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Though the streets are turquoise and the houses a rough orange, and though every single door is red and all the windows are bursting in bloom, she still sits apart at the edge of a blank and blackened forest, covered in snow, the wind at her back. To her, everything is grayscale. Invisible. 

Like the rhinoceros who didn’t know he was one himself, it had hit her harder than most that she was human, as human as the rest of us. And it was too late for us all. Stampeding and trampling, killing everything in our wake until the world was drowned; she was human, and could feel nothing more intensely grotesque as an idea as that one.

It was her own kind of punishment, to sit there, one she gave herself long ago. Easier to encase your heart in the heaviest metal, she had said, so as not to feel any longer. 

Only there did she find silence. Here she’s sat ever since.

Something breaks her concentration. Her surprise, marked by a sharp intake of breath, is the result of the man standing suddenly, though quietly, in front of her. No one had stopped to see her in so long: her hair had frozen to the trees, her fingers,the roots of the ground. She had been so ready to leave that body for another…

Yet, upon closer judgement, she realizes nothing in his posture says aggression, and that his round, boyish cheeks hold in place a genuine grin of the playful kind. Not much taller than her in her seated position, his eyes and smile oppose her heavily set mouth in every way. She cannot stop herself, but reaches up toward his face and almost touches the skin emanating warmth like a dull sun. But then, pulling back, she remembers her choice and settles in to ignore the man.

His smile breaks and falls. A tide of his emotion hits her and, almost in a daze, she looks straight into his eyes. His pupils dilate, creating a mirror for which to see herself as they stare at each other, neither making the first move. In the reflection of his gaze she sees a small child with sad eyes, who is bent and heavy, the weight of the world pushing against her from all directions. The child is crying, a single stream continues down her left cheek without breaking. And still no one is speaking; he doesn’t need to, and she cannot seem to look away from the child, who makes her feel, who reminds her of some part of herself.

Without being able to stop him, the man, this instantiation of light, takes the hand which had reached for his face and returns it gently to his own cheek, not blinking, not breaking their gaze. Her hand there, encased between cheek and warm palm, his other nudges it’s index finger under her chin and tilts her head a little to the sky, taking the stress from her shoulders and opening her lungs, allowing a full breath for the first time in too long.

“I believe you are good,” he says, though no note escapes his wide lips.

“Impossible,” she cracks, breaking another promise.

“I believe you are good.”

His words again blow lightly at the embers in her heart, which this time catch at the kindling she had not known surrounded so closely, which had been obscured by the shadows the embers could not shake.

“Do not put yourself away in this place. Everything will be alright.”

Silently and slowly, the man bends forward and kisses the center of her forehead, before disappearing in the wake of her dream.