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Flora’s Secret

By Lindsey Aubel

Lovers in the long grass
look above them
only they can see
where the clouds are going
only to discover
dust and sunlight
ever make the sky so blue

Afternoon is hazy
river flowing
all around the sounds
moving closer to them
telling them the story
told by flora
dreams they never knew

Silver willows
tears from Persia
those who come
from a far-off island
Winter Chanterelle lies
under cover
Glory-of-the-sun in blue

Some they know as passion
some as freedom
some they know as love
and the way it leaves them
Summer snowflake
for a season
when the sky above is blue
when the sky above is blue

Lying in the long grass
close beside her
giving her the name
of the one the moon loves
this will be the day she
will remember
when she knew his heart
loving in the long grass
close beside her
whispering of love
and the way it leaves them
lying in the long grass
in the sunlight
they believe its true love
and from all around them
flora’s secret
telling them of love
and the way it breathes
looking up from eyes of
they can see the sky
is blue
knowing that their love
is true
dreams they never knew
and the sky above is blue

(flora’s secret by Enya)

         He knew he had let her down one too many times when he had crushed her dream of going to the cabin in Connecticut with him by changing his mind at the last minute. His friends had told him their fears and he had capitulated with his own mind telling him that then wasn’t the right time as well. But now, Vincent told himself, now the time was right. This time would be their time.

         Vincent looked over to where Catherine was sitting in his big chair, reading from a book of poetry. As she finished reading another poem, Vincent stood up from his relaxed position on his bed and walked over to where the other chair was resting up against a wall. Spinning it around so that the back faced Catherine, he sat down, elbows resting on the back of the chair.

         “What are you up to?” Catherine asked.

         “Thinking.” Vincent replied looking up at her.

         “About what?”

         “This weekend.” Vincent gently took the volume of poetry from her hands and began to idly leaf through it. “I was wondering,” Vincent paused dramatically and Catherine could see a little bit of mischief in his eyes. “Would you possibly be able to rent that van again?”

         Catherine was puzzled. What van? What is Vincent talk…Connecticut! “You want to go to the cabin this weekend?”

         “I never didn’t want to go with you to your cabin.” Vincent sighed. “When we wanted to go the last time…everything was just…not right.”

         “And now it is?” Catherine looked at him doubtfully.

         “I have never been more sure in my life Catherine.”

         “What if…”

         “If anything happens, it happens.” It’s time I grew up. Vincent added silently. He leaned forward and kissed her lightly. “Come now, its time that I took you back.”

* * * * *

         When Vincent returned to his chamber, he flopped down bone-lessly onto his bed. It was actually happening. This time nothing would hold them back. Nothing but his fears perhaps. “Okay Vinny, you have exactly three days to get over yourself.” He whispered, knowing that the trip was most definitely going to happen whether he was ready for it or not.

         He smiled. He was probably as ready as he was going to be. With the way their relationship had been progressing, he knew that the inevitable was going to happen soon. He wasn’t really upset about it, which didn’t really surprise him. Their relationship had gone from the platonic to the lightly physical realm only this past Winterfest and with every taste he had of her lips, he knew that the rest was just around the corner. It was their distance to the corner that Vincent didn’t know about and if this weekend was what was needed to complete the side of the wall and go around the corner then so be it. If the corner was further away, then this would be an excellent vacation for him. He didn’t know what kind of weather conditions they had in Connecticut, but the park was still under a thin blanket of white. It would be wonderful.

         “Vincent home?” A voice called from the hall.

         “Yes Mouse, I’m here.” Vincent replied, sitting up in his bed. “Come in.”

         Mouse entered to find the room empty but for Vincent’s presence. “Catherine gone Above?”

         “Yes, I have just returned from taking her home.” Vincent answered.

         “Good. Still surprise then.” Mouse went over to his writing table and Vincent saw the boy’s fingers walking among his papers and books.

         “What is this about Mouse?” Vincent stood up from the bed and walked over to the other side of the table.

         “Gift. For Vincent’s Catherine. Needed help. Not strong enough.” Mouse answered in his cryptic way.

