Now he understood what it was to be a man: that it was to be weak as well as strong, to be foolish sometimes and wise sometimes, to know love as well as to kill. And he had learned that there were other paths for him, other gods who called in the deep places of the earth, in the lap of wavelets on the shore, in the breath of the wind. He had learned that there were other kinds of courage. He knew, with deep certainty, that the islands held a new path for him. He need only move forward and find it.

Perhaps he could still weave together the broken threads of his life. And yet, I wanted him here now. I needed him here. In the darkness, if I sat very still, I could almost feel his presence by me, quite near, but not too near. Didn’t I promise to keep you safe, he would say softly. I have never broken a promise. Don’t look so worried, Jenny. And yet, he would be careful. Careful not to move too close. Careful not to frighten me. Waiting still. I am your shelter. Don’t be afraid.

I have listened to many tales in my life, and told a few of my own. If this has taught me anything, it is that there are
some occurrences that change the course of things, that make an alteration far beyond their own apparent magnitude. It
is like the throwing of a tiny pebble into a pool, how it makes an ever-expanding circle of ripples, spreading right
across the water’s surface.

He would have told her – he would have said, it matters not if you are here or there, for I see you before me every moment. I see you in the light of the water, in the swaying of the young trees in the spring wind. I see you in the shadows of the great oaks, I hear your voice in the cry of the owl at night. You are the blood in my veins, and the beating of my heart. You are my first waking thought, and my last sigh before sleeping. You are – you are bone of my bone, and breath of my breath.

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