The moon hung heavy in the sky that night. Smooth ivory silk that had been draped over a bulb, filtering the sparking, golden glow into something luminescent and unreachable. Stars were scattered throughout, drops of mercury splattered onto a canvas by an artist’s tired brush. The surrounding ink landscape was illustrated in such careful clarity that a single breath threatened to smudge it.
Feather-tipped fingers lightly traced the edges of the open window. Clear eyes sat, wise and full of mischief and life, in a young girl’s face. The thin structure aged prematurely by years of pain and heartache. Dust colored lashes swept her cheeks as she called to the night sky. She sat alone, in an empty house, invisible to the world. The unbending darkness muted her words, deafening the ears around her, but carrying them beyond. Fragile memories spool behind her eyes, carefully and meticulously logged. Seldom, the gaps in her past haunt her; long-forgotten laughter pulling her to a place that must have existed.
“Why?” She called. “Why am I here?” Crystal tears pooled in the bottoms of her eyes, shining as they trickled down her cheeks. Her throat filled, and her words sounded broken as they escaped her lips. In the night, the stars twinkled, oblivious to her pain. They hung there watching, as she plead with the moon for someone to hear. The dusty wooden floors sat untouched by the thousands of times she had walked over it; each step, each mar in the dust disappeared instantly.
“Would you like to know something?” The words swooped and dove from her lips, dying in her ears, but resounding in those listening. A solitary star seemed to flicker brighter than the others, burning and glowing with furious passion. A warm breeze blew through the open window, ruffling her clothes and hair and raising goosebumps on her exposed skin.
Yes, it answered, I am listening. Cera. I understand.
“I don’t know why I am here, and I wish… I know there is something more. Something else for me. I know that I am not alone, that I can’t possibly be forgotten by the world. But why can’t they see? I am here.”
The words were pulled from the air, cut short so that no one heard her. She crumpled, head resting on the frame, fingers tugging at her pale hair in anguish. A pane of glass under such immense pressure, that her only relief was to break. Her composure shattered into millions of fragments, scattered and sparkling, as she sobbed. The pieces were whisked through the air, caught in the calloused fingers of the one thing that knew. He darted through the air, picking up the shattered pieces of her.
His gap-toothed smile shone brightly against skin of night. His midnight hair curled, downy around his ears like a warm summer breeze. Dimpled cheeks flashed with a forlorn smile as he began collecting. Moved with the slightly uncontrollable recklessness of a kite in midair; he darted through the sky. With the glistening syllables in his hands, he lightly stepped through the open window. Tears tracks shone brightly on her face in the light of the moon, shoulders shaking with silenced sobs. With each step closer to her, her pain lifted. Little by little, like tablespoons taken from an ocean. The old wood creaked beneath his feet, held together by rusted screws.
His hand perched on her shoulder, light and strong, but she wasn’t startled. Slivery hair whispered past his fingers as she bowed her head. A melancholy smile pulled her lips as she reached up to feel his hand.
“Cera. I see you.” His simple words brought a swell of relief, stronger than any ocean tide. Her tattered skirt swayed around her as she stood up, with the lithe grace of a dancer, and offered her hand. He hesitated only a moment, before placing his hand in hers, watching as her broken pieces soaked through her skin.
“How long? How long have you been listening?” Her luminous eyes peered at him, framed by wheat-gold lashes and moonlit skin. Her fingers fluttered over his palm, convincing herself that he was real. That he was there. He smiled again, shimmering teeth starlike against the night sky of his skin. His rough palm smoothed her cheek, rubbing small circles into the skin near her eyes. Her eyelids fluttered under his touch, and when they flickered open, she studied him with startling clarity. Sweeping her tears away, he took her hands again.
“I was always listening. Every night, it killed me to not come down here. It killed me to see you like that.”
“Then why didn’t you come? You could’ve.” Iron eyes met midnight blue. His darted away, ruby tinting his cheeks. Nimble fingers tugged at the hem of his loose shirt, tangling in the threads.
“Please. Just tell me you will stay. Tell me that you won’t leave me alone.” His tongue flickered out to wet his lips, teeth shimmered as he opened his mouth and closed it again. Indecision flickered through his eyes, a momentary flash that made Cera draw away.
“I promise,” he whispered, ignoring the stab in his gut. He did his best to mask the guilt drawing itself in the lines of his face. “I promise.”
She gave a soft smile; the tension released from her muscles knew that he wouldn’t lie to her. Knew that after hearing her pleas, he wouldn’t leave her alone. With each breath his heart clenched tighter, the pain he knowingly caused stealing his breath.
He stepped closer to the window, her liquid silver eyes gazed on questioningly, confused but not upset. Not yet. He whispered under his breath a secret apology, just as he had every night previously. A wrinkle folded between her brows, a crease he desperately wanted to smooth. Night after night, the same thing happened. He knew every moment like a carefully choreographed dance. Each motion repeated so many times that it was ingrained in his muscles. He stepped to the window and glanced over his shoulder, allowing her hurt look to be seared once again into his memory. The sight a red poker, carefully placed and intentional, fueled his last step into the impenetrable night.