“Are you not tired of being alone?” He asks.
She falls silent, her arms growing weak under his grip. The question swims dangerously in her head. It’s like he threw a pebble in a still pond, causing ripples to go deep, disturbing the motionless stream of thoughts that is— or was— her mind.
Her eyes travel from his eyes to the ground, noticing the yellow alyssum budding along the cracks on this chunk of fairly huge rock.
Is she really tired of being alone?
The truth is that she has never questioned that choice. It was a conscious decision to leave everything. Her identity, her past, the few friends she had, and the memories of a family she would never see again. The life she had and the person she was. It was all a chaotic world that she has been more than glad to get away from.
How could he ask her to come back into that?
“Please,” he pleads this time.
His eyes desperately search her as the afternoon wind grows stronger. Maybe somewhere deep inside, there’s an answer he is looking for. Maybe she really is tired of it all. Maybe she’d need him.
After all this time.
It has been more than a year since she sought refuge in this unnamed mountain. A patched up cabin made from scraps of wood is not the most ideal place to settle in, especially deep in a forest, but she has found it oddly peaceful. To her, it's a little version of heaven. A paradise behind the waterfalls, guarded by towering trees and thick vines where only the most fragrant flowers grow.
A place where only the moon sees her.
They say no man is an island and most people would probably lose their mind being by themselves. Yet, solitude never bothers her. If anything, it is her source of sanity.
And he had disturbed that peace, when he came to her doors two months ago.
He found himself lost in the forest after a plane crash. It was mostly luck on his end to have stumbled upon her. He was already on the brink of giving up the will to live, and had resigned himself to the thought that it was impossible to find someone in the middle of nowhere.
But he had found her. The flower in a field of rocks.
Not only had he found her, but he found himself being taken in. At first, he thought she was a ghost or a deity. Mostly because she was too good to be true. Not because he found her beautiful, in fact, she has a common face. She has very small frame, and her matted hair tangled up to her waist.
It is her kindness that struck him the most. She may be a little wary and distrusting, but she is very kind. She rarely speaks, but when she does, she makes a lot of sense.
The two of them stayed together for a while as she tended to his wounds, and he tended to hers. Except that her wounds were not a physical one.
Their friendship blossomed and they didn’t stay strangers for a while. When two people share a certain period of time with nobody else but each other, they will
find something that connects them. There’s this string in the universe that binds all
souls to an akin fate. Always. Even if they lead totally different lives.
She let him did most of the talking as he revealed himself to her. And she listened to him with attentiveness. Day by day, she was starting to get a glimpse of who he was.
And when he had enough, he asked her what her life was, but she would always, always bring her eyes down and avert his questioning gaze.
Still, he was patient to her.
He felt that she had a lot of burden which she was not ready to talk about. So he provided her comfort. He provided her words that she never thought she’ll hear from someone.
“Whatever happened to you, you didn’t deserve it.”
He repeats the words now. The very words that made her open up to him for the first time.
He tries to make her see that maybe she could step out of this nowhere and give the
world a second chance.
“I can’t,” she sighs.
She doesn’t know what to say to him. Would she tell him that she badly wants to be with him? Would she tell him she’s madly in love with him? Would she push him away to make it easier for him to leave?
Or would she tell him that sometimes you have to make a choice between what you
want and what you need?
She chose silence.
She is certain that she wants him, as much as she is unwilling to let go of this strange peace in her heart. She needs herself and she needs to be alone. Like that sole yellow alyssum that grew within the rocks, a few steps from her feet, she thrives differently.
“We’ll leave this country, if you want,” he tries to sway her. “Go somewhere where nobody knows you.”
“It’s not this country,” she mutters, hoping he would finally get it.
After all, in the many times she did open up to him, she would always tell him that society was never for her. People made her unhappy. Or maybe she was just not what they expected her to be. She’s convinced she’s more different from the rest, perhaps in a misshapen way, just as how yellow alyssum tolerates drought.
“Why can’t you stay here longer?” she asks him instead, lifting her eyes to meet his licorice ones.
She knows the answer, but she wants to hear it. She hopes that maybe when he’d
say it out loud, he would realize that they really cannot possibly come to a
“I can’t,” he says, in a woeful tone similar to hers. He has already extended his stay, pretending his wounds were taking longer to recover. “I have a life out there.”
He lets go of her hand. She immediately feels the cold air blow against her palms.
Her arms instinctively reach out for his warmth but she holds herself back.
Instead, she watches him retreat slowly.
“We’ll never see each other again,” he reminds her, as if that would make a difference. As if she would reconsider leaving him a trail to find her.
“Turn right at the next intersection of the road,” she says. “You’ll find a bus stop.”
When he stops moving, she turns her back from him and starts stepping away.
“The sun is setting soon. You need to go.”
Her last words ring an echo in his ear. He wants to stop her and make her say something more. He doesn’t even know her real name. He doesn’t even know if she truly loves him. He doesn’t even get to tell her he loves her. Maybe she's one of those dreams that depart too soon, yet stay etched in the memory for the rest of your life.
A mystery that time never reveals.
With a deep, heavy breath, he watches her figure disappear where the clearing ends, and where the shadows begin.
The yellowness of the alyssum unveils visibly as twilight bids goodbye.