I hope you enjoy.
As they ate, Julie kept glancing at Zaira and her thoughtful expression. She seemed preoccupied with something, some idea regarding her sale of items, Julie thought. And yet . . .
“You look at me so strangely,” said Zaira in a calm tone that jarred Julie out of her thoughts. “Why?”
“It's just that . . . well, I'm not really sure what to say.”
“Just say it.”
“Zaira, your look, your everything, seems so distant from here. I know you're on your way to another town, but it looks as though it might be more than that. Sorry if I have overstepped my boundaries, considering that I've just met you and all.”
Zaira set her burger on the wrapper and folded her arms on the table as she looked at Julie with a carefully guarded expression. Her eyes seemed to shift in colour, or perhaps it was the light? Julie set her burger down as well and made herself look into those eyes that seemed to say so much more than words could ever attempt to do.
“Julie, I need to go. Thank you for the food.” The woman made as if to get up just as Julie placed a hand on her slender arm, causing her to gently sit down again.
“Don't go. Not yet. Are you in trouble? It's okay if you can't tell me but damn it, I just-” Julie looked away and focused her attention on the small line of customers patiently waiting to place their orders. She swallowed hard; what was wrong with her? She then turned back to face a smiling Zaira then said in a low tone, “Where are you going?”
“I told you. A town. Hardly noticeable.”
“I know that's what you've told me but I really want to know. What's the name of the town?”
“Why so curious?”
Julie closed her eyes for a moment, took a deep breath then opened them. “Do you need me?” Zaira blinked several times in slight astonishment then her smile deepened.
“You worry for me,” she said in a low tone. How admirable. She hardly knew her.
“Yes, I worry. Will you be safe? How will you get there? Do you need me?”
“I will be fine. I have been to this town before, Julie. I appreciate your concern but I will be fine.” As an added measure, Zaira reached over and placed a hand on Julie's arm then gave it a light squeeze. “I will be fine.” She then retracted her hand and resumed eating her burger and Julie followed suit several seconds later. As they ate in silence, Julie's mind wandered with floating words and images that she could not help but think of: Zaira alone on the highway. Zaira getting mixed up with the wrong crowd. Zaira dead. Julie reached for her soda and slurped quickly, as if the fizz could erase that last thought. Zaira ate with such a calm manner that Julie wanted to slap her and tell her not to go to the town, whatever it was called. And why didn't she want to tell her the name of it?
Zaira knew, of course. She knew of Julie's concern over her yet refused to give in to her concerns. It was touching, after all, for a woman she barely knew to be like this. She hadn't felt such concern from another human since . . . .Zaira frowned. Damn, she thought. It had been a long time. . . .
Far long the wandering eyes,
seeking such distant shores.
I come to you, fair traveler; seek my face and know.
I remember when the ships landed on the harbour,
their sails, indigo and black, fluttered silently in the breezes created by my words.
I wandered towards the cliffs and watched them carefully, carefully,
seeking a face that I knew would be there.
My hair whipped behind me, snapping in black
towards the others who stood by and waited.
I saw the whispers and the lies
that fell from the ones who sailed the ships.
All, except He. He who arrived last.
He, whose eyes flared like golden coins under the bright sun.
He came last and saw me standing on the cliffs then waved.
I nodded, merely moving my head, and soon he was there, standing next to me.
His skin felt like warm light that danced over my eyes.
I wanted to kiss him and tell him that I had found love.
I found love through his eyes that sought me again.
He knew, my lover, my dark angel.
He took my hand and led me away, away from the edge,
the cliffs where I waited for him.
We walked past the others who stood in silence towards the house
of where he first made me his.
My lover, my life, He who breathed the darkness into me.
Finally, they tell me, He has arrived.
Breathe the last into her lips. Let go of that which you have carried
as you sailed the seas and above the skies.
They, who whisper your name and give you dreams, come forward.
The women, the warriors step forward and place their hands on me.
Bless me, of all who are fair.
Bless me, She who claimed my soul when He left.
Bless me and give me the peace of the stories from long ago.
I am here, ready to listen and understand that what I shall hear
is a tale still in the telling.
Zaira closed her eyes for a moment as the last of the words faded into memory once more. She remembered when they first told her of their lives, their stories that were created when the worlds were not so far away. She remembered when the speaker, a tall and proud woman with long curly black hair and piercing eyes, stood before her and placed a hand on her shoulder. Back then, ages ago, she had just begun her studies to become a Chronicler, yet she was afraid of such a title. When she was a child in her small town three worlds away, the townspeople had told her that the Chroniclers were to be both respected and feared; it was they who traveled between the spaces and belonged to no one. They lived and breathed everything they saw and it was all too much and not enough. They were the enigmas that never stood still for fear of the Wanderlust settling in their bones and deeper still to the marrow. They feared to settle for it meant death. Not the lingering death that came to everyone else, but rather the Death that came quickly and painfully. It was that Death that kept the Chroniclers alive. They lived because it was what they knew.
