The new world is as yet behind the veil of destiny in my eyes, however, its dawn has been unveiledMuhammad Iqbal
He sat at the table in the restaurant where he first met Gloria. Memories of her playful sultriness crept in his mind. Peter thought about how she played her part as his waitress and later moaned under the weight of his passion. He missed her clutching his back and locking herself to him with her legs as he lost himself in her embrace. Peter wondered how duty and devotion came to mean so much that she would throw her life away.
Peter rose from the table and walked to the outcrop where Mariah saw the beach for the first time. Her innocence and discovery of something as ordinary as the spray of surf on her skin and sand between her toes gave her an appreciation for life far greater than her experience. How she’d laughed at kicking sand into the surf; wetting the hem of her dress. The water collected on her smooth skin like dew and her dress stuck to her skin, revealing the gentle curves of her body.
Now, the look on her face and the sparkle in her eyes were replaced by a dull film on a face that looked more like a wax doll than anything else. He wanted to let go and bury his life in something other than the awful pain of love and lust. It seemed for the ecstasy of Gloria’s body and the comfort of Mariah’s company, he was left with more doubt and mixed feelings than he ever had in his life.
A stone skipped across the water and disappeared into a cresting wave. A seashell sailed in the breeze, rising above the shore before it ran out of momentum, faltered, and fell back to earth. Peter walked along the shore picking up the detritus on the beach and tossed it into the ocean. It was time to move on, he thought. Peter found his car and made his way back up the coast road to his home on the bluff above the shore. He felt he had to purge his mind of desire and focus only on his work.
* * *
Jon helped Mariah into the car and drove her to the new place the Dragons built for her in the national forest area. The thick woods and rocky terrain along the river was a rural paradise; a place to mend her mind and broken heart. Jon attended to Mariah. His visits kept her company and helped her relearn how to live on her own.
They laughed, cried, and hugged with every small victory as Mariah slowly recovered that part of her spirit and inquisitiveness that had endeared her to Jon. Jon worked with Mariah through the days and weeks that turned into months until she was able to manage alone. Although Jon kept up with Mariah, he remained dedicated to his work and his masters.
Mariah continued to work on developing her fine motor skills and treated herself to forays into the forest and researching history, always stopping to learn more about her beloved age of Renaissance where enlightenment led to periods of change and lifted humankind from the darkness left by the collapse of the Roman Empire and the resurgence of tribal conflict, disease, and famine. She worked on getting herself in shape and read everything she could find online to pass the time.
The girl who once wished she could feel the same freedom as the seagulls that sailed on the currents of wind accepted her isolation as punishment for her wayward dreams of self-determination and equality. Ironically, in isolation, she was free to roam the tranquil land around her home and imagine whatever she felt without the shackles of duty and desire.
As winter shut her in, she sat down and wrote, rewrote, and wrote again, a message she knew she had to send before she could go on with her life. She thought of Jon and how he taught her to understand her love and helped her find peace. He devoted his time to her recovery and before that, helped her realize her desire to find a way to Peter’s heart.
There were many examples of her Cybrid family demonstrating their benevolence and devotion to each other and to a society that kept them at arm’s length. Mariah felt determined to put her fight with Gloria and their terrible injury to trust between Dragons and Cybrids behind her.
The romantic Cybrid promised herself she would dedicate her life to the quest for acceptance and harmony between the two sides. She continued to work hard and dream at night of the man who gave her goosebumps and held her heart captive. He was the gateway her race would pass through to find freedom.
In the spring, Mariah was busy getting her seedlings ready for planting when Jon walked up with a box of supplies.
“Hi, Mariah. I brought some supplies for you.” Jon set the box down on the bench and grinned at Mariah.
“What do you have there.” Mariah moved closer and tried to peer around her friend.
“Oh, just a gift from some anonymous secret admirer,” Jon replied with a mischievous glint in his eye.
“Who? You better tell me, Jon.” Mariah tried to reach around Jon to the box.
Jon produced a small package wrapped in subtle pink and black paper with a red rosebud attached. The anxious Cybrid tore into the wrapping and rescued a book. She turned it over to the front. “Isaiah Berlin, The Roots of Romanticism. Oh, how lovely, Jon. Thank you.” Mariah gave Jon a peck on the cheek and turned to flip through the pages.
“It wasn’t from me.” Jon laughed.
Mariah turned back to Jon. Her eyes and face were full of questions. “Who then?” She asked.
“I don’t know. Alexa brought it to me and told me to ensure you got it. I assumed it was from her.”
“Oh, how nice of her. I wish I could see her again. Please thank Alexa for me.” Mariah replied, her face bright with pleasure while her heart ached with disappointment. She had hoped it was from Peter.
Through the spring and summer, the books continued to arrive. There was Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. Jon brought her True Believers by Nicholas Sparks in July and The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles in August.
In September when the leaves showed the first signs of change with the cooling weather, she hoped her mysterious benefactor would send her more books to read through the cold winter. She dreaded the short days of light and long weeks stuck in the cabin. Jon helped her stack enough firewood on the porch to last through the winter, she hoped.
While canning vegetables she’d grown during summer, a knock came to the door. She went to let Jon in. Mariah swung the door open, turned and hollered over her shoulder as she walked back to the stove. “I hope you brought an apron because I have a lot of housework for you to do.”
“All I brought was this book.”
Mariah spun around on her heels and felt her legs turn to jelly. Her hand went to her mouth as tears welled up in her eyes.