Once the locals understood, they'd come marching for her.
At the town bandstand, "Onward Christian Soldiers" rose up in brass and woodwind strains. She rocked in time to the music on her porch facing the bay. Salt fog drifted between tall pines, toying with Maryland's heat.
In her lap lay a piece of soft sandstone from a wall they'd walked along, strands of hay from the abandoned barn where they first made love, and purple, bell-shaped flowers gathered yesterday afternoon after he broke her heart. Collected memories from their couplings helped her relive every nuance. These items and a simple potion would bind them forever, even though Granny told her the family gift wouldn't conjure love.
"Love does not obey our rituals, dearest. Only heartache follows."
Granny couldn't comprehend how she loved the boy.
The berries she picked were sweet. Intense. Not like the leaves.
On his final visit before returning to Georgia, she offered him some homemade pastry. Then she offered herself.
A delicate white plate stained with berry juice tinkled to the porch floor. Onward. Her heart, no longer in pain, beat double-time in anticipation of their meeting again. Her chair lost its rhythm. "The Blue and the Gray" filtered through oncoming deep, permanent sleep. Beside her, two letters. One explained to the Christians the boy's sudden, baffling death. The other, she hoped Granny would understand.
Bella completed our union. See you in the Summerlands. I love you.
First published: August 2005
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