The women, especially Her, the one they called Morra, knew Zaira to be beyond talented. She could recite a dream without sleep and could remember a story told in seven days straight. That which she collected came naturally to her and Morra knew it. Morra placed her trust in her when she told her the Words from her own life. Zaira stood, eyes looking directly at her teacher, and listened to the tale that had been told before they were even in existence. Morra told her the Words and Zaira listened and suddenly, they became a part of her being. Now, whenever she felt uneasy, the first pangs of the Wanderlust settling in, she would bring the Words to her mind and settle in the familiarity of when they were passed to her. Morra still lived, still wore her long curly black hair down her straight back. Morra's eyes saw everything that passed by and through and yet she was a kind soul, one who protected those that she loved and more importantly, respected.
“What are you thinking about?” Julie's voice broke up the fading trail of the Words, causing Zaira to blink several times then smile. “You seemed lost.”
“Caught up in something that looked to not be unpleasant.”
“You see well.”
“Perhaps. Look, I'm sorry for asking you so many questions. When we leave, I will go my way and you will go yours.”
“Yes.” The two then got up and took their trash to the bin then stepped outside and made their way to Julie's car. Zaira hefted her bag on her back then checked the straps.
“Do you need me to drive you to a certain place?” Zaira was about to say no, only to stop when she saw a glimmer of light to the right of Julie that moved to fast for the normal eye to catch. Someone was arriving, she thought as suddenly, a young man with a shaved head wearing what looked to be worn hiking clothes casually walked up to her. Zaira broke into a grin as she recognized David and his grin made her feel even better. He walked up to the two women then dropped his bag as he swooped Zaira up in a tight bear hug, lifting her several inches off the ground. Julie breathed a sigh of relief; Zaira did have friends, she thought as she leaned against her car. When the two released each other, Zaira placed a hand on his warm tanned cheek then said, “David, meet Julie. She bought food for me. We just met.” Her eyes remained focused on David's face as he walked over to Julie then kissed her on each cheek.
“Julie,” he said in a tone that felt like warm liquid. “How good to meet you.”
“Are you on your way to the town that Zaira's going to?”
David glanced at Zaira, who merely shrugged. “No. I just arrived from my own trip and am just passing through. Zaira, you do know that Iardin is waiting for you?”
Zaira sighed; sometimes, the Eater of Dreams could be quite the child if he didn't get his way in a certain amount of time. “Yes. I was going there today. He knew his request was difficult.”
“And yet, you still did it anyway. Why do you work with him? Why not Claso or perhaps Anadri? They do not have such a reputation as Iardin.” Julie watched the two converse yet their words sounded foreign in her ears. Who was this Iardin and why did her have such a bad reputation?
“I go where I am needed. If they request something and ask for me, then I shall deliver. One way or another. You know that, David. You, such the golden child.” David ran a hand over his scalp that still glowed faintly from his hair that refused to stop growing.
“I am leaving now. I have what he needs. I just hope it is enough.”
“With him, one never knows.” Just then, the two Chroniclers suddenly focused their attention on a very confused Julie, who watched them with a mixture of curiosity and a little of intimidation. She coughed then glanced around.
“Well,” she said as she pulled out her car keys, “I hope you get to Iardin soon. I hope you won't be in trouble.”
Zaira laughed. “I hope for my sake as well, but I still have a day left before I should really worry. Goodbye . . . Julie.” She then held out a hand and Julie shook it, then turned and walked away.
“She will be fine,” said David in a low tone as he moved closer towards Julie. “She has done this before.” Julie glanced at David and tried to nod yet stopped and instead watched her friend walk away. Never had she felt so lonely.
“Where in the hells is she?”
Iardin walked through his parlor, barely noticing the cool marble against his bare feet. Normally, such a sensation would be pleasant, almost soothing, yet Zaira was late. Although she had a day left of their contract, she was still late in his eyes. She, out of all of the Chroniclers, was the one he could depend upon the most. In her years of having such a title, she had never let him down, no matter how dangerous the job or how unsavoury the pickup item had proven to be. She had always delivered with a deep bow and unmatched respect. Iardin stopped his pacing and cracked his toes, feeling the long toenails scratch against the marble. He sighed then pulled at his ponytail that trailed down his back. Perhaps she was delayed, he thought as he resumed his pacing yet slower. Perhaps something happened with my request. He stopped as a small frown appeared on his full sensual lips. He could always check in on her, as he had done so many times before. A quick peek and all would be well. The frown changed to a wide grin as he walked quickly to his study. Soon, he would know.