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The past

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When love reaches challenges sometimes we question the paths we choose. In one extreme situation John must choose a path that is right for him and Luke.

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Chapter 1

The fireflies broke through the darkness like little glimers of hope through the turbulence of my emotions. With every one i watched burn out and fly back into the woods i felt a little more of my hope die with it. I sat there and watched them for a moment as what had earlier transpired still filled my inner thoughts and worries. What are we going to do? How long did I have to decide?
We were sitting at the back of my old cottage when I broke the news to him.
The foliage surrounded our little spot, picked out by the back porch, a canipy of greens and browns. It was one of our favorite places to sit and be together. We often found ourselves getting lost in the simplicity of silence and each other's touch. Like a place only meant for us, to hold our deepest secret and love.
As I quietly sat there I did just that, a gentle touch on the thigh to let him know I was there and thinking of him. He leaned into my touch and I placed an arm around him, giving him a gentle squeeze. I would enjoy this moment and let it calm my inner turmoil. I had too if I was going to be strong enough to lead us. He was waiting for me to respond, for me to tell him what I knew. The silence persisted as I continued to focus on those damndable fireflies.
They were coming, the townspeople had found out about what we were to each other. A salesman had come around back to search out the residence to sale his latest wares too and caught us holding each other dearly. So locked in our embrace and heated kiss it took us a moment to realize what had happened, to late to chase him down and try anything to fix what had been seen. I was half hoping that the man would go about his way and not report us to the authorities. That if I went into town I'd be able to find the man and pay him off with what little we had. I was neither lucky nor quick enough. I waited there on the outskirts of town, hiding out behind a tree and some bushes as I waited and listened. Looking for signs of the scoundrel sale man being about, and no sooner then a few hours pass did I see the badged figures quickly making there way across town. Hurriedly people scurrying about and collecting in groups, seemingly bursting with fervent gossip. I couldn't take not knowing for certain the situation and started my way to the back of my good friend Charles astabloshment. I knocked quietly on the large weather worn brown door.
"Charles. Charles, I need an ear." I was now peaking into the back of the building and whispering my desperate plea into the lonely hallway. I could hear quickening footsteps draw near, and the sound of exuberant huffing that could come from no other man then my very dear and very large friend.
He burst through the adjacent door and huffed out, "John you can't be here. What airen it is you needen to say i aint hearin it. I want no explanations. The whole towns out there lookin for you. There preparing the ropes for you and yours now. Yer gots to get now." His burley face was ripe red from the quick jog and explanation. He practically shoved my body out of the door frame as he made his way to shut it back, my backwards step being too slow from the shock.
The whole town knew and they were coming to right our wrong. Or at least it felt like something wrong to them, but to me there couldn't be anything more right. None of that mattered in the eye of the collective morality. It took a moment longer to right my mind enough to quickly make my way back home. My legs carried me across the halfway hidden pass, a long journey into wild nature and slippery creeks to make it back to my cabin, and back to Luke.
A lonely frog now jumped across the damp ground, making its way to the underbelly of my cabin. It plunged its self into that unknown darkness without a second of hesitation. It never stopping long enough to fully register the possibilities of that plunge, or a better route. I found myself wishing for this little frog to show a happiness on the other side. That he was glad at his decision to leap head long into that unknown. That he didnt make the wrong decision. I knew my own route now, the only route that would ensure the least amount of pain. Ensure that they wouldn't take this last dignity from me and my beloved. Even if it broke my heart.
With a shaking hand, I grabbed onto his knee again and rested it there for a moment as I composed my words. The sounds of the forest buffering my own paralyized tongue. I wanted to convey the situation in the most gentle way possible, to ensure that the hurt he felt afterwards would be as little as possible. All I wanted was to protect him.
He immediately sensed my distress and worry from my prolonged silence and persistently shaking fingers.
