‘Come on, Hugo! Can’t you swim faster?’ I scream over the resting waves splashing on my face.
‘I’ve had supper—an hour ago, Allaire.’ He manages to speak spilling water out of his mouth.
‘We’re almost there.’ I state & continue swimming. A little lackadaisically, though, as it has turned quite dark since we’ve reached within the mountain’s shadow.

Finally getting out of the river, he collapses on a rock covered with weeds. I still can’t believe this is happening for real.
‘Are you okay?’ I kneel next to his shivering body and start rubbing his palms.
‘I’m glad you told me that we’re going to leave our boat on its own before jumping off in the water. Oh wait, you didn’t tell me, did you?’ I laugh and take his sarcasm as a sign of being normal.

‘Up on your feet, my love.’ Dusting off the weeds from his jeans he stands and looks around. Finally, someone other than me has seen it. My wonderland. 
‘What is this place?’ His hollow voice repeats the question rebounded from the walls enclosing us. ‘Shush.’ I run my finger over his wet lips.
‘You know what it is.’ He’s stopped listening to me, mesmerized by the beauty in front of him. Running fingers over the cool stony walls, stepping on the damp ground below, barefooted & the perfect hum of river running towards the sea. There are a few vines climbing around but our small bed is as clean as I left it after yesterday’s visit. It’s not fair to call it a bed but a bundle of 6 blankets was all I could bring in the plastic bags. Yesterday when I came here I brought all the resources, too. Now my cave is habitable.

‘Is this where you hid—’ His voice cuts off realizing the truth. I hurry towards the bed and ignite the makeshift bonfire, he sits opposite to me after taking off his wet clothes.
‘You want to catch a cold, don’t you?’ He nods towards me and I feel embarrassed to feel warm, to take off my dress. He’s seen your cave, that’s as good as seeing you naked, Allaire.
I know my cheeks have turned red because Hugo is laughing as he sits beside me and covers me with the only blanket that I’ve not used in thickening our bed.

‘Don’t be a gentleman, come in.’ I open the blanket and take him in, my cold skin rubbing against his. He puts an arm around me & it all comes back to me.

9 years ago Lisieux wasn’t like it is now. My mother brought me here.  “It’s safe here, teddykins. No one will find you. It’s all the food you have for indefinite days, until you hear everything is calm you’re not going to get out of here.” 6th June 1944, was the day when I last saw her. Leaving me in this cave she went back to find my sister but never returned. The D-Day of Normandy destroyed two thirds of my town. My home. My family. Everything I ever had. I wonder if I wasn’t in this cave for 3 days could I ever survive the bombings. When I left the cave, some militants took me in and left me in a Children’s home in the safer part of France. It is still unpleasant to imagine my city after the bombings. The buildings brought down to dust, nothing but trash which would be cleared when they rebuild it. People who I knew, now lying lifeless beside each other. They never found my family. I was worried what might had turned of them, but I like to think that they fled the war zone to somewhere safe. Like me.

I must’ve been lost for a long time since Hugo is asking me if I want to sleep. I shake my head and look at his strawberry shaped face, the bonfire sparkling in his eyes turn his green iris into orange. I met him when 9 years ago, he was brought from Saint-Nazaire which was completely destroyed. We didn’t fall in love until last year, though. But it’s perfect having someone who doesn’t show sympathy after knowing my past, rather understands it.
He’s picking me up in his strong arms, I’m too tired to reject his ride. Holding onto his neck, he carefully places me on the bed. He turns around but I hold on to his wrist.

‘Don’t go.’ I whisper and he gives me a wolfish smile. As he lies beside me, my energy returns. I climb on him and bite his lips, he doesn’t object. His hand is now stroking my bare back, making it’s way down to my hips. Our feet are entwined in each other. Kissing me still, his rough hands fondle gently around my breasts and I suddenly feel colder than I did after coming out of water. He turns me on my back and I breathe in his fragrance mixed with the smell of my city where we traveled around all day, today. He kisses my cheek and whispers, ‘You’re safe with me.’

Little does he know, how pure he has made my safest place with his presence. He slides down, tickling my body with his lips sending tremors with every touch and I feel him inside me. The cold has vanished, now replaced my the warmth radiated by us.

We’re both sweating when he spoons me, facing the dying bonfire. Tomorrow, I know when I’ll get out there wouldn’t be ashes of my home and the faces of my dead neighbors but a bright start of my life with the man who loves me the most.

©The Honest Fabler

©Cover Credits- Google Images.


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