Gone

He was lying on the bed, but he could not sleep. The cell was small and dark. The bed was shabby. He felt the wounds from the whip hurting constantly on his back. But what bothered him most was that he would be gone tomorrow and he did not know if he would ever see her again.

Although nobody had said anything, he knew that it was because of her that he was put in prison. She was the daughter of the richest landlord in the country, and he but a son of a farmer; yet they loved each other. This was shocking news to the landlord, and deeply angered him. How dare he, a farmer’s son, love the daughter of a landlord! So he was arrested, beaten, and locked up. It was said that he would have been killed if not for the kindness and generosity of the landlord. But he would be exiled, to somewhere far away, and he was to leave tomorrow morning.

How would she manage after he left? Would she be all right? Would she be sad? Would he have a chance to see her tomorrow before he left? Did she know how early he would leave in the morning? He asked himself all kinds of questions, and he was worried about her.

The morning arrived, but the daylight felt heavy. He was grabbed by two soldiers, one on each side, and walked across the village. He looked around but did not see anybody.

They turned a corner. He saw her, anxiously waiting on the road. At the same instant, she saw him. She ran to him, threw her arms around him, and put her head on his chest. He would like to hug her, but his hands were tied behind his back. Instead, he kissed her gently on the hair.

The soldiers started interfering. She hurried to take off her necklace and put it around his neck. Attached to the necklace was a picture of her set in an oval ornament. She gave him another hug, as the soldiers dragged him away from her.

“I will wait for you.” she said.

“I will come back.” he replied.

She stood there on the road, watching him going further and further….

As soon as he arrived, he learned that he would be executed. That had always been the decision, but they did not want her to know.

Standing in the field, he held her picture in his hand, looking at the sky far off in her direction, thinking about her. A gun sounded. He fell to the ground. Blood stained his white shirt.

An old tramp in the crowd went to his body, and took the necklace from his lifeless hand….

~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~

Many years later, in a bookstore, a woman in her thirties was arranging books on the shelves. An old tramp walked up to her.

“What can I do for you?” she smiled at him.

“Can I talk to you for a few minutes?” he asked.

“Certainly.” She brought him to a room at the back.

After sitting down, he took out a necklace from his pocket. Attached to the necklace was a picture of her set in an oval ornament.

“Where did you get this? Where is he?”

“He’s… dead,” said the old man, slowly. “They killed him.”

Tears poured down her cheeks and everything turned blurry.

“He gave this to me before he died, and asked me to find you. I have been looking for you ever since.”

He handed the necklace to her. She took it and held it to her heart. Sorrow buried her.

“I’m very sorry… to bring you this bad news…. He told me that he loved you, and you would wait for him.”

“Yes,” she looked up. “I will wait for him, for ever.”

She stood on the beach, alone, the necklace in her hand. The sun was bright and the breeze was fresh. Everything was quiet except for the breaking of waves.

She remembered that they used to play in the sea very often when they were both children. They chased each other and laughed together. Once, she was annoyed and sad, he scooped sea water in his hand, dropped it on her palm, and covered it with his own. This gesture meant ‘love’ in their tradition. She felt the coolness of the water and smiled….

The cry of a wild goose woke her from her memories. She looked up. The sky was blue and clean without a piece of cloud. She could not find any sign of the goose. It must have gone far away.

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