A Heart Full Of Dust
Al Bruno III
Vagabond spoke little as they trudged through the swamp. The mire was knee deep and reeked of stagnation. Half-dead sycamore trees sprouted from the water, their gnarled branches hanging heavily. Both he and Lily carried metal bars salvaged from the trawler, primarily to use as walking sticks, but also because Vagabond was worried about what could be spawning in this squalid bog. The glow from the tower was close now- its light filtered though the trees like an artificial sun.
“What do we do when we get there?” Lily asked as she wiped the grime from her monitor.
“Storm the hive, steal back the Splinter, escape with our lives and live happily ever after,” he said, “the usual.”
“I hate it when you make jokes at a time like this.”
“When this is over I’m going to change my name into something more… ordinary.”
He stopped suddenly, “You should choose it.”
“Why?” she asked.
“Because if you pick the name then a part of me will always belong to you,” he winked. “Sweet enough? Like the old times?”
“How about Jason?” she paused looking at him uncertainly, “Is that ok?”
“I like it fine.” he kissed her screen gently.
She wrapped her arms around him, “I love you.”
Vagabond looked like he might burst into tears at any moment, “You would forgive me anything? Even now?”
“I love you Lily.” They kissed, Vagabond crushing her to him. Then whispered, “Orchid.”
Lily froze, her loving face replaced by the words DIAGNOSTIC IN PROGRESS. Vagabond carefully leaned her against a tree and then continued on his way. That last kiss had nicked his lower lip, he dabbed at it and then continued on alone.