Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Story (part trois)

Hope. She’d always had it. She never really knew for what, but felt she had to honor her name by always carrying that feeling with her. It was all she had left from her family.

She walked through the trees that surrounded the cabin after Jack left. The morning dew was still heavy on the ground and the heat from the sun had yet to make the day unbearable. As she walked she thought about the path that had led her back here.

Many seasons had passed since she’d been gone, and time had carried her far away from this life – or so she thought. Maybe I never really left, she thought. Maybe I was simply taking the long way home.

Home. It occurred to her as that word crossed her mind that she’d never really had one. Her parents died when she was young and the people that were supposed to be watching out for them took her in. She had no complaints about her life during that period, but she certainly never qualified it as home. There was too much moving around to get rooted any one place.

It was that life that taught her to take nothing for granted and to rebel against any and all conformity. She was working deep within the resistance movement before the war when Jack found her. Being one of the few people she trusted from her youth, she followed him blindly into a life that would keep her on the run in some form or fashion for the next decade. Truth be told, she was still running; the only thing that changed were the reasons she ran.

The years she spent with Jack and his gang she remembered fondly. They traveled the globe, going wherever their services were needed at any given time. The group was so tight knit that no matter where any of them were, or what they needed, the others could always be trusted to be there when called. This group was the closest thing she had to a family. And, she supposed, a home.

As she meandered along, lost deep in her thoughts, she found herself on a cliff. It was a cliff she knew well, for she’d spent countless hours here once upon a time. It was a perfect place to spend some time alone, or with a companion, depending on her mood. And except for one, no one knew about this place.

As she stared out over the vastness below, the memory of precisely why she left came rushing back. The memory of what she’d done – of what nobody else knew she’d done – was her burden to bear, and she had chosen to bear it alone. She had long ago made peace with it, but then she’d never had to face it either.

And then there was Luke. If anyone deserved a goodbye, if not an explanation, it was Luke. He had taken care of her and loved her and given her his all. He was her strength when she faltered and the reason she could face each day with dignity and grace.

No matter how many miles and days she put between them, those feelings hadn’t changed since she left. But left she did, without a word. But now she was back. Jack had called her for a reason, and she needed to know why.

She took one more lingering look out over the scenery before her and took a deep breath. “I can’t run forever,” she said, before heading back to the cabin.

The sun was high by the time she reached the clearing. As she emerged from the tree line, she noticed a reflection from the sun glinting off something that wasn’t there before. Another car, one she didn’t recognize, was parked next to hers.

She stepped back into the shadow of the trees and started to work her way around the edge of the clearing. When she got within 100 yards of the cars, she stopped in her tracks. Whoever was there was behind her. She did a slow turn, wishing she had her gun, and found herself standing within a few feet of him. As he stepped out from behind a tree, her heart began to race.

“Hello, Hope.”

“Hello, Luke.”


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