A feeling inside me stirred that I had not felt in a long time. Anger, sadness, and worry all mixed together. When I heard what she said about her children, I wanted to scream. To find this man my brother had briefly told me of and to peel his flesh off his bones.
But I also felt so heartbroken for this woman. To lose a child is the most unimaginable pain any parent could feel, and she lost three.
But when I saw her smile at the sight of the lake, and how she was with Tomlee, I knew that this woman had so much strength and courage inside her.
We stood on the bank of the lake, throwing pebbles in for hours. Ash and Tomlee played on the edge of the water, running up to the tiny blue Timix that had come out, then running away. With the sound of my child’s laughter and of Ash’s joyful smiles and giggles, I couldn’t shake the grin on my face.
She plays with her just like you used to do, I thought to Mistasar.
I found a perch to sit on, by an old fallen tree and watched as they ran around, chasing each other. Examining tiny insects under rocks and picking flowers from the edge of the forest.
When they finally came walking back to me, I could hear Ash telling Tomlee a story.
“. . . But the evil queen didn’t like what the mirror said,” She stopped when they saw me smiling at them.
Tomlee yawned wide and I could see the child would fall asleep standing if she didn’t get to bed.
I went over to her and lifted her into my arms. She placed her head down on my shoulder and whispered, “She is so much like her, father.”
I stroked the back of her head as Ash found her shoes and came back to us, “I know, my love. Sleep now.”
I carried Tomlee to the palace with Ash walking quietly by my side. When we got to the doors, I said, “I will go put her to bed. Will you wait for me to return?”
“Sure,” Ash said and stroked Tomlee on the head, “Goodnight peanut.”
I took Tomlee to her bedroom and placed her down on the bed. I sat down on the side for a moment and looked at her sleeping face.
I couldn’t imagine what life would be like without you. Without any of my children.
I leaned over and placed a soft kiss on her head. I should have woken her up, so she could change to her bedclothes, but I didn’t want to disturb her.
I also wanted to get back to Ash as quickly as I could. As I left the room, I held the door open for her nurse to enter, and made my way back to the garden.
I found Ash sitting on the bench, under my grandfather’s tree. The light of the moon making her silver hair glow, and the white dress wrapped around her body gave me a mere glimpse of what lay beneath it.
She stood up as I approached, “Is she all tucked in?”
I smiled, “Yes. That child could sleep on a rock.”
“She’s a beautiful little girl. She has your eyes,” Ash said and met mine again.
I gestured for us to sit on the bench, “She looks more like her mother every day.”
“I’m sorry,” She said, and I frowned at her.
“For your loss.” She clarified.
“How long ago did she die?”
“It will be six years soon,” I said thinking back to the day my beloved queen passed.
“What a coincidence,” Ash said as she lowered her gaze to the ground.
“Six years ago, I left my ex-husband.”
That anger was back at the mere mention of the man that hurt her so much. At the thought that any man could treat a woman like that.
“May I ask you a personal question?” I asked.
She nodded, “Sure,” but I could see she felt a little uncomfortable now.
“Why did you choose to be with a man like that?”
She pulled in a long breath, then turned to face me, “I met him when I was seventeen. He wasn’t like that then. We were in love and when I was old enough, we got married. When he started to turn, I was trapped.”
“Yeah. He moved us away from my family. He pushed my father away so much that I didn’t see him for years. I had no friends or anyone I could turn to for help. So I was stuck living with him. I wasn’t allowed to work so I had to depend on him for everything.”
“How did you escape?”
“My father died. Dave took me to the funeral, and I met up with my grandmother then. She told me that my father had left his shop to me, and I saw a way out.”
“Is this the same store my brother found Connie in?”
“Yes. When I finally found the courage to leave him, I left in the middle of the night with the clothes on my back. He didn’t know where the store was, so I felt safe for a while.” “Did he find you?”
“Yeah, he did. But by then I had already made friends, and I felt safer. When I found out he was in town, I called a few of my friends and they helped me get the police involved.”
“Where is he now?” I asked, biting my anger back.
“I don’t know. He spent three years in prison, and when he got out I got a restraining order against him. Haven’t seen him since.”
I could find him. My army could tear that planet apart looking for him. And when I find him, there would be no mercy at all!