Monday, August 13, 2007


Amalia stood uneasily beside her old jenny Cordelia. The animal's cart was loaded with food for the journey and Amalia's few belongings. Sachi and Boeing sat their horses in silence a few feet away, unsure whether to be ashamed or defiant at their temporary banishment. From the corral path Aguilero walked his horse to join them. The road to Estrella was straightforward, but the trail up to the school was tricky and the map Amalia had from Miguel was vague. Aguilero would go with them to make sure they found the place, and that Sachi and Boeing made their way back safely.

One by one the members of the camp came up to Amalia to wish her well. Most of the young people couldn't remember a time before Amalia had been with them. Macy sniffled and swiped at her nose with her sleeve. "We'll go and visit her," Coyote promised. He whispered something in her ear that made her nod and dry her eyes. She flung her arms around Amalia. "You're going to be real happy there."

Amalia held Macy close and stroked her hair while Coyote grinned like he knew a very pleasant secret.

Will and Diana approached last. They had talked with her until the early hours of the morning, and there was little left to say. "You two look after each other," Amalia told them. "Remember you've got a real home now."

Will made a dismissive gesture. "You know we have to get Strecker before we can think about anything like that."

"Yes." Amalia's expression grew distant. "You'll make sure you kill him, for my sister's sake?"

"Diana will do it. For Carina and all of them."

"You know I said I would, Auntie."

"We'll come and tell you about it when it’s over."

Amalia gave Will a hug. "I'd like that." Then she turned to Diana. "I can't think of anything to say that I haven't already."

"I'll be okay."

"Of course you will." Amalia turned away so the children wouldn't see her cry.

Harley pushed his way through the crowd and shook her hand. Like Will and Diana, he had made his personal good-byes earlier. "We'll all miss you," he said. "Unitas thanks you for your service."

"I'll still be serving Unitas. Just a little more comfortably."

"You deserve it. You're always welcome back if you get bored on your mountain."

"You'll be the first person I look up if I ever get the urge to be a nomad again." She looked again at Will and Diana, but all she said was, "I'll be expecting you." Then she climbed onto the wagon seat and picked up the reins. Boeing, Sachi and Aguilero filed in around her without a backward glance, and they soon disappeared around a bend.

Harley stood with Will and Diana, staring at the empty road. "If you'd like to sit out today's training, I understand."

"What do you think?" Will asked, taking her hand.

Diana shook her head in confusion.

"I think we'll skip this morning, but you can expect us in the afternoon,” Will said.

"Diana, what do you say?" Harley asked. "Your husband doesn't speak for you in military matters."

"He doesn't speak for me ever,” she said, lifting her chin. “We'll be there this afternoon."

Will put an arm around Diana's waist. "Would you like to go back to our tent now?"

"Can I come too?" Macy asked, taking Diana's hand and lacing her fingers through hers. "Maybe you can help me write a letter."

In spite of herself, Diana smiled. "She only just left."

"Oh, I write so bad that by the time I finish it, she'll have been there a month." Tears began rolling down her cheeks. "If I miss her this much already, how can you stand it?"

Coyote sighed in exasperation. "I already told you how happy she's going to be." Will ignored him and led the sniffling girls up the path. "Fine. If we're all going to be depressed, I'll at least go get us some coffee."

1 comment:

Alice Audrey said...

Aw, that's sweet of Coyote to focus on how Amelia will feel. This is a nice goodbye.