I chose the city across the water image for my 20 minute sprint this week. I hope you enjoy
The light still played across the water as the sun set behind the city across the cove.
Kyran sat in the sand watching the waves slowly roll up and then back out again, taking a little of the beach away with them each time.
It had been six years since he’d been home. Now that he was so close, he couldn’t seem to make himself finish the drive. He’d pulled off at the little car park for the beach and wondered down to the shore, taking his shoes off to enjoy the feel of the damp sand against his feet.
When he left, his parents were still furious with him. He’d rejected everything they were and everything they stood for. He’d left everyone and everything behind without so much as a word. How could he go back and face anyone again?
“I had feeling I might find you here,” a deep voice said from behind him.
Kyran turned to look, finding the light inadequate to identify the man who stood behind him.
“It’s been a long time, Kyran,” he said in a softer tone.
Kyran remembered the voice now.
“Yeah, sorry about that,” he said as he turned back. Neal was his best friend. Kyran hoped maybe they could still be best friends. Neal was going to come with him back then, but Kyran had to leave three days early, and then everything had gone a little sideways when he reached Glasgow.
“You never told me where you were going,” Neal said as he walked up to join Kyran. “I couldn’t find any trace of you.”
“I didn’t know that was going to happen,” Kyran said, staring out over the continually darkening waves. “I was supposed to be able to bring you with me, and they never said I couldn’t have you follow later when I had to come early.”
“Where have you been the last six years?” Neal asked.
“Glasgow,” Kyran replied. It was close enough to the truth and probably the only version anyone would believe who hadn’t seen the things he had.
“I have friends there,” Neal said. “Everyone I knew I could trust not to talk to your folks was looking for you for me.”
“It was technically in Glasgow,” Kyran said. “It’s just a little more complicated than that.”
“So explain it to me,” Neal said, sitting down beside Kyran.
Kyran looked over.
Neal was looking straight ahead, but his shoulders were slightly hunched, and Kyran could make out the glint of a necklace at his throat. If anyone would believe him, it would be Neal.
“You know how my protection charms actually seemed to work?” Kyran asked. They’d discovered pagan religions together in middle school and Neal had been the one to help Kyran hide it when he began practicing. They’d shared an alter and Neal’s and created rituals together.
“Yeah, I remember,” Neal said, rubbing at his right thigh. He’d been pushed off one of the short cliffs above this very beach when they were sixteen. It should have killed him, but all he did was break two bones in his leg.
“Someone contacted me about it when I was seventeen. They explained why and how the charms could do something like that. They offered to train me to do more.”
“More?” Neal asked.
Kyran glanced both ways down the beach. They were alone. It was safe enough on the deserted beach.
Kyran held his left hand out in front of him, hand cupped slightly and concentrated on the heat and life within himself. Blue flames flickered into being in his palm and slowly grew.
“I can do a lot more now,” Kyran said. “Magic isn’t just another kind of prayer, not for me.”
“Does it burn?” Neal asked, reaching toward the flames.
Kyran curled his hand into a fist, banishing the flames before Neal’s fingers to could reach them.
“It won’t burn me,” Kyran said. “But it burns hotter than real flames for anyone else. Even my own protection charms couldn’t prevent it, and the one you have is old, and weaker than it once was.”
“So you went off to learn magic?” Neal asked.
“Yes,” Kyran replied. “There’s a sort of faery world next to our own where the magic is more vibrant and present, but you have to have magic to get there and to get back. That’s where I spent the last six years. They took me to the entrance in Glasgow, and they took me through, and only after did they tell me that cell phones don’t work there and that I couldn’t leave again until my training was complete. It’s part of how the program works. You can’t leave until you can open your own portal back to the real Glasgow from the faery version.”
“So you never meant to leave me behind?” Neal asked.
“Of course not,” Kyran said, resting his hand on Neal’s knee. “I wanted to bring you with me, and…” Kyran stopped. It wasn’t right to put pressure on Neal. He might have a life now, a boyfriend even. Kyran couldn’t just come back and assume that Neal would still want to leave with him, not after six years of silence between them.
“Are you here to settle things with your parents?” Neal asked.
“No,” Kyran replied. “I don’t plan to see them unless I have to.”
“Then why come back here?”
“You,” Kyran replied. He had to be honest at least. Neal deserved that much.
“Me?” Neal asked. “To get me?”
“If you still want to come,” Kyran replied softly. He wasn’t sure what he’d do if Neal didn’t want to leave. He didn’t have anything to offer yet, and it might be another year before he was able to support himself through the market the mages used.
“Of course I still want to come,” Neal practically shouted. “I’ve been looking for you for six years. I’d follow you anywhere. I told you that.”
Kyran smiled. “Thanks, Neal,” he said, leaning in to bump shoulders. “I was worried you’d be mad after how I left.”
“Oh, I’m pissed at you,” Neal said, draping one arm around Kyran’s shoulder and pulling him into a hug. “But I’ll still follow you anywhere.”
“Even if it means we’re broke and scraping by for a few years?”
“Even then,” Neal said. “You’re the best thing in my world, Kyran. I always thought you were magic. It’s kind of cool to learn that I was right.”