“I’ve been in love with you since years,” he mumbled.
“I can’t stay. I have to get back home,” she replied with soft eyes.
“I miss you when you are missing,” he whispered. He gazed up at her, eyes wide.
“I know,” she said gently. “But I have to leave now. I’ll see you again tomorrow.”
He sniffled, scuttling into the corner as she stood up elegantly and drifted into the shifting streams of light, specks of dust swaying in the glow as she passed through.
“I will goodbye,” he gulped. She was already gone.
Sweet Aubie only wanted to make Sweet Kathryn happy. He knew he could, if he tried his hardest. He was not tall and pretty like Sweet Kathryn, nor was he broad and handsome like Horatio. He was very small, very shy, and very strange, but he was Sweet Aubie and he would try to make her happy.
He loved Sweet Kathryn very much. He wanted to hold her hand and nibble at burnt toast she made for him. He loved to listen to her sing. Sweet Kathryn was a beautiful woman and a beautiful singer, and Sweet Aubie heard her in his dreams.
Sweet Aubie lived in a small shack in a big forest behind Sweet Kathryn and Horatio’s house. Horatio did not know about Sweet Aubie, but Sweet Aubie knew about Horatio and feared that he would find the shack.
Nearly every night, Sweet Kathryn would knock softly at the door and float inside like a ghost, a beautiful ghost or a beautiful, shimmering soap bubble. Sweet Aubie would run to her and jump into her arms. She would laugh and rock him.
“Aubie, Sweet Aubie,” she would sing. “You are my love.”
Sweet Aubie knew that he was in love with Sweet Kathryn because flowers bloomed in his heart whenever he saw her. They would spring to life and wind their way up into his head and he would spin and spin because he was in love. Sweet Aubie knew that Sweet Kathryn loved him, too, because she brought him burnt toast. She made his bed and fixed the leaky shack roof when the sky wept. When the sky wept, so did Sweet Aubie, and Sweet Kathryn would hold him.
“It’s alright, now,” she’d hum. “You’re safe with me. The sky is kind and won’t hurt you. Sometimes the sky gets sad. We know it will always be happy again because the sun will come up in the morning.” She would rock him in her arms as dreams weaved their way across his mind.
Horatio was not very nice to Sweet Kathryn. Sweet Aubie did not trust him, but he didn’t know what to do. All he wanted was for Sweet Kathryn to be happy, happier than she was with Horatio.
One morning, Sweet Kathryn was late. She came to the shack and slipped inside, brushing a hand across her damp cheeks.
“Hi, Aubie,” she murmured.
“Wrong?” Sweet Aubie scurried up to her, concern in his eyes. He tugged at her skirt. She lifted him into her quivering arms and buried her face in his soft fur. He hugged her neck. “Wrong?”
“Yes,” she said softly. “Horatio and I are fighting again,” she explained. “He wants to sell the house and move far away.”
“No moving, no moving,” Sweet Aubie cried, clinging to her. “I’ve been in love with you since years!”
“Of course I won’t move,” she reassured him. “I would never leave you.”
The following day, Sweet Kathryn didn’t knock on the door. Sweet Aubie waited patiently as the dusty rays of light filtered in through the cracks in the wood, waited patiently as they danced and finally faded. When they were gone, the black sky wept and so did Sweet Aubie.
He remembered nothing but loneliness before Sweet Kathryn had found him and given him burnt toast and his shack with his comfy, little bed. Now the flowers in his heart drooped. He waited and waited in the shack.
Days passed and nights passed. The sky wept and the wind sang out in a voice much less beautiful than Sweet Kathryn’s. The boards in the walls grew damp and warped. They bowed and cracked, falling away. The shack was whisked away by a scream of wind and Sweet Aubie held his bed over him as the weeping sky soaked him. Trembling, he shuffled through the mud and dead leaves as the rain flew relentlessly into him. In the distance he saw a big, pale blue house, and he jumped into an awkward, loping run. A root leapt up to trip him and he tumbled down a hill to reach the house as the sky cracked and groaned.
“Sweet Kathryn!” he hollered, jumping up the steps and smacking the door. Sweet Kathryn didn’t answer, and neither did anyone else. Sweet Aubie hid under the doormat until the sky dried its tears.
When the sun rose, Sweet Aubie crept out from under the mat and ventured back into the forest. He bounded past the crooked, wooden teeth that remained of the shack and darted through the trees. He had to find Sweet Kathryn, because he knew something had happened to her. He needed to see her, not because he missed her hugs or her kind words or her lovely voice, though he did. He needed to see her because he loved her and Horatio didn’t, and Sweet Kathryn deserved to be loved.
Sweet Aubie raced from tree to tree, peeking under branches and glancing up into the canopies, searching for Sweet Kathryn. He called and called her name but there was no reply. He scurried down orchard rows, skirted around big, red barns, and rushed down alleyways. He scoured the shadows for Sweet Kathryn, but he was too afraid to search the light because he knew Sweet Kathryn was the only one who knew about him, and nobody else would love him like she did, for he was small, shy, and strange.
Sweet Aubie came to the edge of the town and a vast, dirt road lay before him. At the end of the dirt road lay a hill and past the hill lay another hill. Sweet Aubie slumped down and curled up, hiding his face with his arms. The flowers in his heart that were clinging to the last rays of sunshine in his chest were wilting. There was no way he could run all the way down the roads and over the hills to find Sweet Kathryn. Burnt toast, soap bubbles, beautiful songs and gentle rocking back and forth, and now Sweet Kathryn was gone. Sweet Aubie could not accept that, he could not.
“I will not goodbye,” Sweet Aubie whispered to himself. “I will not.”
He scrambled up and took a deep breath. He jumped into motion and forged ahead, dashing down the road. He ran day and night. He ran while the sky wept and while it didn’t, and he could not find Sweet Kathryn on the first day. He could not find her on the second day. On the third day, Sweet Aubie found someone. He did not find Sweet Kathryn. He found Horatio.
When Sweet Aubie found him, Horatio was toiling away at a work desk behind a window and he was not with Sweet Kathryn. Sweet Aubie waited under a wagon for Horatio to leave the little shop and followed as he strode down the street to a tall, beige house. Sweet Aubie hopped from one dappled shadow to another along the way. He slipped into the door between Horatio’s feet and scampered under a chair. He gazed slowly out with widening eyes because there she was. There was Sweet Kathryn.
Horatio talked to her and she listened but did not reply. He spoke and spoke, but she was utterly silent. She flitted aimlessly about the house and Horatio slouched down on the couch. Night settled over the house as Horatio snored. Sweet Kathryn wandered to the bedroom and Sweet Aubie followed her quietly.
“Sweet Kathryn,” he whispered. She jumped and turned, mouth agape. She knelt beside him and tears filled her eyes.
“Aubie,” she croaked in a hoarse, unused voice. “Sweet Aubie, my love. I’m so sorry.”
“Forgiven,” he beamed.
She spread thin arms and he jumped into them, wrapping his arms around her neck as she cried.
“Let’s get out of here,” she whispered.
Sweet Kathryn pulled on a heavy coat and wrapped a scarf around Sweet Aubie. She held him close as she glided through the door, and he could hear flowers blooming in her heart. She hurried briskly down the road and walked and walked away from Horatio.
“I’ve been in love with you since years,” Sweet Aubie trilled, smiling wide.
“Aubie, Sweet Aubie, my love,” Sweet Kathryn sang softly, happily.