A mirage of emerald hues bent and swayed in the breeze as if they danced to a melody only heard by them. Light filtered in divine beams through their thin, glass-like leaves illuminating the ground that seemed to live and breathe as small critters scurried and weaved within the lush grass and scattering of flowers.
Beneath a century-old oak lay a bundle of tulips that collected the rays and held them within their up-turned bells, projecting long shadows across the soft floor. The oak itself seemed as if it were two separate trees that had bound themselves together through the ages, uniting into a single bountiful bloom.
Snaking behind the tree, just in the distance was a glimmer of silver and the faint sound of water, tinkling like a wind chime as it ran over the polished stones that glistened beneath its surface. Upon this horizon a shadow emerged; the black outlines slowly merging into the figure of an ethereal woman. Her golden hair curled around her heart-shaped head, bouncing playfully as she took each step. She wore a long, blue cotton dress that drifted away from her thin figure in the warm breeze. Within her eyes shone an inner beauty masked with a deep marine blue, they shimmered – even in the sparse lighting.
She took a wary step forward, her hand reaching out to the old trunk of a tree as she delicately picked her way through the dense forest, though as she wandered she eventually came upon a path. Once worn by travellers, it now slept amongst the colourful blooms and beneath a blanket of fresh grass. This was where a few ancient cobbles remained nestled into the soft bed; ready to recall the tale of its humble beginnings to the few that still remembered the ‘old road.’ She treaded cautiously, careful not to awake the forest’s serene slumber.
After a few minutes’ walk she found herself no longer in the calming wood. The light in the clearing was harsh and the lady squinted as it attacked her senses, over-whelming her for a moment. When she regained her focus she gazed upon a vast array of colourful canopies and golden garlands. She gazed around intently.
A few people were busy behind flimsy wooden stalls; others were practicing a vast amount of skills in their sequined leotards and fiery uniforms. Scattered between these stalls were the occasional golden tent adorned with red stripes and unlit clear bulbs. Although the canvas was folded open, she couldn’t see anything even as she stepped a little closer.
As she tried to peer into the darkness a hand gripped her softly on the shoulder, startling her. “Excuse me but these here are private grounds miss.” The man murmured as she froze under his touch. As he released his hold on her she turned and he immediately took a sharp intake of breath.
He had a pronounced and handsome face with messy, ragged hair that sat like a coal black mop on his head. He had oil on his over-alls which were undone, showing his off-white t-shirt beneath. His chestnut eyes glistened as he flushed a light red. “Th-these are private grounds,” he reiterated, “just for a couple hours, am sorry, I must ask you to luh-leave,” He swallowed, taking in her appearance as she stood dumbly before him, smiling softly.
He ran a large hand through his hair and sighed. “Miss, d’ya hears me? You’ll have ta leave,” he became a little irritated, but as she stared back at him with her kind eyes he felt all anger wash from him.
“Miss, what’s ya name, where’s ya comes from?” He towered above her, his large form making her weak and fragile in comparison. She did not move.
“What’s wrong miss? It’s okay, I won’t be hurting ya,” he encouraged, taking a hesitant step forward as if convincing a skittish deer to trust him. She stepped back. He sighed and shook his head.
“You hungry? You look like nothing but skin ‘n bone.” He looked at her blank expression and tapped his stomach to which she nodded slowly. He smiled, his slight victory filling him with hope. He walked beside her encouragingly though his expression was sullen as he stopped at a rusted old caravan.
His trailer was a great deal smaller on the inside, there was barely enough room for two people as they squeezed into whatever space remained between the tattered sofa and dilapidated kitchen counters. The sink had a dull glimmer to it and as he turned the tap it spluttered before finally gushing with water. He ran his oily hands beneath it, before wiping them on the rag that hung from his pocket. “Wan’ a drin-” He started, but shook his head as she looked at him with the same polite smile she wore all day. He placed a glass of water before her but she stared at it absently. He sat opposite her on the floor and sighed in dismay.
They sat in silence, both looking at the floor. After a little while she raised her head from the small, oak coffee table and stared at him. “Mir- Mireille,” she whispered softly before looking back down again. He was taken aback, even though her voice was nothing but a soft wisp of wind.
“Me name’s Jack. Pleasure,” he smiled reaching out his hand, though she looked at it dumbly. He brought it back to his lap inducing the silence once more. His mind wheeled with a thousand questions though as he placed a few pieces of bread in a rusted old toaster he realised that she would never answer him, not like that.
“Would you like some?” He continued without waiting for an answer, “I suppose you could try some. It’s bread. Everyone likes bread.” He nodded to himself, another sigh falling from his dry, cracked lips.
“Mireille is it? A pretty name, not common to ‘ere though. I don’t suppose you’ll tell me where you’re from,” he began to mumble under his breath about how he doubted she even knew but he stopped as he saw her face drop. “Sorry there lass, it mus’ be hard for ya. I have no fancy livin’ ‘ere either. Only keep me round to keep everythin’ in order. I’m not much use for out else,” he laughed slightly, his spirits lifting as she mirrored his laugh.
Their peaceful silence only lasted until the toaster projected bread out onto the counter with a loud pop. He placed the dry toast in front of her, the edges slightly blackened. She sniffed it cautiously before placing it to her lips, nibbling the corner. Her face fell a little at the dry, rough taste but she swallowed it anyway and moved on quickly to the second piece. He watched intently before pushing his plate toward her. She stopped and looked at him unblinkingly before taking a gulp of water and continuing to wolf down the food. “You sure are hungry. How longs you been out there fur? Musta been a while the way you’re demolishing that toast.” Smiling, she finished her water and wiped her mouth.
“Ya can stay here, till I get back, I’ll only be a lil’ while and no one shall disturb ya. No one ever bothers wif me.” He looked at her a moment longer before rising. She rose too. “Na, na, you stay here,” he murmured slowly. She frowned. “I’ll only be a while,” he insisted. They stood in silence. He sighed.
“Okay, I’ll be quick, when ah come back I’ll... make you sum more toast?” She smiled a little more but her hand reached out to grab his arm as he turned to walk away. He sighed, turned. After a moment staring at the young lady he pushed a curl behind her ear and rested his hand on her cheek. “Promise,” He blushed.
“I’ll be back soon,” he nodded and as she dropped his arm he hurried out the door without another word. She stood, staring after him like a puppy left in the house for the first time and just like a faithful pup – she waited patiently for his return.