is a stillness that is unique to the broad lawns of large, old houses;
where the grass is just a little greener than almost any other place,
and the breeze, on very rare and special days, can bring a whisper
of the Summer far beyond the hills.
She sits with her back to the house. The little camp table is between
them, set for tea, for two. The tea she can take or leave, she'd prefer
lemonade or even good water, but he loves his tea and even on her
birthday she wants him to be happy.
He is not a young man, not by anyone's way of counting. He has seen
so many of his own birthdays, he says, that he has stopped bothering
to notice them. For himself, anyway. But he is still so much alive.
So full of joy and charm and wonder. She thinks perhaps he stopped
getting older when he stopped noticing his birthdays.
This birthday of hers is a special one, not least because it is the
first she can remember. Probably the first she has ever bothered to
notice. She doesn't know for sure, because she still knows almost
nothing about the time before a year ago - when her life began again.
One year ago today.
He looks beyond her, back toward Dragonfly, and smiles. So she turns
in time to see Aidan coming across the lawn; silver plate balanced
on the fingers of his right hand, bearing one perfect cupcake with
one perfect candle. And despite the murmuring breeze that brings the
hint of Summer, it stays lit the whole way to the table.
Then, of course, it stays lit for as long she tells it to...