The sun had not yet risen and Lucas’s eyes fluttered open all on their own. He had stayed up late the evening before, wanting to sleep through as much of this day as possible and escape from what it brought. That had been a failure. He had failed so much before, why should this be any different.
He lay on the ground, somehow comforted by the hardness of the earth beneath him. He stretched out his fingers and dug them into the grass, still damp with morning’s tears. With dew wet hands he scrubbed his face. He knew that soon he would rise, preferring movement to sloth. Movement kept away the memories.
Other days he welcomed the memories, even as they pulled his heart they brought the smiles that only she could bring and if he smiled wide enough it was if she was still with him.
Today, she would not be, no matter how strong the memories became. Today was the day of her absence.
He rose and pulled some hard biscuits from his pack. He ate without tasting them or even wanting them, but he knew that his body would need them and that as the sun rose a lack of desire for food would turn into antipathy towards all nourishment. Better to eat now while he could still hold it down.
He looked around and shook his head. This place was not enough. It wouldn’t fit her. He couldn’t put the “why” of it into words. It was another thing he just knew. He gathered his pack and started to walk deeper into the woods, looking for that which his heart would recognize.
He walked and tried to keep the memories from overwhelming him before he could play his amends.
The sun had crept past its highest point and begun its fall from grace when Lucas stopped. He nodded at the spot, which looked not unlike where he had awoken. But it was different. He knew that, but didn’t have the words for why.
He sat on a fallen tree. From its oiled leathers he drew forth the moon lute. Fingers knowingly plucked the five strings and his aligned their pitches. He drummed softly on the skin head that reverberated the plunky sounds.
He waited for a signal only he would know. Then, slowly, he placed one hand over the strings and the other hand around the instruments neck. He carefully plucked out notes, one by one. The song was one common around most family hearths. He played simply, the way a child might.
The first tear dripped down his cheek.
The song grew more complex as his fingers continued their dance. The song grew joyful, but hidden in the joy was a sense of unease. He didn’t have the words, but his fingers knew the tones.
The song continued and advanced into other hearth songs. The laughter grew. The unease stayed. He played until his calloused fingertips ached, realigning strings as needed. He played her favorites, but couldn’t keep the grief from sounding out. Not today. He played until all that was left was was the sound of the absence inside him. He played until the salt on his cheeks stunts his very eyes. He played until his breath grew ragged.
Finally the last tone faded, his hands still. With a voice hoarse from sobs he whispered his love to she who would never answer
He wrapped his moon luoon in its leathers and stood on legs weak from his long perch. This spot was no longer for him and he needed to find a place where he could sleep in peace. Tomorrow would be a day for the living.
(This is kind of a working backstory for a character in a current piece I am working on. I’m sharing it here, hopefully to drum up some interest, but also to help solidify some concepts I’m working on.)