Glimpses of the Past and a Trip to the Apothocary
It began around two days after the first warning. It was Dopey, who, in his weakened physical state, contracted the fever. Suzanne was out, and Doc could not leave his side for a moment, lest slip into the unknown abyss. And so Romilly was sent out into the town apothecary to buy the medicine.
She ran, her new shoes arousing the dozing dust off the street. The sun had buried itself behind the mountains and the world was melting from light to darkness. The colors were shaded and dimmed. Her strong heartbeat firmly in her chest, her black, curly hair flying behind her. The autumn wind dusted the leaves of the street, whirling the hem of her
dress, biting the tears on her cheeks. Dopey, not Dopey, Oh God above, please, please not Dopey.
The Apothecary was empty, slave for a man with a wide-brimmed hat, who was browsing the contents of the store. He looked up when she burst through the door. He immediately looked down, but not before she caught a smile of pleasure and satisfaction. Brushing from her mind, she turned to the clerk and bought the medicine. As she rushed out the door she glanced over her shoulder, and the man with the wide-brimmed hat looked up and they made eye contact. It was as if ice water had been poured down her back, because she shivered and was instantly chilled to the bone, the hair on the back of her neck standing up.
She heard him speak to the clerk, purchasing some broth or remedy. The second shock of recognition hit her but slipped away before she could recall anything but the emotion. The voice brought. Terror. She shook her head, to focus on the task ahead. But the darkness had eyes, and the shadows, whispers.
Dopey soon recovered with the help of the medicine. Romilly had never felt so light. She couldn’t remember feeling happier, which was, well, as much as one can who was missing the most important… Something? Memory? Person? She couldn’t remember, but she longed to. She would spend hours trying to remember what had made her feel so loved. But the memory was on the verge of remembrance and forgetfulness, teetering back and forth.
Without her knowledge, three forgotten souls pursued after her: Levi, Louis, and the slave catcher, whom she had seen in the apothecary. This spy reported to his employer and departed, save for one final gift. Louis, informed, prepared to satisfy his lusting heart and perfect his plan. Levi, who had never given up hope after Romilly failed to arrive at the appointed destination, searched and scoured the land, prepared to leave no stone unturned and never rest until she was found.
“Romilly!” cried Doc, from an unknown room of the house, reverberating against the walls. “Where are you?” His voice sounded more panicked than Romilly had ever heard. “I’m in the kitchen!” She called, dusting the flour off her hands and onto her apron. She walked out, swinging her head about, searching for the owner of the voice. She heard his heavy, thundering foots steps and gasping breath before he rounded a corner and charged at her. He reached her, grabbing her arms, terror marked his eyes.
“Dopey,” he panted, “he’s missing and I can’t find him anywhere.”
“Have you checked the library?” She asked calmly, for Doctor Mason was a very passionate man.
“Yes. He is nowhere to be found.” Whether it was the fear ringing in his voice or the crazied glare on his face, Romilly didn’t know, but she knew for certain that something was wrong. Horribly, terribly, madly wrong.
She and Doc ran out into the street, screeching his name, running down alleyways and sidewalks. Don’t panic, she told herself, but the fear was like a flash flood, rising over her, and being swept away, catching her breath, and confusing her reason and senses. She outran him, being younger and sprier, covering more ground now that they separated.
Finally, she stopped, back against narrow alleyway, panting. Romilly closed her eyes, trying to shut the horrible reality. It was then that she heard the click of the gun and the cold barrel against her skull. She slowly turned her head, and, with horror, saw a tall, cruel man, one arm grasping Dopey’s neck, the other aiming the pistol at her head.
And then, like a wildfire, her mind, burning with memories, scorched Romilly. She raged with new emotions. Levi. Louis. The Train. Levi. Levi. She remembered.
“Don’t make a sound, or I’ll shoot.”
“Louis,” she whispered, “please, please don’t do this.” Dopey’s eyes were screaming, help, help me, please. They ached in terror. Tears streamed from them.
“Come with me,” he growled, “or the boy dies.”
“Please Louis, please, let him go,” she sobbed.
“You know the terms.” Louis tightened his grip on the boy’s neck. “Romilly,” he said, his voice straining to stay calm, “I have searched so long for you, come with me.”
“I’d rather die,” she breathed, trembling, “than be with you. Let the boy go.”
“If you will not come,” he growled, “then you will get your wish. I have no wish so spill any blood but yours right now.” He released his grip on the boy. “Retard,” he spat, as the boy sprinted away.
He dug from his pocket and pulled out an apple.
“Remember this?” He sneered.
How ironic. How dreadfully, painful ironic. It glistened unnaturally red— blood red. It was perfect, save for the small pinprick hole, with a dark bruise surrounding it. It was so different from that apple many years ago, but some things were the same: the slave, the master, and the terror. And, somehow, miraculously, she knew. She knew that in that apple contained the poison, which was what the man at the apothecary had sold him. She knew that just one bite would bring her death. A slow, agonizing death.
“I do not wish that the end would come so, my dear,” said Louis in an eerie voice, devoid of anger. “The bullet is too quick, too clean, too painless.” He toyed with the gun, caressing the trigger. “Eat it now. Just one bite. Or I swear, I will hunt Levi down, and that stupid little boy, and everyone else you love.”
Romilly knew he was not lying by the murderous gleam in his eye. Trembling, she reached out her hand and grasped the apple. It was cold and smooth. A suicide, but an unwilling one. She cupped it, bringing it slowly to her mouth. Tears snaking down her face, she opened her mouth. The red seemed to radiate against her ebony skin.
“That’s it. Just one bite.”
Her teeth sank into the apple, the juice frothing at the lips. The apple tasted too sweet, too perfect. Then a burning, unbearable, pain erupted from her stomach, traveling and spreading over all her body. She doubled over, puking, in too much pain to even cry, to breathe.
