"I'm so sorry," she says again, as if it's some sort of consolation to my current situation, our shared situation.
Blinking I stood still, statuesque, among the grass as though if I moved an inch this beautiful place in front of me would shatter or disappear, lost forever. I couldn't let that happen. A cool early night breeze swept around the trees and various grasses causing the leaves to rustle and the branches to bend. The stillness of the water was broken as hundreds of tiny ripples were churned up by the wind causing the crystal clear reflections of the clouds and sky to be morphed, pushed into abstract shapes of colour. My hair whipped in front of my eyes and I hastily moved my left had to sweep my fringe from my line of vision, momentarily forgetting that this place might vanish at any second. I realised what I'd done as soon as my hair was tucked neatly behind my ear, out of the way, and I stopped moving. I barely took a breath as I watched the scene in front of me, waiting for everything to shatter like glass and splinter off into shards that would take a lifetime to fit back together. The breeze died down and the sky grew a shade darker but no shattering, no cracks in the dark perfection of the scene in front of my eyes, beneath my feet.
"It's beautiful," a smooth, quiet feminine voice commented almost off handedly, breaking into the silent night air. I spun around, heart pounding in panic as adrenaline surged into my body, in search of whoever else was here, for the owner of the voice. I stopped short as I saw her. "If a bit morbid,"she adds, a smile in her soft voice. My body lost its fight, my limbs going somewhat limp and the adrenaline disappearing as quickly as it appeared. She was stunning, coal black hair that swayed in natural waves to her mid back and framed her chalk white face, smooth as porcelain, her lips were a deep red and her eyes were dark, mysterious and intriguing, framed with thick black lashes. She was dressed in a white dress, the colour slightly darker than her skin, which fitted close to the skin of her torso before it grew out a bit at her hips, the material torn and ragged, hanging in uneven strips down to just below her knees. She was wearing little white shoes on her feet and she looked almost lost out here in the grassy hills, the purple and orange clouds fading into dark grey behind her as the sky grew darker.
I just stared at her, so out of place in this dark world, so pure and white and seemingly glowing under the light of the moon, silvery highlights running over her hair. Her dark eyebrows rose on her forehead as she looked at me, the ghost of a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. I just continued to watch her. Quickly her expression changed, falling into worry, a slight crease forming between her brows as her eyes widened and her lips parted slightly. A stammering apology fell from her trembling lips as she looked back at me. "Not that I don't like it being morbid, in fact that is why I like it so much it has a dark beauty to it, I didn't mean to offend you a all, I'm sorry," she flailed slightly at the end of her speech, her face agonised and somewhat forlorn. She went to speak again but she bit her tongue, her head down slightly before she looked up at me from beneath her eyelashes.
My jaw must have dropped because I could feel the wind sweep over the tip of my tongue and across my teeth. "I-I ... Yo-you didn't," I stuttered in reply. Her head turned the rest of the way up, her deep eyes shining with relief. "You kinda scared the shit outa me though. You know, appearing from nowhere like that," I told her, my mind deciding I should have verbal diarrhoea at this precise moment, for the first time in my life. Her mouth slid into a smile, the corners pressing into her cheeks as her lips parted over her shining white teeth. "Not that I mind the company, at all. It's just, well, could you have maybe introduced your presence without making me fear for my life?" at that her eyes glittered and she tilted her head back slightly as a laugh flew from her lips, musical and warm, and carried out on the night air. It was hypnotising.
I found myself wondering if she wasn't cold, only wearing a dress I'd imagine she'd at least be shivering a bit but she seemed immune to the temperature. Now that I came to think about it it wasn't bothering me much either, I mean I could feel the wind and I could tell it was cold it just didn't affect me like it should have. "What?" I asked, bemusedly as I let myself smile a little towards her laughter, it was infectious. She looked right a me, her laughter dying down into small giggles before her face fell, the last note of her laugh being swept away by the wind suddenly, unable to linger and add to the beauty of this place. Her eyes grew sad and tense, the crease between her brows returning as her lips formed a small frown.
