(Picks up where The Longest Night left off)
A red silk scarf slid through Inari’s hands,
pooled in the drawer where it’d rested for years,
when she’d traded it for a marriage band.
Some days she liked to reconnect with years
past, feel the silk against her smile and play
once more the gypsy girl in a trader’s
caravan with tarot cards, fated to play.
She removed the deck, shuffled it; later
she’d play the good god-fearing wife; right now
she wanted assurance that Ran’s tearful
prediction was false, that Sarn’s okay now
and that his absence meant an eventful
night, not a portent of further heartbreak
for the small child drifting like a snowflake.
~ ~ ~
Cutting the deck, she drew a card, the Fool.
It’s many meanings sprang to mind in her
sister’s voice, “it’s a good card, though it fools
some ’cause it’s ’bout the new and some prefer
the old, not a spur of the moment fling.”
Just in time, Inari replaced the card.
Ran appeared at her knee, “What you doing?”
She hid the deck and pulled out Christmas cards.
‘Fore she could answer, he ran to the door.
It swung in admitting Sarn and Nolo.
Sarn picked up his son, headed for his door
and collapsed on the bed, head against pillow,
a livid mark where his shoulder met neck,
an attempt to curb magic at his beck.
~ ~ ~
Recalling the Fool’s card she’d drawn she closed
the door to Sarn’s room, where he lay fevered
and shaking as his body fought the dose.
A new beginning indeed, one levered
into place by a her, the fulcrum. “No more
attempts to shut off the magic, just stop,”
she said, holding her husband’s glare, “no more,
please, I can’t watch him suffer, so just stop.”
He nodded, though whether he’d acceded
’cause she’d asked or he’d run out of compounds
to try, she didn’t know but she’d succeeded.
This’d be the last time Sarn’d have to rebound.
She fetched a cold compress and went to sit
with Ran at his father’s side for a bit.
~ ~ ~
Sleep the winter sleep; sleep steeped in seeming;
spend winter dreaming of spring’s green wreathing…
A voice whispered at the edge of dreaming.
Sarn woke to light tracing designs on things
and his son, quite snug, asleep in his arms.
Snow quietly ticked against the shutter
as it fell outside and piled its white charm
on the window sill; he heard the flutter
of the wight’s garments against the deep black
of the Longest Night, felt again its lure
pull him to a stand, then a walk; go back,
his mind wailed through the drug’s haze; not a cure,
that dose left him fever crazed, staggering,
to the balcony, into snow blowing…
~ ~ ~
Sleep the winter sleep…that fell voice keening,
calling him, but weakness made him sink down,
while his magic is still quarantining,
on a snowy bench, in sight of the sound,
but not seeing any wights, just forest,
far down below, enchanted long ago.
Holding tight to his son, who’s wrapped in rest,
peace and four blankets so he’s not chilled through,
the wight’s face, he can’t forget or farewell.
Not when bits of that face infuse his son’s.
No word, no hint, nothing–not e’en a farewell–
she left her son, him too, without farewell
he didn’t care that she’d left him but their son?
He could not forget or forgive that one.
~ ~ ~
Pans rattled inside and snow continued
to pile up around Sarn as he sat there
watching the graying day unravel through
tired, aching eyes, hearing songs drift on air.
“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…” she said,
opening the door, handing a steaming
mug to Sarn, but his son grabbed it instead.
“It’s hot chocolate, drink it slow,” and beaming,
Inari handed out another mug.
“I think your dream came true,” Sarn hid a blush
by taking a swig of the liquid hug.
Of course all that did was make his face flush.
“Yes, I think I did,” her smile grew brighter,
and wintry wonderland below, lighter.
~ ~ ~
The story continues in Deck the Mountain’s Halls.
~ ~ ~
Follow Sarn’s Advent Journey
~ ~ ~
Special thanks to Mindlovesmisery’s Menagerie’s Writing Prompt #137: The Fool, for the tarot tie-in.