My hands are still soiled with dirt when I reach her. The woman made of stone. She's so still and cold, her eyes closed, her head bowed in prayer. Sadness is written upon her gray face. Sad for me. Sad for the dead. Sad for everyone who've come and gone throughout the gates.
I collapse against her, and let the soothing temperature of her cold stone rest against my skin. I don't know how long I've been wandering. I don't know how long I've been crying. I only know that he's gone. He's gone so far away, I can't reach out to grasp him in my arms. So far away that his scent has faded into nothingness. Far enough that even the memory of him seems so long ago.
My burning temperature collides with hers, as the rush of sobs in my chest fight to break free. The others have gone. Departed. Left me alone with my cries ringing out into the darkening sky. My hands curled around the freshly placed soil, wanting so badly to carve it out. To lift the weight of the dirt barrier from his casket and release him from the biting dark.
"Don't leave me," I cried out to him, as the mourners shook their heads.
"Unstable," one said. "She needs help," said another.
"Leave her," a voice said. "We can't help her."
And why would they? After all, it's my fault. I'm the reason he's not here, with them. With me. I can still hear their murmurs upon my arrival. "The nerve," they said.
It was an accident, I wanted to say. To scream until they heard me. But no one cared to listen. Not then. Not now.
"Please," I beg the lady above me. "Please. Don't do this," I say, as if she holds the key. The key to life and death.
"I'll do anything to take it back," I promise her. I place her prayer-like hands between mine, my head bowed, eyes closed. My eyes are closed so tight, like the harder they're shut my prayer would be heard. "Anything," I say again.
The chirping birds go silent at my words. The leaves come to a standstill along their branches. And the air itself seems to freeze in time.
Dare I open my eyes?
My sobs halt in my chest as if my breath has been sucked right out. I can't breathe. Can't feel. But I don't panic. I can't panic, because all fear, all the pain, it's suddenly . . . gone.
I dare to look. Two stone white eyes stare back at me, inches from my own. Her lips no longer draped in a frown, but a smile.
My mouth fights to speak, but I'm motionless. Her eyes absorbing every emotion, every thought of mine, taking them as her own. And just when I think I'm completely undone. That there's nothing left of me.
I hear my name. No. Not just my name. I hear him.
It's not possible.
Again, he calls out.
Could it be?
I look to my right where I hear him. And as if he'd never been gone, he's there. Waiting. For me.
"Thank you," I say in a wisp of breath to the lady made of stone, but it's too late. Her white eyes are no longer. Her smile set downward.
I nod my head with understanding, wiping the tears from my cheeks. His outstretched hand awaits. His face bright with invisible light. The scent of him crashes into me before I even reach him. And I know then. I know he's really here.
"Come with me," he says.
I look from his face to his hand.
"Only the devil could bring him back," my mother had said.
But how could the devil look so beautiful? I ask myself.
And before I could think to turn away. From him. From our love. I take his hand in mine.
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