In her room, Darcey listened as the door opened and closed. She had a feeling Eamonn would be up and about this late, it wasn’t unusual for him to be out on his own, watching the stars above the verandah.
Pushing back her blankets, Darcey grabbed her robe and slip-on shoes as she got to her feet as well as the small heat lamp on her bedside drawers just in case they wanted some extra light outside. Slowly, she crept across the open floor, she noticed that Eamonn’s pack was sitting at the foot of his bed, positioned on the stool beneath the window at the rear of the lodge, distractedly she wandered through the main room and caught her sharp intake of breath as she stubbed her toe on one of the chair around the main table. Hopping on her uninjured foot as if hoping to relieve the pain, she cursed to herself, wishing she wouldn’t wake Sam.
In the morning he’d remember at times hearing slight drum beats in his dreams, otherwise things went unnoticed. Darcey tightened her robe around her waist and straightened her light nightgown underneath. She moved to the door, knowing it was unlocked and, like Eamonn had done just a few minutes beforehand, tiptoed her way outside, grabbing a blanket from the supply on the coat rack just inside the door as she went.
Eamonn was sitting in his favourite chair. The small light of a single candle to his left flickered with the cold night’s breeze. The boy was watching as the moon set and began its descent, making way for the coming day. It was beginning to dip beneath its zenith when he heard the door open; he didn’t need to turn to see who it would be. It would be Darcey. It always was Darcey.
Not too far away, they could hear the echo of a sign creaking on its hinges by the walkway across one of the small river inlets, Darcey marveled at how noise managed to travel so easily in the cold dark of night in late winter. The houses at this time of year seemed to project noise, had it been in the middle of summer, they might have heard the sign moving as a slight groan if it had been carried on the breeze, certainly no more than that. It was this thought that reminded her to keep her voice down, “I just wanted to check up on you,” she said, “I thought that you would come out here, I wanted to make sure that you were alright” she murmured.
Eamonn sat looking up at the sky, a crooked smile on his face. After such a long time with someone else to rely on, to have that support taken away from him wasn’t easy to deal with. Darcey could relate to the boy, she had been on her own for years now, only herself to look after her and the lives of the two young boys. It was hard to see it happen now to one of the people that meant so much to her.
Eamonn looked up at her with the ghost of a smile showing through. He wished that it would be just like any other time, but it wasn’t, they would be leaving her, the only family that he had, and in the morning they would be separated. He looked at her now and wondered how much strength this woman had, to be on her own for so long with such a burden placed on her and when they finally seemed to lift from her shoulders, they were abandoning her.
Darcey shifted her gaze from him to the empty streets of the town before them. She didn’t have to look at him, she could read his mind like it were an open book. “This was always going to happen, even if I tried to stop it.” She said to the boy, the words offering little encouragement. “It’s not like we’ll never see each other again. I don’t know why you both keep thinking about it like that. If either of you are like this with another woman that you loved, I hope for their sake that they knock your heads together to give you some sense” She stated rather bluntly.
Eamonn smiled up at her, glad to see some of her old self coming to the fore, never failing to steer them on the right track. He placed his hand over hers on the arm of his chair, gripping it tightly, feeling the warmth and the strength there and drawing comfort from the touch. They stayed that way for a long time, “I just worry about you, that’s all” he said to her. Out of the corner of his eye he saw her head drop, only to look up at him smiling, “It happens with everyone, try to think of someone it hasn’t happened with” she suggested, letting him think over it for a moment, “There’s no one.” He said simply, she nodded at that, “Then you can’t make a huge of it, when you were left in my care, it took months for me to even begin to get through everything, Tristan meant a great deal to me, but I had gotten used to him being around again after his time away serving. You should have seen me deal with him being around the house again, he was always messing things and moving them to a different spot,” they both laughed at that, Darcey always had to have things in a particular way. She reached up and placed her hand on his shoulder, looking into his eyes, “All I’m saying is this: change is difficult, things can never stay the same or we’d fall apart, it’s a scary thing to have to go through, but you can usually experience something amazing after it all, you’ll grow as a person and each time it happens, it gets easier and easier to deal with, it’s just another step in the long walk of life.”
Darcey stroked Eamonn’s face, “Thank you, Darcey”, Darcey nodded her head slightly, “We should go inside before we get cold,” she suggested. Eamonn unsuccessfully stifled a yawn as he stood, leaving her to return to his bed. Darcey turned to enter the lodge after the boy had left. Remembered to blow out the candle that had been burning and walked inside, locking the door behind them.