         “What is this gift for Catherine that is too heavy for you to do anything with?” Vincent was getting a little worried that one of Mouse’s hairbrained schemes was going to be hatched on his beloved.

         “Can’t tell. Gift for you too.” The blond young man replied.

         “Does this gift involve any electricty, explosives, or fireworks?”


         “Then why do you want my help when the gift is to me and Catherine?”

         “Have help. Just want to know when to deliver it.” Mouse had finally looked up at Vincent his expression totally innocent.

         “Who’s your help?” Vincent needed to know to make sure that nothing in Mouse’s gift would be dangerous to he or Catherine.

         “Cullen and Kanin.”

         “Okay Mouse. Catherine and I will be going on a trip this weekend if you want to deliver it then.” Vincent replied to the little man whose mind could be full of genius ideas or crazy schemes. He hoped it was the latter that was filling his friend’s mind this time.

         “Okay good, okay fine.” And with that, Mouse walked out of the chamber before breaking into a run.

         Vincent smiled at the thought that Father had told him countless times not to run in the tunnels. Father…Vincent moaned, sliding a hand down his face. Now that Mouse knew about this trip, he knew he had to tell Father. Walking to the chamber door, he sighed as he exited the chamber knowing that this argument would have to happen sooner or later and he would prefer it was sooner.

         “Ah, Vincent. Come in. I’ve just gotten news about a collapsed tunnel some levels down. I’ve been told that it isn’t that bad, but we still must be cautious.” Father was looking at a few maps laid out haphazardly on his desk. “We need to get the tunnel fixed as soon as possible. We don’t want any more collapses causing more trouble.”

         “Where is it Father?” Vincent asked, glad that the conversation would wait a little while longer.

         “Level 7, not too far from the Abyss. Now with what I’ve been told, I don’t think the work will last more than a week at most, but we never know.” Father answered.

         “I can work on it starting tomorrow, but I cannot work past Friday morning.” Vincent said, knowing that the argument was about to start.

         “Well, why not?” Father demanded looking up abruptly.

         “Catherine and I are going on a trip this weekend.” Vincent replied.


         “Connecticut and her cabin.” Vincent held out a hand and halted his father’s protests. “I know what you are to say. I shouldn’t go. I could be caught Above. People could see me. It was the same argument that you said the last time I wanted to do this.” Vincent took a deep breath and began to pace. “This time I am going. She deserves the chance to do this with me, something that I would be almost absolutely safe in doing.”

         “But what about the community? Doesn’t our safety mean anything to you?” Father argued, realizing right after he said it that it was the wrong thing to say.

         “I will not be anyone’s guard dog!” Vincent replied viciously spinning back to face his father. “The community has plenty of strong and able men to fight anything that may threaten it.”

         “What if we cannot and you come home to find everyone dead?” Father cried, trying to do anything to keep Vincent there and safe.

         “Father please, if you truly think that that is possible, then you don’t know much about your community.” Vincent said walking toward the entrance. “Perhaps you can use this time when I am on this trip to get to know them better. Perhaps, if you can leave your dependence for me behind.”

         Father sighed as he watched his son walk up the stairs and into the tunnel. He knew he was right, but how could an old man, who had been used to knowing his son was safe from the harm that could be done Above, be expected to let go so easily? The community loved the fact that Vincent had found someone for himself, why couldn’t he? Because he is your world and you don’t want to share him.

         Father sat down at his desk, knowing that the answer his mind had given him was right. He was just too selfish about Vincent. It had to change, but would he be able to? Vincent will probably have a good time, he reconciled to himself. And Heaven knows that it’s a parent’s job to worry.

* * * * *

         Catherine could hardly believe it. They were actually going to Connecticut, no holding back! As soon as she entered her bedroom, she fell back upon her bed. It was a dream coming true. And Vincent had said, whatever happens, happens.

         He had come a long way in the almost two months that they had been more than just extremely close friends. They had talked about working through his fears and going beyond their present situation into an accumulation of their dream. Catherine smiled, he had most definitely gotten over some of his shyness recently. Their first kisses after Winterfest had begun most innocently as soft caresses but they had rapidly increased in intensity. It had seemed that once he had kissed her, he couldn’t stop; and Catherine didn’t want him to, not at all.

