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Star-Crossed.

Inspired by the song Ozyerushka (meaning Little Pond).

Star-Crossed.

The morning sun sent its soft rays on the little white house, with the roof that was red and windows that were painted blue. It stood in the middle of a neatly kept yard, from which a shed for the cows and a chicken house had been built in the corner, and the rows of a neatly kept garden behind them. The flowers grew brightly by the door and under the windows, speaking of a definite feminine touch to the household.

Nazar smiled to himself as he urged his horse forward. This little house, situated not far from a small pond with the pines growing around it, was the object of his journey; his final destination. He took a deep breath and dismounting, walked his horse through the gates that were unlocked, careful not to make too much noise.

"Keep it down, ol' boy," he whispered to the stallion, "no need to draw too much attention to ourselves." In this fashion the youth with dark brown hair and sea blue eyes made his way across the path and to a window that was slightly open. The curtain blew in the window, beckoning him to come closer, and closer he came. At last he stood right at it.

"Alright," he said to himself, taking a deep breath, "you will come out the winner this time, Nazar, she'll be sure to give in today."

He removed his hat, combed his hair back with his hands, and straightened his Cossack uniform. Brushing the dust out from his small beard, Nazar reached over and gave the window a slight tap.

Only a few seconds later the curtain was drawn back and a lovely face appeared in the window. The brow was pale as a winter morn, but the cheeks were rosy. Enchanting eyes gazed from under long, thick eyelashes, and the little lips were full and red. Her shiny black hair was gathered into a single braid, which rested on her shoulder and ran down to her waist. The white blouse accented her figure, making her pleasing to look at.

"Nazar," the young girl spoke out in a hushed whisper, "what are you doing here at this time of morning?"

"I've come to see you, Maria," he answered in an equally hushed voice. "I just couldn't stay away any longer. I've been dying to see you, to look upon your face, to hear your voice. We haven't spoken for many weeks, I have passed by your home often and every time I my press my hand to my chest to try and calm my heart, and it never works, it just never works. My heart knows it belong here, and here it leads me. Come, step outside the house; let us enjoy each other's company for an hour or so."

The eyes drooped downward and she shook her head. "I would love to, Nazar, but my husband sleeps on my right hand and I fear I won't be able to get past him without awakening him. If he should wake and find you here, there will be lots of trouble. He'll kill you, you know he will."

Nazar frowned. Why was that older, good for nothing, grumpy husband always around to spoil things for him? He hated Maria's father for marrying her off to that man. Sure, sure, maybe he was rich and could support Maria, but she didn't love him, Nazar knew that for a fact. How many times had he come over here, wishing to talk to the one woman he loved, and that man, that horrible man could be counted on to ruin everything. He had tried, heaven knows he had tried to stay away from Maria and her house, but in the end he always gave in. And today, today he was determined to get his Maria back, not just for an hour, not just for a day, but forever.

"You could easily climb out the window," he suggested. "Why live with a man you don't love? You love me, I know you do, you have told me before...before your father gave your hand to the old scoundrel. Can you not tell me again? You have no idea how I longed to hear your sweet voice whispering in my ear how you loved me. Just confess, confess to me something you know to be true. We could run away, Maria, run away someplace where he is not, and we could be together, just you and we, like we always wanted. I could take care of you, I will take care of you, give you the one thing you want and need, my never ending, undying love."

The head slowly lifted up and he saw the dark, sad eyes fill with tears, tears that began spilling out and running down her soft cheeks. "We are not going anywhere, Nazar," she whispered in a heartbroken voice. "I am going to ask you to mount your horse and depart from my house right now."

"Why?" He reached out to grasp her hand, but she hid it behind her back.

"Because I am another man's wife," she replied, "and I will not break a vow I gave before God. Please, go away, and if you care anything for me, don't come back. We cannot have each other because I am not yours and you are not mine, and never shall be."

With those words she reached over and shut the window, drawing the curtain to block any view into the house.

Nazar stood stunned for a few minutes, then slowly, ever so slowly he mounted his horse. "Come on, ol' boy," he whispered, "let's go!"

The horse cantered away from the house, out of the yard and towards the pond. The oaks mingled with the tall pines, and on the bank would could find acorns mixed with the pinecones. A thick, rich smell of evergreen filled the air, and the flowers added a dash of color to the green foliage of area. In this woody paradise, the broken hearted, rejected Cossack tied his horse to a tree and sat down by the lake, wondering what to do next. She had turned him away, turned him away for good; was there really any point in living after that? He had hoped to convince her, but it had been in vain and the only thing he had gained from this visit was to lose another piece of his already broken heart.

"Tell me ol' boy," he turned to his horse, "which of the three is better: shoot myself, drown myself, or go back and try to convince her to run away with me after all?"

The black stallion snorted and shook his head.

"Killing myself is a sin," Nazar agreed, "so I suppose we shall cross the first two options out. So then I go back?"

Another snort from the stallion, another shake of his head.

"We do have our pride, don't we," the youth agreed. "And there is no point of going back, she won't give in, not now, not ever. I know Maria, I have known her since we were little. She will stay with her husband even if she doesn't love him." He shut his eyes for a moment, trying to conquer the grief and the jealousy inside of him. That man didn't deserve the devoted wife he had been given Why did life have to be so unfair? Why had it taken from him the only thing he had ever wanted? He had loved Maria since a child, and she had loved him back. As they had grown the tie had grown stronger and stronger until he couldn't bear to be apart from her, and then her stupid father and that greedy man had gotten involved. With combined effort, the two men had ruined any chance of happiness for Maria and Nazar.

What made it even more unfair, was that it wasn't like Nazar had nothing to recommend for himself; he was young and handsome, he had a fine horse and a house and land inherited from his father. He was brave and fearless in battle. In fact, there were many girls who would easily fall for him, and many fathers who would love to have him for a son in law.

"I won't go back," he decided at last, "if I go back I'll end up killing myself for sure. I'll go forward, I'll find myself another wife, it's not like she is the only woman out there. Yes, that is what I will do." With this resolution, Nazar rose and mounted his horse. Twitching the reins, he urged it into a quick canter, determined to reach the town by midday.

Yet to get to the town, they had to ride past the white house with the perfect yard, thick with the fragrance of flowers. Despite himself, Nazar turned his head as he cantered past it. A familiar feeling rose in his chest, but he resisted the urge to pull the horse to a halt.

"Be still, my heart," Nazar whispered, "don't writhe so."

Turning his head towards the town, he rode away, never to return to the little house by the pond.

Si]


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