Here’s a story I wrote a while back. It’s a sad-sweet tale that I hope you like.
There’s a slight breeze disturbing the surface of the dark water. It’s barely enough to make the rowboat rock back and forth, but causes the reflected moonlight to dance across the lake. No one is supposed to be on the lake at night, but Rupert Havelock has been quiet, taking his time and rowing slowly so that he wouldn’t throw up any splashes. Some things, he thinks, have to be done in the dark.
Now that he’s reached the center of the lake he sits quietly, reflecting on what brought him here. He’s lived a good life, or he’s tried to anyway. Providing for his family was his number one concern and he’s done that. He was the butt of every stale joke out there, selling used cars for the last thirty-two years. It wasn’t great money, and no, they didn’t jet off to Europe, or live in the biggest house in town. But there was always food on the table, clothes on their backs and the kids made it through college.
He and Marie were a team, he had always believed that. She worked too, bringing in decent money as a school nurse. Together, they got through everything, from the time they first fell in love, through all the trials and tribulations of watching the kids grow up, and heading into what should have been their golden years.
At least, that was the plan. It amazed Rupert how quickly everything could turn to dust around you. What was that saying, “Man plans and God laughs”? Something like that anyway. Today, he was fired. Sales were down, everywhere. With lower interest rates, anyone who could was going for new cars. Why pay off a used one, when you could get brand new? There had always been peaks and valleys in the used car game, and there always would be.
But this time, it was him who was let go, despite all of those years. It was nothing personal they told him, but his numbers were lower than some of the other guys. Some being the operative word, of course. The ones who had lower numbers than him but didn’t get canned, were all young, attractive, and fit, so there was more potential upside to keeping them around. More than then the older, balding, slightly overweight guy, anyway.
It would all be okay though, he had been sure of that. After all, he and Marie had been through tough times before, and they could handle this. So when she got home from work, surprised to see him there before her, he had sat her down and told her the news, as well as his plans for looking for work and how he thought they could get through in the meantime.
Marie hadn’t said anything. When Rupert was done talking, she had gotten up from the chair and walked to their bedroom. Rupert followed, feeling sure that she was heading that way so that they could take some physical comfort from each other. Instead, she had gone to her closet, opened it, and taken out her already packed suitcase.
As she passed through the kitchen on the way to the back door, she had taken off her wedding and engagement rings, and placed them on the table. Then, she walked out of the door, put her suitcase in the back seat of her car, and drove off. She never looked at Rupert, never said a word to him, and ignored his increasingly desperate questions and pleas.
For the rest of the evening, Rupert had sat and waited, sure that it was a mistake, or a cruel joke of some sort. But darkness fell, both outside and within the house, and the headlights of a car never lit up the driveway. He had thought about calling one of the kids to see if she was with them, but he couldn’t make himself pick up the phone. So he sat, in the dark, and he waited, and his mood darkened along with the sky.
Finally, close to midnight, he accepted what had happened. Not really accepted, not as in it was okay, or that it was going to be okay, but more in believing that it was real. Marie had really gone away, after all these years of marriage, simply because he had lost a job through no fault of his own. The nagging question of why she already had a bag packed was one to be answered later, if at all.
He sat and played with the rings she had left, turning them over and over in his fingers, the plain gold band and the moderate diamond catching a glint of moonlight through the window as they turned. Rupert realized that he had been doing this for hours, and looked down at them, feeling a sudden disgust. They needed to go, and be gone for good. So that even if Marie came back, she’d see that there were consequences to actions.
He had thought about the garbage, but when he went to toss them into the can, he couldn’t do it. It felt too much like saying that their whole lives together were garbage, and that wasn’t what he felt. As he thought about it, it came to him that their last several years together, especially since the kids had moved out, had become a routine, often dull. Their passion and their zeal had quietly sunk beneath the surface, with neither of them recognizing that it was happening. Well, Rupert hadn’t recognized it, maybe Marie had.
That was his answer, he thought. Let her rings sink too. So now here he was, in a rowboat, in the middle of the lake, at 1:00 in the morning, on a chilly, moonlit night.
He kissed the rings, a symbol of goodbye to them, his marriage and his hopes for tomorrow, and gently tossed them overboard. The moonlight glinted off them as they fell beneath the surface and started their slow journey to the mud far below. Rupert watched them, wondering if he should follow, and let the dark waters close over his head and put an end to his pain and bewilderment.
