Commotion in the foyer coaxed you out of your room the day he arrived at your parents’ Inn. Him and his shining smile. The fall of his hair and his easy words lulled you. His party would join him in several days. Several days of wonderful abandon.
The stars in your eyes were a blinker to the cautions your mother whispered. The same cautions fluttered in your own heart, drowned out by love and infatuation.
Your obsession persisted through trysts in his arms in the hollows by your lovers’ stone. The way your lips fit perfectly against his, your breasts as if molded by his hands. You’d never felt so alive, so beautiful, so wanted, so wanton.
In a swirl of dust and gold his entourage tugged him from your grasp. Then the cold set in as you watched, and waited and wanted to cry.
His fiancé, regal in her splendor, dwarfed you with her beauty. With her fancy jewels, her silk gowns, and hair coifed to perfection. You felt the first seeds of doubt, but he washed them away with feverish kisses in stolen moments, behind the hay bales in the barn, left of the kitchen-midden.
In hurried, hidden, lust-filled moments you ignored all signs that could have alerted you. That might have saved you.
To see the meaning behind his words, the selfish intentions that stole your heart and fired the heat in your loins. To feel the betrayal while you watched in slow motion as the promises he made began to crumble.
He saw your uncertainty and smiled it away, kissed your tears from your cheeks, reinforced promises you wanted him to keep. Believed every word he said.
He said he’d meet you in the mists. He’d see you and cradle you in secret down by the telling stone, the lovers’ stone, where the fog swirled around the moss covered debris of the forest you played in as a child.
The stone, he said. He’d take you from here. Away from his riches and your family’s judgment. Away – just you, him and your love.
You waited, and waited, with your hastily packed belongings tied in the stereotypical handkerchief of the runaway. You sat with your eyes on the stone replaying the love you made there over and over again in vivid imagery that made you blush to recall.
But you don’t remember why you fell asleep, or how long it lasted. The pain in your skull lingers, whispering thoughts you can’t quite grasp, memories you can’t quite believe.
As you sit and think, your hope begins to dwindle, now as it did for those brief respites he was with that other, his, woman. You sit at the stones, feet hidden by the mist, and your mind starts to clear, leaving room for the pain in your head to convey its true origin.
The blow. The crack. The blood. The pain.
The knowledge that he never meant any of it.
You scream, you cry, and you seek, but the barrier of the mist holds you at bay. Holds you near the stones, at the stones, the vivid images you once treasured distorting with the truth you don’t want to believe.
Harsh reality hits you and now you call to him, whisper for him as the days melt into each other. Time has no meaning. There’s only lust and hatred, memory and betrayal, promises and lies.
You are the mist surrounding those mossy stones. Calling to the trees, for the wind to carry your word to him, to lull him and fetch him to you.
Just when you’ve given up making him see what he did, of making him pay – he’s there, at the border, the edges of your reach. His face is shadowed. Strain shows in the veins in his neck as they stand out against his pale flesh.
He says your name and for a fleeting moment you’re back there, here, in his embrace, whispering of love and dreams and futures and life.
Now he’s here, within your circle as the mist closes around him, and you. Around you both.
You pull him to you, your intentions to hurt him like he hurt you, to maim and leave for the mist like he deserted you.
“I didn’t know she’d do this…”
His words slowly sink in.
You don’t need to hear the rest. You know deep down what he’s saying, what he means. It wasn’t him. It was never him. Some of who you were returns, comes back to you – but you realize he’s crossed the barrier now. He’s decaying in the mists just like you are, like you intended him to.
It’s too late now.
But at least you have him, and the lovers’ stone with the moss and the leafy-canopy, forever tangled in the mists together.