The flames leapt after Kate tossed her grandfather’s notebooks onto them. The brittle moleskin covers crackled. The pages curled and rose in blossoms of ash.
And like that, the words were gone.
“So free!” shouted Celeste. “So free.”
“You did it,” said Trey.
And it was what he wanted, wasn’t it? For he’d told her in the dream that the moleskins weren’t for sharing.
But she felt that he was gone. It wasn’t the first time ash had carried loss.
“They weren’t his words,” said Celeste. “They were the illness’s.”
“Had you read them?” Kate asked.
She hadn’t. But she knew of them. She knew the years of their composition.
They sat by the fire, watching the flames.
“‘And bright’,” said Trey, reciting one of her grandfather’s poems, not one of the love poems written only for him, but one from the spiral-bound notepads, one headed for publication.
“‘Bright until we see no more
For light and eyes can only mix
until the light passes beyond.'”
“‘And when that happens,'” recited Kate.
“‘We find the hollow
where everything lies:
Silence and sound
And the movement
“‘And that is where we are. We are.'”
A log settled into embers and the sparks flew. Each settled into quiet thoughts.
“What is better,” asked Celeste at last, “for love to be expressed or mute?”
“But love is never mute,” said Trey, “for that lightning is always there.”
“And what is love for?” Kate asked. “Isn’t that what it comes down to?”
In the silence that followed her question, Kate thought that love was the stones along the path, marking the way. The notebooks, the box of poems, the spiral-bound, all the words were love, even those written when the way was lost.
Inside of Kate, the embers burned, slowly, steadily. Maybe Grandfather would come again in a dream, or maybe not. It hardly mattered, for he was in all of this–in every ember, every wave of warmth, and in this moment, he would always be here.
Trey spoke, “But I am glad for the poems, Kate the Young Elder, though I hardly needed them to know what we shared.”
“Did you know he loved you, then?” asked Celeste, for the circle of light from the fire drew them into a space where secrets could be shared.
“Oh, yes!” said Trey. “Like Plato and Socrates! What a gift! To be loved. I was made bold.”
“He asked me to tell someone,” said Kate, “if I ever love them. That was one of his last requests. But I don’t think I love that way. I love… like the moon.”
“Shining on all?” asked Celeste.
“Shining on all.”
Can you walk up to anyone, a stranger on the corner, who tilts her head so that the sunlight catches the slope of her cheek, and tell her that you love her? Can you say to the woman, whose dress smells like stale chips, whose ankles are crusted in dirt and dried skin, whose broad gums hold a single molar, and who laughs with loud fire–can you say to her, “I love you?” And what of the clouds and the sky? The seagulls? The sparrows? What of the water in the creek, the mud on the banks, the spinning galaxies? When love flows through you, with a warmth that burns on, and you spin with the stars, one cell, one tiny, shining cell, alive, alert, ablaze, can you turn to the cell beside you, and say, “I love you?”
And who is mad now, when love is the light that shines through your eyes?
“Yes,” said Trey, after the crack of an exploding log and the shower of sparks. “Yes, the moon loves, too, and she tells us every day.”
The words were gone now, burned, risen in ash, and in the silence, Katy-Moon knew that she had completed her grandfather’s wish.
She turned to Trey, she turned to Celeste: “I love you,” she said.
“We love you, too, Katy-Moon.”
Prompt for May 29: “Write the story that you’ve been hungering to write,” from StoryADay.org.