CANDLE FLAME

Agatha was stunned and fascinated at the sight of the lonely tower standing with great pride, overlooking the island. Aboard a ferry, she could feel the welcome of the gods, greatly calling her name. She could feel the wind singing in honor, while the waves were gladly enjoying their rhythm as they brought the ferry to the port. She missed the magical island, the brave tower, and the man she loved.

“I’m here. I’m home.” She uttered to herself. She was glad to be in the island again: to feel the breeze, to watch the birds dancing in the sky, and to smell the wildflowers blooming in each way. Sitting on an oak chair, Agatha stroked her right thigh. She couldn’t explain why the long healed wound hurt again. It has been 9 years since she left the island of Earlean to live a new life in Ardan. She didn’t know why and how. She loved the island and there was no reason for her to leave. But there were circumstances beyond her strength. Those things left her on the edge, and made her life devoid of the meaning it used to have. She felt her scar the bullet left; the only trace of the tragedy in her past.

As the waves splashed, Agatha found the memories flash before her eyes. The memories flowed to her mind like a crystal stream mimicking the clarity of the sky. It was like a song, heard only once, but replaying as vivid as though it happened yesterday.

Spring had gently awakened from its long winter sleep. The animals went out of hibernation to celebrate the first spring sun. Snow melted from the forest like tears of happiness that welcomed a warmer day. Artha opened the door of their home, smelling the breeze of change, grateful to witness magic creep into her senses and her soul. The happiness she felt radiated into her senses, and reflected in her green eyes. “This is it, good days are coming.” Artha, at the age of 19, was a spirited and cheerful girl. Her soul had a unique connection to nature, that it seemed she could hear its voice and see it through her heart. Even her mother, Agnes, could not fathom the mystery of her own daughter. But despite not understanding, they were bonded by such love.

            Artha lived with her mother in a small croft. It had been ten years since their father died. They earned their living by selling the candles they make. Artha possessed a gift that enabled her to make the most beautiful candles. Her skills became known in town, and captured the interests of many people, including Marcus Delhey, son of Governor Lucas Delhey. Marcus Delhey was a tall, lean man with dark hair, that revealed the strength and blood of the Delhey family. His eyes were the color of the Pacific Ocean, tinted with courage and legacy. Despite the physical resemblance to his father, he didn’t like being compared to his father. His father was cunning, and had the makings of a good leader. But he was cruel, and ruled with an iron fist, declaring no one is above the law but himself. In contrast to his father’s cruelty, he was a kind and simple man. The difference of perspectives certainly became one of the major reasons of the rift between the two Delheys. Marcus remained true to his conviction and fervor for what he believes in, despite being contrary to his father’s. And for those reasons, Artha fell in love with him.

            Their love went beyond natural course; for two people who were from different worlds, and stood at the two opposite ends of a vast ocean should never be together. But their love blossomed, without care of being against nature. They met secretly, away from the prying eyes of the public, and away from the vindictive stare of Gov. Delhey. They enjoyed each other’s love; the passionate moments, the touches of their skin, and interventions on their souls. Each day they met at the tower, watching the serenity of the sparkling sea, listening to the voices the wind carries, and simply being in the warmth of each other’s touch. Each night, Artha would light a candle in the tower, and Marcus would light another in his home. As they watched the glimmer of the flame of each other’s candle, they would chant, separated by distance, but bonded by love:

“A communication of two hearts that burns by love.

Guided by angels and the grace above.

A sign of love at the candle’s flame.

May God protect is through His mighty name.”

            This was their promise; the covenant of their souls. Each flame of the candle signified their love, desire, promise, and hope. As long as their love is in their hearts, they will continue to put a flame in their candles each night, as a reminder that their love is like the flame, shedding light to the dark abyss that awaits to engulf their lives without its presence.

            Governor Lucas Delhey found out about their romance. He was furious. He was patient enough to put up with the differences between him and his son. But he would never tolerate something that would put the Delhey name into shame. He vowed to put off the flame of Artha’s and Marcus’ love. He arranged that Marcus be betrothed to a countess. Marcus, at once, objected, and in his spite, told his father:

“I’m tired of you! Of your dreams, your plans for me. I’m sick of you playing god with everybody’s life, especially mine! You don’t own my life, my fate, and my heart!”

            Governor Lucas’ rage was evident, as he bellowed to his own son: “You leave me with no choice. You don’t leave the candle-maker, she will suffer!”

            The governor’s rage became a command. The governor’s men went into town, with orders to burn the candle-maker’s house and banish her from the island.

            Marcus went to his room, his father’s threat ringing in his ears. He knew at once that he must help Artha, but how? Despite the fact that he would do anything to protect Artha from the wrath of his father, he knew he could do nothing to overpower his father. He looked out his window, and at the sight of the tower and the small flame visible in the darkness, he was comforted, knowing Artha was standing beside the lit candle, safe from his father.

            Artha stood beside the candle she lit, waiting patiently for the flame at Marcus’ end. She clutched a letter as she looked at the Delhey manor. The night breeze blew, but the chill that she felt was off. She felt something was wrong. She heard the rush of the shores, and the blow of the wind. The nature whispered to her, and she felt uneasy at once. Somewhere, there awaited peril. But where, and who was in danger?