"John. What's wrong? Did you find the bugger and ring him good?" Luke asked, now his own worry showing in his tone.
His quivering voice finally broke me from my silence. "No. Hes done gone." I now stroked his knee with roaming comfort. "He's gone and told everyone Luke. The town knows and they're making their way here now. It's the noose for us." My voice went flat as I struggled against that strong current that threatened tears. I pulled at my resolve with the strength of what felt like a thousand men, and a thousand men more as I let go of his knee and left my post. I made my way inside the cabin in search of the object i needed to get us through to the other side.
"Where ya goin John?" Luke quickly got up from his spot and followed after me. "John! We gotta go. We can make it to zadia before sun up." Luke pace increased as he tried to catch up to my long strides, the floor boards creeking loudly from the hurried steps. It was easy to tell when lukes foot steps started verring off somewhere behind me as he began mumbling to himself. I ignored his prattle and continued my way, knowing exactly where what I needed was, too focused on the task at hand to pay him mind. My legs feeling heavier as I went on.
I quickly reached our little empty room that had nothing but a dresser and bed for furniture. I bent down and retreived my desired object, pulling back our old green and blue quilt from the bottom of the bed. Even though our room was pretty bare Luke still had a way to make it feel special and like home. Perhaps this was from all the found memories collected by this small space, or maybe it was from all the the artistic things he enjoyed bringing in the house and sharing with me. I wasn't entirely sure which it was or if both, but I knew it was thanks to his presence that I cared.
"Zadia always did have a nice waterfall near by. Sure would enjoy a dip with ya." I called out to luke while balancing my tool on my knees after weighing it carefully in my hands for a moment. Luke stopped walking a moment as he considered the words I had spoken after my long silense. "Gots good ponds for fishin too." His steps continuing once again.
"If they knows then we gotta get out of here quicken. Gotta go now John. I'll grab the money and let's leave. Itll be new and clean. Recken well like it just fine." His mumbling died down as he made his way to another part of the house, off to collect what little things he thought he needed to have before journeying.
"No need Luke. Come inside the bedroom with me." I called already done with waiting for him to reach me.
Luke came inside the room and found me sitting on our little bed with the old riffle in my hands. The old riffle that had been handed down to me by my family, a long time friend. He stopped cold in the doorway, his hand reaching out to it for support as understanding lit his face. It didn't only take on the look of heart ache but broke entirely, his hand going to his chest and squeezing the fabric there, a soft cry escaping his cracked lips.
"What ya goin do John? Fight the whole town? It may be useful if they get near, but if we leave now they won't get us" Luke cried.
"Won't be needen to fight the whole town."
"Exactly John. No points in bein a stubborn mule. Aint no winnin this fight. So grab what bullets we gots for the journey."
"Ya aint gettin it luke"
"No" he simply pleaded. "No John, no point in that thing if we stay. We can escape. We can leave now! I dont know why yer worryin bout it." Another cry broke out after the last word, and his face looked to the floor.
"We aint goin nowhere." I simply replied.
I waited for a response but got none in return. His head didn't move from looking at the ground, only seeming more firmly held there in place. His entire body seemingly being more firmly held into place.
We had never before spoken of a plan for if we were caught. Only both knowing the tales of others in the past. Men strung up or worse from lands not too far from our own.
A low swqeek sounded as I got up from the bed and made my way to him. His body moving away from me instinctually as I neared him, finally breaking from its ice, ever so ready to escape the feeling of intrapment.
"Go on to the back now. Let's have a sit and chat." This time when I reach for his hand he allows me the contact, and we quietly make our way back out to the back.
The tears started flowing from his gentle eyes, and I tried to find something to comfort him.
"Why aren't we runnin John? I need to get goin." The desperate need for escape now weighing down on his strength, but I knew he wouldn't leave without me. My words kept him trapped like a spell on a newborn babe. I felt awful for it.
"Just sit and chat a moment. Theres no veiw like this." I said, but what I really wanted was to say something more.
I searched my limited vocabulary for something to make him feel the extent of what he meant to me. Of how he made me feel, and that all of that meant something in the grander scheme. That emotions like that couldn't not make a difference when they made all the difference to me. But I couldn't find the words, couldn't express myself in a way that pleased me. So I simply held him tight as he weaped, holding his face to my half bare chest, hoping the warmth of my body would convey all I meant for me.
