Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.
Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones
Could we get a ditty about Jamie helping Claire debrief after a rough time with a patient? Thanks for all you ladies do! :)
Claire sighed, blissful.
“Yes – right…there…”
Jamie bent to briefly kiss the crown of her head before
continuing his slow, thoughtful rhythm.
“I ken ye had to be tense, after dealing wi’ all those
children today.” His hands – coated with a light sheen of the yarrow-scented
oil Claire had made last autumn – continued rubbing deep, caressing circles at
the back of her neck, gliding down toward her bare shoulders.
“Mmmm…” she moaned, eyes closed, enjoying the cool breeze
wafting through the open window of their bedroom. “Splinters…cuts…hangnails…roundworm…”
“I ken it’s yer calling, but I’ll never understand why ye
choose to be wi’ sick folk all the time.” Gently he tucked a stray curl behind
her ear, digging into her tight muscles with large, patient thumbs.
“Well…when you have your favorite clover honey with your
bannocks at breakfast tomorrow, you’ll be grateful for having a wife with such predilections…”
She could hear him smile – and then, softly in the night,
from the front porch of the new Big House, the soft strum of a guitar.
Amy Higgins had so thoughtfully kept Roger’s guitar
during his and Bree’s “time away” – what they had come to call that period the
MacKenzies publicly insisted they had spent in Boston. Just a few months
returned, they had settled back into the rhythm of life on the Ridge with
relative ease. Mandy had had the hardest time adjusting, but had found a fast
friend in Fannie. The older girl had blossomed – enjoying the simple pleasures
of childhood for the first time. And the gift of Roger’s music.
More than ten years after the hanging that had just about
killed him, his voice had settled into a pleasantly deep baritone. It gave out
easier than it used to – but it was a strong voice. A confident voice.
And tonight –
Claire strained to listen. Jamie felt the tremor echo
through her spine as her back slowly straightened –
I’ve walked and I’ve
crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the
middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in
front of a dozen dead oceans
“Roger Mac must be feeling morose tonight.” Jamie pressed
the heel of his hand into her shoulderblade. “I wonder why –”
“Sshh,” she insisted.
Oh, what did you
see, my blue-eyed son?
“It’s a song from…from their time, then?”
The strumming continued, Roger’s voice slow and rich.
I saw a newborn
baby with wild wolves all around it
“I mind what they told me – about wars in their time.
Terrible weapons, so many dead. I shouldna be surprised that there are songs
about it, too.”
Claire slowly turned on the stool to face him.
Jamie knelt before her – meeting her eyes in the
Slowly she reached one hand to cradle his face.
I saw ten thousand
talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and
sharp swords in the hands of young children
“It was first popular when Bree was fifteen or so,” she
whispered, eyes shining, two hundred years away. “The man who wrote it – many consider
him to be a poet of sorts. Or a bard. Not afraid to speak his mind, even to
“Not even Gwyllen would do that for my uncles.” Jamie
turned to kiss her palm. “But why does it upset ye so, mo nighean donn?”
Her thumb swept across his cheek – the long-healed
fracture at the base of his nose – his wide, sweet mouth.
I heard the sound
of a thunder, it roared out a warning
Heard the roar of a
wave that could drown the whole world
“I remember one afternoon. I wasn’t at the hospital – I can’t
remember why. Bree had just come home from school. Frank was still at work.”
The breeze lifted the flyaway hairs at Jamie’s cowlick.
“I was standing in the kitchen window, cleaning dishes.
And this song came on the radio – I heard it for the first time. And I looked
up at the back garden, Jamie – and saw you.”
He stiffened in surprise – and lay a hand atop hers.
“Just a flash – but it was you. And then you were gone.
And then I turned off the water, and sat at the table, and listened to the rest
of the song. My hands were shaking so badly.”
“Oh, mo chridhe,
he whispered. “Hush now.”
And then she was in his arms, naked, quivering with
Jamie wrapped his strong arms around her. Eased her knees
around his hips. Carefully stood, cradling her tight. Closed the windows –
locked the latch. Walked the six steps to their bed. Gently lay her down in the
silence – watched her watch him undress, her eyes wide and liquid and
unblinking in the candlelight.
“I’m here, Claire.” Now he lay beside her on the feather
mattress – their one luxury. Gathered her against him, skin on skin. Listening
to each other breathe.
“I haven’t thought of that in so long,” she whispered,
breath hot against his chest. “But just now, I was there again…”
“I understand,” he murmured into the cloud of her hair.
“If it was when Bree was fifteen…then I was at Helwater.
Willie would have been…three or so. I had him, but ye ken how alone I was,
He hugged her tight. She pulled back a bit and eased up
on the pillow – finding his mouth for a long kiss.
“Where have you been, my darling?” she whispered against
“We’re here,” he breathed, tangling his hands in her hair,
kissing her tears.