Varykino Lakeside Town
The gentle rustle of a chill winter wind stirred barren branches, causing them to 'clack' when the heavy gusts buffeted them together. A lake of ice stretched out to the steep sides of the mountains on the other side. This time of year, the usually lush slope lay bereft of life, foliage dead in the sub-zero chill. Granite poked through where brush gave way to cliff faces. You couldn't see them when working your way down.
He knew it from experience.
But that was part of the fun of hiking.
Flakes of white still drifted across his field of view, beginning to fall as the winds went from gale to breeze. With the chill no longer penetrating his peacoat, he cast his black gaze down one end of the cobbled street, and then swept it back up the other. Gloved hands fisted in his pockets, he turned towards the north. Cira was likely reading by the fire - perhaps charting another expedition for the future.
It was hard to say. Walking down the empty streets, rubber bottom boots crunching in the snow, he found himself looking to the evenly patterned malaise of the cloud cover above. Snow clouds had such a characteristic look. They went on as far as the eye could see while being just a shade or two lighter than your usual overcast mess that oft made a poor day for vacation towns like this.
No other footprints marred the serenity of the ground before him, as most preferred to stay indoors on days like today. Not him, though. He often got the urge to just go for walks, no matter the weather. He would only not go out in rain; it had always bothered him. No longer a soldier, he exercised his freedom to avoid such things as 'getting soaked during a thunderstorm.'
Lips curling downward, he tugged at the knit cap that clung to his head. Tufts of brown hair curled out from under the lining, and for all the stars he knew he looked like an old fashioned sailor oft romanticized in the holos. Yet, as he approached the edge of town and turned up an alley to make south on the next lane over, he couldn't fight the hint of sorrow that tinged his weatherbeaten features.
He had the life he wanted, but what came now?
Taking a slow breath as he exited the alley and turned towards home, he paused as laughter emanated from a home nearby - high pitched, multi-layered. The Oesterling's were here; he'd not known that. Grandkids had come to visit, it sounded like. Making a quiet sound of amusement, he began walking once more, mind drifting again to the orange glow of his fireplace and the smell of burning wood mingled with an underlayer of citrus.
If only she'd turn that hair back, but it would come in time. Of that he was sure. She'd always gotten him to stop thinking about the future, rather ironically. The worries and anxieties inherent in his mind eased with her presence. She made him feel young - a laughable notion. There was some truth there, though, as he was sure Jorus would attest. Brandon had always been an 'old soul.'
That was, frankly, who he was. Beyond his years. Perhaps that's why he and Cira had gotten along so well; they'd both been around too long, seen too much. She'd survived the plague, and he had too. Four hundred years was a long time, and who knew, maybe she was older than that. You stopped caring about yourself over a timeframe that long. Survival makes you forget others, but living again reminds you that you never should have gone without.
Home passed on the right, the frozen expanse of the waterfront coming into view for a moment. To the south side of town he went, through winding streets of snow-covered cobble and through tightly packed homes of pale cream and dark shutters. They were large, ten bedrooms and more, each hotly contested. The sun shone on them in the morning, providing perfect lighting when the shutters opened, and so up and down the eight kilometer coastline you had all sorts of exorbitantly rich individuals fighting over any home that went on sale.
And the cream of the crop sat out on the water, set onto the point of an admittedly rocky island. It was beautiful, but you couldn't walk it. Funny how life often came down to the simple things.
The scent of black caf in the morning, the sunlight soaking heat into your skin, even the crunch of powdered snow beneath a boot insulated with thick wool. Life was an experience, and as he turned back through another alley to head north - truly home this time, rather than past.... he couldn't help but remember a line he'd heard many years ago, when he was but a boy traveling with his mother to pick up food for the week.
He was much too young to feel this damn old.