"Do you remeber the time you came round looking for me at Pa's after I kissed you the first time." He asked between sobs. I nodded my head yes over his own, knowing he'd understand the movement.
"I thought you were gonna kill me that day. Said a prayer to the good lord he'd take me in after you were done beating me." He then moved his sleeve to wipe at some tears, leaning out of my embrace.
"I did have my gun with me." I smile to myself at the memory. The clear fear and shock on Luke's face at the initial site of me, dirty from a hard days work and the look of hungry anticipation in my eyes as I neared him.
"The look of a man straight from the devils lands you had. Nothin right about that look." Luke replied still wiping at his tears.
"I mearly wantin to kiss you back." I remembered the anticipation of giving my response to his advances after long consideration. The anxiety and passion from deciding to give into my desires. When I had finally made my way to his house at the first site of me luke flat out ran away and I had to chase him down. Like a lion claiming his prize I tackled him to the ground and staked my claim on his mouth. My body grew hot as i pinned his body with my own in that field of wild grass. The passion of that night still gave me goose bumps to this day. He was mine and I was his, and I vowed to do right by him that day.
Luke grabbed my face then and gave me a loving kiss. I could feel some of the moist liquid on his face still from his lips.
"You aint regrettin me are ya?" He asked me.
"No" I simply responded, and I meant it. With one last gentle kiss I broke the sweet moment.
"It's time now." I grabbed my gun and stood again from my spot. My hand pressing down on his shoulder in a firm manner, ready to lead him to the trees.
"John. John we still have more time. I still wanna remeber things with you before.. I don't wanna die john." Tears began flowing again as he pulled back from my hand.
I grabbed him hard then and pulled him from his side into the woods, the riffle in my other hand.
"You think I wanna do this?! The town will get you worse Luke. Aint no other way... i aint handin you over to that mob." My face held a stoney resolve as I held onto my plan, leading him out further into the woods where i planned to give him a proper burial.
"Theyll torture us and then hang us for the buzzards. Aint no dignity. Nothin but pain." Tears of my own now streaked from my eyes, and he shoved hard against my hands again, fighting desperately to break free of my grip.
"I aint wanntin this, I aint wanna die! John we can run!" He yelled now desperately clawing at my hands.
"No! They'll be bringing dogs and horses Luke we can't run."
My grip on his overalls was starting to slip, so desperately was he fighting against me now. Too afraid of the end.
"Yer as squirley as ever." And with a grunt I shoved him down to the ground. He grabbed hold of my own overalls and pulled my body down with his, causing us to roll in a tangle of limbs. My own weight and muscle won out in the end, pushing his hips down to the ground with my leg, using the momentum of our tumble to my advabtage.
"Don't fight me Luke. You knows aint no other way." The tears now streamed down my face and planted onto his own skin. Lukes unpinned arm reached out then for the gun, and I held it out at a further distance. His body convulsed like a mad man, as I held him there, pinned under my weight. We started in a tussle and now we're going to end in a tussle. The irony of the situation stung me deeper.
"Luke. Luke... I love you." The tears continued to flow, mingling with his own on that tanned skin of his. My love barely noticed as I moved my arm, pointing the barrel towards him. His eyes were locked soley on mine as we wittnessed eachothers desperate moments. His face crumbling into hopeless desperation, the mirror to my own agony. "I love ya so much... Wait for me..."
The sound of the gun being fired venerated in my head, stunning my senses for a moment. I should have leaned further away from the shot but I couldn't back away from Luke in the final moments. Blood now drenched my weary form making it hard to stand up from my crouched position. Blood was everywhere I realized as I held out my hands, bairing witness in full extent of my hideous act. Something in that shot didn't only numb my sense of hearing, but it seemed to numb my soul as well. So quite I felt in comparison to the ringing in my ear.
One step, I needed to take one step, start on the task at hand and finish what needed to be done before the towns folk reached my cabin.
I make my way back, heading straight for the shed to get my shovel. Luke would have a proper grave, deep enough in the forest for no one to notice. I prayed that one body would be enough to quench the peoples blood lust. I slung open that old door, so worn it was practically falling off the hinges, my hand taking a moment to roam over one of lukes old markings.
