Winter at Wolf Trap
I inhaled deeply.
Dogs. Pine. Hannibal.
Exhaling a long, slow, relaxed breath, I felt his fingers softly push through damp curls before opening my eyes to meet his gaze and the tender, almost affectionate, smile. I was laid out on the bed in my living room. Hannibal laying beside me, watched me intently, eyes aglow in the semi-light, my Morningstar.
“Had I known Mason was so cut up that I had not kept in touch, I would have popped by Muskrat Farm sooner.”
I laughed at that, though it hurt to do so.
“How did we get—?”
“A combination of debts owed and, of course, Chiyoh.”
“Mason?,” I enquired.
“That particular poorly reared generation of pig no longer stymies the gene pool. I am sure Alana and Margo will instil and nurture a much better pedigree line in the next.”
“Chiyoh…,” I raised myself up on my elbows to watch him as he rose to fetch a bowl of warm water from the kitchen to clean my wounds.
“She watches over me. Over us.” He gently placed the cloth on my stomach. Goosebumps involuntarily peppered my skin in response to his touch. Fear and trust. Love and hate. All conflicting emotions blur in his presence.
“My greatest achievement,” he paused as he rose from the edge of the bed to stand and gaze out the window. He was remembering. “Next to you.”
“You’ve lost blood. That’s to be expected,” he said matter-of-factly, as a medical professional is wont to do.
He returned to my side and without hesitation leaned towards me to bestow a soft embrace. Always the paradox. The hard, smooth edges of his mind offset by the gentle touch of a man who has known the pain of a love ripped from his being, more pain felt in a single moment in time than the most defeated prisoner of war might endure in a lifetime.
I lay back down again, looking at the ceiling as I spoke.
“You and I, Hannibal. We are unsustainable.”
“Yes. It would seem that the convergence of our lives does shake up what appears on the surface to be the natural order of things.”
Wolf Trap was wrapped in Winter. Hannibal and I frozen in its time.
“You are asking me to leave,” he said plainly. He did not need to get emotional about the finality of our time together. I felt enough for the both of us.
“For both our sakes, Hannibal.” I continued, hoping to apply the empathy required to his own nature that would allow him to understand our mutual needs. “The snow will preserve this time we have together. We will be reborn when our next Spring arrives. Chloris and her Zephyrus.”
“After all you have learned, you now seek blissful ignorance…”
“I will never be ignorant of you. You seared yourself into my mind, you consumed my heart and now you own my soul,” I replied.
“Quite some romantic notions you have there, Will.”
“I console myself how I can. It calms the tempest in my blood that is you. To become the centre of your storm.”
“Every memory will be a knife, and I will not be there to stem the bleeding,” he whispered against my forehead.
I revelled in the feel of his breath against my skin. “I will visit you frequently in the rooms we share in our mind palaces. I know I will always find you there.”
“Yes they are."
"Will you wait for me?”
“For as long I must…”