         They both knew what could and would probably happen on this trip, but Catherine was going to take it easy for Vincent. She knew he was totally new at all this but still couldn’t help but hope that his fears would be felled in these few days. She would make sure that this weekend was as memorable as possible, starting with making sure that Peter knew where they were going.

         “Hello?” A somewhat tired voice on the other end of the line answered after a second ring.

         “Hi Peter, it’s Cathy. Have I disturbed your sleep?” Catherine asked, worried that she had in some way done that very thing although it was still early.

         “No, not at all Cathy, just an old man getting tired more easily.” Peter replied swiftly. “What’s on your mind?”

         “Do you remember how many people are around the cabin around Valentine’s Day?” Catherine smiled as she remembered how she had checked her pocket calender to see what the exact date was that weekend.

         “Not too many, most of the people who own the cabins are what you would call on the other side of the hill.” Peter said a smile to his voice. “What’s come up?”

         Catherine waited for the briefest of moments before answering. “Vincent wants to go there this weekend.” She could hear Peter sputtering on the other end of the line. “Are you all right Peter?”

         “Fine,” he coughed. “When did this event come around?”


         “Well, I wish you the best of luck Cathy. Perhaps this is where it begins?”

         “Peter, I have one thing to ask.”


         “Talk with Father while we’re gone. Please? If he keeps going on like this for too long, Vincent’s going to have to do something and…”

         “Speak no more. I understand.” Peter’s voice was reassuring and Catherine relaxed knowing that Father would understand or Peter would die trying. “Have a fun time okay?”

         “We will Peter, and good luck. Bye.”


* * * * *

         Vincent was excited. Although the work from the days before had given him some time away from Father, allowing Father to cool down, it had been exhausting. He of course had spent every moment possible working to make up for what he would miss over the weekend, thus draining much of his strength no matter how much sleep he had gotten the night before. He was tired, but he knew that he had a weekend full of nothing but the relaxation of being in his beloved’s arms.

         Diving into a pool of ice cold water and sunk beneath the surface. One thing he had learned in the past was the ability of cold water to wash off weariness. Finally emerging near the edge of the pool, he quickly toweled himself off and got dressed again. Refreshing…

* * * * *

         Catherine had almost everything ready. Looking into her hands at the small list that she had made up for the trip. Food (including a pair of perfect looking steaks), first aid kit, and warm clothes were all packed already. All that was needed was one gentle giant to sit beside her in the front seat of the van. She knew that she had probably packed too much, but she wanted to be prepared. Most of it would keep if left for a while.

         8 o’clock; one half hour remained before she needed to pick Vincent up at the park. Knowing him, he was enjoying a leisurely walk toward the park, letting the feet do the thinking.

         Going through her apartment, she quickly made sure that she had not forgotten anything. Then picking up Vincent’s Valentines gift, she exited and locked her apartment. The park was only a short distance away, but she hoped that it was as she wished, that Vincent was there early doing a last minute stroll.

* * * * *

         At promptly eight thirty, Vincent came within a short distance of a grey van that was parked just inside the park. Catherine was nearby, he could feel it, and just as that thought registered, a small body attached itself to him.

         “Catherine.” He sighed, pulling her closer.

         “Hello my love.” She replied just as lovingly. “Did I startle you?”

         “Not really, although how you were able to remain quiet enough for me to not realize what you were doing surprised me a little.” Vincent admitted as he released her slightly.

         “Come on, we had better leave as soon as we can. I don’t cherish the idea of being caught.”

         Vincent followed her obediently to the waiting van, climbing into the back until they were out of the city. Once the streetlights were fewer and the traffic had died down, Vincent climbed up to the front seat and Catherine told him how to buckle his seatbelt. The two hours that it took to get from New York to Connecticut went by quickly as Catherine told Vincent more about the cabin. It was one story with a big attic that had once been used as a guest room when she had been a little girl and the entire family had come up to the cabin for Thanksgiving. At this point, the attic was used as storage space while there was one large bedroom and two smaller ones on the bottom floor.

