“This is perfect.” Odette said, holding his hand as she stared at the starry sky with her beloved Francis.
He traced the smooth grooves of her slender fingers. “Yes. Yes, it is.” he grinned. Odette turned to see he had been staring at her with great fascination. His gaze refused to waver and she smiled, looking back to the stars to watch as one soared by.
Francis suddenly broke from their hold and wriggled strangely. He rolled over onto his stomach, clawing at his lower back. “Ah! This meadow’s greens are so itchy!” Odette couldn’t help but burst into laughter at the sight of him.
Francis rose up on his knees and looked down at her. “Hey, it’s not funny!” He cried, continuing to scratch at his rear.
She looked him in the eyes. “You’re right,” she said, clearly trying to hold back her smile as she watched him. “I’m sorry.”
He peered down at her mocking smile with a scowl, but she realized he too was holding a smile back as he broke out into laughter as well and fell into the blades of grass beside her. She teased him, scratching at his rear end, and he suddenly stopped and scowled at her again. She looked him in the eyes and they both caught a case of giggles once more.
Soon, they were catching their breath, holding hands again, the soft grass titillating their hands as the wind swayed its blades to and fro.
She turned to see him watching her again. He then took a gentle hold of her face within his hands. His hands were so warm against her cheeks.
She laughed. “Whaaat?”
Odette awoke and she instantly sat upright, holding the area over her heart as she felt it beat hard against her chest. Opening her eyes, she quickly took in the room to reorient herself from her dream. Sitting next to her on the bed was Fernand, looking down at her, his face full of concern.
She blinked and let out a deep sigh. “Ugh, what’s wrong, Fernand? It’s still dark out.”
She then noticed he looked more pale than usual and was sweating a great deal.
“What is it?” She asked, a feeling of worry now overcoming her as well.
He swallowed hard as he looked about the room, his eyes moist. “Odette, I don’t know how to say this…”
Odette removed her covers and rose to a stance before him. She could now hear voices outside.
“I think you need to see for yourself.”
Fernand led her out from the room and out of the house. They walked down a narrow path between some trees to join the group outside who stood near a dim light.
“What’s going on?” Odette asked as she neared them. She now could hear the crackling of flames and see smoke rising before them. She noticed some of the spectators weeping as they moved out from the way for her to make it to the front.
Then, her heart fell.
Before her lied a large piece of metal within the crater its impact had formed. Flames continued to burn beside the scrap as smoke issued from it.
“Is… is that…?” She looked towards the stars, seeming to be searching for something.
“A part from the quantum gate,” her friend, Corinne, answered.
“No,” she looked about the group and to Fernand. “I don’t understand.”
“It’s been destroyed, Odette.” Fernand said.
She looked upon the sad, confused faces of all those around her. “No… who did this?!” she yelled, tears beginning to swell in her eyes. “What happened?!”
“I’m sorry, my dear… no one knows.” an elderly Saraven answered, tapping her cane into the dirt beneath their feet as she stared into the sky.
Odette looked to Fernand, her face even more pale than his had been when waking her. “How will Francis make it home?” She asked, choking back the tears.
“I… I don’t know…” he stammered.
Odette looked to Fernand and her heart turned cold. Tears flowed down her cheeks, pressing her face hard into his chest. He wrapped his arms around her and held her as he too cried.
“I don’t know.”
(By Chet DeLano)