Jet was buried far up in an isolated place amongst the northern mountains, a peaceful place that to a certain family in the Baskar tribe, was called Serenitatis. He would have liked it up there, in the absolute calm without a soul to disturb him in his slumber. It overlooked a great deal of the Midland area, places he would have visited and drifted a long time ago. Although Virginia and the others could not have been aware of it, Serenitatis was eerily similar to the Filgaia of Jet's deepest dreams, the Filgaia of an ancient age. He would have been happy there.
A small section was cut clean of the swaying grass stalks and Gallows had dutifully proceeded over the internment ceremony. He had made several mistakes over the ritual that day, but neither Shane nor Halle had had the heart to correct him. In a way that was probably what Jet would have wanted as well, good old stumbling Gallows would always be Gallows. Jet was buried respectfully in his drifting clothes, with his Airget-Lamh laid carefully in the crook of his gun-arm, in case he would ever need it again. His red and white scarf looked so pure and yet so bloody next to his sleeping, painless face, unknowing and unfeeling. If Jet wanted to continue his wandering, he had to do it as Jet the outlaw, not Jet the recently adopted Baskar.
But he was still wearing Jenny's wooden bracelet when he was placed into the earth, so it spoke of Jet's powerful need to live in the face of his own death, and the unspoken wish he had made to always continue growing and learning, while remaining himself. The bracelet was a tangible symbol of his short, precious memory. Jet's memories were returned to Filgaia, where they belonged.
There had been many tears on that day, as Virginia and Gallows, Clive, Shane, Halle and Jenny had said goodbye. The Maxwell Gang were invited to tread upon the sacred ground of Serenitatis whenever they wished to, as Jet had left Jenny's family a debt that they could never wholly repay. The three drifters knew that they would indeed return many times in the future, feeling like their fragile intimate circle of friends had been ripped open forever. There was still a long unknown time left for the wound to bleed. It was only when Jet was now gone that they realised just how deeply they missed him.
And so the drifting gang never strode very far from Midland for quite some time. Virginia visited Serenitatis often. When everything finally hit the six-month mark Virginia, now a quietly grieving twenty year old woman, came to a very abrupt and painful decision. She visited Jet in the very early morning, before both the sun and her teammates had risen. Herself and her small white mare were becoming very familiar with the areas within the northern mountains, the trip feeling like a pilgrimage road. She was probably the only one who came up here now, the sad and distressing news regarding Jet to the Baskar people fading away with the change in the seasons. But, no. She knew that Jenny still came here as well. If not for Jet, then for her ancestors.
In Serenitatis, everything was at peace. Everything stayed the same. Virginia knelt at Jet's grave that had not overgrown yet. It was neat and tidy, looking respectable. Long brown hair fell across her shoulders, beautiful and free, now that she no longer plaited it away. Leaning forward she read the words inscribed on the tombstone for another uncountable time. Clive had sweated and tortured himself over those words, what had to him sounded like the best thing to say. It must have been a hard job, because how could anybody sum up who Jet had been in just one phrase? In Clive's case, Virginia reckoned that he had done remarkably well.
1864 - 1875
Drifter. Outlaw. Friend.
"The truest measure of a life is not its
but the fullness in which it is lived."
They were good words.
"Hello Jet. It's good to see you again." Virginia greeted levelly, with a small touch of tenderness, as if she was speaking to a small, sleeping child. She had meant to bring him something, some flowers maybe, but in the end it had slipped her mind. She had been too preoccupied with the sudden, frightening decision she had made. The drifter regretted it now. She wanted to give him something, perhaps as a peace offering. But Jet had never really said anything about liking flowers.
"Listen." Virginia said, speaking some of the hardest and truest words of her life. Even thought she didn't have a real audience, the words were difficult all the same. "Jet, I'm sorry, but I have to leave you here. We all try to be who we so desperately want to be, and my dream hasn't changed from back when you were alive. I want to keep on being a drifter with my friends for company, and you would know better than all of us that a drifter mustn't get tied down to a person or the land they rest in. Serenitatis is beautiful, but this place isn't for me. It belongs to you, and to Jenny's ancestors."
She smiled at the mention of the girl's name. There was news about her, too. "Do you remember that girl you saved? The one who made you that pretty wooden bracelet? Her coming of age ceremony was three months ago, and only last week I got the news that she is arranged to be wed. I guess her father must have found a suitable match for her right on time." Virginia giggled, letting her secret spill. "And do you know who it is? It's Shane! I think that Leo reckons if he never ends up becoming the Chieftain, it would be best for him to be connected to the one youth who would be perfect for the role. I'm happy for the both of them, Shane is a good man and he will treat Jenny kindly. Everything works out in the end, doesn't it?"
There was only silence to answer her. That was okay, however, because even when Jet had lived he had gotten his firmest points across through silences. It reminded her of him even more. "I wonder where you are now." Virginia pondered out loud, beginning to wipe the first traces of tears from her face. "Are you really resting here, right beneath my feet? Is death really just an eternal slumber? Or are you wandering now, a stranger in a far-off land, where mortal drifters like me can only dream to tread? You have to drift, Jet, and so do I, even if it is in opposite directions. The world is round, so even if we walk away from one another, I know we'll meet up again someday. I'm never going to forget you. You're a memory now, one of the fondest memories that can ever be."
Virginia felt a gentle breeze rush across the level mesa, causing the carpet of puffy grass stalks to ripple, like a calm wave upon the sea. "We all love you, and I love you most of all. Goodbye, Jet."
The sun was rising. Virginia knew that she had to get back to the others before they awoke and realised that she had been gone. It would not be a bad thing for them to know, but this was her private business, something that only she and Jet would know about. The thin line of orange rising sun thickened as it crept upwards, turning the grey-blue clouds in the sky a pleasant, tickled pink.
Visibility got better as the land around her lightened, greeting the day. Looking away, Virginia was about to stand up from her crouching position and wander back towards her grazing pony, when the flicker of something bright caught at the corner of her eye. She glanced back towards Jet's grave.
What she saw caused her heart inside her chest to flutter once, skipping a beat. She had not caught sight of it before because it had been dark enough to hide the colours, but small flowers were growing over Jet's grave, not bothered by the windy conditions of the mesa.
No, it could not be. Had somebody left flowers at his grave? The brown-haired woman reached over and slid her hand beneath the petals of the flowers, tracing its thin, fragile stem to the earth below. They were real. They were there.
Two poppy flowers were growing in the earth of Jet's grave.
They were little but firm, huddled against one another like a couple seeking each others embrace.
One was white. The other, red.
"Jet…" Virginia whispered, believing that she had found her beloved's answer. The tears she had been holding back swept over her anew, forcing her to fall to the ground and cover her face with her hands, to hide her sobs. It was like a validation, the final footnote that spoke of the end. He was saying goodbye too, but at the same time, it made her feel strangely happy inside.
Because although Jet was wandering, she knew he was never very far away.