When she closed her eyes, she could smell it;
salt – wafting up from the sea,
up to her window,
in this tall tower of a lighthouse.
Cool needle pricks of air on her face,
Resting her arms on the brick sill, the port spanned below her like a vellum map
underneath her fingertips;
the hum, the sound of life below her like a melody;
stopping, starting, stalling.
until there was
a change of key
There was a light touch on her shoulder when Ophelia opened her eyes. She didn't get up, didn't move from her place among the creases on the dusty bed, but turned her head to the sound that followed. August's voice was soft.
"They're not coming back, Ophelia."
His fingers brushed lightly through her hair and she turned back to ponder the ceiling.
"We can't stay here any longer, either."
She tapped the spine of the journal on her stomach.
"I found this. It wasn't addressed. I'm guessing it's for you." A white envelope was placed over her knuckles, and with another squeeze to her shoulder he left.
Once he had gone, Ophelia rose, sitting on the mess that had been her mother's bed. The sheets weren't done, clothes were strewn about on the floor; photos thrown aside and little nothings everywhere. Her mother had ran in a hurry, rushing to get some place new.
Except this time she hadn't ran, she'd fled, and there was no place new, just a place to be left behind.
She had said that they would stay. That they would wait. The others might leave Paris but Mother, and Cordelia, would still be here, because Ophelia would always come back.
It seemed 1940 was a year too late.
Fraying book tucked under her arm, she finally pushed herself off the bed. The wooden floors were cold on Ophelia's feet and sent chills up her numb legs. She ignored this, instead looking to letter.
It wasn't like either of them to leave anything; it wasn't like Cordelia to leave something unmarked. Spurning hope, Ophelia prodded her thumb under the lapel with a wistfully flat expression.
As she had expected, there was no letter. There was no paper. Instead, there was a card. It displayed a man wandering on a cliff, its colors vivid and dancing on pristine white; and at the bottom, it read "Le Mat."
Her feet brought her outside while her gaze was fixated upon the card. August didn't ask what had taken her, but glanced at the card in her hand curiously.
Without a word, Ophelia handed it to him. For the quickest moment they imagined it flickering to only the dark outline of its shape between their fingers.
August examined the card. It showed a woman in papal robes, its colors vivid and dancing on a pristine white; and at the bottom it read "La Papesse."
Ophelia looked into the envelope again.
In an instant they were tumbling, over each other and over nothing and it was all they could do, the only thing they could do to find each other's hand and hold it.
They found themselves landing scared and disheveled outside a stone tower with a fairy tale menace in cloud of fluttering pages. August returned the card; Ophelia offered him a golden sheet. The door opened and a tall woman with long black hair and hard dark eyes looked down at them. She saw the pages and ushered them in.