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I Make You Laugh, You Make Me Smile

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Abraham lay back in bed and closed his eyes as Henry described for him what it felt like to watch the sunrise over the English Channel. It had been one of his favorite ways to begin his mornings before his apprenticeship began. He had finished school the previous week and his father had secured for him the coveted position among their circle with the blacksmith. It wasn’t nearly as well thought of as the silversmith’s or even the tannery, but it was honest money and Henry could make a name for himself with his own two hands.

Henry combed his fingers through Abraham’s hair and kissed the smile that clung to his friend’s lips. He drew the outlines of scattered clouds across Abraham’s cheeks and imitated bird calls in Abraham’s ear to complete the picture. It meant more than life after death itself just to see Abraham so carefree and smiling after a long day of training outside of the house on the hill.

Abraham spun in a circle in awe when Henry removed his blindfold. He had thought his friend was mad when he suggested that they move to the Alaskan wilderness ‘just for a little while’. There would be an easier time of catching large game unaware and less sun with which to contend, but it was so very, very far from many of the things they both loved.

What was left of the Union still guided the United States where they were able and curbed the worst of the human’s missteps. But in Alaska, Abe questioned Henry’s reasoning for insisting that this was an experience that Abraham’s long life should not lack.

As he watched the dips and swirls of color reaching for them and for Heaven above, Abe couldn’t help but smile over at Henry and slide into his beckoning arms.

They were considering heading back down in the Lower 48, when Henry received word that they were needed by their allies in the Southwest. Abe couldn’t have guessed that they’d end up on an old farm in Texas, rooting out active members of the KKK. There had been more than whispers of the hate group influencing political votes and non-White voters going missing in several small towns in a large enough way that the Union summoned Abe and Henry back from their icy paradise.

Abe dreaded being back in the thick of their everlasting fight, but he knew that if he had to choose between saving the lives and liberties of the free people of this world and a few more moments of scientific wonder, there would be no difficulty choosing between the two.

Still, Abe and Henry made the best of the dirty work they been called to do. By day, they wrote letters to vampire hunters among their employ. By night, they tossed wretched members of The Klan into their own fires. And in-between, when the sun was barely setting and the moon had just begun to show her lovely face, Abe and Henry would stand side-by-side and watch the moon rise over the trees and the old cow birthing shed.

Despite the fact that they would soon be covered in blood and soot, Abe allowed himself to cherish the feeling of his chest expanding in love and admiration for the vampire that led him through what he’d felt would only be an endless hell.

Abe and Henry had a game they liked to play. During the quiet years and months where they were not as urgently needed by the Union, they liked to follow the paths of migratory songbirds across the US and down into South America. It provided them with no short sum of thrills to walk among the forests and listen with keen ears to the sounds of birdcalls and the flapping of wings.

Together, they would pick out and identify which calls belonged to which birds. When first they began, Henry always seemed to outdo Abraham at every turn. They were both familiar with the birds of the forest, but Henry’s knowledge was hundreds of years greater and was fed from a variety of forests Abraham had only dreamed of as a boy.

Even so, they always laughed together and shared awarded kisses the victor claimed at the end of each round.

It was at the end of one these kisses that Abraham spotted the bird in particular that they’d been after on this trip. It fluttered behind Henry and landed on a tree not five feet away from them. They slowly drew apart and turned toward the oak tree and gazed up at Henry’s favorite songbird, the Scarlet Tanager.

They had just moved into a new house outside of charming town in upstate New York. Henry had hired an army of contractors to fix the place up and Abe was doing his best to stay out of sight. The basement and attic did the job nicely, in turn, until it was time for Abraham to move on to his next hiding spot.

He was surprised to see that Henry had instructed the workmen to install a fully automated sprinkler unit that ran underneath the front, side, and back yards. Abraham watched from the upper floor’s windows as Henry carefully chose the grass he wanted to cover their lawn. Although Abe could clearly read the minds of the workmen and their crews, Henry’s mind was suspiciously blank as he looked over and rejected the options offered to him.

It was several days and two avoided conversations with Henry later that their lawn was finished. It seemed awfully fast to Abe, but he had already decided to leave the matter alone. Henry would tell him what he wished him to know in due time.

It took a week more before Henry pulled Abraham outside in the middle of the day. None of the work crews had shown up that day, a fact that Abraham found himself to be grateful for. He had just opened his mouth to ask Henry why they were outside in the sun, when his friend began to remove his clothes. At Henry’s prompting and jabs at Abraham’s modesty, Abe moved to unbutton his dress shirt.

When they were fully bare to any eye that might somehow see them, Henry flipped on the new sprinkler system and chased Abraham across the lawn. Neither of them noticed the slight burn of the sunlight as they laughed and ran to their hearts’ delight.