The morning after Yasna disappeared, the Slaveni were in an uproar. They sent a party to search for her, but they did not find her. Morana said her disappearance was proof of her witchery, but most thought she had been taken by the spirits to live in the woods where she had been happiest, gathering her herbs to make medicines.
Yaroslav became an old man overnight, and shrived up and sat in front of the doorstop, day after day, useless, gazing up at nothing. Sometimes he wandered down by the river, looking into the water and one day he was found, drowned, though he had a peaceful expression on his face. People said he had gone mad looking for his daughter.
Mitar and the others sent me far from the Slaveni, to the grasslands, where one day is just like another, unchanging, with no relief on the horizon, save an occasional blackbird that rises on the wind and glides over the empty sky.
Morana found herself a good husband among them, but is unhappy still and spreads her mischief and lies. The people tolerate her, and she sits, fat and content among them, because it is their nature to love gossip and spread envy.
Mitar never let Yasna return to the Slaveni. He bound her with his love and desire, the way I bound the Bee Girl to me. I saw her put the crown of a bride on her head, and they were married, and some say his wounds were healed.
Yasna still tends to the sick. She walks in the woods, but she is no longer poor and barefoot, and Mitar seeks her wise council. I have heard that they are often seen walking, heads together, murmuring in their own special language, the way that lovers who are truly united often do, but perhaps that is a story, because true love never lasts but passes like the seasons.
I think about the Bee Girl’s love, sometimes with regret, before I remember that I am a solitary man, and that it will always be my nature and my curse to love the silence and the wind and the horses more than any other living being.
I never left the space between worlds. The memories of that summer and all that had passed swirled in the air, became alive again, and bound me to Yakshah for the duration of his life on earth.
There is a puddle on the road. The rain has just stopped, and there is a freshness in the air. Everything is green and verdant. Clouds are moving rapidly and gather once again. He remembers a puddle, remembers rain drops beginning to hit it obliquely, remembers me running through the rain to meet him, remembers lifting me up onto his horse as we wait out the storm under a canopy of leaves, our skins wet, and feels the heat from our bodies as we turn to face each other.
He remembers the sultriness of the day, the song of the cicadas, the empty blue sky, the scorched grasses, the steam rising off the earth after a passing rain shower; remembers our bodies, ablaze, and then remembers the water, cool, murky, with unknown depths, mud squishing between our toes – green water, green trees, green marshes, blue skies.
He remembers the fall of my hair, the angle of my hip, the arch of my foot, the color of my skin; remembers when he doesn’t want to; remembers when he is alone.
He remembers the leaves swirling, falling off trees – straw and gold, falling in a spiral, remembers sending me away, watching my face fall, my smile fade, my head lower. And he remembers watching me get smaller and smaller, and disappear in the distance.
All this he remembers in the song of the earth, because I am part of it, forever, in the seasons, in the wind and the rain.