She stopped, as usual, to buy food and rented a place to stay. The house was big, and struck an impression on her. She walked down the path, and was about to knock on the door when a young man came around the corner. She turned to face him, about to mouth her request, when she recognised the man. And he recognised her, even in her tattered gown and matted hair.
“J…Jonathan?” she said shakily.
She nodded, but a part of her heart sank. He’d called her “Miss Sinclair”, not Catalina.
“You are so formal, as always.”
“Am I? Well, I guess I can’t help it. I’m sorry if it caused you any discomfort.”
She smiled at that. “Did you know that that was exactly what you said upon our first meeting?”
He relaxed, and smiled at her. “Of course I remembered. And you told me how much you loved the blue lilies that decorated my table.”
He reached toward a corner in the garden, and picked out some flowers. He gave her the bunch, which consisted of two blue lilies and a sprig of baby’s breath. She took out a green ribbon, a similar shade to Jonathan’s eyes, and tied the flowers together. He pulled her over to a bench, and they sat, recounting the time that they spent apart. She fingered the wood of the bench, and found what she was looking for. The side of the bench was engraved with a sentence in French. “Je t'aime J”
It was from one of her very first lessons in French. She’d carved the words onto the bench that afternoon when she was supposed to be collecting and serving supper. The writing was rather shaky, but it was marked deep, and two years of wind and rain hadn’t washed it away. But then she noticed another sentence, slightly smaller and blurred, underneath hers. It said “C, je t'aime aussi, ma chérie.” Reading it was enough to make her heart burst with joy. But she had doubts that his love for her lasted, and she began to look him up and down. He sensed this, and asked her the same question he’d asked so long ago.
“What is it?”
“It’s just… I would like to get to know the real you.”
“You do know the real me” he said, chuckling. A hint of nervousness was detected in his voice.
“I do and I don’t. Tell me what really happened while I was gone.”
“I don’t think you would want to know,” he lowered his eyes, scrutinizing his unremarkable pair of shoes.
“You married Evelyn didn’t you?”
“Yes…” he mumbled guiltily, and then realized something, “Wait, how did you know about Evelyn? I’ve never introduced you two.”
“I don’t think you should know how and why. Let’s just say that it was for your own good. And she does love you doesn’t she?”
“Yes she does. But I don’t love her the way I love you.” He came closer and reached out for her hand, but she pulled away. He looked up at her, startled.
“I’d better be going.”
She didn’t answer him, partly because she had no idea herself.
“I have something for you. Please come to the harbour at the next full moon.”
She nodded, and turned to leave. Then she turned around, as if changed her mind, and faced him.
“I would love to see you again, but I don’t think I will. You have a good home and a happy family; I don’t want to ruin that. Please don’t look for me. I just want you to be happy, that would make me happy. And please forget that we ever met again. It would make it harder if you do remember me. It hurts me to say all this, but I want you to know that I truly do love you.”
And with that she turned briskly and walked out the gate, leaving him gazing after her with a dazed expression. But he set out to prepare her gift anyway, and counted down the days till the closest full moon. Evelyn gave him looks of sadness, and she usually locked herself in an empty bedchamber, where uncontrolled sobs could be heard. Jonathan practiced over and over the speech he prepared to give to her, but with each time he wanted even more to just leave with no notifications. Finally it was the evening of the full moon, and he emptied his briefcase of paper onto his desk, stuffing in its place several items of clothing, and tiny paintings of his family. But Evelyn was waiting for him at the front door, and he tried to work up the courage to tell her.
“I know”, she whispered, trying desperately to muffle her sobs, “I heard you that day in the garden, and I heard what Catalina told you. She truly loves you, and you truly love her. It is plain. I’ve been keeping you from happiness. I’m sorry. Go. But this is for your sake, not hers. She’ll always be my rival, and there will always be a part of me that hate her very existence.”
He was surprised, shocked maybe. And then Evelyn removed the silver sapphire-studded ring, and held it out to him.
He took the ring, brought it to his lips and kissed it. Then he slipped the ring back on her finger.
“Please keep it Eve. I love you, it’s true. The rings will help us both remember the good times we shared.”
He rummaged in his pocket, and pulled out a package.
“Please give this to Emma when she is grown up enough to keep it safe. It’s a crystal globe, and with your magic please makes it glow always with the pictures of our family.”
He pulled out another gift, a crimson rose. Tucking it in her braid, he kissed her lightly on both cheeks, and left. Before he closed the gate, he called out to her.
“I’ll come back as soon as I can and will visit you without fail. Kiss Emma for me. I love you both.”
She stood there for a while, and watched as his shadow moved further and further away. Then he was gone, and she closed the door gently. Somehow she knew that she would see him again sooner than she thought she would.