Until the Hour of Separation
“You have walked among us a spirit, and your shadow has been a light upon our faces. Much have we loved you. But speechless was our love, and with veils has it been veiled. Yet now it cries aloud unto you, and would stand revealed before you. And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Alex sat in the passenger seat of Detective Robles car across the street from the Queen Anne’s Revival Bed and Breakfast, staring at the front door. She thought about her year of training and wondered how the drive from Charlotte to New Bergen could seem even longer. How could the distance from the car to the front door could seem so much farther than Charlotte to Norway? And why was she having so much trouble working up the courage to step out of the car?
“We’ll go in whenever you’re ready,” Derek said, breaking the silence as he unbuckled his seatbelt.
Alex took a deep breath. “What… what do I say? He thinks I’m dead.”
“I can’t answer that,” Derek confessed. “Mostly because I never imagined I’d be face to face with this situation. Maybe don’t say anything at first. If you two are meant to be together like everyone says you are, you hearts can communicate where your lips fail.”
Alex let out all her trepidations with a sigh and opened the car door. “You coming?” she asked Robles, who was still staring at her from the driver’s seat.
“Yeah,” he replied, opening his own car door. “I was just making sure you weren’t going to change your mind.”
“The mind cannot change what the heart wants,” Alex said, walking toward the front door of the bed and breakfast almost as if a cadence was playing.
“Is that a quote from somewhere?” Derek hurried to catch up.
“Yep. From here and now. A quote from Alex McDaniels.” She arrived at the front porch and was about to knock on the door but Derek put a hand on her shoulder.
“I should go in first,” he said before knocking on the door. “Kind of ease them into this, at least a little bit.”
“You’re probably right,” Alex said, moving to stand behind Derek.
“Who is it?” a male voice asked.
“It’s Detective Derek Robles with the Charlotte Police Department.”
A small commotion could be heard inside and a moment later, the door opened, with Marie’s face appearing first. “Derek. It’s good to see you. Come inside,” she said, stepping out of the way.
“I brought someone with me. Stew?”
All eyes turned to Stew as he slowly rose from the couch where he was sitting and made his way to the door, his face wrought with either constipation or confusion. A familiar face peeked out from behind the detective. Her fiery, auburn hair unmistakeable.
In a split-second, all the time and distance that had been between the two of them vanished. Stew took her in his arms and buried his face in her neck, both to hide his tears and also because he simply could not get close enough. There was no hiding of tears for everyone else. As the united lovers continued their silent embrace, no one dared do anything to disturb the fragile beauty of the moment. Brandr even received a stern look from Tófa when he put his arm around her shoulder.
After several minutes, Stew began to release Alex. A single word was all he could muster. “How?”
“I think it was a little like what happened to you twelve centuries ago. The difference was you vanished into time. I went to another dimension.”
“Yeah. That’s why I haven’t called you. I was being trained for a year.”
“But you’ve only been gone a couple weeks.”
“I know. Different dimensions.”
“Who was training you?”
“Honestly, I don’t even know his name. He had long, shaggy, white hair. Long, gray robe. He looked a bit like Gandalf.”
Wiz looked at Tófa and Brandr to see if they recognized the description. They both shrugged their shoulders.
“Before he left me with my last test, he told me that if I needed him, I could just say his name. How am I supposed to do that if I don’t know it?”
“Old Tier One trick,” Brandr commented. “If the need is truly there, the name will be, too.”
“Wait,” Stew interrupted. “So, you’re immortal now?”
“Yes,” Alex returned quietly. “And please don’t be mad... but I’m Third Tier, too.”
“Right now…” Stew shook his head. “I don’t even care.” His eyes burned under the strain of trying to keep from crying. “A month or two from now, I might care, but I’m just… Words can’t express my emotions. I have no idea how to describe them. Probably because there are fifteen different ones jumbled into one, blubbering, hot mess. Did Detective Robles tell you about my sister?”
“Yeah. Where’s your mom?”
“I’m sorry. It’s sort of my fault. Zachary bumped into me and the business card--”
“Honey, this is not your fault. Okay? That madman is wearing the full brunt of the blame for this. If he bumped into you, it was on purpose. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all of this, it’s that no matter what, the past is in the past and we cannot let it control our future. We can learn from our mistakes without dwelling on them. Now, come here and let me give you a hug and then we’ll figure out where to go from here."