Author: Shewolf PM
Each day and age faces a new problem for these lovers to overcome in order to fulfill a promise made long ago. Do believe in reincarnation? How long can a soul live on? Taken from the concept of Cloud AtlasRated: Fiction M - English - Tragedy/Romance - Chapters: 3 - Words: 7,113 - Updated: 01-21-13 - Published: 12-26-12 - id: 3086337
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 2: May 1349
It had finally arrived. We had done so much to prevent its arrival, but we were silly to think we were immune. My aunt was sick. She was the first case in my family and the first to die. There was no ceremony, no funeral, no last rites, since a priest refused to go near her. Someone came and loaded her onto a pile of others destined for a mass grave outside the city.
My name is Franchesca Gianinie and I am but only fourteen years. News of the great sickness terrified me. It seemed like a blanket that covered towns and killed everyone. Symptoms were death sentence and it was such a painful ordeal. Some people tried to leave the city, while others stocked up on supplies and went into hiding.
I ran along the brick streets to find my friend Arabelle. I wanted to tell her that my aunt was finally gone. When I knocked on the door her brother answered and told me that their mother was sick. In order to keep his sister safe, he sent her to the church. I kindly thanked him and ran off to the nearby church.
As I walked I saw some people looking around themselves suspiciously. It was as if someone was out to get them…that Death was like a pickpocket that chose his victims at random.
I kept my hands close and I stayed away from those that looked ill. By the time I made it to the church I wanted to cry and return to my bed.
"Arabelle?" I called out at a whisper.
"Franchesca?" She popped her head up from a pew.
I rushed over to her and gave her a hug. "I went to your house. Julio told me….I'm sorry."
Her body shook as I could tell she was starting to cry again. We were the same age, but Arabelle always felt like a little sister to me. She seemed safe here and that's what I wanted for her. We talked for some time before I had to head back while there was still sunlight.
"I wish I could stay here with you, but my dad wants me home. I just came to see how you were. Then I'll send you a letter and we'll communicate that way. It's too dangerous otherwise; I might bring the sickness with me."
She gave me a hug and wished me luck on my journey back home. I didn't want to return home. I feared what I would see along the way…not just the coughing, the vomiting of blood in the streets, but the lack of people in the streets to begin with. It was empty just as I had imagined it. I ran as quickly as I could back home…but when I turned a corner I ran right into someone and hit my head on the stone ground.
Raphael Quintero was a musician. He practiced day and night to follow in his older brother's footsteps and become famous…it was his destiny. Rafe was worried about his family and his city. So far his family was untouched by the terrible sickness. It only made him more paranoid when went out and saw the people wandering around sick. No one seemed to know how people were getting sick. They were afraid to get food…could they trust the people selling it not to be sick? What about the water? There were rumors that the water was poisoned.
Rafe rubbed the sweat from his eyebrows as he carried a basket of foods from one of the few markets still open. As he turned the corner he ran right into a young woman and she fell back and hit her head. He panicked and dropped his things to help her. Rafe had completely put aside the fact that she might have the illness as he got close to her. With his hand on her chest he realized she was still breathing. He tapped her but she wasn't moving.
"Great…just great…" he looked around. There was no around to help and he couldn't just leave her there.
He put the basket down his arm so his hands were free, and then he was able to pick her up. It wasn't easy carrying her, but he made it to his house and his brother was the first to say something sarcastic.
"Amazing, your looks finally struck a woman dead?" he patted his back.
"She's not dead. She fell and hit her head…there was no one else to help her. I had to!"
He grinned, "You did good brother. She looks about your type…who knows, maybe she'll wake up and think you're her honey!"
They laughed at Rafe and teased him a little more until his mother got them to go away. She helped him clean her up a little since she had fallen down on the dirty ground.
"How long till she wakes up?" he asked.
"I don't know…shouldn't be too much longer. Reminds me of the time your father fell from the ladder," she gave him a warm smile of hope.
"Oh…I left the food in the kitchen," he said to her before she left.
Rafe watched her as it seemed she was just sleeping. She also looked cold to him, so he got a blanket to lay on her. There, now she looked perfect. Yes, she had the most beautiful dark hair, smooth olive skin, and could imagine she had brown eyes…or maybe a majestic green?
She began to stir and was immediately confused.
"Where am I?" she sat up and rubbed the back of her head.
"Hi, you're at my home. We ran into each other and you hit your head on the ground. How do you feel?"
She looked at him as if to ask if he was serious, "Hurts a little, but yes, I'm fine. Wait…who are you again? I don't believe we've met."
He smiled. Her eyes were a majestic green. As he looked at her it seemed like he had known her from somewhere, but he couldn't place it.
"Sorry, Raphael Quintero…but my family calls me Rafe. What were you doing out there anyway? It's dangerous."