No, he decided. The kids were still around. They lived far away, and he didn’t see them much, but they talked, sometimes, and he wanted to see grandkids someday. So no, he would row back to shore, go home and sleep, and wake up tomorrow to take stock of what was left of his life, and where he would go from here.
As he rowed away, he didn’t look back to the spot where he had dropped the rings into the water. His heart already felt lighter, and he rowed with a bit more vigor than he had on the way out.
He woke the next morning, surprised that he had slept as well as he did. He looked next to him, but that side of the bed was still empty, the pillow undisturbed. The room grew lighter as he lay there, mustering the energy to get up and get moving. There was a part of him that argued against it. Why should he? He had nowhere to go, nothing to do, and no one to talk to. His lightening of mood the night before had disappeared.
“Doesn’t matter,” he said to himself, the muttered words sounding loud in the empty house. “Get up, get moving.”
So he did. He dragged himself from the bed and pulled on his pants which were puddled on the floor. Yawning and blinking, he made his way to the kitchen to make coffee. He’d have a cup, watch the morning news shows and figure out where life would take him now.
He was halfway across the kitchen when he stopped dead. There, on the table, in a small puddle of muddy water, sat Marie’s rings. Both her diamond engagement ring and her gold wedding band were there, as if they had never been tossed into a deep lake.
Rupert stared at them, his heart pounding in her ears.
“Marie?” he said aloud.
He knew that was ridiculous. Even if Marie had come back, which he knew she hadn’t, how would she have retrieved her rings from the water?
No, someone must have seen him out there, dove down to get the rings before they sank too far, and was now playing a mean trick on him. Only…there hadn’t been anyone else on the lake. Even if someone was watching from shore, they couldn’t have reached the spot in time, not even in a powerboat, and no engine noises had disturbed the night.
He collapsed into a kitchen chair and reached out one shaking hand. His fingers closed over the wet metal, cold and slippery. Peering at them, he looked for the inscription inside the wedding band, “To Marie, Love Rupert”, and it was there, in script, just as they had had it done. His own ring, still on his finger, read the same in reverse.
“What…” he started, and then fell silent, staring at the rings sitting in his hand.
He started to feel that they were mocking him, putting him down as much as any stupid used car salesman joke ever had. His cheeks flushed red as he continued to stare at them.
He stood up, shoved the rings into his pocket and grabbed his keys. Seconds later he was in his car, backing out of his driveway, too quickly. The driver side mirror caught the side of the house and shattered, but Rupert paid no attention to it. He also ignored the car that had to lock up its brakes to avoid slamming into him as he flew out of his driveway, and the blare of the horn from behind him.
When he got to the lake, he walked quickly out onto the fishing pier. The few anglers still there from sunup glanced at him, took in the rage on his face, and went back to their lures. Rupert stormed to the end of the dock, yanked the rings from his pocket and threw them, as far as he could, back into the lake. They arced in the morning sun, glinting and gleaming, and then, with a very soft splash, hit the water for the second time.
“Stay there, damn it,” he muttered.
The rest of the day passed in a haze. Instead of making coffee, he had paid for an overpriced cup from one of those trendy shops. The thought of spending money on something he could easily make at home, at a time when he had no income, gave him a perverse sort of pleasure. As if the world was not going to overwhelm him after all. He’d meet it head on, and he’d be the one doing the bowling over, not the other way around.
His attitude didn’t last long, and the next couple of days passed agonizingly slow. Rupert ate fast food, drank beer, watched TV and generally let himself go. The thought of those rings appearing on his table stayed in his mind, and every time he went to the refrigerator to get a beer, he looked, half expecting to see them there again.
Then, on the fourth day after Marie left, they were. Only this time, there was also a woman, sitting calmly in one of the wooden chairs, as if she was waiting for him to appear.
“What the…? Who are you? How did you get in here?” Rupert yelled.
She smiled at him, and even in his fright he noticed her teeth. They were very white, very straight, and slightly pointed. Her eyes were deep blue, with large pupils. She wore a long dress, a soft green color, and had long, blonde hair, worn loose down her back. Even though her features were a bit angular and sharp, she was still pretty and alluring in an exotic kind of way.
“I brought these back to you,” she said, indicating the rings on the table. “You should keep them.”
“Why? How? I mean…how did you even…”
Rupert trailed off, looking from the rings to the woman and back again.
“Who are you?” he finally asked, his voice a whisper.
“I am Hyacinth. These came to me, down through the water, leaving a trail of sadness in my lake. I picked them up from the mud at the bottom, and asked them for their story. They told me of good times, and of bad. And finally, they told me of loss, and sadness, and anger. And of you. So I came to give them back to you. I tried once already, but you returned them to me, so I brought them to you again.”
