alone on the banks of a river nestled between the mountains and forest
was never in Tia’s plan. Of course there really was no plan to speak
of, other than to follow wherever Jon led until the end of all time.
All time for Tia and Jon ended suddenly that first spring with Jon’s broken body buried beneath a rock slide.
took weeks for Tia to move away from the stone grave. Weeks before
she’d believe that he was truly never coming back. How would she live
without his gentle strength? He had taught her so much about loving,
then left her alone with emotions she couldn’t live with. How could he
do this to her?
And day by day Tia learned to live without him
again. After a time she stopped looking for him as the sun went down,
she stopped calling his name in the night. After a time. After a time
she even forgave him
For two years she stayed and battled her
grief. Two years alone in the silence of the land. She hunted her food
with only the sling she’d always carried. She chopped wood with the ax
Jon had dropped so carelessly beside the woodpile. Everything she did,
she did with the raw determination of a woman meaning to prove
something. To herself, or to a man who should have been there to help.
the little man first rode his horse through the trees nearest her home,
Tia’s heart leaped with hope. "He’s not really dead!" she thought. But
a second glance told her it couldn’t be Jon. It would never again be
This man, this funny little man could no more be Jon than
Tia could be the Queen of Trilintier. He smelled of unwashed bodies.
His eyes darted here and there, always moving, always watching for
something that Tia never could quite understand. In the end he’d tried
to force himself on her. So sure that he had just what she needed, he
held her down and pressed his filthy mouth to hers.
It was then,
as she slipped her knife between his ribs and pushed his lifeless body
over the bank of the river that Tia knew it was time for her to go. The
next dirty little man may not be alone and in those moments of fear Tia
finally realized she wanted to live. It was time to go home.