Hello again, Readers! I did promise that I wouldn’t fail to give you an update in Stella and Griffin’s story, especially after Thursday’s exciting read (if you missed it, you can check it out here), so here you are. I know some of you are just dying to know about the mysterious Roy, who we now know has become one of the Taken, his soul captured by the Soul-Eater residing somewhere in the South. Today I’m going to give a little back story on our dear Roy, which will hopefully satisfy you. It’s been a little hard for me, I guess because I’ve liked having Roy as this golden enigma and to reveal him seemed like a task I wouldn’t be able to live up to. I’ll let you be the judge if I did.
The WordPress Daily Prompt word of the day is Capable. Since I am currently listening to a radio dramatization of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, the quote that immediately came to mind upon hearing this word was this quote from Miss Lucy Steele:
“Though you do not know him so well as me, Miss Dashwood, you must have seen enough of him to be sensible he is very capable of making a woman sincerely attached to him.”
Let us see if the same holds true for Roy.
Cross My Heart
For as long as I can remember, there has been Roy.
Long before my little sister Dawn arrived into the world, bold and bright and made for friendship, my devotion had already been given to the boy down the lane. His mother was friends with mine, and she liked to gossip when she came to get her flour from my parents’ mill. She would bring along Roy, who was a year older than me, and we would play together.
I was shy, my mother told me. But Roy was a determined little boy and drew me to him like a flower turns to the sun. “Roy,” was one of my first words. We grew up together, playing in the mornings under the watchful eyes of our laughing mothers, until we were old enough to be trusted on our own for a short while. Our play moved from the kitchen floor to the backyard to the little woods not far from my home, to the village streets and the green in the center of town. We were inseparable and our adventures were many. Dawn trailed after us, laughing and trying to keep up, but I often wanted to keep Roy to myself. Still, my sweet sister never seemed to begrudge me for it. She was too bright and bubbly, and she made friends so easily, that she was only ever neglected by me.
When I was nine and he was ten years old, Roy announced his dreams of travel, of seeing the far off sea and the mountains in the north, exploring and visiting all of the king’s country. “They’ll sing songs about me!” cried Roy, climbing up the tree in the village green.
“And me!” I shouted, climbing after him. “You can’t go anywhere without me!”
“Never!” Roy declared, leaning out of the tree above me, holding on with only one hand. The other he had placed over his heart. “It would be no great adventure without you, Stella.” He grinned wickedly. “After all, who would be my page boy?”
I gasped angrily. “Roy!” and he laughed and climbed faster. I scurried up after him, ignoring Dawn’s cries for us to be careful from the ground below. Though I was the oldest, Dawn had more of the maternal instincts. At last I was close enough to almost reach his foot. “I am nobody’s page boy!” I shouted, reaching for him. He laughed and dangled his foot just out of my grasp. Then he was swinging on the branch above me and dropped down past me to a large branch on my right. My eyes were wide, in awe of his recklessness, which to my eyes was all fierce bravery.
I looked down at him. He was still laughing, his sea-green eyes crinkled up in the corners and sparkling. I loved when he laughed, but that was not what I was thinking at the moment. I gave him my most determined glare. “I’m braver than any page boy,” I told him. Then I jumped.
I remember that moment with stunning clarity – the laughter on his face slipping away into something like fear and his hand reaching out for me. I landed on the branch next to him, and for one gleeful moment I was sure I had shocked and impressed him. But then the branch cracked.
Everything after that piercing crack was a blur. Roy shouted my name and Dawn screamed, and I felt Roy grab at my dress but I was already falling down, crashing through the lower branches of the tree – we had nearly climbed to the top – and then there was empty air and the ground and pain all over. There was a thumping in my head that I thought was my heart but must have been the sound of running feet. My sister’s scream had alerted the other adults in the village square and through the dimming light I saw faces all around and heard voices I didn’t understand. The last thing I remember is hearing my name. Roy was still shouting it. I tried to answer but I couldn’t. My lips wouldn’t work. Then everything faded to black.
When I woke up again, I was in my own kitchen, in a cot near our fireplace. I hurt all over. Somewhere I could hear the murmur of voices. I tried to sit up, but couldn’t. “Roy?” I called. “Mama?” Instantly my mother appeared at my side, her face drawn and pinched near her mouth and eyes. I felt tears well up in my own eyes. “Am I in trouble, Mama?”
Her face softened and she brought a soft, cool hand to my forehead. “No, my bright little star. But you gave all of us quite a fright, falling like you did.” I tried to sit up again but she pushed me back down, gently. “Rest, Stella. You hurt yourself very badly. You need to lie still and rest while you heal.” I noticed then that my right arm was in a sling, and there was a large bandage on my foot. Bits of gaze were wrapped around the rest of my arms and legs, some of it stained pink. “You will have at least one scar, my wild child,” my mother said.
I didn’t say anything for a moment. I was trying to remember what had happened. “Where’s Roy?” I finally asked. “And Dawn?”
“Your sister is in the mill with your father. I told her to go do something useful. She was going to wake you with her nervous pacing.”
My mother frowned very slightly but then gave me a small smile. “I told him he could come see you again in the morning. He did not want to leave you either.”
The next morning did not come soon enough. I was still in a lot of pain and slept fitfully in my cot by the fire. Twice my mother got up to put a cool, damp cloth on my forehead and check my bandages. She seemed concerned about fever and infection, as did the local healer. I was given some bitter tea to drink.
I was still half asleep when Roy arrived, but at his appearance I forced myself to wake up. Roy didn’t look like his usual confident self. He held his hands behind his back and he shuffled forward, a contrite look on his face. “I’m sorry Stella,” he mumbled. “This is all my fault. These are for you.”
Before I could utter any word of protest at his declaration, he pulled out a handful of wild flowers from behind his back and held them out to me. “Thank you,” I said, reaching across my body with my left hand to take them from him.
“Your bone was sticking out,” he blurted.
I looked at him, eyes wide. No one had told me the details. Only that my arm had been broken, my ankle sprained and my ribs cracked. Dozens of little scratches covered my arms and legs.
Roy looked like he was bursting to tell me this, like he had been saving it all night. “Your bone was sticking clean out of your arm, and you didn’t even cry.” He stressed the last part so I would know how important it was. “You didn’t cry at all. You just said, See? I am brave. I am brave. I am. There was blood everywhere and Dawn was crying and you just looked like a fallen warrior. It was the bravest thing I’ve ever seen.”
I was still looking at him in shock. Roy returned my gaze, looking serious and earnest. “You are the bravest person I know, Stella. I think I will have to be the page boy instead.” His mouth twitched then, and suddenly we were both laughing, even though laughing made my sides hurt terribly. I started coughing, and Roy fetched me a glass of water.
“How about neither of us be page boys,” I said. “We will both be grand adventurers and they will sing songs about both of us.”
Roy gave me his brightest smile, my favorite. “Perfect,” he said.”And I’ll never go anywhere without you,” he promised. “Cross my heart.” He echoed the gesture with his finger, signing an x over his heart.
I did the same, crossing with my left hand instead of my right. “Cross my heart.”