New Account Registration re-enabled - apparently the extension we use for ReCaptcha service had a configuration change and to utilize the more secure form it needed different parameters. We did not notice this when it occurred. Sorry folks!
She wasn’t there.
Jon looked around the small forest clearing, hoping that she was simply hiding from him, playing a game of hide and seek. Perhaps she was simply engaged with something else, and had forgotten, or was running late. Yet even before he saw the scroll laying in her favorite spot of clover, he knew the truth of it.
A cold hand closed around his heart as he leaned over to pick the delicate roll of paper up. He had known this day would come – her incredible beauty and charm were a magnet for young men, and though their time together had been intense, she bored quickly.
Why had he not listened to the warnings? So many had fallen victim to her allure, bright-eyed poets, muscle-bound athletes, some rich, some poor. Why did he think he could be the one she wouldn’t tire of?
Opening the scroll, he read the flowing script through a blur of tears. It was so much better this way, she wrote. No awkward farewells, no painful or hurtful arguments. She had a new lover now, and he? He needed to forget about her, to start a new life. The hand squeezed his soul now, crushing out what spirit was not already broken.
Forget about her? That was the cruelest trick of all. How could he ever escape the vision burned indelibly into his mind – her sparkling eyes, the sweet smell of her hair, the warm, soft touch of her flesh against his. His body trembled in desire even now, desire that could never be satisfied.
The scroll slipped from numb fingers, and he dropped to hands and knees with a sob. Words of pleading stuck in his throat. It made no difference – she was off with some new flame – perhaps the young shepherd he’d caught her eyeing a few days ago. That the usurper would be similarly abandoned in a few weeks provided no comfort.
His head was heavy, his muscles ached, and the world was suddenly bereft of color and joy. He felt pulled in a thousand directions even as the pressure closed in on his mind. Forget her? His nostrils drank in the rich odors of this grove, picking out the faint remnants of her scent. Other things faded away - faces of friends and family, knowledge he’d gathered over his short life, the sounds and symbols of language. What did they matter without her?
Grief overwhelmed him, and he raised his head to shout his defiance to the cruel gods. The bleating sound echoed through the woods, and he froze for a moment. Ears perked and nostrils flared, the young stag scanned for predators, then dropped its head to pull at the sweet clover.
It didn’t even notice as Artemis’ Deer Jon letter crumbled to dust.
- end -