The scream came from Madoka, causing Homura’s eyes to snap toward the two girls. Sure enough, Nagisa was laughing as Mami fell to the snow covered ground, a dazed look on her face even as snow clung to the blond curls. Taking advantage of Madoka’s distraction, Homura flung a snowball at her humorously distraught friend.
Feeling a snowball collide with her own back, she heard Sayaka laughing at the solid hit. Whipping around to face her attacker, Homura placed her hands on her hips as she looked at Sayaka. Raising an eyebrow in question, Homura felt a smirk dance across her face as her shield whirled to life. Freezing time, she gathered up a snowball and threw it at the blue-haired magical girl who’d gotten ready to throw another snowball at her.
Dancing away as time resumed, Homura watched as the snowball collided with Sayaka, who screamed as the cold set in.
Eyes twinkling with mischief, Homura bolted away to avoid her friend that really wanted to kill her at the moment. “Homura, you cheated!”
“All’s fair in love and war, Say. And this snowball fight is war!” Homura retorted, only for a giant pile of snow to fall on top of her as Oktavia appeared behind Sayaka; this caused a startled (and rare) shriek to tear itself free from the dark-haired girl. Homura shook the snow off of her and glared at the witch in front of her. “Now that’s cheating Sayaka!” Homura snapped.
Using her magic to freeze time again, Homura ran around the witch and threw another snowball at Sayaka, creating a couple more she threw them at the other magical girls that were present. Running behind a tree for cover, Homura restarted time and listened as all of the girls (expect Mami, who was still all starry eyed and dazed) gave voice to their displeasure.
Homura stifled a laugh at the various words used, especially the ones coming from Kyoko; that girl always was the most inventive when it came to foul language, wasn’t she? Peeking around the tree, her eyes located Madoka who looked as if she wanted to strangle Homura.
“Homura come out here now!” Madoka demanded, a snowball clenched in her hand as she glared around her.
Yeah, no way was Homura doing that.
Shifting her weight slightly, Homura judged the chances of her getting out of her situation without being bombarded by snowballs or gaining her friends’ eternal hatred for the next week; Kyoko would more than likely despise her guts until the end of time for two weeks. The odds weren’t very favorable. Listening as her shield whirred to life again, Homura pushed herself away from the tree and stepped into view of the other girls; only to see Kyoko running away from Sayaka with the latter having a shocked look on her face. Sayaka unfortunately, for her anyway, got a painful reminded of the snowball fight when Madoka accidently hit her in the face with one.
“I thought we agreed face shots were a no?” Homura snarked, dodging the snowball Madoka had thrown in her direction with a ridiculous amount of ease. Homura created another snowball and threw it at Madoka, hitting the other girl in the arm.
Dancing away again, Homura saw the hurt look on Madoka’s face and paused for a moment only to be rewarded with a clump of snow being dumped down her shirt. Homura leapt away and spun around to face the one who did it. Seeing Kyoko standing there, a triumphant grin plastered on the red-head’s face, it was all Homura could do to keep a scowl from her own.
Glaring at Kyoko for the tactic, Homura felt her magic course over her fully as her civilian attire switched out for her magical girl attire. Watching as Kyoko followed her lead, Homura noted that it was only mere moments before the other magical girls dipped into their arcane gifts, their clothes reflecting this change. Homura looked over to see that Charlotte had appeared behind Nagisa, only for her attention to be drawn back to Kyoko as a burst of heat slammed in her.
With a great deal of disappointment, Homura watched as the snow melted away and a sheepish grin spread across Kyoko’s face, causing Homura to glare at the red head.
“Dammit Kyoko, why did you have to melt the snow?” Sayaka snapped, looking around at the sudden lack of ammunition. “We can’t continue this anymore, now!”
Sighing in defeat, Homura kicked the ground and looked over to see how Mami was doing. Watching as the blonde finally came to, Homura didn’t say another word as Mami got back to her feet and rubbed her head; mumbling something that Homura couldn’t quite catch.