“How can rings tell you anything?”
“All things have their stories, and all things will tell you of them, if you but know how to ask.”
Rupert sat down in a kitchen chair across from the woman. He looked again at the rings, but didn’t make any move to touch them.
“I don’t want them,” he finally said, turning his head away. “They remind me of too much.”
“They are meant to. It is what they are for. But when they are at the bottom of my lake, they cannot do what they were made for, and their sadness adds to your own. Keep them with you, Rupert Havelock, and you will see. Their joy at being able to fulfill their purpose will slowly ease your sorrow, and then you will feel joy again.”
To his horror, Rupert felt tears forming in his eyes. He didn’t want to feel joy again, and he certainly didn’t want this reminder of better times either. As he looked at the days ahead, all he could see was boredom, loneliness, and despair.
Hyacinth got up from her chair and came to him. She moved gracefully, gliding across the floor as if she were not truly walking. She knelt by his chair and took his hand in both of hers.
“The pain you feel is transient. As all things are. It will pass, and you will find purpose and fulfillment again. You will live your life, and you will have more good, and more bad, and then you will pass from this world. My lake will dry up, or drain away, and then I will pass from this world as well. Nothing is forever Rupert, so enjoy what you can while you may!”
Rupert looked into her stunning blue eyes as she said this. His heart opened, a small amount, just enough to feel that maybe there was more to life than what he had been seeing lately.
“I don’t know how,” he said. “I feel nothing but sadness, all the time. I’m so lonely.”
She reached up and touched his face. Her hand was cool, not cold, or clammy, but cool like fresh water in a stream when you’ve been hiking in the woods on a hot summer’s day. His mind flashed to doing that, when he was younger, with Marie by his side. Instead of making him sad, he smiled a small half-smile.
“There,” Hyacinth said. “That is what I mean. There is a drop of joy.”
Rupert found that he was very tired. He could feel his eyes starting to close of their own volition and wasn’t able to stop them.
“Okay,” he mumbled, laying his head on the table. “I’ll keep them. But I don’t wanta….”
Before he was lost to sleep he thought he heard Hyacinth say that she would return, but he wasn’t sure, and before he could think more about it, he was gone.
The next morning he woke in his bed, vaguely remembering stumbling there in the middle of the night, but feeling well rested. He smirked, thinking of the weird dream he had had. He usually didn’t have such vivid dreams and very rarely remembered any of them, but this one was fresh in his memory.
When he turned to look at the clock, the first thing he saw were the two rings sitting on his nightstand. He sat bolt upright in the bed, grabbing them. There they lay in his palm, cold and hard, as real as the shirt on his back, or the bed in which he lay.
“So that wasn’t a dream…”
That thought should have set off alarm bells and made him panic. A strange, exotic woman in his house last night, uninvited, who had retrieved rings he had thrown into the lake, twice. His mind went back over the things she’d told him, and for a moment he scoffed.
Sadness was a part of life and always would be, especially his. He had next to nothing to live for now, and if it weren’t for a weekly chat with his kids…well, he did have that. He thought back to when they were small, and he was their hero; before he was boring, or stupid, or old, or anything else that kids thought of their parents as they got older. He thought of all the times that he and Marie would lie in this very bed, laughing at something one of them had done during the day that they couldn’t laugh at in front of them.
He looked down at the rings, and a wave of sadness came over him. But it was tempered by the thoughts of that laughter, and of what sometimes came after. It was a strange, bittersweet feeling, and Rupert wasn’t sure he liked it. But he also no longer felt like throwing the rings into the lake.
For one thing, if he kept them, perhaps Hyacinth would come back. That thought was thrilling. Not in a romantic, or sexual way, but in an “I’m having an adventure” way.
Perhaps today he would clean up, just in case. Throw away some of the beer bottles and food wrappers that were around, and do the dishes. Things like that. As he looked around, he realized how much he had been neglecting these last few days. Even if Marie had done the cleaning in the past, there was no reason for him to live like a slob. That wasn’t him.
He passed the day that way, and by evening had the house back in order. He left the windows open to get rid of any odors, and let fresh air in.
But Hyacinth didn’t return, and Rupert felt a new pang of loneliness sweep through him.
“You’re being ridiculous,” he told himself. “You’re not even sure that she said she would come back. Man up. Tomorrow is another day.”