            She was trembling when she caught a glimpse of a flame. It wasn’t Marcus’ flame, for it shone more brightly, and it shone away from the Delhey manor. Her eyes followed the flame. Terror engulfed her, as she finally registered that it was her own house on fire. Her body went numb that she couldn’t feel anything except the dread creeping into her. The letter slipped from her fingers and she regained her strength. In a spur of a moment, she was running-away from the tower and towards her home. The governor’s men stopped her from rushing into her house. “I curse you all for this!” She shouted hoarsely, as she struggled to break free from their grasp, so she could run towards her house. The fear she felt wasn’t because of the men, or the guns they were aiming at her, but because she feared for her mother, who might be at the house when it was set ablaze. The things that happened in the next moments were a blur; one moment she was rushing to her home, the next thing she knew, a gunshot blared from one of the guns, and she felt a sting on her thigh. Artha fell on her back, eyes on the sky; hand on her belly, then on her heart, and her last thoughts on her mother, and Marcus. She muttered, “I’m sorry.” Then, she lost consciousness.

            Governor Lucas told his son that Artha died; that she ran inside the burning house and never got out. She was burned to death with her mother. Marcus felt numb at the news. The numbness he felt was replaced by a vicious pain that put him on the verge of breaking down. He grieved; his anger getting hold of him, and left him with a callous desire to kill his father. But despite the burning ire for his father, he knew he could never kill him.

            Marcus went to the woods, to Artha’s house. He saw the debris of the terrible tragedy that put their love to an end. He went to the tower, hoping to find Artha alive, waiting for him. All he found was a pink candle. He reached out to touch it, but he did not. He was captivated by its beauty, and it reminded him of Artha- a portrait of such perfection words are not enough to depict. His eyes took in the view from the tower; the red sky deploring his loss, and the sun radiating the remnants of his love still intact. He cried out, “Artha” in desperation. He murmured her name over and over again, releasing each time the pain he could not bear. He shed the tears he had never shed before. His face fell to his hands, weeping the death of his most loved. Then, his eyes fell upon a letter on the floor. He took it, and read it. The supposed to be good news shattered his already-broken heart- Artha was carrying his child. He felt the hole in his chest swallow him as he realized his loss.

            Nature mourned a love lost. Life wasn’t apparent in the island. There were no birds in the sky, no animal grazing the earth that became barren. The day is as melancholic as the melody playing in Marcus’ heart. The sky grieved; bringing in an aura of morose. The tower stood still, emitting a moribund air. The villagers had never appreciated the tower, but they finally took notice at a sight of a beautiful candle emanating a beautiful flame. But after Marcus finally married the countess, the beautiful flame was no longer seen since.

Agatha’s green eyes turned grey. It was full of unshed tears, and stifled emotions. It showed how poignant her soul was- how great its sorrow was. She never stopped dreaming of those memories, nor had she ever completely eradicated them in her thoughts. She could still vividly recall each minute detail, and each time she recalled, her soul was pierced with such sadness that seemed enough to make her fall apart. But she braved the wrath of the pain she went through. She wiped her tears that fell at the memory of the twinge. She held herself together, and braved the crowd to find someone.

“Marcus!” she called. “Marcus, where are you?”

She looked in all directions, looking for the love of her life, that restored the meaning the circumstances robbed her.

“Excuse me?” a voice interrupted her search. “Are you looking for me?”

The voice robbed her temporarily of air to breathe. Somehow, the voice sent electricity to her body. She turned to face the person to whom the voice belongs to. Her then green, and now grey eyes fell upon a smiling man. She felt light-headed as she took in the appearance of the man standing before her- the eyes that mimicked the color of the Pacific Ocean, the dark hair that brought out the intensity of his gaze, the tall and sturdy stance, and the smile that brought a glimpse of familiarity that pulled her to memory lane. The man seemed as stunned as she was- he took in every contour of her face as his futile efforts tried to unravel the unknown recognition.

“Governor Marcus Delhey,” he finally blurted out, extending out a hand for Agatha to shake.

Agatha regained her composure, and took his hand in hers and shook it.

“Ar- I mean, Agatha.” She said, unable to voice out the true identity of her soul.

She felt tear threatening to fall, but she put on a false bravado.

As their eyes lock in a wondrous stare, it seemed that something was rekindled- a connection that was long believed to be cut off.

“Marcus! Let’s go!” called an unfamiliar voice from afar.

“I’m coming!” answered Marcus, without breaking his eye contact.

For another moment, they stared at each other, drawn by an unseen force.

“I need to go,” he finally managed to say. “My wife is calling me.”

He gave another smile, his eyes the color of the ocean reached by the warmth of his smile. There was something else in his eyes- a hint of a promise, and something else- something that pierced Agatha’s spirit. The next moment, the man turned his back, and walked away towards the woman calling his name.

Agatha’s eyes never left the man, as he walked away from her. She let the false brave façade crumble, as the long-hidden pain broke through, and sent tears falling down her face. She crossed her arm across her chest, trying to hold herself together, as the paroxysm that hit her became unbearable.

Just when she was on the verge of losing it, a small hand grasped hers.

“Don’t cry mama, I’m here now,” said the nine-year old boy with eyes the color of the Pacific Ocean.

She wiped her tears, fell to her knees, and embraced her son.

“I love you Marcus,” she whispered.

Then into nothingness, she whispered, “I still love you Marcus. I always have, and forever will.”

She whispered her love: a mother’s love for her son, and a lover’s love for her other half.

 

I sincerely appreciate the efforts of my friends Monica Lopez and Mika Glaraga for helping me out with this piece of soul.
Thanks so much ladies! I highly commend your love and support!

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