“Don’t leave me” a voice whispered through the salt tinged air.
Was it Seamus?
Turning anxiously, I could see only his dark silhouette, steadily dwindling into the distant charcoal sky; every few steps he furiously kicked up a slurry of heavy wet sand.
I knew he was cursing me.
I cradled the bones gingerly in my cupped hands.
“You’re not a bird” I cooed, stroking the gossamer skull with my index finger. I shook the sea-spray from my damp hair and began my precarious trek home.
Struggling against the thick sludge of sand, I skirted the small tidal pools, guarding the frail skeleton against the increasing wind. The hot taste of Jamison’s still lingered on my lips as I wove an erratic path along the shoreline.
Ahead, warm amber light spilled from the pub’s windows and I could hear the low melodic treble of Seamus’ voice. There was a momentary silence, then a sudden eruption of laughter; he was telling one of his stories again. He always told a great story.
I passed the pub as a sudden wave of music emptied into the night air, a cheerful discordant chorus of drunken voices. I could picture them all, arms entwined, gleeful, swaying in unison to the ill-sung harmony. I continued on unnoticed, blending seamlessly into the landscape of the night.
Our house sat somber and silent. I awkwardly unlatched the gate with my elbow, all the while safeguarding the delicate framework of needle-thin bones resting in my palms.
“Welcome home,” I whispered closely into my open hands, as I stumbled up the familiar pathway.
The home I had shared with Seamus these past five years had remain unchanged since Maggie had disappeared. Seamus said he didn’t blame me but how could he not. I knew it was my fault, mine alone.
Once inside, I reached for my old sewing box, buried in the dormant recesses of my closet and rummaged through the odd bits and trappings of my past. A remnant of ivory lace, dusky pearl buttons, knots of intertwining ribbons. I selected a small swatch of claret colored velvet and draped it over my bureau, carefully nesting the fragile bones in its lush folds. I placed a small pewter crucifix at the fairy’s head and found two candle stubs setting them on either side.
“Now rest” I whispered to the skeleton, making the sign of the cross. I wondered, did fairies go to heaven? Did they float among angels, with wings of their own? The room grew dim, my eyes weary. I sunk into bed, wrestling off my shoes and letting them drop with an empty thud. Seamus wouldn’t be home for hours.
“Good night little fairy” I yawned. I closed my eyes. I could still breathe the briny salt of the ocean air, still taste the faint tint of whisky on my tongue, hear the lilting drone of Seamus’ voice. I was drifting. I could hear the steely waves against the craggy jetties of rock. I could see Maggie’s round soft face. Tomorrow, I knew, everything would be different.