Characters: JD, Vin
My thanks to the Muse ladies for all their encouragement
"I closed my eyes and felt like I was falling,
A twisting, downward spiral into fear and despair.
My soul cried out its loss, but only I could hear.
And still, I kept falling.
I had been afraid in my life,
But never had I been afraid like this.
To be so alone, and have nowhere to turn.
And still falling.
Drifting down into my nightmare
The colors all around me dissolved to black,
Matching my pain and desolation.
And my solitude.
Tearing out my heart would have hurt less,
Than being torn from her.
More than my soul cried, that day,
And I fought with every fiber of my being.
But all was lost
Loneliness embraced me, but I stayed strong
And vowed to be the man she said I could become.
And so, with heavy heart and few possessions,
I held my head aloft and took my solitary journey.
Today I stand, with six good men beside me.
I am the man my mother always saw in me.
My colors are restored and black has new meaning
No longer alone, no longer falling."
Unable to control his tears, hazel eyes looked into crystal blue as JD nodded.
"Yeah, just like that." He shifted awkwardly in the bed as he tried not to re-ignite the fire in his side , still clutching the paper Vin had handed to him to read from. "That's so beautiful, Vin How...how did you know what was in my head?"
Tanner smiled, leaning forward in his chair. "I reckon I've wrestled enough with my own hurt to know when a soul in pain has reached the point when he looks to his past." He frowned slightly as he placed a hand on the younger man's head. "'Sides, you were callin' out for your ma."
"I was?" JD was mortified, vaguely remembering a dream...or something. "Oh God, no."
Vin relaxed, offering a small grin. "I thought it was kinda sweet."
"Sweet, yeah, just the image of me I want out there."
"Only the six of us heard you..." Watching JD close his eyes and groan louder, Vin changed tack.
"Scared Bucklin somethin' fierce."
JD's eyes opened. "It did? Why?"
"Callin' for him or any one of us is hard, but he's able to handle it. When you called for your ma...well, let's just say Josiah got a lot of questions."
Vin fiddled with the hat in his hands. "About whether someone dyin' can see someone already dead."
JD's pale features went even paler, his voice a whisper. "I was dying?"
The tracker shook his head. "Can't rightly answer that. But I guess it crossed all our minds once Buck put the thought out there."
"So, me calling for my ma got you to writing a poem?"
Vin blushed a little. "Yeah. Hearin' you like that got me to thinkin' `bout my own ma. I managed to scratch this one out myself," he announced, proudly, "but then I asked Mary to make it all perty, like she done before...so's I could give it to you when you woke up."
JD smiled, tiredly. "These are your feelings...you also felt like this."
Vin nodded. "When you cried out to her not to leave you...I did that, too." Taking the paper, Vin lovingly ran a finger down it as he spoke. "So I got to writin' down all the thoughts I had back then, when the fever took her. And when I took a turn sittin' with you, I told you it would be yours when you woke up." He handed the paper back. "I hoped it might help. I'm real glad you liked it."
Warring with emotion and exhaustion, JD swallowed hard, nodding. Liquid hazel eyes focused on the tracker. "I do...thanks, Vin."
Tanner smiled. "Get some sleep. Buck's due back any minute an' if he sees you jawin' instead of restin'..."
With a small grin and a nod, JD was asleep in minutes, the parchment nestled between his hand and his heart. Tanner sat back, quoting softly to the slumbering boy and an empty room.
"I am the man my mother always saw in me."
Vin smiled. "Yeah, I reckon we both did good, kid."
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