To The Lonely Seas And The Sky -- Part 19a

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    Here comes the good stuff, folks! Apologies as always for the delay. Travel and changing work schedules have prevented my anxious fingers from clacking out this story as quickly as I'd like. Soon, however, my time will be my own again, and the rest of this story will soon follow!

    As Liesl emerged into the service room she looked up, expecting to see Ellie's feet on the lantern room ledge. But the ledge--and the rest of the service room, for that matter--was completely empty. A breeze full of fresh air wandering past her nose caught her attention. The door to the balcony stood open.

    "Ellie?" Liesl called, moving through the door and looking up in surprise as she stepped onto the balcony.

    Another lull had fallen over the land, the storm suspiciously silent as the light from the lantern exposed the curled, low-hanging mist that lay over the lake. A burst of warm air stroked Liesl's cheek. What a strange storm.

    Ellie sat on the balcony, her face pressed against a railing and one of her feet situated precariously between two rails, dangling over the 112-foot ledge. Her eyes had wandered into the night, but she looked up and smiled as Liesl appeared in the doorway.

    "Another break in the storm." Ellie mused, her eyes returning to the murky atmosphere that eclipsed the lake.

    Liesl wasn't sure what exactly she sensed, but something was different about Ellie. She studied her for a moment before realizing what it was. Her normally unflappable sister's position on the ledge and the wonder in her eyes was almost child-like, a certain innocence returned that Liesl hadn't seen in over twenty years. Ellie's hair tangled gently against her neck as her fingers absently moved over the rails, her rapt attention on the cloud-curtained horizon.

    Unsure of what to say but desperate to keep from saying the wrong thing in this rare moment, Liesl stepped onto the ledge and sat down next to Ellie, though she opted to keep her feet safely on the balcony.

    Ellie inhaled the wind, the sharp, fresh air stinging her senses. "I think I shall miss this place when the time comes for me to return home." She mused.

    Surprised to hear such an honest admission from the typically tight-lipped Ellie, Liesl paused before replying. "I--we--shall miss you too, Ellie. It has been good to have you here and your help has been invaluable. We are in your debt."

    Ellie waved away such an idea. "Don't you dare entertain such a silly notion. If you cannot depend on family, then whom?" She reasoned, her gaze remaining locked on the lake. "Besides, you've given me company and a purpose for the past two weeks, and I could not pay you enough for that."

    The wind rose from the west, a slight chill on the breeze. The storm is due to return, Liesl realized as she tensed up against the cold. "You are welcome here, Ellie. I do hope you know that if nothing else. It seems we were so close as children, but the years have made us strangers." Nearly immediate regret followed that statement, knotting Liesl's stomach as she spoke. I shouldn't have said that. Ellie was talking--finally talking. She'll surely stop now.

    On the howl of the approaching tempest, Ellie could have sworn she heard a familiar voice returning on the winds of yester-year. Do not be afraid. She drew a deep breath and summoned to memory her recent discussion with Samuel. Tonight. Tonight is the night that I cast off the shackles of yesterday. "You know, Liesl, there is a great deal that I haven't told you...that I couldn't tell you." Ellie began, shifting uncomfortably where she sat.
    Last edit by AN Admin Team on Feb 20, '17
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