She was looking at him in complete shock. Was he just ridiculing her for walking down the street? Since when was that a crime? How was this any of his business anyway?
"Excuse me, but you were out there as well Senior Quintero. So I don't think it is your place to judge me. I should really get going. Yikes is it almost sundown? My family must be worried." She got up to her feet and waited to be escorted to the door.
"Wait...I haven't yet caught your name—"
"Franchesca…Gianinie," she offered him a smile.
"That's a beautiful name. I wish you could stay for dinner. You see, I was out getting food when we crossed paths. Please, stay and eat? It's the least I could do for that nasty fall you took."
She studied him as he sat on the edge of the bed still. It made her wonder if there was more to this. Since she was entering the age of marriage, Franchesca had been leery of the boys around her. He was cute though, she had to admit that. There was a charm to him that made her want to know more about him.
"Alright, but let me first send a letter to my family. Otherwise they'll be worried about me."
She moved to his desk and started to write. This amazed Rafe because not too many women had the means to be educated.
"Please don't take offense to this but, how did you learn to write?" he stood over her.
Franchesca only briefly paused, "I had someone teach me when I was seven. It took a few years, but I think I've gotten pretty good at it."
She handed him the letter with the address on the outside. "My aunt was widowed at a young age. She taught herself to read and write in order to run his business. My mother thought it would be important for me to learn as well."
He was blown away by her and intrigued. There was so much he wanted to know. Rafe left her to give the letter to a neighbor to be sent right away. When he went back inside he found her admiring his guitar.
"Do you play well?" She sat down again with her hands folded on her lap eager to listen.
"Yeah," he blushed a little in admitting that to her. "I take it you'd like me to play?"
"Yes, please? It's been so long since I've heard music."
He agreed and picked up the instrument and tuned it before playing a tune. Rafe chose something upbeat. It was a sharp contrast to the ballads that he enjoyed playing to beautiful women. Franchesca seemed different. He played and tapped his foot on the floor.
"Oh!" she jumped up from her seat and started to dance in the open space. The young woman was grabbing up parts of her dress to swing about as she twirled in circles to the sweet melodies.
This pushed Rafe further to something he had never done before: he started to sing the lyrics to one of his favorite songs.
Franchesca had heard this song and knew enough to sing along with him. She danced around his room and ignored the face of his brother in the doorway.
They were having a good time until Rafe had to pause as he started coughing. It made her concerned, but he waved it off saying he had some allergies to food from earlier…that's why he had to go to the store.
I was worried. Only I couldn't let her know that I thought I had the blue sickness. I could I tell her that when I had gone out for food I planned to never come back. I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if I knew I had gotten my family sick to death.
Now this tiny miracle had come into my life. Franchesca was like a breath of fresh air that made me forget about the cough and the trembling I desperately tried to hide.
We sat around the dinner table and made a prayer before eating. It was the usual prayer…praying to get through this time together. I felt guilty and like someone holding a deep dark secret. I was paranoid that others would find out what I was hiding.
If Franchesca hadn't shown up then I would have been far away from them. They wouldn't be at risk of the danger I was putting them in right now. I ate little, but so did everyone else. That's the interesting thing about fear—it takes away your appetite. The only one who really seemed to be eating was Franchesca. She ate like a starved homeless person.
"Hey, slow down there before your stomach explodes," I smiled at her.
She looked up with a smile and spoke after swallowing. "I'm sorry it's just…I haven't had food in days."
My smile fell to a frown and I felt ashamed for my comment. I had no idea that her family was without food. She didn't seem to mind though and I tried my best to eat.
It was just about time for her to leave. I had risen from my seat and after taking three or so steps I felt incredibly weak and everything went black.
Hours had passed as he laid in his bed. He had a horrible fever, and his body was sweating and trembling as he slept. His family was convinced it was just stress or a cold, but Franchesca could have sworn she felt her heart break to pieces—Rafael had the blue sickness. He was going to die. No one survived. How was this possible? They just met and now he had the same symptoms as her aunt.
She wrote another letter to her mother to explain that the weather was too harsh to be out in. She knew her mother would worry, but she was more worried about this guy she had just gotten close to.
When he awoke it was confession time. At first he tried to convince her to leave.
"You should leave. You need to be with your family. I'll be fine! I already feel a little better."
She raised her brows and told him to be serious. "Don't lie to me!"
Rafe looked at her in shock and was silenced for a minute. He was in thought as he looked at her. Something about her…he felt guilty and felt like he let her down. She seemed on the verge of tears.
"You're right. I am lying," he sat up, "yesterday I went out to get supplies, but I wasn't planning on coming back home. I was going to leave the food at the door before running off. You need to leave here and hope you don't also become sick. Don't you dare stay…I wouldn't be able to handle it if I knew that you got sick because of me."
