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Fallon stirred. Time seemed to move slowly in Fey, for there was no sense of urgency at all. Flopping her arm over, she felt for Derek. He wasn’t there. Leaving it lay where he should be, assuming he went to the outhouse, she opened her eyes slowly, blinking away sleep.

The ceiling above was the same white stone as the rest of the house, but with supports to help hold the weight. The bed beneath her was large, stable, more than enough for the two of them. Their mattress and pillows seemed filled with feathers, like down, molding to her body no matter which way she turned. Last night, seeing Derek lying next to her in nothing but his long-johns, Fallon felt a gentle desire to just be naked next to him, but she shied away from it at the last second. This morning, caressing her tummy, she wished she had; the longing to feel his warm body against hers was getting stronger.

Thinking back to what Brenzel said yesterday, she felt her arm again. You skinny thing. Then she felt her chest, comparing how Brenzel looked like a real woman and she just a child. A tingling sensation ran through her secret places as she caressed herself, imagining it was his big, strong hands. She couldn’t explain it, but she needed to feel his touch, yearned for it in fact.

You woman now

She’d become a woman during her Apache captivity. Lozen had explained, saying. “You woman now, if you want husband, I select good man.” At that time, having a mate was the last thing on her mind and Fallon had replied, “Please, I am not ready.”

I want to be your woman, Derek, she thought, touching herself lightly. She imagined looking up into his strong brown eyes, saying, I’m ready, I want you. Her stomach moved as that thought swept through her in a wave of deep pleasure. After a while, closing her legs, she sat up, mind focusing, If that means eating more and gettin’ all gussied up, that’s exactly what I’ll do.

Fallon opened the door to Brenzel’s room quietly, seeing her back and her blond locks. Standing at her bedside, she reached down, gently shaking her. “Brenzel, wake up, have some breakfast with me.”

Brenzel groaned, then went back to sleep.

Fallon shook her again, hearing her mentor say, “Manu, it’s too early…”

Who is Manu?

Manu? Fallon thought. “Brenzel, it’s me, Fallon.”

Turning over, Brenzel sat, raising on her elbows, apparently disoriented, “I thought…” Then looking around, she said, “Oh, good morning, Fallon,” letting herself fall back down to her pillow.

“You said you would help me, come on, lets eat breakfast!”


“Who is Manu?” Fallon asked as she finished another pastry, her third. Brenzel sat across from her, hair tied in a tight bun. To Fallon, she looked like her school teacher back in Ohio, except she didn’t have spectacles.

“You would like her, she’s a young friend I met in Elysia. She liked to eat too, especially sweets.”

As they chatted and Brenzel shared stories of, what to Fallon, seemed to be fairy tales, she became aware that Derek had not returned. “Do you know where Derek is?” she asked. “He was gone when I woke up.”

“No,” Brenzel replied, “did he go to the privy?”

“I thought so, but it’s been long. Maybe we should go look for him.”

Hope he’s alright

Both suns up, Fallon and Brenzel stepped into the city of Fey. They walked around, meeting and greeting various Fey, asking them if they had seen a big black man. None had. Fallon began to worry, something she hadn’t felt in days; in fact she hadn’t been concerned about anything since they arrived until that very moment.

Finally, Fallon said in exasperation, “The city’s too big! We’ll never find him!”

Brenzel, sensing her distress, said, “Wait a moment, let me try something.”

Fallon watched the tall blond become still, closing her eyes. Then she opened them after a moment saying, “He’s at the amphitheater.”

Fallon, relieved, asked, “How’d you know that?” as they walked quickly towards the center of the city.

“I’ll explain later, let’s go see how he is.”

Coming up over some stairs, Fallon looked down into the big bowl, which was the meeting place of the Fey. A lone figure sat on the round stone podium in the middle. Moving quickly, out pacing Brenzel, Fallon descended. Hope he’s alright.

Yellow flower

Breaking into a run, from the last step, she came to him quickly, saying, “Derek, you alright?”

He didn’t look up immediately, as she knelt in front of him. His big hands were cupped together. She saw tears rolling down his cheeks as he looked up. Opening his hands, he held a single yellow flower.

“What’s the matter, Derek? Why are you crying?” Fallon had never seen him even come close to shedding a tear. Lifting one hand to wipe away the rivulets on his cheeks, he sniffed, saying, “I miss mamma, she used to love these types of flowers, would put them in her hair and walk about singing as she worked in the field.”

Fallon put her small hand on his and felt his pain, her eyes welling up, too.

Fallon heard Brenzel ask, “You okay Derek, what’s wrong?”

“He’s just missin’ his mamma.”

Derek stood and looked up at the sky, then back down at the yellow flower in his hand. Something seemed to be breaking inside him. She wanted to do something, anything, to ease his pain, she just couldn’t figure out what.

Work’n with my hands

“I miss work’n with my hands,” Derek said. “I used to blacksmith, I was good at it. Made useful things out of iron, things that helped people live better. Mamma was proud of me, too, she used to say how I’d make something of myself ine day. I was all she had after Pa passed. I told myself that God gave me strong hands to take good care of her.

“Then everything changed. I ran.” Sighing, he pursed his lips, eyes furrowing, shaking his head a little, “I lost my way, did some things I’m not proud of. . .did some things that I am.” Hesitating, as if coming to a important conclusion he looked at Fallon, “I never knew where I was headed until that day that all that running brought me to you.”

Goodbye Mamma

Derek looked down at the yellow flower in his hand again. “I wasn’t there when mamma passed.” He paused, quiet for a moment. “You’re my friends,” he finally said softly, “would you help me say goodbye?”

Both women nodded. Fallon stood and held his hand gently with the flower in it. Brenzel walked over and took both their hands as they formed a small circle. Derek began to sing in deep baritone voice. His voice started low, then rose up the steps of the amphitheater, ringing out clear until it spilled over the sides, causing men and women in the streets below to stand and listen.

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home…

Fallon had never heard Derek sing before – didn’t know that he could or even liked to. His voice was clear, deep and sweet, bringing feeling up through her soul like water from a well. Fallon closed her eyes, imagining his mamma above listening to her son she loved so dearly as he sung his heart out.

Opening her eyes as he finished, she saw that people from Fey had lined the top of the theater, listening. Derek let go of Brenzel’s hand and wiped his eyes. “Goodbye mamma, I’ll see you in heaven.”

Fallon looked at Brenzel. She was visibly moved too, tears rolling down her cheeks.

Sighing, as if having just let down a heavy burden from off his broad shoulders, Derek turned and smiled as he reached out and, while Fallon’s heart fluttered in her chest, gently put the yellow flower in her hair.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot Sung by Kevin Maynor