Thoughts grow just as easily as grass, as easily as a weed.
If you don't want it in your garden, why plant the seed?


Night is falling.

Somewhere in the rocky Moravian countryside, in the little highland village where she grew up, her husband is packing his belongings to come to her.

In Dublin, her family is sleeping, and another man is waiting for her to come to him.

She has known this man for a week, but she loves him nevertheless. She's told him so, and even if he didn't understand the words, the part of him that loves her too - that wants to carry her off to London, damn the consequences - understood what she meant.

She has never been capable of loving someone and not telling them.

If she goes to him now, she won't be able to stop herself from telling him over, and over, and over again.

He swore nothing of the sort would happen between them, and it was a lie she agreed to believe. But now, as she gazes out the window and tries to visualize herself walking down the sidewalk and around the corner toward his place, she can't bring herself to believe the lie anymore.

The truth is, she will break a vow to someone tonight: either him, or her husband. It's only a matter of which one to break.

Her marriage vows are old now, worn brittle and thin - hastily forged what seems like a lifetime ago in the heat of the moment, after the heat of passion had already begun to cool.

She barely knows this other man, but even now in the quiet of her own home she can feel him - all the moments they've spent together, his hopes and their shared triumphs - flaring in her blood.

She doesn't know whether young and strong is superior to old and unsound, or whether there are some promises too old and too sacred and too much to be broken by something new. She has so little experience with new things.

But she does know that for the past several nights, she has lain awake and in her deepest, most secret parts she has made a vow to herself: that she won't let her relationship with him end without words, without some kind of goodbye.

If she doesn't go to him now, she will be breaking that promise to herself, as well as to him; maybe breaking whatever future friendship they could have had; and ultimately breaking her own heart. Probably his as well.

And for a moment she is sure that she has to go, because surely a vow to oneself must be stronger than any other kind.

But. She starts across the room to put on her coat, and her gaze falls on the remote control lying on the sofa, illuminated accusingly by the street light streaming through the window, and still empty of batteries.

It hits her then, the bitter reality of the situation.

There is one vow more important that the one she's made to herself, and she broke it the moment she stole money from her baby daughter to fund a pipe dream.

She sinks onto the sofa, head in her hands, and the face that appears behind her eyelids is neither that of her husband nor the man she loves. It was foolish to think that her bonds with them were what mattered.

What truly matters is Ivanka, the smell of her hair when she wakes up in the morning. Her mother, the way her eyes glow when she learns a new English word. Her job, the money she must earn to pay for the right to stay in this flat, the only home that Ivanka has any memory of.

This life that she's building here, the stability and love protected in these tiny rooms. That's what matters. That's what she cannot risk.

She loves him. Not even to protect her own heart could she give up those feelings. But for Ivanka, she could do anything.


When the piano arrives, her husband kisses her, says "It's beautiful, darling" and "You've made very good friends here, že?"

"Just the one," she says.

She sits down and begins to play one of her own songs, one that he never heard, and even then she can hear his light harmony in her head. He would have liked this one, she thinks. It's about leaving things behind, about seizing chances and hoping for better things to come.

She doesn't have to wonder if he is thinking about her, across the sea. She knows he is.

The next day, her mother helps her draw up one hundred flyers for piano lessons. She hands them out with the flowers she sells, and the boys from her building post them all over the city on their way to work.

Two weeks later, she deposits her first earnings into Ivanka's piggy bank as the little girl sleeps. "I told you I'd pay you back," she whispers, leaning over the crib.

Her daughter will have everything she can give. Her daughter will learn stories of the Czech mountains and know how to retell them in English. Her daughter will have two parents, and learn from the mistakes of both.

Someday, she will kiss Ivanka and tell her to follow her heart.

Tonight, she kisses her daughter softly, softly, and turns out the light.

Konec.


Author's note: This story was written for chicafrom3 at the Archive of Our Own as part of the Yuletide 2012 gift exchange.

Epigraph from the exquisite "All in Your Head" by Markéta Irglová. The lyrics belong to her and are reproduced here under the fair use standard.