Moira sits on the sand and waits. The tide tickles the bottom of her feet, then washes over her body. And she waits. Weary green eyes on the horizon. Wet tresses crusty with salt frame her trembling face, and her lips round as she blows out every shaky breath.
Three hours she’s waited here, in the soft grey sand between the sharp and glassy rocks. Three hours with nary a sign. The garrison said they were coming home. They didn’t say who.
The furious growl of engines sounds over the hill behind her, and her head snaps up to the sky to watch the planes pass above and out over the sea. A friendly pair painted with the blue of her country.
“Tell me what you see,” she whispers.
The planes shrink to pinpricks long after the sounds of their engines fade. And then Moira is alone again.
She folds her arms around her body to keep away the chill. Her mother would have been so furious if she knew Moira was out here, but Moira was angry at all the others sitting in their homes by the fires with their dogs. The garrison said they’d come to this beach first. How could the people in the village keep themselves away?
“Foolish to hope, helpless to cope,” she said quietly through her shivers. “Around, around she spins, with ne’er a breath and always chagrin. My forlorn Marcelyn.”
Moira hates the rhyme her mother taught her. She hates that she must sing it alone.
So many died across the sea, and so too probably did he. She wants him back, to sing with her in the flesh and not her head. So she will wait, as long as he needs her to wait.
The planes appear on the horizon again, and when she hears their engines, like purrs now, she also sees the lines of blue smoke trailing from their tail. Almost home, they say. Moira’s rhyme cuts short and she breathes in deep as the planes cross overhead and back to the town. The smoke dissolves before it reaches her, but she reaches up to try and catch it anyway.
“Foolish to hope,” she says. “Helpless to cope. My forlorn…”
Her eyes close and her head falls back down. “Foolish to hope.” She opens her eyes after a time and takes in the dark blotting of ships along the horizon.
The boats take form as they near, and Moira hungrily consumes every detail. The names of each, how many heads she can count, the strength of the wind in their sails. Only three.
Unsteadily, she rises to her feet and sways in the icy breeze. The ships are heading a little farther south. She climbs over the rocks, slipping over the smooth lines and cutting a thin line in her calf.
She falls to the ground on the other side and stumbles through the thick sand, her eyes never leaving the incoming ships. The first one pulls up onto shore, and amid the rush of fifty pairs of heavy boots, they angle a plank out onto the sand.
The other ships pull up behind it, one by one.
“Faust?” Moira desperately scans the faces of the men coming ashore.
A little louder: “Faust?”
Foolish to hope. Helpless to cope.
The soldiers stream around her. Most of their gaunt and ashen faces pay her no mind.
“Pardon me, miss, you’re bleeding and soaked!” A soldier takes her arm. “You’ll freeze to death out here. Take my coat.”
Around, around she spins.
Moira shirks from his grip with a twirl and moves to the second boat, her steps clumsier and quicker. Her arms flail at her sides with urgency.
“Faust!” she screams. More softly, with a panting sob, “Please.”
With ne’er a breath and always chagrin.
So many faces, none of them his. So much noise and people talking. Equipment scraping against the deck. Men shouting to each other. The groans of the wounded.
Only one boat left. “Faust, Faust!” She collides with a soldier and bounces away from him before either can apologize.
Moira stops and tries to catch her breath. None of them. Of course he would have died. Two hundred of two thousand. He would have to be so lucky to have lived.
She places a hand on her stomach and moans as the tears stream down her face. “It can’t be… I cannot be alone. I can… I cannot.”
My forlorn Marceㅡ
She looks up. Around. Frantic.
There, just coming off the ship last. His boots plant into the sand. A bloodied bandage wraps around his head and hides his auburn locks, but that face… it can only belong to one.
Moira calls out his name and stumbles forward, her arms outstretched. And then she’s running, and he’s running to her. Their bodies meet and she wraps her arms around him like if she doesn’t hold tight enough he’ll evaporate into a dream.
She sobs into his fatigues, each breath chaotic as her hysteria and elation collide. His arms are strong around her, the most unbreakable hold in the world. Faust coos and presses his lips to the top of her wet head.
Moira pulls her head back and holds the sides of his face. “You’re alive. You shouldn’t be alive. Oh God, you came back to me. You came back.”
Faust smiles, as if it’s easy to smile after what he’s been through. With that smile he takes her lips in his and gifts the air and calm she needs. When he pulls away, no longer does her body tremble.
“You’re alive?” she whispers and laughs a little.
“I’m alive,” he says and presses his forehead to hers. “My dear, forlorn Moira, I’m alive.”
Moira closes her eyes and sighs, content.