Frodo and Sam were sitting in their usual spot at the Green Dragon Inn, enjoying a drink. They were drinking in silence when some of the other hobbits sitting near their table suddenly crowded around them.
“Well, if it isn’t young master Baggins!” one of them exclaimed cheerfully, not taking any notice of Sam who was eyeing them suspiciously.
“Aren’t you going to tell us this time?” another asked.
Frodo looked up at their curious faces with weary eyes, full of pain and regret. The eyes which once had a lively spark and a mischievous look were now tired and sad, with misery and torture present in every tiny glance.
“Tell you what?” he asked quietly, trying not to attract any more unwanted attention.
“Well, how you’re missing that—-” one of them began.
“THAT finger of yours!” another finished eagerly.
Frodo looked down at his half finished drink, and remained silent. He had heard the same question along with various others asked from him many times before, and every time, the questions brought to life the unbearable pain of his wounds…the wounds that would never go away. They left their permanent marks on him, torturing him all the more…not wanting him to forget…never able to forget…never.
“I don’t think that’s any of your concerns!” Sam shot at them, with a defensive glare, which made them stare back in silence. He opened his mouth to say something else, but Frodo looked up and shook his head slowly, warning Sam to stop.
“I’d rather not talk about it,” Frodo finally replied, his voice shaking.
“That’s what you always say, Frodo! Why can’t you just tell us?” a grumpy old Hobbit questioned, squinting his eyes accusingly toward Frodo and Sam.
“I bet it got bitten off by one of farmer Maggot’s dogs when you four troublemakers were out mushroom picking,” one of the younger hobbits exclaimed.
The group burst out laughing and Frodo looked away, as tears of anger and embarrassment filled his eyes. If only the truth were as simple as that, he thought bitterly.
Sam looked at Frodo with a worried expression and was relieved when Frodo stood up to leave.
“Mr. Frodo is tired, goodbye gentlemen,” Sam replied, “And if I were you, I’d mind my own affairs next time!” Sam added with a another fierce glare, and hurried after Frodo who had left the table without saying another word.
The other hobbits at the inn started murmuring and whispering to each other as the two made their way towards the exit. It felt like every eye in the room was on them, so they left as quickly as they could.
“Good night gentlemen!” Rosie replied pleasantly, standing at the door.
“Oh, g-good night!” Sam stuttered, but Frodo said nothing and walked out, with Sam following behind him.
“They have some nerve, asking such ridiculous questions!” Sam fumed, as they stepped out into the cold night air. The stars of Elbereth shone like tiny diamonds in the clear night sky.
“I am sure they don’t know how much pain they cause me, they’re just curious, that all,” Frodo answered, trying to brush off any anger that he might have felt towards the inqusitive hobbits.
“They should be grateful instead of accusing and embarrassing you like that! I’m sure most of them know by now what you did”
“Grateful because I almost failed?! Sam, if you weren’t with me…”
“You didn’t fail– without you, there would be no Middle Earth, and goodness would have no existence!” Sam cried, his voice rising, as tears glistened in his eyes.
“Calm down, Sam,” Frodo said softly, and looked into Sam’s eyes, “That memory always haunts me and I can’t escape it, it follows me everywhere like a dark and threatening cloud,”
“Even if that memory still haunts you, you have to try and not think about it, don’t let that threatening shadow take over you, you have to fight it!”
“You have always had faith in me Sam, and hope in the darkest of times, but how much longer can I fight? I am so weary, weary of this endless struggle. It feels like I’m only going in circles, getting nowhere. I need peace, peace from this curse that I am forever doomed to carry! Ah well, it is late and I am tired. Good night, Sam.” and he left without another word, disappearing into the mist of the night.
“Good night, Mr. Frodo,” Sam called out softly, and his heart ached with sorrow and grief for his dear friend and master.
* * *
The next morning, Sam saw Frodo sitting in the garden of Bag End, puffing on his pipe.
“Good morning, Frodo!” Sam greeted him cheerfully, walking up the steps that led to the porch where Frodo sat.
“Oh, hullo Sam,” Frodo muttered quietly, deep in thought.
Sam sat down next to him, placing his hand gently on Frodo’s arm.