Luke would sometimes do small things around the house. Small things that would make it feel more like a home. One small thing he always enjoyed doing was widdeling an old wood block or two, engrossing himself in the beautiful natural curves of the wood. He'd always say that it spoke too him, spoke of what it wanted to be turned into from its curves. I'd often come back to a new project he had started, a half finished pigeon, set aside on the porch, or a new engraving in our maple dresser.
When i reached out and took hold of the shovel i noticed something amiss, looking down i discovered a new mark left by luke. He had etched out little swirls around the handle leading the way to a few small leaves, so superficial they were barely noticeable in my callused hand. Luke must have not wanted to engrave too deep to save himself from my furry, knowing better than to tamper with a tool. A tool we didn't have the money to replace.
I immediately threw the shovel back to the ground, flinging my arms as hard as I could muster. The shovel hit the ground hard and bounced back into a deeper part of the shed, further obscured by the darkness. Hating everything, hating the world I lived in, cursing myself, i screamed.
"Ahhhhh! Goddammit! Goddammit! Why'd ya do this!" I screamed into the nothingness of my existence. Screamed at the invisible hate that caused my misfortune.
"Luke.... luke... whyd ya have to place your mark here... why now... why do I have to bury you with your own beauty?"
It took awhile to collect myself again. To pick myself up, shove down the flury of emotions, but I did. I made my way back to the man I loved and began to dig. The ground was dense and wet, fighting me back with a tumble of dirt, a large stone I had to shove high above my frame. The mechanical process of digging lulling me into a numb state, glad for the motion in these final moments. I felt even more glad when my body began to sting from the pain of muscle exhaustion, wishing for more pain when it began to numb again.
I wasn't aware for how long I had been digging for, only aware when i neared completing, the hole appearing to be the right size. Only taking the time and care to measure it properly with the shovel to ensure my desire of a peaceful sleep for luke be granted. Once i was satisfied i began my climb out of that tomb, the earth breaking and crumbling under my weight as i attempted to pull myself up, trying to shove me back down into that hole. My body slid silently, my legs and arms holding firm, mixing the dirt with lukes blood down my front. The earth felt like it wanted to take me down with luke, knowing we belonged to rest together. "I can't now." I replied to the earth, bracing my hands on top of that soft mound as I pulled again.
At this point I still hadn't looked at Luke properly. I wanted to finish digging the hole, finish my required task before I allowed myself that grief and self loathing.
Looking at him now I was glad at my earlier decision. His face was blank, all expressions taken by death himself on the ride to the afterlife. But it was still that familiar face that I had gazed at for many years now. I took his hand in mine and let the tears flow once more. His hand and mine both covered in dirt and blood, laced for the last time. I bowed my head in respect to that death.
"Goodbye Luke. I'll see you soon." I whisper at our hands, and shove his body down the hole. The next few hours went quickly. The numbness taking me over once again, eternally tired of this tug of war. Luke was buried and I made my way back to our spot.
Enveloped in the naked quite of my inner self I waited. Your brown and soft wood carries a tune I'm not ready for. Their cries carried on and hushed by my own perception. Feel the grain as it speaks of my soon demise, wondering if this is what you saw through your eyes. This wood will carry on my story as not its victim but its rebel. Knowing that those around me could not control my destiny.
As their cries come closer and the light of their rage and aversion can be seen on the coming trees. One last motion sets me free.

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bwiandra: Just like the first book, I can't stop reading.

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Avidreader48: I didn't like the ending which can ruin a book. I think it would have been better if the journey at the end was better. I think closure is important.

𝓕𝓪𝓷𝓭𝓸𝓶 𝓕𝓪𝓷𝓪𝓽𝓲𝓬: Let me just say this was amazing I read it all under a hour, the emotion the pain!!!! What I don’t like is that we didn’t really see a lot of characters even though it’s a group I would love to see more and learn more about the characters, also this was amazing!!!

Farzane: the fantasy and the idea. It could be more detailed though

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Superstar No1: It is an awesome book .Please bring a part 2 . 😊

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