.
It was the last kiss of two souls whose lives had become intertwined at the heart, who were to be shortly torn apart, leaving a gaping hole in both of our lives. My last moment of happiness, because I knew that without Mindy, I would never be the same, never again be truly happy.
I drew back and looked into her face. Her eyes were soft and smoldering from our kiss and final embrace. I gently bent down and ran my lips over every inch of her face, lightly caressing her skin. She sighed with the ecstasy of our tender love and the agony of our last goodbye.
“I love you so much, Mindy,” I whispered into her ear.
“I love you too, Rurik,” she answered. “Always.”
Then I heard Mom and Dad coming back down the stairs, and they entered the room. They walked over and opened the cell door.
Mindy glanced at them and then turned to me with panic. She put her arms around me, desperate to stay here, to hold on to our final moment together. “No,” she said miserably.
Mom looked incredibly sad, walked over, and took Mindy’s arm. “Time to go, Mindy.”
Mindy was almost frantic. “No.” She turned to me with a pleading look. “Rurik?”
My heart was breaking. This delicate being cherished me so much, but didn’t belong in our world and now was going to pay the penalty for having loved me.
My eyes filled with tears. “It’s okay, Mindy. I love you.”
But she wouldn’t let go…Mom had to physically pull her off my arm. Mindy sobbed uncontrollably as Mom dragged her out of the cell and toward the stairs. “Rurik!” she cried, and looked my direction one last time, sadness, despair, and utter hopelessness written in her expression, before Mom towed her out of the room.
I wondered if that would be the last time I ever saw her. If the panicked look on her face would be my final memory of her. “I love you, Mindy!” I shouted one more time, and then sank down onto the bench, completely inconsolable. I put my head in my hands and cried.
After several minutes, I lifted my face to Dad, who was still standing there. His eyes looked pained gazing down into mine, although there was still so much anger in them.
“What are you going to do with her?” I asked wretchedly. “None of this is her fault.”
His eyes narrowed and he took a slow breath. “No, you’re right. It’s yours, and you are going to have to live with your decisions, Rurik. Grow up faster than you were expecting to have to. I told you from the beginning to stay away from Mindy. Your future is with Amy.”
“Please…please don’t kill her.”
He stared at me for several moments, and then without a word turned and left the room.
The Shadow of Mortality
I moved swiftly down to the end of a pier and surveyed my surroundings.
Death hung in the air beckoning me closer.
I stole noiselessly the length of the long dock, where an old fisherman sat against a barnacled pillar.
His weathered face was lined with deep creases from years of the onslaught of sun and salt.
I walked silently up to him and he slowly raised his eyes to meet mine.
A knowing look came into his countenance, he knew what I was, and why I was here.
Fishermen were a different breed in a lot of ways, still believing in superstitions.
Whereas the modern world had moved forward and left the old tales and legends behind,
fisherman understood that there were unexplainable forces at work in the universe.
They had on many occasions been out to sea with nothing around but the tempest storms that had
a life of their own.
And realized it was up to the secrets within the depths of the ocean whether they lived, died,
prospered, or went home without any catch at all.
Life was not really a game of chance, it was of circumstances and fate.
The old man had fear in his eyes as I approached, but there was also a sense of peace and
His life was complete and he had no regrets, he’d lived how he wanted with the salty air
always in his face.
The caress of the ocean under him, as the fishing boat would rock and sway to its nautical music.
The thrill of winning against all the insurmountable odds of unknown waters, winds, and storms,
to bring in his livelihood so that he could go out and replicate the process another time.
But the final day and hour had come of this maritime existence he had chosen for his life.
He gazed out upon the gentle rolling tide as the shadow of my essence enveloped him,
and the closing breath of his mortality escaped his lips.