The Future Begins

Last week Deirdre and Naoise made plans to elope…

The owl’s hoot came as the moon sailed gracefully from the treetops.  Earlier, I had raced back home, over the wall, and started putting the garden back to the way I had found it earlier.  My foster parents came home at sundown, and I eagerly questioned them about the festival.  They went to bed soon after, exhausted by the events of the day.

I watched them slumbering peacefully together, a moonbeam brushing over their faces.  In my hand I held a carefully written letter, explaining my decision and absolving them of any blame.  I hoped they would not get into trouble.  I did love them most sincerely, but sometimes one has to look after oneself as well.

When the signal floated over the wall, it was quickly followed by a rope.  I climbed up.  There he was, my beloved, a dim shape beneath the wall, but the moon illuminated the smile on his face, which dispelled forever any doubts that he didn’t want this.

I slid down into his arms, grinning from ear to ear.  “You are here!  Let’s go!”

“We have a long way to go.” He whispered back, excitement streaking his voice.  “Let’s run whilst it’s dark and talk later.  Can you ride?”

No, I had never ridden.  The boys had tied three horses nearby, and we mounted and rode through the night, me clinging on to Naoise for dear life.  We plunged almost immediately into the woods and for several hours the trees and shrubs streamed into each other, blurring my vision into one dark mass.  Time seemed endless as the wind blew cold past our skin.  The only solid thing in a moving world was my Naoise, who skilfully guided the horse onwards.  I had no idea how he managed it, but as we came over a hill I could see the dawn starting to glimmer on a glistening patch of silver.  Salt rushed into my mouth and eyes in the morning breeze.

The sea!

I felt a jolt of surprise.  Somehow I hadn’t thought of leaving Ireland.  But as it sank into me, the more I liked the idea.  To visit new lands, new peoples, to see how they lived…

I was finally getting my chance at living.  And with Naoise…

We dismounted by a little boat on the inlet.  Naoise lifted me down and wrapped my cloak more securely round me.  “Do you mind leaving the country, my Deirdre?  I was thinking Scotland.  We have friends there.”

“Not at all,” I said, snuggling into his arms.  “Wherever I am is home, if you are there.”

His smile lit up his face like a candle in a dark room, and as the first rays of sun peeked on us above the horizon, we kissed.

When we had run out of air, we turned to see the boys with their hands over their eyes.  “Are you done with the mushy stuff?” Ardan complained.

“We are done, for now.” Naoise laughed at them.  “One day it will be my turn to tease you, so don’t try me too much.”

We embarked, and Ainnle and Ardan rowed the boat into deeper water before putting up the sail.  Naoise and I sat huddled together in the bow as we sailed into the direction of the sun, and then turned towards Scotland.  Birds flew over our heads, squawking and yelling in the new day.  Our future beckoned…