         “Remember the field I told you about before Vincent?” Catherine asked glancing in his direction with a smile.


         “At this time of year, it’s usually filled with snow, but sometimes the deer still come out. I’ll have to check with one of my friends that lives in a town not far away to see if the deer are making themselves seen this winter.” She explained as she turned down a gravel road. “But first to the cabin.”

         Catherine had been surprised that Vincent had been as responsive as he had been. She had expected him to be observing everything around him, trying to take it all in. All he had been doing the entire trip was listening to her ramble on about the cabin.

         “I’m sorry if I’ve not let you have the time you probably wanted to observe the world.” Catherine said a little ashamed of herself.

         “Do not worry Catherine. I’ll see enough when we get there.” Vincent replied, wishing that their seats were closer so that he could physically reassure her.

         The headlights hit something ahead and Catherine slowed to a stop beside the cabin.

         “Wait. I want to see this.” Catherine whispered before quickly exiting the van and rushing to Vincent’s door. She opened it and after making him close his eyes, led him to the front of the cabin, facing the lake. “Open your eyes Vincent.”

         Vincent looked around him. Trees, bushes, and snow surrounded him, the moon above illuminating everything perfectly. The smells of evergreens and other trees were fresher and the air was cleaner, sounds of falling snow and something chittering in the darkness. As Catherine watched, a tear rolled down Vincent’s cheek. It was beautiful.

         “Oh Catherine.” He whispered as he gathered her close. “If I had known that this would be…so wonderful…I truly wouldn’t have changed my mind the first time.”

         “Shh…you’re here now. That’s all that matters.” Catherine replied cuddling him closer. Vincent kissed the top of her head then kissed her when she offered her lips. “Come, let’s go inside.”

         The interior of the cabin was dark and chilly when they entered and Catherine switched on a few lamps while Vincent hurriedly lit a fire in the fireplace. Once the room had heated a little, Catherine went outside to start unloading the van. After Catherine had gathered her first load, she turned around to find Vincent standing behind her. She handed him the first load then turned back to gather up the rest.

         Once they had all the food and stuff inside, they made themselves a small snack before settling in front of the fireplace. After a few moments of quiet, listening to the crackle of the orange fire giving off a warm glow, Vincent stood up and began to look around the cabin. Along the walls were pictures of what he thought of as scenes from the woods around the cabin. Catherine got up from her seat on one of the small couches and began to follow him around the room.

         “Penny for your thoughts.” Catherine whispered as Vincent stopped in front of one of the pictures that her family had taken every year.

         “I wish I had known you then.” Vincent replied, just as softly.

         “As do I.” Catherine said taking Vincent’s hand in hers. “This was taken the year I got my first bike for Christmas. I wanted to bring it up here to ride, but it wouldn’t fit in the trunk of the car.” Catherine smiled, “If I remember correctly, it was pink with streamers coming out of the handlebars.”

         Vincent squeezed her hand. “You must’ve liked that bike to remember it so fondly.”

         “Actually, I didn’t. In fact, I hated that bike. I thought pink was too girly.” Catherine turned to face Vincent. “I admit that I played with the occasional doll and had tea parties with my stuffed bears, but I absolutely despised the color pink.”

         Vincent chuckled and put his arm around her as they looked at other pictures, Catherine narrating the entire time. Although he barely got a word in edgewise, he loved it.

         “So what do you want to do now?” Catherine asked as she stifled a yawn.

         “I think I may stay up a little longer if you want to go to bed. In fact I think you should, you’ve drove a long way and you’re tired.” Vincent answered, concern filling his eyes.

         “I agree,” she replied as she yawned again. “You can have either daddy’s room, which is down the hall way on the right side, or you can have the guest room exactly opposite. I’ll be in my room. The last door on the left.” She reached her arms around his neck and hugged him close. “Goodnight Vincent. Sleep well.”

         Vincent kissed her with some passion, but not wanting to start a fire that he wasn’t ready to quench…yet…kept it short. “Goodnight my love.”