He cleared his throat and tried to speak in a confident and convincing voice, “I’ve been thinking Mr. Frodo, don’t you think it’ll be for your own good if you tell everyone what really happened? So they’ll all know what you really went through and what you did for Middle earth,”
“No Sam, I can’t, what I suffered is my own dark secret,” Frodo protested, “No one should know besides those who shared the journey and those who had a part in it, and besides, it wasn’t only I who saved Middle earth, you know that,”
“But it really boils my blood when I see them asking you so many questions over and over again,” Sam began, “and then mocking you,”
“It doesn’t matter, nothing matters anymore,”
“Don’t say that Frodo, of course it matters, and if you won’t do anything about it, I’ll see to it myself that they don’t ask you any more of those ridiculous questions,”
Frodo said nothing and closed his eyes. Suddenly, he looked so frail; his face looked weary from deep lines of suffering and pain.
“It really hurts me to see you suffer so much,”
“I think I should go away, like Bilbo did . . . forever,”
“No Frodo! You can’t go away, the Shire just wouldn’t be the same without you!” Sam cried.
“I need to get away from all of this, and I don’t want you to suffer along with me,” Frodo insisted, “It was my own doing and I don’t want to punish others, especially you, for my own wrong doings,”
“What wrong doings? What are you talking about?!” Sam questioned in complete frustration.
“Oh Sam,” Frodo sighed and decided not to argue any further.
“Come on Frodo, let’s go for a walk, it’ll clear your head and cheer you up,” Sam suggested after a moment of silence. The thought of Frodo leaving the Shire forever was unbearable, it just wouldn’t be the same without him. It was bad enough when Bilbo left.
“Walking is for a peaceful mind Sam, not a tortured mind,” Frodo replied sadly.
“Can’t you hear yourself? You’re losing hope again!”
“I can’t help it Sam, please forgive me,” Frodo exclaimed, apologetically, “Hope has long forsaken my retched heart! Please, I would like to be left alone. I don’t want to upset you with my gloomy thoughts,”
“Well then, I’ll just go and see if I can find Merry and Pippin,” Sam replied, and reluctantly stood up to leave, slowly walking down the steps, not wanting to leave Frodo alone with his troubled thoughts. Sam was afraid that if he left him, Frodo would decide to leave without him. How could he ever bear it? But surely Frodo wouldn’t do that to him, would he?
“Tell Merry and Pippin I said hullo,” Frodo called out to Sam. And for a brief moment, he remembered the fun and adventures they used to have together. When they went on vegetable hunting expeditions and got into all sorts of trouble wandering around the Shire. That’s when he yearned for adventure and had a thirst for knowing what went on in the outside world. But now, he was crippled and weak, no longer the same mischievous and adventure-loving hobbit. Even the word `adventure’ sent shivers up and down his spine, bringing back memories he tried so hard to forget, and a painful past that he was running away from and wanted to deny the existence of.
His hand touched the place of an old wound. A jab of icy pain ripped through his shoulder, leaving him numb. Gasping for breath, Frodo closed his eyes waiting for the pain to subside, as the memories returned to torture him again.
Why did he have to go through all this torment? Why did he have to carry the burden of pain? A burden that he couldn’t even throw into the fires of Mount Doom or free himself of, a burden that brought him down on his knees, unable to stand again. A burden he’d have to carry for the rest of his life. . .
Two days later, when Sam went to pay a visit to Frodo, as usual, he found that Frodo wasn’t on the porch or in the garden. So he went up to the door and knocked…no one answered. He tried to open the door but it was locked. Sam’s heart began to race wildly and he searched around frantically until his eyes fell on upon a large, red book propped agaisnt some bushes.
“That’s Mr. Bilbo’s book, the one he gave to Frodo to finish!” Sam exclaimed in amazement and slowly bent down to pick it up. As he did, a small piece of parchment paper fell from the inside cover to the ground. Sam picked it up and began to read it aloud: “My dear Sam, there is still room for a little more. I am leaving it in your hands. Do not worry, I have gone to a place where I can finally find some peace. Farewell, my dearest friend.” Tears swelled up in Sam’s eyes and he slowly sank down to his knees.
“He’s gone…he’s gone!” Sam sobbed, and although he felt overwhelming sorrow, in his heart he was glad that Frodo was at last able to find peace…peace from painful memories.