My restlessness knows no bounds. The winter season has been a long one; especially it seems so for me. I have spent my life in these tunnels, always it seems ... waiting. Waiting for the spring, waiting for my mapping trips, waiting ... for something ... something that I cannot even put a name to.
I have watched my childhood friends grow into adulthood, fall in love, marry, then start their families ... or leave for another life Above. I accepted long ago that what they have will never happen for me. I have always rejoiced in their happiness, but lately there has been a bittersweet melancholia in my contemplations. The more I try to push the intrusive feelings away, the stronger they seem to become.
I have talked to Father. He senses my distraction, the elusive yearnings that I cannot even identify. He tries to calm my nightly wanderings and increasing restlessness by distracting me with chess, or reading, or work in the tunnels, but only in roaming the forbidden world Above do I gain any surcease as the night calls to me.
Father is strong in his objections about my forays Above. His predictions of what can happen to me if caught are bleak, but well warranted. All of his objections are for naught, though, for I cannot deny that which drives me. And so, I go. To welcome spring? To feel the freedom in the night air on my face or see the stars and moon far above me? For whatever reasons push me forward, I am tired of waiting …
Tonight, the world Above calls out so very loudly, demandingly, to me.
Always familiar, the night is my constant companion. Darkness is known and rests comfortably on the mantle of my shoulders. The nights’ sounds are music and seem inordinately seductive and compelling in my mind. The symphony is pulling at me, welcoming me into its dark haven, for I am a part of it ...
Light and sunshine are a foreign shore that I will never know ... yet somehow, I still long for it ... to feel the warmth and light bathing me in a welcoming embrace, so simple for some ... so very impossible for one such as I.
What one has never had, should not be missed. It is written and quoted and so should hold some truth. Yet, there is a hole in my soul ... something I miss and something I search for.
Again, against Father’s wishes I will venture Above ... I will go and become one with the night. It seems I have little choice; the call is too strong.
Fate has stepped in ... And now I know the warmth of the sun. Light has entered my darkness and the yearning has been given a name ... the missing part of me discovered.
My life was changed forever in these last few hours. The forage into the world Above has shown me the evil that tries to hide in the darkness ... and the beauty of a truly courageous lady.
My heart is no longer alone … her name is Catherine.
At last, I have seen her again. More beautiful, more radiant than I even remembered. How could this be? Through circumstances I could not control and, again, touched by violence, we were once more thrown into each other’s path.
My heart was filled with such joy and such agony at the same time ... to be near her, to have her finally see me. I dreaded her reaction with a sense of impending doom unlike I have ever experienced before. And then ... she was in my arms and pressed to my stammering heart. The emotions that raced through me and rippled from her shook me to my soul. Her touch was so warm and soft. So tender. I felt as if she were welcoming me as a beloved and most precious gift ... the same as I received her unto myself.
The time of exposure came too quickly. I quaked again as she took my hand and then was pleasantly surprised by her easy acceptance of my fur and claws. She led me, gently coaxing, as if afraid I might break! I stand well over six feet tall and outweigh her small form twice over, yet she treated me with such tender concern. I must admit, I was, and remain, confused, but pleasantly so ... By her gentle kindness, her warmth, and most of all, by her fearless acceptance of what I am. She called me beautiful. I know my countenance, but her feelings pressed upon me with sincerity.
The Fates I have often questioned in the past, I now extol with my profound gratitude! Surrounded by threats, emergencies, and sickness ... her warmth and generous nature radiates to those around her.
No one can stand in the presence of her smile and remain unaffected ... not even Father. He did not welcome her warmly, but then saw her gentleness and patience with the children. I do believe I caught a glimmer of softness in his expression upon at least one occasion.
Without being asked, without rest, Catherine stayed to help care for those who were sick. Looking every bit the princess Kiley mistook her for, she worked without complaint doing the most menial of sickroom care. I had to leave her; there was much to be done. My reward for leaving was the joy I saw in her eyes upon my return. Her smile seemed to be just for me and welcomed me into her warmth.
She does not hesitate. Catherine is not afraid to show her emotions, not even to me. Without effort and without seeming to think about it, she walked to me and snuggled into my side. Her arms embraced me and it seemed so natural to enclose her in my own. Her trust in me was taken into my heart as she slept beside me throughout the hours of rest. So beautiful in sleep, so innocent in her trust of me; I vow never to give her reason to regret that faith she has seemed to place around my shoulders.
Is this how it feels? To be a part of someone? I know it can never be more than friendship, but to be included in this very special woman’s heart in any way ... is such an unexpected gift.