II. The Belle

“Would you call me by any other name?” A space between them; though others might think their distance intimate; she with her hair like honey and his so rough and dark.

“No,” the rider answers in a single breath and busies his attention with the horizon, where men abandon their duties. He does not look to her for the reason drunks do not frequent saloons. “Sunflower,” a word as alien in its affection as its origin.

She smiles at very little but his words always stir her lips. It is evening; the sky is purple and on fire. “Will you return to me, my rider?” She does not speak his name; the way he refuses hers, “When we have won the war?”

Je reviendrai,” his hard and calloused fingers rest on the white fence that encases her home, “Tournesol.” She feels faint at his foreign words, his eyes are foreign but she does not ask for them; for they arrived from the land of red dust and coyotes.

Above the woman’s head is a yard-bound sapling; a red spider lily. Its legs are curled up with dotted yellow orbs like the swollen tips of fingers. The rider thinks he hears it sigh when she passes by it and takes hold of his hand; he does not refute it nor engage its softness.

“Won’t you ask,” the woman tries to find his eyes, though they are still set against the distant horizon; as a rider is captive to the places he has yet to travel, “If I will be here, when you return?”

“I’ll find you,” the rider stands tall and his shadow long, “If’n you ain’t.” The charm has left him. He runs his fingers down her palm as they are drawn away and he leaves through the white gate; sealing her inside with his departure.

The rider’s appaloosa cries and the woman watches in silence as dust gathers in his wake. Au Revoir.

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