“What’s it like to lose someone you love?” I ask.
She doesn’t answer right away. “It feels worse than the worst pain you can imagine. Day in and day out you wake up, thinking you’re going to pick up where you left off, that it was all one big fat nightmare. But then you can’t. Sometimes, you forget, and you try to call them, and you realize they’re gone.”
A single tear falls out of her closed eyes. I reach out and wipe it away with my thumb, my finger cupping her cheek. Her eyes flutter open and she watches me.
“Your parents would be very proud of you.”
I bring my thumb down to her lips and it lingers there. For a few glorious seconds, I’m not dead. I don’t live on Soul Mountain. I’m not governed by Elders and I don’t have rules that keep me from her.
“I’m glad I was assigned to save you.” My eyes never leave her face. There’s only one thing I want to do. Only one thing I can do.
“Me, too,” she whispers in an exhaled breath.
To hell with it. I’m here. The Elders aren’t. I bring my lips to hers and the world goes mute.