"You don't know?" she asks me, watching me without blinking. I feel my forehead crease as my eyebrows furrow in confusion. What don't I know, what does she mean. I feel my body tingle in anticipation, my heart beats faster in my ribcage and I feel the mix of worry and excitement start to bubble in the pit of my stomach. I shake my head, unable to ask an appropriate question without several more following in quick succession and, quite frankly, I don't want to scare this girl away with my inability to keep my mouth shut when I get nervous. She steps closer and watches me as I keep my eyes glued to her. "Tell me, do you remember how you got here?" she asks as she passes me and I turn back to the water which is once again still as glass. I look at her confused, of course I knew how I got here.
I thought back, waiting for the moment where i'd be able to tell this girl how i'd got here and stop her from looking at me like that, like i was lost. I tried to focus on my journey here, how had i got to this place, had i walked, cycled, gotten a bus, train? I looked back over the dark scene in front of me, trying hoping to find an answer in the dark water or the trees, the moonlit grass or the trodden dirt path. Nothing, i couldn't remember a thing about this place, I'd never been here before. "How is that possible?" I asked aloud, to myself as I watched the girl, her face holding sympathy and sorrow. Turning my gaze from her I followed the line of the path with my eyes, searching for some sort or landmark I could recognise, use to place myself and work out whereabouts exactly I was. "I can't-," I screwed my eyes shut, hoping the pressure would bring something to mind. My heart was hammering against my chest and worry was flooding through me, mingling with uncertainty and fear as it made my way through my body, making me cold. There had to be something, somewhere around here. I could feel desperation growing in my guy and I set my sights back on the dirt road.
I started to follow it, my feet feeling oddly light as I took quick, measured steps along the dirt, my boots scraping against the small pebbles which were trodden into the ground. My pace grew faster and my strides longer the further I went. "Where are you going?" the girl asked, her voice a ways behind me. I had to find answers, work out what was going on. I was running within seconds, my boots skirting over the top of the stoney dirt road as my heart beat frantically and the fear inside me grew, pushing me to go faster, quicker, further. I was coming up to the trees, the thick branches hanging low, holding the leaves barely a hairs width above my head as i sprinted beneath their boughs, following the widening path, bushes appearing between the tree trunks. My breath was ragged, laboured as the fear consumed me. I crashed through the bushes and low branches, snapping twigs and leaves as I pushed myself to find answers. Where was I, what was happening? I could feel tears a the back of my eyes, hot and salty, they stung at my eyelids, demanding to be let free.
I crashed through another low branch, the twigs scratching at my skin as the tears began to fall, full of fear and confusion. I had come to the end of the trees and I was at the flat dirt by the water, I'd only gotten half way wound and I was finding it hard to breathe. I searched around, the tears sticky and hot against my cheeks, but my eyes found nothing, no familiar sights nothing even the slightest bit familiar. "I don't understand," I say aloud, because its not enough just to say it in my head, it's not real enough in my head. "What's going on, I can't-"
"I'm so sorry," I'm interrupted. The girl appears beside me, stepping hesitantly closer as she watches me. "I'm so sorry," she says again, "so, so sorry." She has tears in her own eyes, threatening to spill over onto her white cheeks. Sorry, why was she sorry, what on earth had she done? "I'm so sorry."
"What do you mean?" I sob into the air, my lungs burning as I look at her, spotless and white. How had she kept up with me without being out of breath? "I don't understand," I hiccough into the air, "where am I, why are you sorry, how are you not out of breath, what is going on?" I stare at her as she comes closer and I straighten myself up, pulling in as much air as my shuddering emotionally charged body will allow me. I breathe unsteadily between sobs and the tears that continue to fall from my eyes, like an unending river. "I don't remember how I got here, how can I not remember that what's going on, please, please help me, tell me something-" I have to stop as i'm attacked by a fresh round of tears and i find it harder to breathe. "Make this all okay, please, make me remember." I cry brokenly into the night, searching my mind for something, a scrap of anything to help me. I turn to the girl, she's just out of my reach, she's crying now too, silently. The tears leaking from her eyes are leaving silver trails down her perfect skin and suddenly I feel horrible, a tugging below my stomach is telling me to do something, anything before this girl breaks.
