Trials: Part Thirty Six

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It was nearing sunset when Paul and Anastasia neared the edge of the monastery. She looked out over it one last time. It was beautiful, and it was a shame they had to leave. As she was about to turn around and cross the threshold, she saw a flash of light, and out of it materialized Siobhan and Coombre. Anastasia dropped her bag and ran to hug them.

“We’ll miss you Anastasia” Siobhan patted her back.

Coombre reached into his pocket, and pulled out a book. “Adara said to give this to you.”

Anastasia took it, and saw it was one of the empty journals from the desk. It had a brown leather cover with an ‘A’ embroidered on the front. On the first page was a photograph and a note. The photo was of her, Coombre, and Siobhan when they were cataloging one of the rooms of artifacts. The note read as follows:

For Anastasia, may your curiosity never rest, and when we are rejoined, I hope you will have remembered to write some of your findings. -Adara

Below that, she saw that Siobhan and Coombre had both signed it as well. Her eyes welled with tears. She hugged them both again.

“Thank you.”

“We’ll miss you.” Siobhan stood back and waved.

“Until next time.” Coombre nodded.

Anastasia put the journal in her bag and waved. She took Paul’s hand, and crossed the threshold. Siobhan, Coombre, and the monastery disappeared, and were replaced by the same rocky beach.

“Alright, Paul. Let’s go.” Anastasia wiped a tear from her eye.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay?” Paul asked.

“Yeah,” she nodded, “Sometimes you just have to say goodbye. I think I’ll see them again.”

“Well, we’d better get going. I guess we need to go buy plane tickets.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Anastasia began to walk forwards, when she saw a man step out from behind a rock. “Oh, hey Jean. I was wondering when you would show up!”

“Jean? What’s he doing here?” Paul asked.

“I suppose my skills have slipped.” Jean shook his head and made his way towards them. “I thought for sure I had remained unseen. That dastardly Adara…” He looked off into the distance with a smirk.

“Wait, what? You know Adara?”

“Don’t worry about it Paul.” Anastasia laughed. “You don’t have to know everything.”

“Yes, I apologize for not revealing myself earlier, Mr. Darbyshire, but I was instructed to not make my presence known until you were ready to go home.” He smiled warmly. “Mr. Smith asked me to keep an eye on you both, not to mention I had some business with Adara myself.”

“Very funny, everyone’s in on the secret, whatever.” Paul sighed. “Let’s just get going.”

“I took the liberty of retrieving your plane tickets. Your flight leaves at midnight, so that gives you plenty of time to get to the airport and through customs.” Jean handed Anastasia two plane tickets.

“Why do I get the feeling that you’re not coming back with us, Jean?”

“Oh, I just have an errand to run first. Business in Algeria.” Jean turned and began to walk away, before turning back for a moment. “If I’m not back within a month, please do tell Mr. Smith to assume I am deceased.”

“Good luck Jean!” Anastasia called after him.

Paul and Anastasia were silent for a moment. They listened to the waves, and to the crunching of Jean’s footsteps.

He nodded blankly for a moment, before turning to Anastasia. “Why do I get the feeling that you were up to much more than a cleaning project, while I was training?”

“Don’t worry about it.” Anastasia smiled. “We’re both allowed to have our secrets.”

“You’ve changed, Anastasia.” Paul chuckled. “I think I like it.”

Anastasia recalled the original reason that she had taken this trip. Sure there were all of the pretenses of helping Paul, and of her first vacation, but the real reason was to get closer to Paul. She laughed a little. She had hardly managed to spend any time with him, since they were both so busy with their own things. They still had a little time left, but now she felt pretty happy with the way things were. She had other mysteries to solve, and really didn’t need to give Vanessa more of a reason to hate her. She looked off into the sunset, and for the first time that she realized it, she was happy with herself. She didn’t need something or someone else.

Her heartfelt internal monologue was disrupted by the sound of Paul’s phone ringing.

He picked up, and raised it to his ear. “Hello, this is Paul… Yeah our flight leaves at midnight, we were already coming home… Yeah I know she’s missing… The same way I know most things… No, I don’t know where she is… Arte calm down, stop shouting into the phone… Yes I’d call that shouting…” He began to make static noises with his mouth. “Sorry signals bad, gotta go. Make sure Mr. Smith personally drives us to your place from the airport…” He hung up.

“Who was that? Who’s this Arte person that keeps calling you?” Anastasia recalled he said the same name while he was on the phone in that café.

Oh, you don’t have to know everything.” Paul replied in a mocking tone.

“Oh shut up, Paul.” She elbowed him and laughed. “Let’s get going then.” She began to lead him, but he didn’t move.

“Oh well, you should probably know this thing, though.” Paul’s face went serious. “Mr. Smith called Jude. He said nobody knows where Vanessa is. She went on a trip, but she never got to the hotel she was going to.”

Anastasia’s jaw dropped. “Paul! Don’t just not tell me something like that as a joke!”

“Well, in my defense-”

“No, don’t start with that!” Anastasia scoffed. “Is there anything else I should know?”

“Probably, but I’ll let them fill you in on it.”

Anastasia rolled her eyes, and led Paul back to the road. From there, she called a taxi, and didn’t speak another word to Paul until they returned.

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(Art credit: WordPress Free Photo Library)

My month of writing is going quite successfully (Read: not one word that wasn’t for school). How about yours?


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