Part Zero of You Will Find Your Way
Disappearances on a beach.
A Very, Very Long Time Ago
Thick gray clouds clog the skies over an empty stretch of beach not far from the heart of the Roman Republic, spitting heavy drops of rain down on the woman standing at the edge of the rocky shore.
Dark water from the churning sea laps over Maris’ sandal-clad feet, soaks the bottom of her long dress, but she barely spares a glance to it as she stares off into the storm building on the horizon.
Thunder booms over the water and she tilts her head, steps up onto a small flat rock and turns back to the sand. She clasps her hands in front of her and waits and waits and waits, until finally, a pair of tiny figures appear on the other side of the shore.
The tiny specks grow through the gloom until their nebulous forms solidify into that of a man and woman.
When they arrive, Maris nods once, sweeps her hand out to the side in a gesture at the air to her right. The man and woman murmur quietly to one another, and then to the woman before they step into the water, take a few steps and disappear in a flash.
For hours, Maris stands as men and women, on their own or in pairs and little groups, trek down the beach and disappear into the water until the skies grow darker and the wind picks up, signaling that the worst of the storm is about to make landfall.
Maris waits a few minutes longer, the worsening rain soaking through her hair, her skin, her clothes, until finally, she sighs and steps off the rock into the knee-deep water.
Lightning flashes as she takes a step and it draws her gaze to the side, where she sees a final pair make their way up the beach. She stops, and a grin splits across her face as she steps back toward the shore.
Her grin falters on the look on Mathias’ face, but Hilda is at his side looking positively giddy, “So is it here?” She asks and looks around, her hair falling in wet streaks over her dark hair. “This is fascinating!”
Mathias huffs a sigh and Maris favors him with a pointed look, “She shouldn’t have to come. She doesn’t know what she’s getting into.”
“Oh come on,” Hilda flicks her hair over her shoulder. “You can’t possibly want to stay here, of all places.”
Maris tilts her head, “Be nice, Hilda. This is going to be an adjustment for us all.”
“Oh, if I have to,” she looks at Mathias, winks. “I’ll see you on the other side.”
When she’s gone, Mathias sighs, head bowed and shoulders hunched, and he rakes a hand through his hair, “Does she really have to come with us?”
Maris tilts her head, looks at him like she’s not going to dignify the question with a response, which is response enough.
They stand in tense silence for long minutes before thunder booms again, “I didn’t think you were coming,” she says.
He shuffles his sandaled feet, “Couldn’t say no,” he mumbles, voice barely loud enough to carry over the sounds of the weather.
“I’m glad you didn’t,” she says with a warm smile, and when he looks up he returns it halfheartedly before he looks back over his shoulder to the sight of his footprints being washed away by the choppy waves.
He shifts again, looks at her, “Are you sure we should leave?” He asks and slogs into the water, wincing when the waves splash up to this thighs. “The threat may be gone, but these people needs use more than ever.”
“No matter where we go, it will always feel that way, Mathias,” she frowns when he refuses to meet her eye, keeps his staunchly at the water soaking up his pants. “But we have interfered enough now, and there is much more we can do elsewhere.”
Mathias’ eyes light up, curious, but before he can ask what she means, Maris places a firm hand on his arm and pushes him ahead of her with strength belying her tiny form, and then smacks a flat palm into the middle of his back.
Choking back on a gasp, Mathias disappears like the others did, and Maris smiles, smoothes her soaked dress one more time before she follows, leaves the rain to soak nothing more than an empty stretch of water and sand.
You Will Find Your Way continues with Part Thirty Seven
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