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Maria closed the door of her shed one last time. There was no lock on it. There had never been a lock on it. She realised that she had left two holy pictures and several half-used candles on the window sill. For some reason, she decided to leave them there, although, she had been told to completely empty the shed for the future renters.

“Goodbye, my dear home,” she said to the Shrine. “You have loved me and so I leave part of myself here with you.”

By early spring, Farkas was back in Waldmeer. There was not much available to rent and so he decided to take Charlie’s property. The more isolated location suited him after the complete isolation of the North Country mountains. To help with the rent, he decided to rent out Maria’s old shed. However, each time he called into the real estate agent to let them know, he would get to the desk, make some excuse, and walk out again. I’ll do it another day, he told himself.

One morning after a storm, Farkas noticed that the shed door had blown open. He went to close it. Something was on the windowsill. He went in to see what it was. Maria has left some of her stuff behind, he thought. He hesitated and then sat on the bare floor and listened. Not for anything in particular. It was calm and still after the storm. Presently, he got up and lit one of the candles and then sat down again.

It’s Maria, Farkas said to himself. I can feel Maria is here. It must be the candle. She always was a strange girl.

Actually, it was Amira more than Maria but Farkas could not distinguish them. Nor did he even know Amira’s name. He only knew Maria, who was now gone. Farkas sat there a long time. He didn’t move.

“I’m sorry,” he eventually said. Farkas wasn’t a man to say, sorry. There would have been too much to say sorry for. “I found it hard.”

“You did well.” Farkas could hear Maria’s voice but it seemed older, more distant, yet, very close. “You were brave to even come anywhere near me. At some level, you knew that every thought you cherished would be taken apart, every grudge you harboured would be thrown back at you, and every ancient dream you held would be put into the fire.”

Farkas didn’t say anything. He was a little pleased with himself that he could even hear the voice. He knew it was a gift but, also, an earned right.

“It is not just desperation that does that,” continued Amira. “It is a belief in oneself, that one can do better, that one is worth it. You tried to hurt me but you couldn’t. All of it, you did to yourself. You never gave up on me completely, so that means you never gave up on yourself. Yes, you did well, Farkas.”

Amira stopped talking. After a little while, Farkas got up and blew the candle out. If he wanted to talk to Maria again, she might come back if he lit one of the half-used candles. He wanted to save them. He opened the door of the little shed. It smelled sweet and fresh after the storm. Maria’s words went with him as he walked out into the day. You did well.

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