Smiling Through Tears
He walks down the paved streets with the dawning of the
day, down by the narrow road by the rocks and down into the docks shadowed by
pale mists, touched with shades of silver and scarlet. The gulls fall into silence
at his coming as if some aura of him has bound them to the stillness which he
wears around him like a cloak. Darren is his name but many do not know it, rather,
they call him Silver-Eye, for his eyes are silver, and they gaze upon others as
if he looks down on them even if he is quite short for his kind.
The Blumaroo stops in his tracks and throws his
icy glance over the awakening Krawk Island. Alone he stands, as still as the
trees, gazing down at the scarce-lit docks beneath his feet. Alone, and more
alone, for although he seems yet young, the sorrow in his chilly gaze speaks
of years and years of wisdom, grief, and joy. Yes, there is joy in his eyes
also, a joy that lives on even through his hard life and long voyage by the
It is empty still, but she will arrive soon,
he thinks. And with that thought came also the memories of long-forgotten years
when he had known only joy. He can still remember her face, her smile, her voice,
her laugh, her love. Her tears.
He remembers the day he woke to the sound of
her crying in by her own bedside. He had tip-toed into the room, trying not
to disturb her yet wishing she would realize his presence and stop crying. Every
sob that echoed through the house had ripped his heart to pieces as he neared
her curled figure. When he came close enough, he had placed his paw on her shoulder
and she jumped, startling him also. He had known that he would see her swollen
eyes, but the knowledge did not lessen the pain at seeing her so tortured. A
being so beautiful should never have been hurt.
She smiled through her tears and muttered his
name as she stroked his head gently. Even when she was in sorrow, she could
still give comfort to others. Darren had been very young at that time, and he
could not decipher why she was so sorrowful. He also did not know that he should
have comforted her, brought her into his embrace so she would stop crying. And
so he just stood there and muttered her name, Kayla.
Her smiling face was the first thing he saw when
he was born into the world, and she had brought confetti, exploding one in front
of his face, almost making his heart jump out of its socket. And her crying
face was the last thing he saw when she left him in the pound for some other
person to adopt. He had for once felt angry at her, no, not angry –he hated
her, hated her for leaving him behind like that. She was his everything; his
angel, his light, his mother, his protector, comforter, and everything. Did
she not know that he could never survive one day without her? She must have
known, surely. And yet she left him there, shivering in the cold cell, lit only
by the gloomy old moon.
He had cried for days and days when every person
comes and takes a Neopet other than him. It had always been another, never him.
He grew angry and hateful to everyone, including the other Neopets in the pound.
And they kept away from him also, knowing that trying to calm him down would
prove pointless. Yet a wise Aisha had insisted that he listened to what she
had to say. She explained that his former master had gone broke and that she
put him in the pound for hope that he would find another master who would be
more capable of taking a good care of him.
If he had just listened, and understood, and
forgave her, maybe everything would have been different. But he had not. He
screamed and yelled at the Aisha to mind her own business and not defend her
who had so irresponsibly disowned him. He returned to his corner and drowned
in his self-pitying and loathing some more until night slithers in like a burglar
and planted ideas in his head of escape and freedom and a whole world waiting
to be explored. In his anger and foolishness, he escaped the pound in the dead
of the night and hopped into a tiny boat docked by the Neopian Harbour, rowing
In his foolishness, he had not thought of food
for the journey nor anything else. Luckily, he was found by a group of pirates
who then took him up to sweep the decks and clean the plates for them. He had
not loved them, nor despised them. They were just there, giving him what he
needed, and he was just there, doing what they would have him do. Years and
years passed, he is now a famous pirate. There is not one soul in Krawk Island
that does not know his name, but he is not proud of that. Even with all the
fame and treasures he has, he has never felt like he owns enough.
He thinks once again how odd it is that his heart
can still beat without hers beating by his. But for all that, he kneels down
in the dew-soaked sand and gathers them in his calloused hands. They escape
through the spaces between his fingers and pours on to the beach in lumps, browned
because of the water they hold. He breathes in the salty smell of the sea, the
soothing sound of the waves lapping against jagged rocks.
And he rises, and sees her, as he half knew he
would, standing with her knees soaked in the salty sea, an alabaster shell resting
in her slender hands. The sand about them is thrown about, unlike the rest that
are still smooth and untouched. Her face is tanned and yet still radiant, even
if it is turned away from him, the first light of the day reflected in the brilliance
of her eyes. Her hair cascades down her back in a loose ponytail, sand interwoven
in the wet locks, luminous against the black.
And yet it seems to him, having her before him
after years, that she who stands before him is not truly there, nor in the reach
of his yearning heart. He can see the morn’s dappled light, fading from scarlet
through rich amber to the soft shade of newly churned butter, glistening through
the fabric of her dress, the skin of her high cheeks, as a lamp shines through
the glass which shields it. His eyes drop, and his arms fall down at his sides,
releasing the grains of sand held there only moments ago. A sob rises in his
chest, and it chokes the very air from his lungs.
“Good day, miss.” He bows deeply, his ears sweeping
his filthy boots, its aged laces blur before his eyes by the tears he willed
himself not to shed, for a life he cannot forget.
“It is a fine morning for a walk, dear child.”
She smiles gently, and it is not the smile of a mother, nor of a master or a
friend, but of a being so divine that she should have never answered him.
“Indeed it is,” these words are not his, and
he knows not where they came from.
For a brief moment, they stand in silence, his
eyes on the dawning day and hers upon his. He feels that he should say something,
but cannot, and how can he who had hated his own beloved master be worthy enough
to speak to someone as pure and divine as her?
“What brings you here so early? For what purpose
do you come to these shores when even the sun has not yet risen?” he asks, his
voice cold and hollow.
“I came looking for something I have lost, that
which is very treasured.” Her voice seems casual yet it pierces his heart like
a thousand daggers slicing through and through.
“Even in these shores, such things are not to
be found if you are not aware of your own wants.” His voice sounds harsh to
him, and as a double-edged knife, it hurts him too when he utters them.
“That I know, but I had hoped for that treasure
to find me before I have to look for it.” And when she says that, the gulls
start crying at each other, and the first rays of sun touch the linings of the
clouds overhead. Their cries grow into a crescendo and the waves lapping at
the rocks rise in reverberation as if to contest the gulls. And there are tears
in her eyes, even as the sun shines upon a lone tear sliding down her cheek.
And yet he does not see, for he finds that he
cannot raise his eyes. She comes to stand before him and takes his sand-covered
paws in hers, placing them on top of her heart. Tears fall in abundance, but
the hand she places under his chin neither wavers nor trembles as it raises
his face to look into her deep-blue eyes.
“Look at me.”
And he does, and she smiles through her tears
to let him see that face again, even when she has not allowed him to until that
moment. “Could you not have said that in a nicer way, Darren?”
He looks into her eyes and smiles again, even
as he had never done so for years, she is there before him again in the full
light of day. “I forgive you.”
She chokes back a sob, and she is not a divine
being anymore. She is back to Kayla, his only master and friend and mother.
She draws him into his embrace and they both drop onto the wet sand crying and
yet laughing. There are no more words needed, and still a long time to go before
they become necessary.