Edward listened to Triss’ farewell, but as she turned to leave, he felt a sudden compelling sense to call after her. A trembling voice pierced the silence of the night, more of a desperate plea than a dignified request.
She turned around, as he bit into his trembling lip to stay its movement. He blinked rapidly, trying to avoid his eyes from watering. Sod it . Forgoing convention, and letting his emotions guide his movement, his legs carry him over to her. He threw his arms around her, clinging to her chest.
“Promise me you won’t depart from us.”
He squeezed tighter, fighting back tears as his brittle voice eked out.
“ I won’t lie to you.”
Her words were softly spoken, but firm all the same. After a few moments, letting her words sink in, Edward’s head drove upwards from her chest, his vision glazed over by tears. He nods, several times in quick succession.
“I know. But you can’t leave us. You’re a shining beacon of dignity and hope in a cluster of despair and darkness. Losing you would be unthinkable. Unbearable.”
His embrace is undone as Triss pulls away from him, pushing apart his arms with a simplicity that never failed to surprise him. Even if he tried to keep her there with every ounce of strength in his body, there was no possible way he could ever match her raw physical power. His eyes stung from the tears, his cheeks inundated and flushed red. His heart pounded in his chest. Rapid, shallow breathing sucked in air to satisfy his greedy lungs, causing his chest to swell against the jacket. An internal voice chided him.
Good going, Edward. Lose your face once more, in front of her. Compromise yourself.
“ I won’t lie to you .”
No words of comfort, no white lies to alleviate his greatest fear. Just the simple truth, uttered in that gloriously imperfect yet so endearing accent as it rolled off her tongue. She stood in front of him, looking down at him from her height, as imposing as the mightiest of statues and as graceful as the most elegant of sculptures. Hair tied back, concealed beneath her patrol cap. Beautiful, just strikingly beautiful.
“ I’m tired. I’m going to rest now. Good night, Edward.”
What words could he say? He wasn’t able to stay her feet before, how would he accomplish it now? Powerless, drained of energy from his advance on Triss, he gazed forlornly upon the back of the navy-blue uniform her figure wore as it gradually disappeared into the distant tall grass, cloaked in a sprinkle of radiant fireflies that gave her a heavenly aura as they waltzed in the dark.
Silence descended across the meadow, broken only by the gentle melody of the wildlife that seemed to serenade him in his solitude. He glanced at Aver- Mayor Chamberlain, Edward corrected himself. He was never on a first name basis with him, no raisin to be now, regardless of his living state. Feeling drawn to the suspended cadaver, he approached. A morbid smile creeped across his lips, as he looked down to the plaque bearing his name.
“You know, you’re not the first stiff I’ve shared an evening with. So for an outsider like myself, this isn’t a first.”
He spoke quietly and respectfully. This was a place of rest, hallowed ground.
“I never knew you, sir. But I’ve heard of you. And from what Triss has told me, you were a remarkable man. Just like her, I’d guess. But you’d not require me to tell you that, would you?”
Mayor Chamberlain was a good listener. Edward marvelled at the tech used to keep his features preserved, as if he was sleeping and would wake at any second.
“When Triss and I were together, she told me of how she saved you from Nation on Esmes three. She confessed to me that she blamed herself for not being able to do more, as if she could have somehow turned the tide against the reapers singlehandedly. I did my utmost to convince her otherwise. I’m not sure if she believed my words, but I spoke the truth to her.”
Edward paused. The gears of gab clunked into motion again.
“I loved her then. I still…” He swallows . “… Love her now. She is unique, one of a kind and someone that acted as the catalyst for great change within me, as well as for so many others whose paths she’s graced. She told you I was being earnest in my actions. Love is a strong driver for that. I just fear for what comes after this. She doesn’t belong in a cage or a cell, like some animal. And to think I might be the person that sends her there is too much.
He stopped himself. He allowed himself to breathe, counting to three, and then exhaling. Repetition required, old boy.
Count to three, inhale, count to three, exhale.
“If you don’t mind my company, sir. I would like to stay a while and reflect. On many things.”
Edward laid out on the grass, propping his head up with his hands. He stared at the night sky, riddled with stars twinkling and shining. The fireflies danced, bobbed and weaved a pattern in the dark. He longed to be up there again, at the helm of his kite. It was so much simpler, up there.
It was going to be a long night.