Saoirse had a lot to prove.
She looked up at Toiréasa’s home at the top of the creag and knew how long it would take her to make it to that household. She could see the disapproval of Toiréasa’s father, even without seeing him. A hand clapped down on her shoulder. She didn’t jump, because she’d known her cousin was behind her.
Saoirse turned away from the view. “Aye.”
Toiréasa was beautiful in a way no one else in the village could compare with. She was also heir to the strongest swordsman and learning his ways. Ways he would teach many, but not Saoirse. If she was going to get his permission, it would be on her own merits. She was already the best in her family. Her cousin didn’t want to go hunting without her. They would be the one sharing a meal, instead of those who were forced to ask for help as the weather changed drastically around them.
They left the village, out into the new snow. Saoirse brought her scarf over her mouth and nose.
He sat in the car and waited. The instructor had kept him waiting. Five, ten minutes. Sitting there, waiting.
The instructor finally arrived, spouting off instructions. He followed all of them, to the letter. Or he believed he had. The panic rose within him, panic he had never felt before when sitting in his car. No matter who sat beside him, he had felt comfortable here.
Now someone was truly going to judge him on this. He didn’t like the feeling.
It was raining. Starting out, listening to all of the instructor’s directions, it went well. As the rain came down harder and harder, it was more and more difficult to hear what it was he was supposed to do.
He no longer recognized the streets. Then again, this wasn’t his hometown. There was no one to give him his test there.
The instructor raised his voice, still calm and collected. Not as if he had trusted his life to a person who could possibly have no idea what they were doing. The tester began to wonder if he had ever known what he was doing.
Finally, finally, he was told to park the car. Back where it had started.
He was told about what he had messed up, given his paper.
He had passed.
With a sigh of relief, he followed the instructor back inside to stop in the bathroom. Time not to look like he had had a panic attack for his picture.
The church stood empty, as it had for the last ten years. A hole in the roof let in the weather and sunlight and had long since blanketed the floor with crumbling, dried leaves. It was a matted carpet of brown and orange, the vibrant colors had faded months ago. The rain had since turned the individual pieces into a collective, the days of sun afterward drying them out into the mess they were now. Some had smeared across the floor, once a pearly white, now a grey with streaks of dirt and leaves extending out from the leaves.
The only sounds from within were the twittering of birds and the skittering of rodents from under the old pews and from behind the broken pillars and walls. The wind on occasional came through high enough that the leaves scattered. There were no signs of the stained glass that used to populate the windows, now simply open portals to the outside. The dais in front had five large steps, raising past speakers above the rest of the congregation. It had been too long.
The storms would come. The sun would come. Everything else had passed. What it had been and what it had meant… gone.
The building stood empty.