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what keeps us together ?
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It was, of course, the question she dared not ask. What kept them together she could not say for she barely knew how they got together in the first place. There were the practicalities: Sienna had been looking for a place to stay and Maeve, the host, had supplied one. Just a room, Sienna had chosen, although she would have preferred the solitude of a whole place. There were none here on this island off of an island somewhere in the North sea – technically part of Ireland but of its own place entirely. Grey here, swathed in mists. Patches of verdant grass sprang up between the car-sized boulders, larger swaths all cordoned off for the omnipresent flocks. But none of the vast rolling hills of the mainland. Also, unlike the mainland, it held only one pub – if you could call the small bar and five stools behind what seemed to be a post office, general store and tackle shop a pub. The locals did. She tried going there. Once. Early on, her second night here and was met with a silence she’d soon come to recognize well . Five fishermen on their five stools, each a different weathered color like the buoys they dropped for their crabbing pots. All not speaking, all at once. Not a one had turned to see her enter but instantly all had known it she was there. Later, when she’d recounted it to Maeve, after she’d been here for much longer than her originally-booked two weeks, Maeve had just harumphed, “of course”. “Neil, behind the bar, would’ve seen you out the side window as you rounded the corner.” ” It was strange.” Sienna had said, ” The quietest silence I’d ever known.” ” It’s nothing”, Maeve had told her, with a quick kiss to her head. Sienna had reached up, she remembered. Had circled her arms around Maeve’s work-hardened waist. Then pulled her towards her, as Maeve had often done to her after the chores. Kissed her just under the collar bone, over her heart, just as she’d been kissed by Maeve the night before. What drew them together, what held them together, what force – they never spoke of. Sienna knew, as the men at the bar knew, she was the one who had entered their haven. There were no words to convey some things. Why a stranger is unwanted – even a visitor. Why a heartbroken widow trying to survive on a cold, granite isle would caress and enchant a lost stranger trying to find herself by escaping to somewhere she knew she couldn’t be found. What words explain such things? Sienna, settling herself deep into the calico chair, propped her casted foot on the small stool Maeve had left out for her. Sipped the tea, still pipping, she had also, thoughtfully, placed next to. The tea cozy had kept it warm. Sienna cupped the mug and watched Maeve out the window. Feeding the chickens, shooing the sheep. The egg gathering, the hay tossing into the tall triangular feeding trough, the way the muscles of her back pulled under the thin work shirt she was wearing. Yesterday Sienna tried to hobble around and do something useful. She ended up breaking Maeve’s mother’s nice dish – she’d been so sorry, had started crying. Maeve had said nothing but held her. Hadn’t asked about the sobbing tears over the dish. Had shushed her, saying only how Sienna was so useful. Useful in her presence, in her lo-. Maeve hadn’t finished. Had stopped herself from. Had held Sienna as she cried. Had let the afternoon chores go unfinished. Useless and needy. Sienna still couldn’t fathom what was going on between them, why Maeve wanted her here at all. Her sister Moira certainly didn’t. All Maeve told Moira was that Sienna was a paying border, sleeping in the spare room. Had broken her foot and is staying on while it healed. Keeps her bed tidy, Moira had said, looking into the unused guest room and then at the hastily made bed of the room they now shared. Her look, her island stare, Sienna had needed no interpretation. “Ah”, Maeve had said when she had left, wordlessly slamming the door. “Pay no mind. That’ll be just Moira. She’s left like that, often, well before you were here. She’ll be back, no doubt. And leave again, the same way, glaring and slamming, that’s my baby sister.” Sienna had said nothing back. It was the most she’d ever heard Maeve say about anyone. Moira did come back, still glared, still slammed, both expressions of a question neither she nor Maeve could answer. It had been almost 7 weeks now, to the day. What would Sienna say to Cara if she could find her?

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