As the years passed, crossing the wide ocean to luxuriate in the glamour of Parisian salons, thriving in the intellectual furor sweeping over the Queen of Enlightened Europe—cultured ambassador from the backwoods of Virginia—Thomas would still feel the pull of her death, the sorrow, dulled with time, biting in the most unexpected of moments. Her memory awakened poignantly by an Angel of Art and Music, he would be haunted by Martha Wayles Skelton’s shadow, when Maria Cosway breathed fresh life into his Heart, reviving his romantic sentiments.
And when he could no longer deny his desire for a woman who would represent the antithesis of everything he worshipped of the gentler sex, Thomas Jefferson would indeed learn, he was borne to lose everything he loved. Defiant little Scottish doctress, trained absurdly in a profession whose rigors better fit the rational minds of men, he would find himself in conflicted torment, drawn to a passion of mind and body—Spirit. Following her own impassioned ideals, her keen intellect would challenge his deepest held convictions, resurrecting his faith to serve, once more, the Promise of a brighter Tomorrow.
Midnight ebbed, first shades of pink and violet dusting low, gray clouds hanging over forested hills to the east.
Staring into the licking flames, Thomas stood abruptly, determination commanding his motions.
He thrust the bundled letters, as one, into the fire, clenching his jaw so hard, the muscle spasmed, stifling the pained sound seeking to escape.
Anguish was bile in his gut, deeper twist of despair, something in him dying as the sheaves caught, embers fraying the edges.
He kept his eyes fastened on the devouring flames.
Before the space of five minutes passed, momentary sputtering, a miniature fountain of sparks and light, the bundle dissolved, banking into cinders.
All the years of their love, visible to world—endearments, small pleasures, hopes and unfulfilled promises, regrets and recriminations—a pile of black ashes scattered by the elusive breeze of the flames.
A union of sacred faith binding two hearts together, would only, and forever after, be preserved in lines upon a single sheet of paper, folded around a glossy, auburn curl, he twined lovingly, between his fingers.
Beyond the Shades and Dust…
He shook his head, staring hard, unflinching, upon the scintillating logs. Warmed by the heat, he lowered himself back into the reed-framed chair.
He knew what she asked of him, one last wish before her passing. In his grief, he might find solace, little though it may be, in seeing to the care and attention of his surviving children.
Sacred charges--if nothing else had come out of the nightmarish encounter, awash in shameful lust, union with a memory of the Dead, it was how much his daughters needed him.
He was all they had left—connection to a woman they would scarce remember as the years fled, one after another, and his daughters took on the responsibilities of womanhood, each in her turn.
From somewhere in the shadows beyond the fire’s light, a soft wind stirred, voice of the Otherworld, just perceptible to his audible sense.
Fire burns, words a fading music drifting through the room.
Fire, Bright Seer, births the World anew…
Golden light spilled across the window casement, sun cresting the horizon, dawning upon a new day.
I hope you enjoyed this mini-series story. I look forward to bringing you more great short stories/series in the near future. Again, many thanks to Miss Bonnie for the contribution!
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