His body I take to a place high in the mountains where I often walked when I lived in Los Angeles. On a bluff, with a view of the desert on one side and the city on the other, I build a funeral pyre from wood I am able to gather in the immediate area. Seymour rests comfortably on top of my construction. At the beach I had removed the bloody stake and thrown it away. He is able to lie on his back and I fold his hands over his big heart.
"You," I say. "You were the best."
There is a wooden match in my right hand, but somehow I am unable to light it. His face looks so peaceful I can't stop staring at him. But I realize the day is moving on, and that the wind will soon pick up. The flames should finish their work before then. Seymour always loved the woods, and wouldn't have wanted them harmed by a raging forest fire. He loved so many things, and I was happy to be one of them.
I strike the match on the bark of a tree.
It burns bright red, and I can't help but think of Kali.
Many things pass through my mind right then.
Many question and so few answers.
Yet I let the flame burn down to my fingertips.
There is pain, a little smoke. The match dies.
And from my pocket I withdraw the vial of blood.
Number seven. Ramirez. I look up.
"What is the cost, Kalika?" I ask the sky.
After opening the vial, I pour half the blood over Seymour's wound, and the other half down his throat. Then I close my eyes and walk away and stand silently behind a tall tree for five minutes. Some mysteries are best left unexplained. My hope refuses to be crushed. I have found love and lost love, but perhaps what I have finally rediscovered is my faith in love. I stand and pray--not for bliss or miracles--I simply pray and that is enough.
Finally I walk back to the funeral pyre.
Seymour is sitting up on the wood and looking at me. His fatal wound has healed.
"How did we get here?" he asks.
Of course I have to laugh. "It's a long story," I say.
But I wonder how to finish the story for him.
I still wonder who the child is.
More, I wonder who he was.
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