[This post is from Thomas Merlin Ambrose’s point of view.]
Steel gray clouds had started to mass in the west by the time we stood up from our spot in the grass. Wind whispered through the branches in the trees beyond us, but that wind didn’t quite reach the ground—not yet, anyway. Despite what was clearly an approaching storm, Carolyn seemed unhurried as she matched pace with me, walking silently up the hill from the barrow. She must have known something that I didn’t—or simply had decided not to worry about things she couldn’t yet change.
“It looks like it’s going to storm,” I murmured after a long silence. We neared the top of the hill where the remnants of a garden spread next to an old ruin of a building, long ago all but reclaimed by nature. There were sketches in one of my father’s notebooks of what it had looked like, once—at least, I assumed that it was this building. There were a lot in those books.
“Mm,” she said, pausing by an old, broken bench. It would have been beautiful, once, and it still had an odd sort of beauty even now, its slab broken in half, one end torn from its pedestal. I knew that if I touched the stone of it, it’d be cooler than the sun-warmed broken concrete that lay ahead.
“It probably is,” she said. “Thordin thought it might but he didn’t want to reach too far. He’s learned better.”
It was something I heard often enough but never asked too many questions about. If one of them wanted to explain that, they would. So far, no one had.
A trace of sadness crossed her features as her gaze drifted over the ruined garden. I watched, shifting my weight carefully to ease the aching in every part of my body, then wet my lips. “You okay, Aunt Caro?”
She smiled back over her shoulder at me. “You’re not the only one who comes out here sometimes to think and remember,” she said, then took my hand gently. “Come on. Let’s get back before the rain starts.”