He stood in the dark wood, doubtfully looking at the moon through the trees. He shivered in the cold air. Before he had time to consider his choices and give in to his fears she stood before him.
Her hair was long and shimmered blue in the light of the moon. Ribbons were tied in it, each with a key at the end of it.
“You are the Secret Keeper?” he asks her.
He pulls a blue silk ribbon and a key out of his pocket and shows them to her.
“Any questions before we proceed?” she says with a low, soft voice.
He thinks for a moment, “Will my secret be safe with you? A lot of lives depend on it.”
“Of course”, she replies with certainty, “I am the Secret Keeper.”
He pointedly looks at the discoloured and scarred flesh of her shoulder. “Are you sure? Even under torture?”
She smiles and a soft green glow appears in her eyes, “Yes, I am sure. Even under torture, maybe especially under torture. This”, she looks at her shoulder, “happened a long time ago, when I was a new keeper and didn’t know my power yet. Do you want to change your mind?”
He shakes his head. “What happens now?”
She holds her hand out and after a moment of confusion, he gives her the ribbon and the key.
With another of her little smiles she leans forward. He whispers the secret into her ear, breathing in the scent of her, earth, smoke and a flowers whilst he does so. It makes him feel light headed. He finishes the telling and takes a step back, watching her as she ties the ribbon into her hair and attaches the key to its end.
“That’s it?” he wants to know.
“Yes, that’s it, no more is required. Your secret will be safe with me.”
“What happens if I ever need the secret back?” he queries.
“I’ll find you.”
“How will you find me? I could be anywhere.”
She laughs, and with a mocking tone in her voice she replies, “The same way I found you today. I will know if and when you need me. There is a connection between us now anyway”, she said.
“But how will you know which secret it is?” he asks curiously.
“I am the Secret Keeper and in my presence each secret will always know it’s owner” ,she explains and pulls on one of the ribbons. A key shimmers in the moonlight. He recognises the swirls and curls at the top of the key as the one he has given her.
Her dignity and serenity surprise him. She seems very young for such a responsibility.
“Is it difficult carrying all these secrets?” he wonders.
“Sometimes”, she agrees and then, almost inaudible, “they whisper to me, late at night”, and in a normal voice she continues, “you are full of questions, aren’t you? Remember, curiosity killed the cat.”
He grins, “It’s what I do, ask questions. How did you become a keeper of secrets, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“If I told you that”, she laughs at the look on his face, “you’d have to take over. Are you ready for that?”
He shakes his head and raises his hands, “No, thank you. My job is difficult enough.” He takes a step back to make his point.
“Our business is finished then. Unless you have more questions?” she asks him with a mocking smile.
He shakes his head again. “No, no, we’re done.”
She smiles, “So be it then.”
“Take care of yourself”, he tells her.
For the first time surprise shows on her face. “I will take care of your secret, don’t worry.”
“I am sure you will, but that’s not what I meant. Take care of yourself. I wouldn’t like to see you hurt.”
“Thank you”, she smiles, but this time the smile lights up her face and he finally sees that she is beautiful, scarred shoulder notwithstanding. His fear leaves him and he smiles back at her. He is tempted to ask her something else just to keep her here with him a little longer.
“One last question?” he asks giving in to temptation.
She nods, amused by his curiosity.
“What happens if I die? What happens to the secret I mean?”
“The ribbon and key will crumble to dust and the secret will die with you.”
“Good. That’s very good.”
“Goodbye, be safe”, she says and when he looks up she is gone. There is a tinkling sound as of metal clinking against metal, but then that fades, too.
He stares for a moment at the place where she stood before him, then turns around and finds the path back to the city, his heart a lot lighter than it had been earlier.
© Sybille Sterk
Do not copy or publish this story in any way, shape, or form without my written permission.
Story to accompany the image of the same name – The Secret Keeper
The Story so far
The Secret Keeper
The Secret in the Wall
The Secret in the Wall Part II
The Secret in the Wall Part III
The Secret in the Wall Part IV
The Secret in the Wall Part V
The Story Weaver
The Secret Keeper, Part II, Pandora
The Secret Keeper, Part III, Alexandra
The Secret Keeper, Part IV, Chosen
The Secret in the Wall (Part VI) and The Secret Keeper, Part V, A Promise Kept
The Secret Keeper, Part V, Black Orchid
The Secret Keeper, Part VII, The Naming
The Secret Keeper Part VIII: The Beast
The Secret Keeper Part IX: Old Friends