Her

I opened my eyes. Sleep wasn’t going to be coming anytime soon. I got off the bed and placed my feet on the cold tiled floor.
I walked to the window and pulled it open. A beautiful full moon shone high above me. It was calming.
I decided it was the perfect night for a walk.

So I dressed and out I went.

As I went along the stone path leading out of my house, I could feel the restlessness of the trees above me. There was a cracking of branches behind me.
I turned around, but saw nothing there.
The moonlight was dancing on the leaves, casting shadows all around me, as though the spirits of the forest had come alive and were walking with me.

I continued on. My surroundings inspired tranquility in me. A kind of melancholy sadness. I could almost remember her hand in mine. Even though that summer seemed to be years and years ago, when we walked side by side. Her gorgeous laughter tinkled in my ears, like delicate silver bells chiming in a light, carefree breeze.
I can nearly see her outline now, in the thicket ahead of me. Her pretty red hair glinting in the sunlight, her favorite skirt flirting with the wind and her hands moving about in wild gesticulation.

She’d move her hands a lot when she spoke.

I’m almost there. One more bend round and I reach a large iron gateway.
It’s inscribed with writing, curving around the archway.

“The dearest are those departed.”

I make my way through the cemetery, winding around the older graves, crumbling with the weight of time and forgetfulness. At the back, right against the wall, I see it.

Her’s is a black marble slab, with her name inscribed on the front in simple, silver gilded lettering.
There are flowers sitting in front of it. I don’t know who put them there, but I silently thank them. She hasn’t been forgone.

I place my hand on the cold marble and feel a sense of belonging envelop me.

“Florence. I’m sorry I didn’t come before. I…couldn’t. I don’t remember how long it’s been, but I still miss you.
A moment doesn’t go by when I don’t think of you. You changed me. You changed my life. You were my miracle. I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you. I’m sorry for not being there with you.
I’m…so sorry.”
My words begin to choke. I feel a tightness grip my throat and my vision blurs. I fall to my knees in front of her.

It’s been so long since I’ve cried. The years of pent up frustration and anger and sadness spill out in tears, carving tracks down my cheeks.

It feels like someone ripped my heart in two and took a piece away with them.

I miss her.
I miss her.
I miss her.

A cold wind blows. Clouds hide the light of the moon from view. And for a split second, I feel her. She encompasses me. She’s with me, and she’s within me.

I sense forgiveness. I sense sadness. But above all, I sense overwhelming love.

For a moment, I am whole again.

~~

I wake up the next morning in bed, the night’s memories fresh in mind. I look around, slightly confused. I’ve been undressed, and put back in bed. The window is closed and curtains drawn.

I ring a bell and summon a servant.

“Did anything happen last night?”
“No, Miss. Nothing at all. Your noctambulations did cause a great deal of worry to the household though.”
“Pardon?”
“Last night, Miss? A young red headed woman brought you to the door, nigh on 3 in the morning, saying she heard you walking about in the cemetery.”

My eyes went wide with shock.
My grip slackened and my vision slowly faded. As I fell, I was aware of a figure standing in the doorway.

A woman with flame red hair, and a gentle smile playing on her lips.

Florence.

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