And it was another day, and then one after that. Rupert kept up on the chores, mowing the lawn, doing the shopping and looking for a new job. He kept himself occupied and found his spirits rising bit by bit. There were days that he forced it, and days that he faked it, but he kept pressing on, always remembering Hyacinth’s words.
Then, one night, she was there again, sitting in the kitchen as before. He had gone out to get a drink of water and there she was, still dressed in a long, pale, green dress.
“Good evening to you, Rupert Havelock.”
Rupert sat down heavily in a chair.
“You are real,” he said, staring at her. “I wasn’t sure…”
“I am. As real as you. I came back because I can still feel you, all the way to the bottom of my lake, I can feel your sadness.”
“I’m sorry. I’m trying, I really am.”
“I know that. I can feel that as well. You are a good man, Rupert, and what you are doing is hard. You have listened and taken my words to heart, and that makes me glad and comforted. But I wish to do more to ease your hardship.”
“Why?” Rupert asked. “Why me? I’m just some guy.”
“I feel an odd kinship with you. It hurts me that you are sad. This is for you, it comes from an old part of my lake, a part that I rarely go to, and it has been there for a very long time.”
She put a gold coin on the table and stood in a single flowing movement.
“Keep it with you, my friend, and let it bring you good fortune.”
She moved around the table, kissed Rupert lightly on the cheek and then was gone, out through the back door and into the night.
Rupert sat at the table holding the coin and occasionally lifting a hand to his cheek where her lips had touched him.
The next day, he saw an on-line ad for a salesman wanted at one of the big, new car lots in the next town over. He called, sent in his resume and was offered an interview. They were overstocked on used cars from trade-ins and needed someone to push that department harder. Rupert knew used cars, and knew the business. He was charming and upbeat in the interview and showed his knowledge and drive to succeed.
They offered him a job, on the spot, but not the salesman job that he was interviewing for. After some discussion, the dealership decided that he was a better fit for a managerial position, and he would head up a whole new team dedicated to moving the inventory of used cars. The team would be his to run as he saw fit, as long as he made sales. For the first time in many years, that old fire was back in Rupert’s belly.
He was going to make a generous salary, with full benefits and a good commission package as well. Never in his life had he been so financially secure. When he returned home, he opened a bottle of wine to celebrate. He took it outside, to his nicely maintained yard and sat at the patio table. From his pocket, he took the gold coin and the rings, and set them down. The sunlight gleamed on each.
“Thank you,” he said quietly, to Hyacinth, wherever she was in her lake, hoping that she could feel his gratitude as easily as she could his sadness.
When he looked at the rings, he thought back to the early years, when he and Marie didn’t have much money, but were still happy. Over time, they had made more, to an extent, but he had never risen very far in his career. Other things seemed so much more important. Now that he looked back, he could see the worry in Marie’s face that he had missed then.
“I’m sorry,” he said, but this time he was talking to Marie.
But for now, life was on the upswing. He sipped his wine, and watched the birds flutter through the trees, and the squirrels chase each other through the branches and for a bit, he was content.
It was longer this time, before he saw Hyacinth again. He worked his new job and found satisfaction in that. Money ceased to be a worry. He wasn’t wealthy, but he was comfortable and the new division at work was going well. He was able to pay his bills and have money left over for entertainment. He went to the movies at times, or out to eat, but always by himself. After a while, he started to feel lonely, but didn’t know what to do about it. It had been a long time since he had needed to make new friends, and now he realized how much of his life had centered on Marie and the kids, and then on things like TV.
So the night came that he went into his kitchen and found Hyacinth sitting at the table, just as she had the other times.
“Hyacinth! Hello! Why are you…I mean, it’s great to see you, but why are you here?”
“I came to see how my friend Rupert Havelock is faring. Do you have all that you could wish for? Happiness, prosperity?”
Rupert sat down, pulling out the rings and the golden coin and placing them on the table.
“It’s because of these, isn’t it? You’ve done something to them, some sort of magic, that makes them like good luck charms or something. Right?”
“I’m not sure what you mean by magic. If you mean to say that I’ve released their ability to do as they were always intended to do, then maybe I have, in some small way. But most of it has come from you, Rupert. You were the one who chose happiness over sadness, and who chose hard work over idleness. Do not sell yourself short in this regard.”
Rupert blushed at the praise.
“Well, that’s kind of you. But still….I like to think that a large part of it has to do with you.”
“I am glad you are doing well, my friend. And now, I must return to my lake.”