“Levi,” she whispered, her vision blurred and the world spinning. Louis tilted her face up to look into his. Demonic pleasure and joy carved into every feature of his face. “No Levi now to save you this time.” He raised his hand and slapped her hard across the face. It stung, and she collapsed the round, uncontrollably writhing. She couldn’t hear anything, see anything, say anything, do anything. There was just the pain, and the darkness, these were the only things left in the world. Death, come death, she silently cried, bring me relief, end it now.
Then came the nothingness. After an eternity, there was just the nothingness. And everything just wasn’t.
Romilly lay there, unable to see the scene surrounding her. If she could see, she would see faces, beloved faces over her, carved by fear and righteous anger. If she could hear, she would hear voices, footsteps, the crack of a gun, and a thud of a fellow body on the ground beside her. And if she could feel, she would sense the terror, the madness, the grief, and the warm trickle of blood dipping her fingers. The apple lingered inches from them, the white and black inside revealed the bite.
“Romilly!” Levi ran to her still body. He knelt, cupping her limp head in his hands, stroking the springy, frizzy black hair. “Please, Doctor, can anything be done?”
“Hurry,” panted Doc, “If we take her back to the hospital, we may have a chance to save her, before the poison spreads through her body.” Dopey peaked out behind Doc, his face pale and his eyes bright with salty tears.
Levi, with the most tender care, lifted Romilly’s limp form into his arms. He winced slightly.
“We should wait for help. You shouldn’t carry her with that wound.” Doc fussed, glancing nervously at the dark ruby soaked sleeve where Louis had shot his arm.
“There’s not the time. We must act now.”
And they set off, leaving the unconscious form of Louis Sampton lying in the dust, quite forgotten.
Levi held her tightly, less his strength should fail, and his injured arm give way. He felt her heartbeat against his, slowly, and growing slower still. “Come on,” he whispered, “please hang in there. Please hold on a little longer.” Whispers of tears became rain and fell silently down his face. He turned his face away from her, lest they fall upon her body and damage it more than it already was. He ran, but the distance between that alleyway to the hospital seemed to the moon and back.
They finally came to the hospital. He rushed her inside and with the caution of one who holds a fragile gem, laid her on a bed. He clutched her hand and watched quietly as Doc administered the medicine. Dopey knelt beside him, his face as red and puffy as a balloon, his eyes screaming-his wordless wails.
“Is there anything that can be done,” breathed Levi, looking up into Doc’s face.
“No,” he sniffed, “I have done what I could, but it should only be a matter of minutes now. The poison was too strong and spread quickly. I am sorry, so very sorry.”
For a moment, Levi couldn’t comprehend the words. She’s going to, going to— the thought was too terrible to finish. The world suddenly seemed to be spinning the wrong way. The sunlight was mocking him. Everything was blurry behind his curtain of sobs. A blow hit his lungs. All breath seemed to leave him as if grief itself was trying to suck the life out of him as well. He couldn’t function, he couldn’t think. His sorrow could no longer be kept inside. It exploded, howls ringing around the still room. Happiness? That was another life lived by a different man.
That moment of heartsickness was a paradox in itself. Sometimes standing from eternity to eternity, while sometimes close and fresh. And there was nothing in the world beside him, his grief, and the woman lying on the bed. Her pulse growing fainter, like a flickering candle.
He buried his face into the sheets as if the softness could bring healing. He no longer saw Doc, Dopey, or the other five, as they gathered around the bed. Mute whimpering and bowed heads. All that existed was he and Romilly, and the sound of her trembling, uncertain heartbeat. He stood, enraptured momentarily by the peaceful beauty of a soul slipping away. There was no thought, no debate, only the sting of the salt on his cheeks, and the lemon-colored head dropping over Romilly’s. Both of their eyes closed firmly shut.
“I love you,” he whispered before he pressed his lips gently into hers.
How does one describe that feeling that Levi experienced in that brief second? The thrill of his lips finally embracing hers, and the knowledge of knowing he would never do it again. The joy of love, and the heart-ripping, gut-wrenching feeling of losing it.
At last, they parted. He gazed up at heaven, eyes shut as his body shook with anguish.
And then, came the reply he had longed for all his life, and dreaded he would never hear: “I love you too.”
Romilly’s thick eyelashes were fluttering open. He gazed down at her, telling himself that he was lying, that his wrecked imagination was creating a fantasy. But no; those rich brown eyes tainted with hazel were more alive than they had ever been.
“Romilly? Romilly!” He cried, embracing her and kissing her again. This second kiss beyond compare, outlasting the previous because, of course, she kissed him back.
“I-I can’t believe it! How?!” cried Doc, looking astonished. The crew, Happy, Grumpy, Sneezy, Bashful, Sleepy and Dopey, all appeared overjoyed, yet feeling out of place during this intimate scene.
“Love endures all things,” said Romilly faintly, a smile brimming on her face.
And whether it was Doc’s medicine, a miracle, or love, it was never known. But it is to be noted that the Law, set before the beginning of the world, states that love, unconditional love— true love, some call it—will triumph all darkness, even death.
Louis fled, and was never seen, or heard of again. Levi, who found the prize he was so desperately searching for, also disappeared into a life of freedom and joy, with his new bride, where the color of their skin wouldn’t matter. Eventually, after many more years of love and diamond digging, Doc and his charges died peaceful deaths, laid into the earth, their wisdom and simplicity touching many lives. Dopey was taken in by the happy couple; the words never reaching his lips, but this story shone in his eyes.
For you see, dearest reader, Love in itself is a miracle of its own. Love bears all things, believes all things. Love knows no colors. And that there ever was and that is all, and all that there ever will be. Love never ends.