Monday, October 11, 2010


A gentle breeze stirred through the limbs and the leaves rustled together, a soft whisper which stirred through her hair. It was absolutely perfect, she thought, and she adjusted herself on the limb which she sat on, her back against the tree trunk. Robin’s foot dangled just above and to the side as he lounged on a limb higher than she. With a wide smile on her face, she sighed, content.

“I love to come here,” Antigone confessed, as though Robin had no idea. They all but shared a mind, after all. “And it smells so fantastic!”

Sweet strawberry, heightened by a sharp citrus, prickled her nose in a rather ticklish manner as she took in a deep breath. Many scents wafted – the earthy smells from the nutty trees, and the various fruity scents and floral blossoms. All mingled in the air but up here, in the citberry tree, the fusion of strawberry and citrus was strongest and her chest swelled and filled with it. If it was possible to bottle and stopper this scent, she gladly would have.

“We should move up here,” said Robin, leaning over his limb to grin down at Antigone. He wore a toothy smile, reminiscent of the days when he was eight. “We can pack up our belongings and come up here. Maybe put together a pull and levy systems to get the big things up, like blankets and pillows.”

Antigone giggled, delightfully amused by his proposition, no matter how far-fetched it may be. It would be lovely, she mused, to fall asleep and wake every day to the sweet, tickling scent of the citberry tree. But it would so uncomfortable! Though she was perfectly content for now, she knew better than to think she could ever stay in the tree longer than a few hours. As if it sensed her thoughts, the pink leaves of the tree brushed across her cheek – a gentle, faintly tickling gesture to remind her how much she loved it up here.

“If only we could,” Antigone finally said, craning her head to catch a glimpse of Robin. He’d settled back against the trunk, one leg stretched out before him, the other propped up, arms folded simply in his lap. Robin’s sense of balance was far more developed than hers and she envied this about him. Adorned in dresses or heavy skirts, she could never simply rest the way he did and even if it wasn’t for such, she could sit perfectly still and yet feel as if she was about to lean off to one side or the other. Back pressed firm against the trunk, her fingers dug into the soft bark on either side of her to cling to the limb on which she rested. “Unfortunately, Robin, I dare point out we are not birds and thus, we nest in homes. Safe from the elements and in comfortable beds.”

Robin snorted. It wasn’t a derisive noise but one induced by humor. A scuffling above her alerted her attention to him and she watched with bated breath as he moved around, positioning himself forward on his belly, arms and legs dangling. Wide eyes watched for any sign of slippage, and when she realized he was stable, she released her breath and reached up towards his hand and slipped her fingers between his, entangled at the finger tips. A content sigh washed over her lips – this, she thought to herself, was simplistic perfection: the most tantalizing scent in the world, the best view in the kingdom, and one of her best friends in the universe.

Their following silence was comfortable. Above her, Robin’s rhythmic breathing stirred leaves together as the gentle breeze wove in through the branches and twigs. Loose tendrils of her hair danced around her face and she didn’t bother to bat them away but instead closed her eyes and listened. Birds sang in the distance and she wasn’t sure, but she thought she heard the faint chirping of a squirrel. Robin had a point, though. The location was perfect for sleep and, if it weren’t for the fear in the back of her mind, reminding her of falling to her doom, she could have easily dozed.

Fortunately, Robin broke the silence, and her sleepiness dissipated at once.

“Did you hear Bevony’s marriage has been scheduled?”

Antigone had not. Interest piqued, she looked upward at Robin’s sleepy face. His messy hair fell over the curve of his cheek and down the nape of his neck. He didn’t seem to mind, though, and paid it no heed as he swayed his arm, fingertips still gripping her own.

“Mmmhm. One month from now, yet another of our friends shall be wed.”

“But she is only fourteen!”

Antigone was aghast, despite the typical age range for marriage spanning from thirteen to sixteen. Often, once one was betrothed, hardly more than two years would pass before the two would be wed. The case, of course, exempted Robin and Antigone, both of whom had been betrothed since before their birth yet remained unwed at thirteen. Not that either of them complained, mind. As an unmarried girl, she was quite content to carry about with her lessons and running amuck through the Court with Robin and Ellie and Scooter. Once married, she’d not have such liberties and her job would to be stay home and cook and clean for her husband, and other horribly homey, horribly boring things she was not yet enticed by.

It wasn’t that she wished to never marry. That was Ellie, who refused the idea with contempt and disdain. She was proud to were pants like a man and to clop around in heavy boots. In fact, she climbed a tree much better than Antigone, whom had been taught by Robin while young. This was one of the reasons Antigone most loved Ellie. Ellie absolutely was her own person, spirited and liberated of any expectations of a “proper young lady”. In her own way, Antigone supposed, she, too, was. After all, soon, she and Ellie might be the remaining unwed females of their friends!

“I do not understand why you are so shocked,” murmured Robin, a grin in his voice. “After all, will that not be you and I soon enough?”

The girl scoffed.

“Why ought we rush it? We have so long ahead of us, haven’t we? Years and years and years. And already, we share our free minutes with each other. How different will it be after?”

A wicked grin on Robin’s face told Antigone what he wasn’t saying and a flush colored her cheeks a faint pink. Freeing her fingers from his, she swatted at his hands and he laughed, her favorite rumbly laugh. Nevertheless, warmth spread throughout her, a sort of current in her belly. They would have a future together. There was no reason to rush towards that just yet! Antigone was more than content to remain a child.

“What if something should happen to either of us? Before, I mean,” inquired Robin.

A chill doused Antigone and she froze, eyes on the boy above her. The look on his face was so serious – as it often was when Robin set his mind to thinking deeply – and it also rather terrified her. Whatever was going through his mind, she had no desire of knowing, because the way his brows knit and his lower lip jutted out told her his mind had run away.

Re-clasping their fingers, she gave them a squeeze and offered Robin a reassuring smile.

“Do not even think that way,” she scolded him, her stern voice gentle. “No harm shall come to either of us. Or Ellie, either! It shall be us three forever, I can promise you that.”

A wan smile tugged on the boy’s lip. “Oh, drat. Smelly Ellie shall be here forever?” The groan in his voice was fake and Antigone knew it. “But that is not a promise you can make and readily keep, Antigone. We are not in control of ourselves or our futures or what happens to us.”

“No, we are not. But our futures have been decided so far! I shall marry one of my best friends in the world! And we will be happy together and spend a long life with each other. Is that not what you think of when you ponder the future?”

Without warning, Robin swung down onto Antigone’s limb, prompting a shrill cry from her. He seemed unphased by it and lowered himself into a sitting position and straddled the limb precariously.

“That is the only future I will imagine,” he promised her, jaw set as his intense gaze met hers.

Then, before Antigone could react, he leaned forward, pressed his lips against her forehead and swung down from the limb. Playful laughter followed him and he called over his shoulder “Hurry up, slowpoke!”


Post a Comment