She stood, and moved around the table, meeting Rupert as he rose. She placed her arms around his neck and hugged him and he returned the hug warmly. But when she released him, Rupert held on.
“Can’t you stay for a while? Have a glass of wine? Or a cup of tea? Do you even drink?”
“I cannot,” she replied, laughing as she spoke, and slipped out of his grasp.
Before she left, she turned back to him.
“I feel something new from you, Rupert. It is unfamiliar to me…but could it be loneliness?”
“Probably,” he replied. “I’m so grateful for all that you’ve done, I just wish I had people to share it with, but I don’t know how to do that anymore.”
Hyacinth regarded him, and then stepped near again. From her long, blonde hair she removed a hair clip, made out of shell, and handed it to him.
“Keep this,” she told him, “and may it bring you friendship and communion.”
Then she was gone.
Rupert held the hair clip. He could feel the coolness of it, as he could feel the coolness within Hyacinth whenever she touched him. He put it with the coin and the rings and slipped it into his pocket.
The next day at work, a man came in to buy a car for his daughter. He was about the same age as Rupert, who handled the sale himself. During the transaction, they struck up conversations about this and that, and found that they had much in common. David, as the customer was named, was in a dart league at a local pub, which played on Monday and Wednesday nights.
“You should come,” he said to Rupert. “We need another player, since Bob moved. What do you say?”
Rupert considered. He used to play darts quite a bit, when he was younger. It was one of the things that he and Marie had enjoyed. Having a drink or two, throwing darts and laughing. He remembered those times with fondness.
“Ok,” he said. “I’ll be there. Tomorrow night.”
It was a great evening when he went and joined the team. He fit in with the three other men as if he had known them forever. He couldn’t remember when beer had tasted so good, the darts had flown so true, or he had laughed so much.
When he got home that night, he carefully put the hair clip on the nightstand along with the coin and the rings and looked at them all, shining in the light from the room.
“Thank you,” he whispered again, before turning off the light and going to sleep.
Now life was even better than it had been before, and rivaled his best times with Marie, although in a different way. His involvement with the dart team had led to invitations to his new friends’ homes for weekend cook-outs, where he met their families and neighbors. He began talking to his own neighbors and finding that they were good, interesting people, and even hosted a backyard barbeque of his own.
He was busy whenever he wished to be, and when he wanted a night alone, to relax and watch TV or read a book, his friends understood and welcomed him back the next night with open arms.
Months passed, and Rupert was very happy. His relationship with his children improved, and the obligatory weekly calls became more frequent, and less forced. They even came to visit, and brought their families to his cook-out.
In all this time, Rupert felt only one small twinge of discontent. Most of his friends were still happily married, with wives that loved them. He was happy for them, of course, but there was a small kernel of want within him, a small kernel that desired that for himself again. To have someone in his life, like Marie had once been, who looked at him with love in her eyes, who he could be with at night, and look forward to coming home to at the end of the day.
He wasn’t sure when that had changed. When had it become that he more looked forward to coming home to his chair, and his TV, than he did to seeing her? When had it begun that she would stay in one room at night, doing things that held no interest to him, not even to ask her about, while he wasted away the evenings with sit-coms and police procedurals? Looking back, he saw all the times that she had tried to reignite flames of any sort within him, and how many times he had casually blown them out.
Then one night, Hyacinth was there once again.
“Hello my friend,” she said, when Rupert entered the kitchen.
Rupert smiled and sat down, as he always did when she visited.
“You felt something, didn’t you?” he asked.
“I did. You are so very happy, Rupert, but you miss one thing in your life. You wish for a mate.”
Rupert lowered his eyes.
“I guess I do,” he said. “I’m so happy, and I have everything I could want, really. I mean, I’m getting old. I don’t really need a girlfriend, do I?”
When he asked this last, he lifted his eyes to her, and knew that he was openly asking for her help again.
“Rupert, my friend, I adore you, and would give you someone to comfort you if I could. But I have no item that possesses that purpose to give to you. I am sorry.”
“Well…what about you? Why can’t you stay? Or…I’ll come with you…to the lake, I mean.”
He stopped, aware that he was babbling. Hyacinth smiled at him.
“You know that is not possible. I love you, Rupert Havelock, but not in that manner. My life and fate are already entwined with another. With he who stays in the deep part of the lake, awaiting my return. I must return to him. But you have the gifts that you need, my friend. You have them within you.”
She stood and left, this time not coming to, or touching him at all.