Turning around to leave, Homura called, “Come on girls, let’s go to Mami’s house to warm up. And before it’s asked on why Mami’s, it’s because she was the first one to be knocked out of the competition, so that means that hot chocolate’s on her, right Mami?” Homura added quickly. It didn’t take long for the girls to agree on the decision or for them to start heading toward their hostess’s home. Okay, so the snow war ended a little early for what any of them really wanted.
There was always next time, though.
The snow drifts across the parking lot. Small flakes begin to clump and soon it looks like snow balls being lightly dropped onto the Earth.
You’re sitting in the passenger seat of my car, resting your eyes, chin in your hand. Silence.
I reach for your hand and grasp it. Fingers twist to interlock in this blissful, still moment. The cold can be felt on your fingers, the contrast of warmth lighting me up. The smirk raises your lip slightly and makes me laugh.
You open your eyes, and join me in watching the snow pile up on the window. Soon, darkness will come, the street lights won’t even see us together. Complete disconnection from the world. Only me, and you.
- Once More, Never Again -
" Long ago I stopped believing in coincidences " , her little sister said to the rest of the family, sounding wise beyond her age. No one took her seriously, though – who needed philosophic talk on winter holidays? Especially when the whole family returned to the countryside for this one celebration together. They laughed it off, everyone, except the older sister. Young adult lost in thought, she found nostalgia growing in her heart. It was the lands that she left when she was a child that were now surrounding her once again. It was her return that couldn't be a coincidence.
Leaving the house, she wanted to be alone or, perhaps, she wanted to search for the years she could never possibly get back, for the pure feelings frozen in the past, buried under time and travel's dust. Her gaze lost in the infinite white, she walked into the forest she knew too well. She expected it to have changed, but it seems this place is timeless... and forever magical.
The distant hum of a melody resonated through every snow-dressed tree branch, carried by a cold breath of fresh, chilly air. They rustled quietly, almost as they were awoken by that soft call, like it was the music itself asking them to dance to its cadence. That was the only sound she could hear, in the depths of the woods she found herself in... No birds were chirping, no soul was welcoming her there. She would have followed her steps back if only that tune wasn’t begging her to dance, to come closer.
She went on, the snow crunching below her feet, as nature responded by opening a path towards the source of the sweet tune; and so she found herself swaying to the flow of the hidden pentagram, eyes closed, magically avoiding every obstacle, until the woods were far behind her. Now she was surrounded only by a wide field of white, untouched snow.
She turned around towards the tune, as clear and demanding as ever. In contrast with the pure white of the snow, a bleak building stood,its towers striking violently at the ghostly sky. Infinitely dark in contrast to the sea of white,it was this church that was the source of the melody. Far away from her village now, all roads covered in snow, it wasstrange, she must have thought, how the depths of her heart knew their way.But there was more, something else... The more she looked into the building's cold shadows, the sadder she felt, absorbed in the darkness of the unknown (((this came so naturally sorryyyy it's so obvious for a KH fan))).
The girl, soulful and guided by a force beyond human understanding, entered the abandoned church, soulless and God-forgotten as it was... Looking around, the seats empty, the vaults haunting, the columns unwelcoming, the priest long gone, there was but one object that was moving in this perfectly static tableau.
Against the blinding light, in the centre of the building, there was a music box. Approaching it, kneeling next to it, the girl then realized she was not alone. The figure of a boy emerged not from shadows, but from the same strong light that enveloped the heart of the church – the music box.
As fragile notes unfurled, rolling softly one over the other, replacing each sweet tune with a new one, it was as if the past didn't matter at all... It was the present's melody that ruled over their disposition, changing it, leaving it in suspense until the next note replaced it, bound to do so. The transparency of the glassy tune made their feelings its alike – transparent was his stare, weighing down the void, transparent were her lips, hiding exquisite sweetness. They never felt as far away as now, kneeling side by side, lending an ear... or... their whole being... to the bewitching voice of the little music box.