         The next morning, Catherine was awoken by a beam of light that had somehow managed to sneak through the curtained window. After getting dressed, she went to the kitchen and began to prepare a bowl of cereal. Vincent entered the cabin carrying a load of firewood.

         “How’d you sleep?” Catherine asked in-between bites.

         “Quite well, the bed in the guestroom is quite comfortable.” Vincent replied.

         As Catherine looked down to get another bite, she smiled. He had chosen the room exactly opposite hers. Only a wall had separated them last night.

         “So what do you want to do today?” Catherine said. She took another bite then shaking her spoon at him, continued around the cereal in her mouth. “I’ll bet you’ve never gone sledding down a real hill.”

         “No actually. Unless you call a real hill the one before the drainage culvert.” Vincent answered.

         “Well, then that’s what we do first. Come on, the sled is still in the shed.” Catherine put the empty dish into the sink and took his hand to lead him outside to the shed that was up against the cabin. Opening the door, Catherine stepped inside and spotted the sled, leaning up near a push lawn mower. Pulling it out, Vincent extended his hands and took it from her. The sled was larger than the one he used to ride on, probably ‘Family Sized’.

         “Come on Vincent. The hill is over here.”

         Vincent’s first trip by himself down the hill was more than he had expected. The sled went down faster than anything he had ridden on before, save the top of a subway car. When Catherine joined him, sitting in front of him, the sled went even faster down the snowy hill. They sledded until the growling of their stomachs made them retreat to the cabin for some nourishment and some dry clothes. After lunch they went back out, this time to the meadow where Catherine had spent many days of her life. Although no deer showed themselves, the time alone was worth sitting out in the cold snow. When they returned, they ate a dinner of spaghetti and afterwards, they said their goodnights, this time even more reluctantly.

         Vincent sighed as he watched Catherine. How long would it take him to take that final step? He wished that he was brave enough to take it, to let all his inhibitions go, to totally accept their destiny. She had convinced him that together they would be able to do anything, and he believed her. All that he had to do was accept it.

         Their final morning in the cabin dawned clear. Sunlight streaming in through open curtains to find its resting place amongst couch cushions and a man who sleep didn’t come to easily and didn’t stay long when it did. Vincent reclined on one of the couches, contemplating the thoughts that had plagued him the night previous as he sipped some tea. Catherine emerged from her room dressed, but still stretching and yawning.

         “Good morning Catherine.” Vincent said as she waved to him as she walked by.

         “Would you like some breakfast?” Catherine called from the kitchen.

         “I’ve already had some.”

         Catherine nodded and proceeded to make her own breakfast. After she had eaten, she went into the living room and sat across from Vincent who had a far off look on his face.

         “What are you thinking about?” Catherine asked.

         “Something that has been on my mind for quite some time actually.” Vincent replied, avoiding the conversation as much as possible.

         “Perhaps if you tell me, I can help you.”

         “I know you can.” Vincent sat up straighter on the couch. “But I need to figure this out on my own.”

         “Oh. It’s one of those problems.” Catherine got up. “If you need anything, I’ll be in my room.”

         “Stay.” Vincent asked. “I need to talk.”

         “Okay.” Catherine sat back down and waited as Vincent thought out his words. She didn’t wait long.

         “We’ve discussed our relationship in the past, although not often, we have discussed it.” Vincent began. “I believe you when you say that we can do anything as long as we’re together. My fears are diminishing. I don’t believe that I could hurt you now…it just took me some time to believe.” Vincent paused and Catherine’s hope surged beyond the boundaries that she had placed for it. “This is my Valentines gift to you, my sweet Catherine: if you wish it…I will try to be what you want me to…to have our dream come true.”

         “Oh Vincent.” Catherine looked as if she were about to cry and came into his arms readily. “It is my fondest wish. I love you so.”

         “I love you too, Catherine.” Vincent replied, pulling her tightly against him. He lifted her chin and kissed her; a kiss that left no doubts remaining about how everything would end up. Vincent stood up without releasing Catherine’s lips and entered her father’s former bedroom to finally accomplish what all their dreams had been telling them all along, and what Flora’s Secret finally let them accomplish.

The End