Franchesca was leaning over him as she rested on her legs. A sigh escaped her as she took in what he was telling her. It was so hard for her not to yell at him. It was hard not to yell period because she had feelings for this guy she had just met.
"I'm not going anywhere," she said softly. "I'm going to take care of you. I think we met on that street for a reason," she felt his head before kissing it.
"You felt it too? When I saw you—it was something I cannot put into words. It felt like you were mine….I'm not a possessive person, but there was just something that drew me to you. Who knows? Maybe I'll survive this, yeah?" He nuzzled his head against her soft hand.
"You're so sweet. Almost too sweet," she shook her head. "Rest. I'll be in the other room if you need me."
Rafe opened his mouth and paused a moment before nodding and just saying goodnight.
I woke up in the middle of the night coughing. It was difficult to tell how long I had been asleep, but the house was quiet. I was shivering in a cold sweat with a pain in my groin area. I was terrified to look and thankful for the darkness. The problem was I had seen enough bodies to know what was under the blankets.
Using all my strength I got up from the bed and was trying to get away. I wanted to get away from everyone to not get them sick. That was always how it started: one got sick and died and the rest quickly followed. It would be the most horrible thing to be responsible for the pain and death of those I cared about.
When I started coughing uncontrollably again it gave me away to a sleeping figure on the couch. Within a minute or so I saw a lamp coming towards me. Those green eyes greeted me with pity and concern.
"Why are you out of bed? It's the middle of night Rafe." She felt my head again and I never wanted her soft touch to leave my damp skin.
"You're on fire," she lowered the lamp and gasped when she saw my hands. "Your fingers…ay dios mio! They're black."
She moved the lamp away and ushered me back into my bedroom. Franchesca used all the candles she could find to light my room completely. To my surprise she wasn't disgusted by these new symptoms…only more concerned.
"Why are you still here? I told you to go home. You shouldn't be around me," I groaned from the pain of lying back down. I pulled the blankets back over me.
"I couldn't leave you. I thought about going home…I was even at the door at one point. There was just no way I could leave you like this."
She sat down on my bed again with a wet cloth to clean my face.
"I had a dream about us," I confessed. "We were on horses in some far away jungle. You were so brave and strong…yelling out all these orders to soldiers that nearly worshipped you. But you looked directly at me and I knew that you loved me and would do anything for me."
Franchesca seemed suddenly pale after I finished the tale of my dream.
"No….you speak nonsense!" She backed away from me with a look of fear, "Your fever has made you mad."
I calmed her down enough and finally she was able explain why she was so shaken up. "Rafe, I dreamed that same dream two nights before this. How could you know that?"
I was confused but I remembered it clear as day. "I'm not mad, Franchesca. I saw you on that black horse like some great mythic leader. You were perfection with your long black hair and those green eyes."
"It was you?" She was also confused. The dream she had was from her perspective. The soldier looking at her wore armor that protected him and a helmet that shielded a bit of his identity. It was obvious to her that they had a deep relationship, but in times like that, a loving glance was all that showed it. She turned her horse away from him and gave orders to ride on.
"It was me, but how is that possible?" I was exhausted from coughing.
"I don't know. Maybe some things are best left unanswered."
It made me wonder if there were other mysteries out there that tied us together. There was so much I wanted to share with her. My eyes were heavy now and I scared of falling asleep in fear that I wouldn't wake up. I couldn't tell her this, but that was how I felt at the moment. The pain and the fever was becoming so much that part of me wished to die. I felt Franchesca kiss my cheek before my eyes would no long stay open.
When I woke up he was gone. There was no questioning it. Part of me was happy because I knew he was no longer in pain, but another part screamed as I felt like I had lost another part of me.
I wasn't feeling well when I joined his family for breakfast. I wasn't hungry and they forced me to eat. Part of me wondered if they did it so I'd leave his bedroom. When the cart came to take him away I followed it down it the road some.
It was then I realized that I was close to home. When I knocked on the door it took a while for someone to answer; I think they were afraid to open it.
My mother answered the door and hugged me with such force upon seeing me. I broke down into tears and cried into her shoulder.
"He's dead," I repeated to her. "He was my soul mate. I swear to you he was."
She was rubbed the back of my head and tried to calm me down. "I'm sure he was, baby. Come on inside and lay down. You don't look good."
I knew that she was right because I didn't feel so good either. "I think I'm sick Mama. I feel so cold."
She wrapped a blanket around me and laid my head on her lap. I closed my eyes and listened as she told me the story of the young girl who had found love in a man who was of noble blood. He was charming but their love was forbidden, so they ran away from their families to be together. I remembered the happy ending before I went to sleep.