VisDare 39: Adore


Wyle snuck down through the crowd to the front row, pushing some younger kids to the side in his rush to get a better seat. The Drawing was just minutes away, and the junkman had told him that getting a good seat was the key to getting the right name in the draw. That the junkman was, as all knew, a man who lived alone surrounded by others’ castoffs was not factored into Wyle’s consciousness. Like many his age, he was far more concerned about the possibility of getting what he wanted than the risks of failure.

And there she was – to describe her would be to reduce her to merely a corporeal being, and to Wyle, she radiated in parts of the ether of which not even the poets had dreamed. Ylana was the daughter of a friend of his father’s, and he’d known her since he was able to walk, though she had never really paid attention to him, being two years older and an angel sent down to torment him.

Lost in thought and fantasy, Wyle didn’t see the mayor arrive, or hear her announce the beginning of the Draw. When it finally registered that she was calling his name, he leapt up from his seat, tripping over his feet and nearly stumbling into her as he made his way to the urn. Filled with paper slips on which the names of every villager of age were written, the urn was older than the oldest person in the village’s oldest memory, a relic recovered from the Mountain Wars. Wyle knew his grin was foolish as he reached his hand into the urn and felt around. Which paper would be Ylana’s? He tested each one, imagining he could feel the ink under his fingertips, and knowing…yes, this was the one! He handed it to the mayor and shot a sidelong glance at Ylana, hoping that she’d be as excited to hear her name called as he was.

“Oh, what a wonderful choice this young man has made – Misrala!”

The collected villagers shouted and clapped, but Wyle was heartbroken. Misrala? Who even was that? Maybe she’d be some new exotic beauty, at least. Whoever it was, it was taking her a long time to join him at the urn. When finally the crowd to his left parted and she made her way towards him, he was utterly crestfallen. That crone – the oldest woman in the village? Her name was Misrala? No one called her by her name – she was just The Witch.

But his parents had taught him to at least maintain a veneer of politeness in public, so when she reached his side and put out a wrinkled, gnarled hand, he took it, suppressing his shudder at her touch as best as he could. He led her down away from the crowd, and she indicated that he was to take her down to the river. Neither of them spoke during the journey, and each step seemed to take an eternity. Eventually they reached the sitting stones, and Wyle helped the old woman lower herself to the smooth rocks which overlooked the river.

She took a dried purple flower from the bag at her waist and smelled it before offering it to him. He took a perfunctory sniff – it was just a flower, after all – and she smiled. Taking the flower back, she crushed it between her palms and cast the dust into the air, humming softly to herself. “She is beautiful, the one for which you yearn.”

Misrala’s voice was sweet and melodic, not the rough, aged rasp Wyle was expecting, and he stared at her, mouth agape. “But the world is filled with all kinds of beauty, beauty which can only be seen by eyes which know to look.

“Do you want me to teach you?”

And so his lessons began. Each day for the year they were partnered, he walked with Misrala down to the river to the stones. They were never bothered, and the sitting stones were never occupied, though all knew them as a place which attracted lovers and dreamers and the lonely. Her steps, never strong, grew weaker as the year passed, though her voice remained as sweet as ever. She talked of the wind and the heart and the sky and the night and of beginnings and of endings, and Wyle listened. He grew stronger throughout the year, truly coming into his manhood, and his once uneven voice mellowed into a deeper one, one that, if he could but hear himself speak, was in perfect harmony with Misrala’s.

Finally it was time for the next Drawing. Wyle didn’t rush down to the crowd the way he had the previous year; this would be his last morning with Misrala. She wasn’t participating in the Drawing this year. Everyone knew, without saying, that she wouldn’t be around to see this year through. But there was no sadness in her eyes, no loss in his. They both knew how to see the unseen beauty and knew that endings were not always endings. He handed her the bouquet he’d picked for her, and she held it to her face and breathed deeply. When he was younger, he would have thought that roses were the way to impress a woman. And after their first lesson, he would have picked all of the sweet purple flowers she’d shown him on these very stones. But he saw the patterns now, and the rainbows of color fell into perfect accord around the one, lone stem of violet in the center.

They embraced, for the first time in their year together, and he held her not as an old woman, not as his teacher, but as his true love, as the most beautiful woman in the world. And when Ylana Drew his name later that morning, he taught her the lessons of beauty.


One Response to “VisDare 39: Adore”

  1. So poetic and definitely a lesson in beauty…

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