His father reappeared. “Did you give it to him already?”
“Yes, and he accepted it.”
He looked up at his father, who smiled at him.
“If you should ever find yourself contemplating marriage, you will need a ring of your own.”
Ambrose shook his head. “I can’t take yours. It would be wrong. After what I did to you—”
“That’s why I’m giving it to you. So, you will know and understand and remember I don’t hate you. There is no anger in me anymore.” He held out his hand. A man’s gold ring lay in the middle of it. “Take it, Ambrose. Pass it down to your own children.”
My own children. Children that my parents will never meet, never know, never interact with. “I’m sorry.”
Ambrose took the ring and put it inside the ring box.
His father hugged him.
He was not all light like his wife. There was something there for Ambrose to hug back.
But not for long. His form shifted and faded into pure silver light. “I love you, Ambrose. Remember that.”
“Wait. Don’t leave me. I’m scared. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. Stay with me.”
She placed her hand right above his heart. “I’m here, Ambrose. I’m always here.”
His father placed his hand on top of her hand. Their colors blurred and merged. “As am I.”
They both disappeared.
The house vanished.
Ambrose stood alone in the silently falling snow.
I should have called ahead.
Hildreth knocked on the door again.
What if he’s out of town?
He frowned. “Why would Master Shinowa go out of town? Where would he go? A Masters’ Convention? Is there even such a thing?”
He knocked again.
Maybe he went to see a movie.
Does he even do that sort of normal thing? If he does, I can’t imagine it. The very idea of him sitting in a theater with a bowl of popcorn…No. That would be too weird.
He knocked harder.
Hildreth stopped in mid-knock. What if he’s hurt?
What if he’s changed?
He tried to turn the doorknob. It turned easily in his hand.
Does he usually leave the door unlocked?
Maybe he’s sleeping.
Sleeping very soundly.
With the front door unlocked.
Keep calm. Stay steady. This is not like then.
Rice paper torn and blowing around the room.
He’ll be safe. He’ll be fine. He won’t be hurt. He won’t be changed. He’ll be fine.
He entered the darkened building.
“I can’t think about that now. Master!”
He entered the dojo.
He entered the dojo and found him huddled up in a corner, shivering and weeping. The two marks on his neck quickly turned white.