(Muertu is an old character of mine, who I've had some very good times with. In some ways for me, she's like a very old girlfriend or something. In any case, I'm hoping to write a little Novella about her and her life. Sort of a Genre fiction thing, at least my approximation. I hope you like this taste of her, and I'll be posting more, as long as she's willing to answer my calls. Enjoy.)
Chapter One: (".... I had thought we said goodbye...")
Muertu placed her hand on the long broken door knob that was only slightly cool due to the fact that it was on the interior side of the door. Turning the knob, like a game of chance, resulted in some strange combination of broken pieces within the mechanism until finally, three cherries popped up, and the door miraculously popped open. You're the only thing more broken than me, she thought, smiling at the fact that she had a few years left of sometimes working herself.
Eighty seven years in this world and still willing to be cranky, she knew, the end would come when she found herself smiling too often. She had managed to avoid the seemingly inevitable desire to be with small children constantly. Books, the radio, the garden, and yes, a very occasional friend, were all that she needed besides the work. And tonight she moved through her garden, simply enjoying it without much thought, savoring her slow approach to the street, and the path beside her house that led up to the ridgetop she loved in the manner of all terrestrials. If you can't go up by wing, scaling a hillside should be the next best thing. But then, even a bird loves a tower... what we love, must be in some measure what we need... our feelings sometimes our curse, and others our reward. How many times had she been glad to feel nothing at all?
Her thick, dark grey hair, pulled into more a mass than a bun, swung very slightly none the less at the cadence of her efforts up through the trees. She touched their bark, sliding her fingers over each as she passed it, in greeting, and self pleasure. Of all the big troubles in the world a tree stands opposed... somehow crucial to everything else, but without need of even the slightest rancor. Save fire, or windstorm, causing it to basically die, and fall through her roof, Muertu had never once been anything but gifted by these trees company.
A breeze blew just slightly more than the the dead stillness below, up here. Some of the oaks rattled in their wintry death sounds. Muertu knew she was a little colder than she preferred, but endured it for the sight of her valley, stretching an improbable distance away. How she had resented this dead quiet place as a young woman. How each detail spoke nothing to her singing ardors. How entirely different she viewed the place now. She giggled (senility should be a little fun) at that silly child. How often it feels bad to have it good, was a question she'd have tucked within her, like a flower in the hand, when she died.
A hawk sat in a tree, near the edge of the woods, where pasture met the incline of the hill. So still and quiet, waiting for a rabbit or mouse or other less careful being... making crossing of the grass beneath the sky. Muertu could not see it terribly well, there at the bottom of the hill, through the trees. But she could see well enough it fall to the ground, then take flight... with something invisible in it's talons (or perhaps a failed hunt altogether... she couldn't tell.) And as a little girl she'd thought this animal was going to be extinct by the time she was retirement age. All of life a fresh surprise: for better or worse. But never according to the plans, and fears, of man.
Her regard for the animal benumbing the ache of her day, flew nearly as fast away, as Muertu startled to the vibration in her pant pocket. Damn... why did I forget to leave this demon home?
"Yes," said Muertu.
"Boss, we found your old friend..."
Muertu dropped the phone from her ear, for a few seconds, looked for the hawk, but could not see it. Things lost and found... so long and she had nearly forgotten.
"Jesse is she alive?"
"Oh yeah, she's more or less in perfect health. Two and one half hours from Alsterbern. You could see her tonight, if she'd have you."
"She's not going to want to see me. Christ, I have thought she was dead so long, I can't believe this."
"Well, right or wrong, we now don't know how the story ends, Dr. Saco."
"Thank you Jesse, I'm on my ridgetop just now,"
"That sounds like you,"
"There are times I wish my home was more or less my description. But as you know, were that the case, I wouldn't have to take your God damned calls."
"Nor my company, Boss. I've always somehow enjoyed the fact that we weren't friends. I like you more than a number of my friends. Strange, but true."
"Pity will win any number of accolades, Jesse... but you've lots of time to be pressed beneath the burden of that truth."
"See what I mean... strange. I suppose you'll call me, I don't wish to injure your feelings with any further attempts at contact. Is it even remotely possible that I'll receive your instructions? Or can I go open a bottle with my wife?"
"Drink with your wife, should it be necessary, I'll drive."
"Oh, that's good, 'cus when she learns I'm working tonight, sobriety isn't going to help matters."
"Like you said, Jesse, it is convenient for all concerned that we are not friends. As it stands, you'll hear from me when I need you."
"Thank you, Jesse."
Muertu dropped the phone back in her pocket after turning it off. The fading light of the sky, released the spinning forms in her mind, and as per usual in such circumstances, what appeared to be ghosts wandered the sky and pathway with her. Good heavens.... Saraheim, how have you made it this far. Muertu had never expected to live this long. Though, she had never expected to die, and even today, it seemed deeply unlikely. Which made no sense for an old woman to think. But there it is. She had always expected Saraheim to die young, and when she disappeared? There was no need to over think it. A woman without a soul in the world knows ecstasy enough, and danger, to be lost in the snowdrifts of consequence, without note by anyone. No one named her loss as a tragedy, or as even newsworthy. Even Muertu, once so close to the woman they could finish one another's sentences (and fight until a miserable silence realigned their estimation of one another,) found herself calmly accepting the inevitable. Was having lived so close to death for so long, and dying a tragedy? Muertu coldly thought it unfair to equate Saraheim's death with real tragedy. She was sad, but felt little confusion on the subject.
But now, as was always the case with their friendship, this news brought fresh uncertainty, old worry, and tired curiosity. Even an old crone with that woman's blood... this is going to be a bitch; she always was.
Muertu passed the quietly heroic trees, which waited out the mysteries of the world, she was cursed to parse. And slowly, in as much foreboding, as arthritis, found her way back to the door's broken handle.