|Alive? he might be dead for aught I know,|
With that red gaunt and colloped neck a-strain,
And eyes squeezed shut ‘neath rusty mane;
He’d told her before that he’d go with her to the ends of the earth. That he would die for her.
And he fulfilled that promise, didn’t he? Followed her into the ocean, into death, and he was glad for it, glad to finally give up the weight of the years that had turned his hair gray and left his back swayed. He lived for too long and when she came back for him, her flesh not-quite rotting, it had felt like a sign. Like fate.
Death had not held the permanence he’d expected – he’d woken up one day, renewed. His scars were gone, his memories hazy things (like scenes viewed underwater, say). He’d been spilled into Beqanna anew, unaware at first of his own death, of the many sins he’d borne.
The memories had come back, gradually, the veils lifting as he remembered all his terrible things.
And he remembered her, too. Mourned her. Because he had come back, and she hadn’t.
Tabytha. His first real love, ‘til death do they part.
(And even then, had they parted? Their bones had mixed together, on the ocean floor. Fate and fated.)
He did not feel it, when she returned. He’d always thought if she did he would know, instinctively, that some part of him would come asunder, that he would feel her awakening in his marrow. But there was nothing so grand, as she returns, he is unaware, simply another black horse in the meadow, nondescript and nothing.
She speaks his name, and fate comes ‘round again, because he hears something. A thing on the wind and it sounds like it name, maybe, but more importantly, that voice – that voice that said, trembling as she fell apart, I love you, I love you so much.
He has a new body, but aren’t those words still etched inside him?
He cries out, wordless, in pain or delight or both, and he chases that sound. He chases that memory and he tastes salt water and maybe it’s tears or maybe he’s drowning again.
She’s there. Speaking his name.
“Tabytha,” he says, and his voice is breaking like glass – like their children – but he doesn’t care, this is impossible, but his own existence is impossible, so it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters in this moment except for her eyes on him.
Seldom went such grotesqueness with such woe;
I never saw a brute I hated so;
He must be wicked to deserve such pain.