Children of Liberty(139)

By: Paullina Simons


Are we in paradise?

Of course, mio amante, she sings to him.

When she is not decorating the gates of Eden with flowers, she is packing to move to Cambridge before the new semester starts. Expelled from one place, from another. Where is left for them?

He loves to watch her, even when he has too many things to say, like now. She chatters about things he can’t explain away, and she in her sheer dresses and glowing skin and coffee tresses is the epitome of hope and joy, feelings he has had a dearth of, and barely knew he had a dearth of until he met her. He doesn’t know how to tell her about anything. He doesn’t want to upset her for even a moment. She hums so sweetly about the possibilities of youth.

Finally she notices how long he has been sitting there watching her. She walks up to him at the table and kneels on the floor between his legs, to be closer to him.

“Why do you worry so much, my husband?” she says, looking up at him. “Why can’t you believe, like me, that it’s all going to work out? How can it not? We were meant to be together, Harry, you know that. We are fated, you and I.”

“You are fate,” he says, bending down to kiss her upturned mouth, her sweet lips. She always smells of vanilla and mint leaves. She smells and tastes like no one else. “You are the Moirae, weaving and spinning the cloth that is my life.” Caressing her face, he thinks a moment. He doesn’t want to admit to her that he remains troubled by the introduction into Rose Hawthorne’s world, by the things the nun has said to him.

“What if your Rose is right?” he asks, gazing at her, his palms leaning on her shoulders. “There’s been a conflagration, Gia. So many things have gone into the bonfire, just as Rose’s father wrote. Many of the things you say you deeply want.”

Gina shakes her head. “I have the one true thing I want. He is sitting at my table like a sad fish, looking all glum.”

“I’ve thrown it all into the fire,” Harry says. “All the bottles and the war chests and the books and the spirits. I’ve kept one item that you once gave me, one scarlet thing, and one small note my mother left behind for me, also a scarlet thing. But that is all.”

“Are friends and death in the blaze too? Trees and the ocean and mornings?”

He nods. “Everything.”

She shakes her head. “You didn’t hear Rose correctly, and you haven’t read her father’s story. That’s not the meaning of it. In ‘Earth’s Holocaust,’ it’s actually the opposite.”

“Perhaps I should read it then, before I draw analogies,” he mutters.

“If you burn the earth itself to a cinder,” she says, “none of it matters, because you haven’t burned down the only thing of consequence.”

“Which is?”

“Your human heart,” says Gina, squeezing him, kissing his hands. “And you know what’s in mine?”

He knows. But she tells him anyway. “When I am dead and opened,” she whispers, “you shall find Harry lying in my heart.”

But Harry is not being truthful with Gina. He has read Hawthorne’s indelicate story. And it is she who has misunderstood it, not he. For, without also burning down the human heart in the apocalypse, Hawthorne wrote, forth from it will reissue all the shapes of wrong and misery.

“There will be days and summers with you like this,” she exclaims. “We are so blessed. And it will only get better.”

Harry nods, smiles, but doesn’t speak.

O, take my word for it, it will be the old world yet!


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