“Are you hurt?” he asked, looking me up and down. “You have to stop scaring me like that. I can’t lose you.”
I nodded, not trusting my voice.
We stood an inch apart, my eyes searched his face. “Arrow, I…”
“Me too,” he finished, leaning towards me.
The heat from his hands warmed my back, possessively pulling me closer. A fleeting shudder rippled through me as the snow melted under my shirt, lost under the heat of Arrow’s embrace. My fingers wound around his hair, pulling him closer as I gave in to my desire. I eagerly kissed him, wishing for everything else to disappear.
And for a moment it did.
He pulled away slowly, tracing the outline of my jaw. My lips parted in anticipation. When none came, I regretfully opened my eyes and saw the sadness in his. The haunted look in his eyes was worse than the cold bite of the shadows.
My heart skipped a beat as hurt chiseled away at it. That intimate bond broke as he pulled his hand away and dropped his gaze to the ground.
“I'm sorry,” he whispered. “I was wrong, we can’t do this.”
“What is it?” I asked alarmed. “What did I do?”
“It’s nothing that you did. But I can feel it now, it’s different than before. You believe, don’t you?”
“Believe what, about all of this? Yes, yes, I do. What is wrong with that?”
“Because seeing you fall like that, I finally realized that I’m going to lose you. Whatever I want, whatever you want, it can’t happen. None of this is real.” He turned and walked back up the trail.
“No, no, no,” I said following him, twisting him around. “You can’t just walk away from me like that and say this is done. It’s finally just us, no more fighting, no more pretending. I don’t understand why we can’t be together.”
“Because this isn’t real.”
“Yes it is.”
“Maybe what we feel now, but there’s no future in it, in us. As real as my life is to me, your life’s out there. You don't belong here.”
“But what about that kiss?” I asked. “You can’t tell me you don’t feel it, or that everything you’ve said isn’t true.”
“It can't be,” he said.
I turned away and clenched my jaw before tears could fall, and stared at the ground where he had thrown my heart. The red puddle I waited for did not come. Perhaps it had frozen already.
I deliberated, feeling the handle of the crutch at my side. It would be so easy to pick it up and hobble away, but for the first time, I didn’t want to heal the break by numbing myself or pretending it didn’t happen. The pieces had to be put back together for it to be set properly or it could never be used the same way again. I swallowed hard, releasing my tears and turned to face him.
His hair fell over his eyes, covering but not hiding the obvious longing. The hollowness of his words echoed. They were nothing more than a preventative bandage. And even though I knew my heart would break when it ended, the only thing more painful than its eventual shattering would be not letting it happen.
I stepped forward and took his hand. He met my eyes, confused.
“But we can't,” he protested.
I covered his lips with my fingers. “I have no choice.”
“But we have no future.”
“I know, and I don’t need a future. I want now.”
I rose onto my tiptoes and hooked my hand around his neck, pulling him close.
The hesitation disappeared and he met my kiss and desire with his own, pressing me against the mountain wall. Snow melted behind me, but I hardly noticed except for his cold fingers holding me close, keeping my legs from giving way beneath me.
- Dreamscape: Saving Alex 2014 Kirstin Pulioff (unedited text)