Times moves fast before your eyes if you're not really looking. It's only when you squint and tilt your head to the side that you can see it's aching lull, always lingering before your nose just long enough to wonder why it hasn't run along on it's way. Makes it harder to recall.
He tries hard, so he can.
He's six, and her name is Lucy. Lucy has blue eyes and wild black hair like spilled paint, and her mother drags her along by the hand like a toy. They spend the morning playing in the garden, and the hem of her lace dress is stained and her bonnet missing. His mother seems happy. Lucy and Richard are very happy. Tomorrow she will come to play again, and and the next.
Lucy will die just two months shy of turning seven, hanging over the stair banister, little legs dangling as she strains to listen to the grown-up talk downstairs. She will fall, and he will visit her grave eighty years later and look on her as but a mayfly.
He's twenty, and she's a carrot seller on the street. He's been sent to the market, and he'd love to stay and chat; the warm look on her rosy face is inviting, welcoming. But he has to hurry, and the carrot girl turns to her next customer.
He'd have had all the time in the world, if only he knew. Enough time to chat for ten minutes or ten years.
She's one of the slaves on the Black Rock. It's not love. Far from it. But she bites and shrieks and kicks with such a fire he's compelled to watch her as she squirms against his men, as they force her into the hold with the rest.
One sailor has grown sick of her resistance, and in one swift movement his gun is cocked and in her mouth. She stops suddenly, shoulders heaving, dark skin gleaming with sweat. "Captain?" the man inquires, seeming t o enjoy her sudden break in spunk.
"Just leave it," he replies, and the woman is shoved down the trap door with her fellows. He stares at the wood for just a moment longer. He's saved her, but she won't last long.
The year is 1949, and this time she's perfect.
Victoria knows all about him, and she loves it all. He loves her too; from the faint scar acquired from a fight with a boar on her stomach to the cow's lick in her fringe. From her hardiness to her earthy kindliness.
Most mornings they wake up in a tent together, light dappled through the light fabric. They'd smile and begin their day, scouting the permitted for danger or intruders.
One of these days, Victoria will we shot by one of them.
They say a rolling stone gathers no moss. His stone of a heart has been rolling so long it really makes no difference; he's got a path to follow and it may as well not be moving at all.
He'd love to die before the day is out. Just for a change.