“Don’t you remember?” the boy’s voice broke through the steady silence, tracing a jagged breath from the girl who sat opposite him on the damp floor. “Lily, look at me. Tell me you know who I am.” His hands balled into fists, knuckles pure white as he looked into the girl’s eyes. Deep, sad, empty blue. The boy begged for her to look up, his heart hammering with the might of a blacksmith, as the girl breathed in and out, in and out, in and out. But that was all she did. Not even the slightest glance was stolen in the direction of the boy. The girl was as lost in the blankness of her mind as a wanderer was lost in the dark. “Lily?” And he kept saying her name, asking her name, pleading and crying and screaming her name for the world to hear. He shook her shoulders and cupped her cold cheeks in his pale palms, kissed her forehead, and ran his fingers through her hair. He held her hands out in front of her and squeezed them and let them float above his. He said he loved her again and again. And then he asked her name once more.
As time passed, each motion and each attempt became futile and the boy lost hope. He leaned against the wall, once again parallel to the phantom figure, and pushed his head against the stone. He tore his eyes from the girl who sat there like a praying mother, eyes angled down and focused on the lines that ran through her palms and into the veins of her arms. He closed his eyes and breathed in and out, in and out, in and out, until the steel hammering of his heart ceased and it became a steady rhythm once more. The boy’s face relaxed and the dried trails of tears on his face stretched and splintered. The exhaustion of the recent hysteria set in and suddenly everything felt like a dream, as though he and the girl had just been playing make-believe and everything was really fine. The girl wasn’t lost and the boy still had his love.
“Jasper?” a delicate voice said, and a hand gripped his shoulder and began to shake him from his slumber. “Jasper, wake up.” The boy opened his eyes to a smiling face, deep blue eyes like glimmering, clear skies looking at him. “Hi,” the girl said, and she lifted a hand to brush away a strand of his messy hair.
“Lily? Is that you?” the boy muttered, shaking away the daze of sleep that was quickly being replaced with a clouded confusion.
The girl laughed and replied, “Of course it’s me. Who else would it be?”
The boy reached out a hand and ran it over her cheek as if checking that she was real. Making sure that it wasn’t just an apparition of the girl he loved. He cupped the side of her face in his hand and returned her smile, letting the warmth of the touch envelop him. “I thought you were gone,” he whispered to her. “I thought you would never come back to me.”
Her smile disappeared, and worry clouded her eyes like a rolling storm. “Gone? As in… as in dead? Why would I be ‘gone’?” she asked the boy quickly, her voice now serious.
The boy shook his head, running his hand over her soft hair, still taking her in. “No, no that’s not what I meant, Lily. I thought you were lost.” When he saw her expression deepen, he quickly said, “Lost in your own thoughts. In your head. I… It must have been a dream.”
Almost unnaturally, the girl’s face brightened once again, the darkness receding just as quickly as it had come. “Well, that must have been quite the dream,” she said lightly. Shifting her stance, she sat by him, her shoulder connecting with his. The girl leaned her head on his shoulder and released a quiet sigh. “So, what was it about? The dream, I mean.”
“Well, we were here. You were sitting over there,” the boy pointed to the wall parallel to the one they sat against. “But it was strange. You weren’t moving, just staring down at your palms. No matter what I did, you wouldn’t look up at me, you wouldn’t say anything, you wouldn’t move. It was as though you weren’t even there.” He shivered, remembering the lifelessness of the scene, the panic he felt as the girl just sat there, her eyes so empty and lost. “I’m just glad it was a dream.” The boy set his head against hers and sighed contentedly. “I love you, Lily.”
The words felt strange on his tongue, passing through his lips, hanging in the air for a few short moments before slowly dissipating, the meaning still there. It was as though he was speaking those words to the wrong person as if the girl was not really there and he was speaking to an image in his mind. There was an emptiness near him, a cold feeling where there once was warmth, on the side where the girl was sitting. The boy could no longer feel the girl sitting next to him, the slight sharpness of her shoulder, the soft tickling strands of hair that drifted just above her head. He turned to where the girl should have been. No one was there.
“Lily?” he called, fear angling like a blade painfully through the calmness. His eyes flicked around the room, panicked, trying to find the girl. “Lily? Where are you?”
And then he froze. The girl was there, sitting parallel to him like a praying woman, head slumped down, blue eyes empty and sad. She sat there, unresponsive, lost in her own mind. “Lily… no, no, no, no…” The boy began to shout. He ran to the girl, holding her hands in his, shaking her, crying out her name, screaming out, and sobbing. She was gone. The girl he loved was gone again.
“No!” The boy’s eyes flew open, fresh tears streaming down his face as he awoke. His head jolted down from its upturned position, and he saw her sitting parallel to him, eyes angled down, oblivious to the boy’s sudden outburst. The girl was still gone, lost in her mind, unaware of the world around her. “Lily… Lily, wake up,” he sobbed, crawling over to her, cupping her face in his hands. “Lily, please, don’t do this to me. Lily!”