“Stay a little.”
“I’m right here,” she says.
“You look like you’re leaving.”
“I will be.”
My legs pump faster. It’s an evening ritual. Our little game. I race to make some still-distant town and she’s ready to slip away under the hill.
“You really should have learned by now.”
“I have, I have.”
“You say that but you do this every night.”
“This time I’ve learned. I’ll get an earlier start tomorrow. I swear.”
She really is waiting: she hangs above the hillsides just as high as forty minutes ago, or was it eight? I never check time on these final jaunts. I set some obscene distance goal and burn my legs into it. Like all men I think I’m special; like any cailín she’s seen my type before.
How many priests thought she’d listen just because they knew the right words?
Minutes pass. I look over, and maybe she’s lower, but she’s still shining golden. I grin and say she’s beautiful. She goes behind a cloud.
At some point the road curves away. “Wait there for me, Aine.”
When I can glance back, she is resting on the edge of her covers; she is wrapped in an autumn sunset veil, and blushing; and my sweet goddess Aine is my final lantern, and my beloved goddess is my final light.