Probably Sort-Of Safe

Chapter 5: The Voice on the Wind

He was a quiet man with an open face and kind eyes. His beard was soft, white and neatly trimmed. His clothes were patchwork things, but not altogether untidy or ragged. As he walked, a simple melody played on his lips. The words to the song had been lost since before human lips knew speech.

He walked without hurry and without destination. When he tired, he slept. When he hungered, food became close to hand. Ticket sellers and ticket takers never paid him any mind.

The song had been a lullaby.

At infrequent moments, the wind would tousle the long white hair upon his head. And he would stop in mid-step and close his eyes and rock back and forth on his heels. He seemed to be listening to something, though no one else could ever hear just what it was. Perhaps it was the words to that ancient melody. And then the wind would move along, and he would open up his eyes, smile a sad little smile, and continue on his way.

These moments could happen anywhere. The wind cared nothing for walls or locks. It moved, and could only ever be delayed, never stopped. Not really.

On this particular day, it found him on a train. He had ambled onto the car and taken a seat at the very end. A small smattering of other people, perhaps a few more than ten, shared the car with him. The wind caught up to the train, but the doors were slammed shut. No matter. It hovered around the entryway, waiting for its moment.

A Porter approached the door, his ticket puncher clenched in his fist. Not realizing what he was setting in motion, he opened the door.

The sound of the wind was that of a bride’s wedding dress as it is being caressed by the air on a mid-summer’s eve.

Without realizing that he was saying anything at all, the Porter murmured, “He’s buried at the twenty yard line.”

The wind carried on down the car, announcing itself one passenger at a time.

“Deb Tipton is allergic to walnuts,” said a lady.

“Of course it did not die,” said a sleeping man. “It can only ever sleep.”

A napping toddler whispered, “Salvation lies within the jars. Break them, and be released.”

The man at the back of the car watched. His smile, when it appeared, was so small that it could scarcely be noticed.

The secrets drew closer, passenger by passenger.

“The diamond is nestled beneath the fifth claw.”

“The sparrows lie.”

“The final three will cast off their armor and fly again.”

“The letter D was an accident.”

The rustling step of the wind came to a halt. Sometimes, the man liked to imagine that he could still see her. That if he unfocused his eyes enough he could make out her shape and her dress and her smile. He would imagine outstretching his hand and feeling her take it in her own. Even the coldness of her touch would have been a comfort, for at least then he could know that she was there.

But he knew (in that small part of him that could still remember the feeling of a broken heart, a part of a soul that can never be locked away, no matter how many chains and bars are used in the attempt) not to try and reach out his hand. There would be nothing to feel.

The wind curled around The Man of Locks. She leaned in close and whispered in his ear, whispered the secret words which she alone knew. The change was instantaneous and came without warning.

The warmth died from his eyes.

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