Chapter 12

How nervous—how terrified—had I been when they told me he was here—fragmented remains, nothing more. Even still, I nearly thought the knowledge—telling no one, no where—would drive me completely mad. But I could be trusted, they said. I could handle it, they said. So too I said, and observed in silence, emplaced.

For many nights, I kept my watch, my distance. He would not see me, sense me, know me. I was determined. But then again, so was he.

Thump, tha-thump, tha-thump.

I heard it then, the steady, softly beating. An unwavering drum, calling out, bidding me to follow. The pests, the wind, I told myself, cocooned in lackless supposition.

I wished to be gone from here.

But they trusted me, they said. I could handle it, I said. So too were they convinced, and left me to my watch.

The sound returned for me, over and over and over, until it lost all patience and began to swell. Loud and round it filled my head, roaring and resounding—

The pulsing of a heart.

I must see him, sense him, know him. How this thought entered my mind, I cannot say, but there it stayed, eternally.

Tha-thump, tha-thump, tha-thump.

I placed my hand along his cask.

Tha-thump, tha-thump, tha-thump.

I held him there, inside my hands, and screamed into the thick, deep dark.

—An excerpt from "The Forlorn Heart"