Leaving the Shadows

Darkness. I hate it here, but it keeps me alive, hides me from those who want me dead. Magic. I don't know what to do with it, or how to use it, but I think it's supposed to help me. Hunters. They seem to know how to restrain me from leaving without even knowing I'm here. Kiri. The one thing I have left to care about. The one thing left living for. The one thing keeping me from ending it all, right here, right now. I have to find her. Keep her safe. It's all I want now. It's all I'm asking for. It's all I've been asking for for the past seven years. But there are those that would be ready to kill even her to stop me if they found out she was my only weekness left. Shadows. The one thing holding me back from finding her.

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2. My Sweet, Darling Baby

I’m picking wild flowers. They’re so beautiful and they remind me of Kiri. Even after all these years, I’ve never forgotten her. The way she smiled in her sleep. How she giggled when I’d throw her in the air and then catch her again. The twinkle in her eyes when she was excited. And her mournful cries when she was hurt. Like when the lady at the orphanage dropped the basket Kiri was in and she rolled out onto the ground and down the steps. I hope Kiri does not pick up on that ladies careless attitude.


 

I stand up and walk over to the creak with the bunch of wildflowers in my hands. I had taken some sticks and twigs and made them into a small raft with some thick weeds to keep them together. Although it was only about the size of both of my hands put together, it would work perfectly. I kneel down next to the raft I had set on the bed of rocks on the bank. I select a sharp stone and use it to cut off a small handful of my hair. It is painful, but nothing compared to the emotional pain I am feeling now. I tie the strands around the stems together before setting the small bouquet on the raft, along with several feathers, colorful stones, and other pretty nature objects with things that remind me of Kiri. I carefully put a small rabbit skin over the little display and carry it with me as I stand up and wade into the shallow water. I lower the raft into the creek and watch it slowly start to drift away. I start to sing a song I used to sing to Kiri when she was a baby to lull her to sleep.

 

“Sleep, darling baby, here in my arms.

You’re safe, darling baby, here in my arms.

When you wake, darling baby, here in my arms,

The sun will still shine, darling baby, here in my arms.”

 

It’s about now that I usually start to cry. I feel a wet streak on my right cheek and start to choke on my words. I feel I must whisper, as if I chant the words too loud, I might disturb Kiri in her sleep and she will wake up crying. I miss Kiri so much. Oh, my darling Kiri. My sweet, darling baby.

 

“Don’t be afraid, darling baby, here in my arms.

Soon you’ll awake, darling baby, here in my arms.

You can play again tomorrow, darling baby, here in my arms

For now just go to sleep, darling baby, here in my cradling arms.”

 

The raft is no longer in sight. With it gone, all that is remains are my final words that linger on throughout the creek and the small clearing surrounding it. They bounce back and forth from branch to branch on the trees. It seems as if the branches are playing a game, I think. As if they are tasting my words and spitting them out for it’s neighbor to try. Eventually, it seems the branches have grown tired of their game. They let the words be taken prisoner by gravity and watch as they silently fall to the forest floor.

 

I realize I am just standing here and I stumble out of the water. My ceremony is not yet finished. I head to the old tree stump where, at one time, I had cradled Kiri and sang her that song. Although my words have been silenced, I can still hear the song in my head. It’s notes exploring every crack and corner of my mind as if their only purpose was to bring me great grief and knock me to the ground when I am not looking. Finally, the words do seem to fade, slowly and mournfully.

 

Sleep, darling baby, here in my arms.

You’re safe, darling baby, here in my arms.

When you wake, darling baby, here in my arms.

The sun will still shine, darling baby, here in my arms…

 

I sit down on  the stump and and reach for a piece of wood and a small, sharp cylinder-shaped stone. I use the stone to shape the wood into a small bead with a hole in the middle of it. After about thirty minutes of trial and error, I hold a decent-looking bead in my hand. I get down on my knees and dig at a bare blotch of dirt where new grass is trying to grow but will not be given a chance. A few inches later, my hand hits a hard object and I dig it up. It is an old wooden box I had found in the woods many years ago. Though it is old and is deteriorating, it is precious to me. Even more precious than the raft I set free in the creek.

 

I open the box and find the necklace made of wooden old beads similar to the one I just crafted, although they are all much older. The beads are on an old rope I found in the forest one day, which inspired the idea of this necklace. I carefully untie the rope and slide the new bead next to the others. Seven. Thats how many beads there are now. This is an annual procedure. Every year on Kiri’s birthday, I send a wooden raft loaded with pretty objects that remind me of her into the creek and watch it float away. Then I sit on the tree stump-now rotting and falling apart-and chip away at some wood to make a bead to add to the others. Seven beads. Seven rafts. Kiri, my dear, precious baby is seven years old today.


I’m crying again. To surrender a child-especially your only daughter-is harder than to stab yourself with a million needles endlessly until you bleed to death. I remember once I thought I fell in love with a man. I was traveling with my mother across the kingdom and was in the man’s town only a week, but it still seemed like true love. At the end of the week, we had to continue on our trip. I never did see him again. I thought I would never forget him, that I would always feel that way about him. But a few months afterwards, I found myself rarely thinking of him and my feelings for him quickly decreasing. There was no love there. Real love lasts forever. I love Kiri With real love. After eleven whole years, I’ve not forgotten her, or my love for her. My love for her has not decreased. My love has only grown.

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