Dear Arao,
Do you remember when we used to run? Into the east, through the private gardens, along the little brook into the orchards…

Her hair flowed back when she ran. She usually was so meticulous with it being twisted and pinned back, or caught up in pearls and nets– not so when she wanted to feel the weight of it, feel the wind through it. When she came to him with her hair flowing long, she would take his hand and they would wend their way out of the city, and her hair would dance behind her.

I’ve fled back to Tassato, it was all getting a bit much in Astolat…

She struggled to keep up with him at times. She was a climber, a short burst of energy before needing a rest, unable to match his stamina. But when she ran, those short bursts of energy could catch him, sometimes outstrip him. He let her catch him, he let her lead, when she shed her skirts and freed her hair and ran. She led to the best places.

I found myself needing a run, like when we were young. And for a split moment, I thought to bring Frederick– before I realized I could not. Through the wind, down to that place, when we would flump down into the grasses and listen to the flow of water from the stream…

She would fall onto the grass, as if free and having escaped something, like she had slipped through fingers grabbing at her. He would sit down and lean against the tree, and she would rest her head in his lap. The land was on the edge of an old orchard, left to revert to nature, and damson and apple trees were slowly encroached by longer grasses and the steady tumble of water in the stream. It was forgotten, silent; a slice of peaceful calm in both their lives.

I’m caught in this storm. It comes and goes in waves, carrying me away. I long for the simplicity of running. Of finding that freedom we used to have. The only knowledge that I have, set in stone, is that when we next meet, I will take you again to that grove. Maybe we can recapture that freedom.

“Why do you like coming here so much?” He one day asked her, and she smiled with rosy cheeks and sweat on her brow. He couldn’t remember her answer now, but the image of her face, eyes closed and expression peaceful, and with sunlight dappling her cheeks as it filtered through the canopy of leaves overhead, that he did remember.

I miss you. Have to go now. There is a swelling storm coming and I am being swept away.


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