And so, an hour later, when the wooden ship skirted carefully around the Sirens’ Rocks far out at sea, she coughed on her sobs and looked up at the horizon where fast-vanishing was her birthplace and childhood home, where she had lived all her life, and a happy life it had once been. The sea was in her family’s blood. And it was connected with tragedy. To leave the island she had to brave the treacherous oceans at the best possible time: when it didn’t matter. So she turned her back for the last time on the last remnants of her childhood, all links and all memories, and turned her tear-tinted face towards the West where a new life awaited her.

Even as she turned, a familiar figure formed through the haze before her eyes, and Jacques, the town cobbler, was smiling at her. The smile was not sympathetic, or uncertain, for she would have loathed both things. No; it was empathetic and compassionate, and full of a love and joy she had only ever encountered in the eyes of that mother she had left behind, never to see again.

And then another figure, substantially shorter, loomed up. A small eager figure. Loyal Faithie McQuillan, with forgiveness in every gesture. How could she ever have considered leaving either of these people back on the island? They were friends, good friends, and part of her life, the girl thought. They were all that was left of her life now. She could not hope to begin again without anyone beside her to guide her and love her.

Finally a third figure appeared. An older person, slightly bent, but with that show of intense love she knew so well. She ran forward. And mother and daughter embraced closely, their tears mingling, but they both knew it would not do to dwell on the sorrows the sea storm had conjured out of the day. Her mother had not left her. A great weight fell off her shoulders, and her head cleared for the first time since that morning. She was reunited with the people on earth she most loved. If only Pistachio could be here. But Pistachio was an old horse, and would never have been permitted on the boat. No matter. She was no longer alone.

And suddenly she realised that she had to face nothing alone, and the people who loved her would always support her and comfort her. They would always be there for her. So the cliff-top witness, who had suffered such anguish and heartache just earlier that day, was able to sleep dreamlessly that night, secure in the certainty that though there was no turning back to times of family and fellowship such as she had once known in her youth, there were further times of love and laughter ahead, and she would never again be alone.

The End

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