"I'm so sorry," she repeats again. She shakes her head as if she wishes she weren't there, like she doesn't want to be the one apologising to me. She stops moving her head and stares dead at me. "You know why you're here, even if you don't know how you got here," she tells me as fresh tears fall down her cheeks. I feel my eyebrows furrow again, fear and now anger mingling in my blood, pulsing with my beating heart and a flood of adrenaline finds its way round my body, energising my tired muscles.
"What is that supposed to mean?" I ask angrily, my hands at my sides clenching into fists. "Are you deliberately being cryptic or can you not explain what's going on here?" I frown at her "Are you going to answer my questions or just tell me your sorry?" I spit angrily, stepping closer to her. She takes a step back, her eyes scared and suddenly I'm not angry any more, I lost my fight again. I look down as my body is taken over by despair, pure and depressing. I shuffle backwards and head to the edge of the water muttering an apology as I walk off.
I look at my reflection in the water, the mirror like surface showing me what I look like and it's like I've never seen myself before, I don't recognise the dark, untamed hair with the sweeping fringe which is no longer tucked out of the way, I don't remember the chapped pink lips or the slightly upturned nose. My eyes, my eyes are the most perplexing thing about me, wide and ,in the dim light, slightly hazel framed with spiky lashes. They seemed to hold a wealth of secrets behind them, the surface looking open yet hard to grasp. I had to lift my right hand to my cheek to check the reflection was portraying the truth and even after feeling over my features and finding everything to be as I could see it I had to reach out to the water just to make sure.
"It's really you," came her voice again, her reflection coming up alongside mine in the water, her eyes on me with every step she took. "I'm sorry I'm not being helpful, I just-" she stops herself and takes a deep breath. "It's just when I got here I had to work this all out alone and, forgive me for being presumptuous, but I thought you might prefer working it out for yourself rather than having the reality of everything shoved in your face by a complete stranger." I turn to look at her, lifting my head from looking at my reflection and gaze into her eyes to see nothing but sympathy and sincerity. Suddenly I feel really bad, this stranger, this girl has only been trying to help me and I've so far run away from and shouted at her. I stare at her for a few more seconds, trying to fit my apology into as few inoffensive words as possible and making a fool of myself in my head each time. So instead, after a few deep breaths, I say:
"Please help me work it out."
She blinks at me and nods a couple of times before a sad smile settles on her features. "Sure, I'll help." she takes a deep breath and, hesitantly, raises her arm, her hand moving closer and closer to my face. I watch her warily and she stops herself just before she touches the skin of my left cheek with her fingertips. "I really am sorry," she adds, barely a whisper. I nod once and she let's her fingers touch my skin. She's cold, unbelievably cold, like she's been frozen. "Think, think about everything," she orders in a small voice, overtaken by sadness. "I'm here for you." I stare at her, my eyebrows furrowed in thought as I think. I can't remember anything before this place, like I just woke up here and I feel oddly light, like I could fly if I jus thought about it and she was sorry, sorry about something, and she was cold, too cold like she was-
"No," I whisper, my eyes widening as I realise what she was hinting at, hoping to hell I have just jumped to a ridiculous conclusion. I look at her for conformation or a shake of the head, hoping to hell I have it wrong. "No," I repeat, my throat closing up as I wish for some kind of miracle.
"Yes," she replies, confirming my conclusion. This must be fake, she can't be serious, it has to be some kind of joke. I shake my head, closing my eyes and hoping to shake away everything around me, to take me back to whatever was before all this. I stop and open my eyes to see her again, fresh tears in her eyes. "I'm sorry, really I am." I shake my head again.
"Please, I can't be," I plead as I grab onto her upper arms, my hands shaking as I touch her bare skin, the cold spreading up through my palms and over my arms.
She shakes her head. "Believe me, I don't want it either," she whispers as she looks into my eyes. "You understand now, why I was saying sorry I mean. I am you know, you seem nice, it's not fair."
A broken laugh escapes me and I shake my head as I look at her. "Please stop, please." I beg. I watch her, not wanting her to continue, to add to the painful truth.
"I'm so sorry," she says again, as if it's some sort of consolation to my current situation, our shared situation. I shake my head as she goes to continue, my eyes pleading with her not to say it, not to make it real. "You're Dead."