“Today is the day,” he told the treetops. “She is once again aware of me. As she has been from time to time throughout the years. In her heart.”
He smiled as he pictured the woman in his mind’s eye. Watched her massage a palmful of olive oil into her waist-length, ox-black hair. She’d braid it, coil it atop her head, and conceal it. Then she would smooth her dark tunic, always dark. Blacks. Browns. Cast offs from the village. More often that not from widows who remarried. Without fail she stitched a bright stripe along each of the hems. The corners of his mouth lifted at the thought.
“She longs for, and yet does not covet, the things she does not possess,” he said. “A husband to call her blessed. Children to dance around her feet as she goes about her tasks. Today she will begin to lay hold of these things.”
He stooped and cupped his hands in the stream. Drank deep the coolness. Shook the water droplets from his beard. He straightened and gazed toward her dwelling. Spied the luminous oval of her face at the window. Watched her eyes sweep the thicket on either side of him. He retreated a step.
“You see me,” he whispered across the way, “but you do not realize I am here, that I have always been. Longing for you. You need only . . .” His voice trailed away as he remembered the fragrance of her. The shape of each of her fingers. But that was a lifetime ago. Longer even.
He wandered through the woods behind the house for some time. Tarried to see if she might come to him. Finally he turned to go but first he knelt and caressed the ground. Laughed softly as flowers, brilliant pinks and purples, sprang to life. He hovered his hands over them.
“Remain. Be beautiful. Until she finds you.”