have you ever sat by the railroad track
and watched the emptys cuming back?
lumbering along with a groan and a
smoke strung out in a long gray line
belched from the panting injun’s stack
—just emptys cuming back.
i have—and to me the emptys seem
like dreams i sometimes dream—
of a girl—or munney—or maybe fame—
my dreams have all returned the same,
swinging along the home bound track
—just emptys cuming back.
—Angelo De Ponciano
FOR JUST IN CASE
Memoir Type: History expansion.
Setting: A long time ago...
There was a mist in the air and it hung over the meadow, clothing the grass in dewy drops. This was where she would go to think, this meadow, separated from their town and encircled by the thick woods, and this was where she was now, lying on her back in the wet grass and staring at the clouds low in the sky.
He smiled when he saw her and quieted his footsteps with a tap of his wand, so that even her sharp ears wouldn't hear him.
"Hey," he said. She yelped and shot upright, seated now, a dagger in her hand and ready to stab him. He grinned at her as she visibly relaxed.
"Oh Misha, don't scare me like that!" Nadiya waggled the weapon at him in admonishment, but she was teasing. "What, do you want me to hurt you?"
Michael laughed and took a seat by her on the grass. "You could not, even if you wanted to," he teased, light dancing in his eyes. "Here, I have something for you." He'd brought it from his travels, his hand emerged from his pocket with his fingers curled closed. "But you have to guess what it is."
Winter was over, but it was not yet spring, and Michael Adamar had graduated school last fall. He was seeing a witch he'd met while attending Hogwarts, and in owls to Nadiya he'd told her some about her, and about Caeles Proditor, and the Betrayers. They were not infamous now, no, that would come in time. Now they were only a social group with darker tendencies, which could hardly surprise anyone. The Adamars weren't exactly known for their entirely uprightedness.
"A coin," she guessed, and Michael shook his head. "A necklace?"
"A letter, then."
"That is a letter."
"Some trinket, I suppose. I'll never guess! This isn't fair."
"Do you give up?"
She laughed. "Just show me."
He opened his fingers. In his palm sat a tiny metal horse, the sort you might put on a charm bracelet. He smiled softly. He knew she loved horses. "It is for just in case."
Nadiya looked up at him, suspicious. "Just in case what?"
He wanted to say, just in case she forgets him. He said, "In case you need luck."
And Nadiya smiled and teased, "I never need luck," but she took the charm and pocketed it.
There was silence for a long while.
This was the first time Michael had seen Nadiya in several years, and he found he didn't know quite what to say. Even while being with her he felt nostalgic, as if he missed her already. He was going back to England in a week. He had written he was coming. He opened his mouth to speak, but Nadiya beat him to it.
"I wouldn't forget you," she said quietly, and Michael looked at her but he wasn't surprised. She could always guess what he was thinking even when he didn't say it.
He broke her gaze and looked away, somehow ashamed. He wanted to tell her many things, but they all seemed either too big or too small now. "It is going to rain," he said instead.
As if by cue, he watched as the mist around them hardened, turning into thick raindrops that splatter across the tree leaves, pinging off branches and stinging the skin. She took both of his hands in hers, breath warm and misting out in front of her, and she'd looked up at him in earnest.
"Do not worry, Misha," she smiled at him. "It cannot rain all the time."