But her words stayed with him, and over the coming days, weeks and months he was even more open, and to his surprise, he found a woman, Robin, who was interested in him. They began to date, and spend time together. They attended get-togethers with each other, and his friends were glad for him, and happy to see her as well. His children met her, and they were approving and gave their father their blessing.
Even when the paperwork for the divorce from Marie came through, Rupert felt only a slight twinge of bitterness, but it was more at himself and the things he had done that drove her away than it was at her. He felt such passion for Robin, such a desire for her, and couldn’t even remember when that had faded with Marie.
Over time, they had stopped holding hands, or sitting side by side as much. Space between them became the norm, and it grew wider in every way. Finally, there were nights that she slept in one bed, and he in another, with the excuse that his snoring would keep her awake. In reality, it was because they didn’t care if they were next to each other or not.
But now his life was well and truly complete. He had all that he could have wished for, and felt no longings for more, or anything different. He looked back at what he considered his past life and vowed to use those lessons to make this new chance different, better, and to not take things for granted.
He didn’t see Hyacinth again, although he kept her gifts to him close by. He kept the rings, the coin and the hair clip in his wallet, and when Robin asked about them, he laughed them off as his good luck charms. Within a year, they married, and on his wedding night, he looked at his charms, and whispered “thank you” to them when she was in the bathroom readying herself for their honeymoon.
Several wonderful years passed, and he and Robin watched his children’s families grow, and their grandchildren come into the world. They retired, and spent time travelling and seeing the world. They attended weddings and a few funerals. The times of joy they shared, and laughed with each other, and comforted each other during the times of grief.
Then came the day that Robin went to the doctor for a checkup, and the call shortly after. She went back for tests, and then they sat in the doctor’s office, and it was there that they got the news. Rupert listened in a fog, not really hearing, but noting the words “inoperable” and “a few months”.
When they got home, Robin lay down and fell asleep. The disease in her body was already starting to take its toll, as it had been for a while without either of them noticing. Rupert sat and watched her breathe, knowing that soon, he wouldn’t be able to.
In the middle of the night, he slipped out of bed, took the hair clip, the coin and the rings, and drove to the lake. He took a boat again, and soon was in the middle, the breeze blowing as it had that night so many years before.
He looked at the charms in his hand, and then at the dark waters of the lake.
“Hyacinth,” he called. “Can you hear me? Please. I need you.”
For several minutes there was no sound but the breeze in the trees. Then, there was a soft splash, and Hyacinth rose up through the water alongside the boat.
“My friend,” she said.
She hadn’t aged a single bit. She still wore the long, pale green gown and her long, blonde hair still flowed down her back. She still had stunning blue eyes and angular, exotic features.
When she first appeared, she was smiling, but after seeing the anguish on Rupert’s face, she stopped.
“Oh my dear Rupert. What is it? Why are you so sad once again? You who have so many gifts?”
Rupert broke down, there in the rowboat, and started to sob. He managed to get out that Robin was going to die, and there was nothing he could do about it.
“But you,” he said, his head coming up to look at Hyacinth, his cheeks wet with tears. “You can, right? You can save her. Isn’t there something…some item that was made for that?”
Hyacinth rose out of the water completely and into the boat. She put her arms around Rupert and hugged him tightly.
“On my dear friend,” she said again. “There is no item that can do that, nor is it within me, nor the one who dwells far below us and holds my heart. All things will end, and we that are left behind will ache for that loss. I am so sorry, my friend.”
She held him like that for a long time while he cried. Finally, he dried his eyes and looked at her.
“Can I trade?” he said. “If I give you these items back, will you take them and then it will be okay? Even if I can’t be with her?”
“Rupert, the items were never magic. I have told you this before, although you didn’t believe. The magic was within you, as it is within all things. Return to your beloved, hold her and be with her while you may. Rejoice in what you have built together and know that it will outlast both of you, and that is a good and kind thing.”
She slipped out of the boat and back into the water.
“Goodbye my friend,” she said. “Know that you will always have a place in my heart as well. Keep a thought for Hyacinth and her words in yours also. You are loved.”
She sank into the lake and out of view. Rupert never saw her again.
In the following months he went through the worst and most difficult time he had ever experienced, or ever would. But his children were with him, and his friends, all of whom had loved Robin too. With their help and support, he made it and over time was able to look back on his life with Robin and smile.
He smiled for all the good times and the way she had helped him through the bad. He smiled when he thought of their closeness, and the thought that someday, he would be near her again.
And every night when he went to bed, he put the hair clip, the coin, and the rings on the nightstand and whispered, “thank you.”