Prologue: non, je ne regrette rien
“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in--what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”
― Victor Hugo
On a blue hill perched below the Alps, there once lived a man who used to be the son of a crime lord. Not many people would have known he was there, but Andrew did. He had cut himself free of the roots of his past and planted new ones, blooming in a country that should never have belonged to him, yet matched the varying shades of his soul. Andrew was nineteen when he first heard of that man. He was nearly thirty before he ever took the long flight across the Atlantic and met him.
He never apologised to Andrew for what had happened to him, never tried to comfort him. Not on that sun-drenched afternoon when they first met, nor on any day since. What good would it have done? An apology was never going to bring Aaron back to Andrew. Commiserations could not raise the dead. No words would heal such loss.
And the man understood that in a way no other person did.
Twenty-two years later, Andrew paused at the garden gate, staring up the sloping drive towards the old Provençal bastide with its sun-shadowed arches and warm ashlar-stone. All around it the wild flowers tangled and swayed in the breeze, perfuming the air with a thousand memories made stronger by recently fallen rain.
Andrew tucked the urn under his arm more securely and started to climb, the scents carrying him further back in time with every step, like a stream bearing away petals fallen in a summer storm.