A Promise: Birthday Visits

Morning visits

The early morning sun glistened off her strawberry blonde hair, making it seem more blonde than red for once. The face her hair framed was surprisingly solemn, her teal eyes sad as they scanned the ground for any tripping obstacles. The bright red flowers she carried popped against the light blue shirt she wore.

Loriwen stepped into the cemetery. It was just as devoid of life and empty as it seemed the day they brought her father here. He insisted on being laid to rest in this old cemetery. His father, and his father’s father, and all the rest were buried here and he did not care if it was a run down plot or not. She looked around with a sigh. The day itself was lovely, warm with a breeze and sunny, yet the trees surrounding the cemetery made it dark and uninviting.

The shade engulfed her as she walked over to a stone. Bright red flowers already graced the plot where her father lay, and a sad smile sprung to Loriwen’s face. Anna was here today. Shaking her head a little bit, she placed the flowers next to Anna’s and gazed at the stone for a while.

Rojer Snowberry of Bree
26 Solmath – 16 Mede
55 years

This is always odd at first. Where to start?” Loriwen sat down in front of the flowers, never taking her eyes from the tombstone. “I mind as well start out with the obvious. I miss you. I always miss you. I’ve taken to writing Grams letters; I hope that isn’t too crazy.” She poked one of the flowers, tracing her finger along the petal. “My woodworking is going better than ever. Have a lot of people who know my name and I get letters from many folk in the area, asking for various things to be made. I made a maple lute a few weeks ago. It was lovely, stained dark and white ivory turning keys.”

Mmm, I suppose something I should probably mention is the farmhouse. I sold it. Couldn’t handle that much land and house on my own, and old Wheatley was keen to pick it up. He gave me a more than decent price for it, think he felt bad for me. Still was a good deal for all of us involved, he got to almost double his land and I got enough coin to buy myself a small house with a small garden. Well, more coin than just that, I have a bit of a savings now. It’s good to have padding involved, makes any emergencies that may happen less of a hassle.” She absentmindedly scratched the top of her right hand, sighing to herself when she snagged a bit of a bandage.

She looked down at the hand, fixing the wrapping and looking back up to the stone, a rueful expression on her face. “Still being a clumsy, crazy old woman. That will never change. Do you know I managed to get a black eye from a book a while back? Absolutely unbelievable. I was writing a letter to Grams and tipped my chair back, and hit the bookcase. Looked up to make sure everything was alright, and bam! My right eye took over a week to heal.”

She shook her head, laughing hollowly. “Ah, that will never change. I’ll always manage to get myself into barely real situations. Whether it’s falling off a bridge, being punched by a book, or even as far back as when I got myself stuck in that tree, you know I’ll find an even weirder one to top the last.”

You know, I’m thirty today. Seems so old to my eyes, then again most younger people these days end up married around half my age. Leastways, they did back when I was that age. Seems more and more folk are shacking up and not marrying at all or they’re waiting until they’re older. Times change quickly, it seems. Folk who travel from the South and from the East bring dark words and stories with them. It’s becoming more dangerous around even Bree-land. It’s worrisome, but what can I do? I’m a simple wood carver with a serious case of bad luck.” A memory struck her and she stopped speaking. Slowly exhaling, she brought her hand from the flower down to the grass and ran her fingers through it as if it were hair.

After a few moments of reminiscing, she laughed aloud. It was a quiet, hollow laugh, but an audible one nonetheless. “I met a peculiar young lady a while back, she shacked up with a right git. He managed to break her heart and finally let her go, but I feel so bad for her. You know, I’m almost old enough to be her mother. That’s a bit of a concerning thought, I think. She’s a sweet girl, I hope she ends up happier than she is now. She’s from Gondor, you know. Lots of people seem to be coming from Gondor recently, or leastways, I seem to be meeting them all recently. I wonder how many of them came to escape the dark talk.”

Twisting a blade of grass, she sat in silence. Minutes passed, no sound echoing through the cemetery but the a bird singing and her breathing. Eventually she looked up, a sad smile on her face. “I wish you could meet him. I think you’d like him. I hope you’d like him. Grams said you went to Gondor once, for some trade, a long time ago. You two would have some interesting stories to share, I think. At least, I hope. It’s hard not to have you or Grams here to talk with about it. You taught me to always follow my heart, so that I wouldn’t miss anything in life. Now I’ve found someone patient and sweet that actually cares about me, and you can’t even meet him. He’s got a large family, far away. I’m a bit jealous, to tell the truth. It’s not fair that I’d…well, hopefully I’d get to meet them one day, and he can’t meet anyone who’s known me as family. Ah, listen to me. I’m just nervous.”

Loriwen looked down at the flowers, plucking one off of its stem. She twirled it in between her left fingers, tilting her head as she watched its petals blur in and out of their circle. Without looking up, she continued to speak to the headstone. “He’s like a warm mug of hard cider, I think. All at once sweet, warm, comforting, intoxicating, and refreshing. I don’t feel my age around him, instead I feel like a young fool again. A stuttering, nervous, excited fool. This is somewhat like what Grams told me, but I wish I knew your thoughts on…it.” Finally glancing up to the cold stone in front of her, her brow furrowed in sadness. “I want to know how you loved Mother so much that you never so much as looked away without being sad. How you could ignore someone as sweet and devoted as Anna for years on end, always mourning Mother instead? What… how can you love someone that much? How d-… how did you know you did?”

She sighed loudly. “These are the things I wonder about. You never spoke to me of her, of your love. I want to know how something so lasting, so strong, can be forged. What was it like? Was it as amazing and as scary as this is? Ho-…does it make you want to cry with happiness, scream with frustration, run for miles, fear that you’ll eventually wake up, and all the while, you can’t imagine anything else in the world?”

Running her hand over the ground in front of her lovingly, Loriwen smiled. “Ah, I didn’t come here to scold you. I’m sorry. You know how I get when I’m nervous, I keep talking. You’d probably be shaking your head at me right now, telling me to follow what I feel is right. Your heart can’t lie to you. I still remember that, you know. I remember you sitting me down and saying.. ‘Lori, listen carefully. I have something you need to hear, a sentence that you should live your life by. Your heart can’t lie to you. Always listen to it, and you’ll find your way to happiness.’ I’ll never forget that.” Her smile turned wry. “I hope your advice holds true.” She paused, slowly sweeping her gaze over the flowers and up to the stone. “Dad. I love him. I hope you’re alright with that, because I do. I’ll bring him down here one time, maybe for your birthday. That’s a bit ways away, but he promised he’s not going anywhere. We’ll be back, the both of us. Maybe sooner, I’m not sure. Either way, you keep taking care, you hear me?”

Loriwen stood up slowly, grunting with the effort. She reached out her right hand, bandaged up as it was, and patted the stone carefully. “I love you, Dad. Always have, always will. Can’t promise I won’t eat cake tomorrow, but today’s our day. I won’t.” She took a step back, silently standing for a long time with tears in her eyes.

At least five minutes later, she tore her gaze from the grave and walked away. She felt surprisingly light and happy, considering what she just spent her whole morning doing. Putting on a real smile, Loriwen made her way to the horse named after her father and saddled up, trotting away to plan her ale party.

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