She stood up, her eyes still heavy under the weigh of truth and music.
" I do not belong here... ", she shattered the perfect silence that was cruelly embracing them. He caught her intention to turn around and leave, an action he wanted to halt. He took her hand, captured it in his own two, and, if only she was able to see or feel, his soul left his body for a second, rested on her shoulders, embracing her lovingly, yet tightly, as if she was about to break like glass.
" We live in the same world ", he tried to distract her. " We do... We do! ", swift steps reduced the distance between them. No eyes were quite like his, overflowing in hope, kissed by purity of feeling. They searched for hers, hidden behind her bangs, intentionally. One hand traveled to delicately stroke her cheek, almost afraid to touch her, mystery and thoughtfulness surrounding her like a dense aura. The other hand, still holding hers, closed them in to his chest, where all sincerity, all truth of his existence could be felt and touched. "Your place is here... 'Here' is real...", his gesture whispered, never to be heard.
And yet... all she did was freeze in disbelief...
The far, faint call of a melody resonated captive in the frosty forest,
just as two souls were brought back together
only to repeat their parting scene once more.
Once more and forever.
Once more and then
As though it were a great obelisk in an ancient city, Namine stood before the door to her friend's apartment with both admiration and fear. Just beyond that door was a New Year's Eve party, whose various sounds - those of music and speech and life - were audible despite the hardwood between her and the open, upper-class apartment where she was invited to spend the night amongst others.
Should I just go home? she asked herself, unconsciously rubbing her sweatered shoulder.
It was as she was beginning to turn around and walk down the long brown-accented hallway that the door opened, the aforementioned sounds now much louder, almost shockingly so. In the doorway stood Kairi, the owner of the apartment and a life-long friend of Namine's. Her wine-red hair was complimented nicely by the black dress she was wearing. She looked utterly metropolitan and Namine felt suddenly underdressed in a white knit cardigan and black stockings.
"Where're you going, silly?" she laughed
In her tracks Namine stopped, turning around with a false but well-meaning smile plastered on her face. "For a second I thought I had the wrong apartment," she laughed "But I guess I didn't."
"Well what're you waiting for? Come on in! The party's bumping!" she laughed again, and this time the movement of her body caused the drink in her hand to spill a bit on the hallway rug. She looked around, laughed once more, and pulled Namine in by the hand. Namine's legs barely kept up.
Immediately upon entering Namine was greeted by a few head nods in her direction by some strangers who must've been other friends of Kairi's. Her cheeks grew rose-y red and she gave one big wave and an all encompassing "hey!" to the people around her. By then they'd gone back to their own conversations.
"I've gotta check up on something in the kitchen," Kairi said to her over the noise, "but I'll find you in a bit. Go have some fun, 'kay?"
Namine gave her friend a half smile and began wandering around.
The apartment, large and on a rather high floor of a high-rise, was decorated in warm browns, with spotless hardwood floors and walled with shelves filled up with various books and trinkets and pictures as though the walls themselves were Kairi's and Sora's social network pages. detailing information on their lives for all to see. Dim mood lighting from tasteful lamps illuminated the living room and the people in it. From her perspective, Namine felt like she was in a cozy library that was hosting some sort of get together.
As she walked the apartment she spotted some friends of her's, some old and some more recent, enjoying the night around them. Riku was chatting up a number of girls she didn't know, all of whom were staring at him intently and longingly. He gave Namine a warm smile as she passed. Sora passed by her at some point, passing out some hor devours. Sora, recently married to Kairi, didn't have time to stop, although he gave Namine a quick one-handed hug as he passed, and a look that said "sorry, gotta run". In one corner of the room nearly untouched by light, Namine could just barelysee Axel's red mane as he made out with Larxene somewhat soundlessly. There were probably about 30 or so other people in the apartment by her count, each having fun, each enjoying a drink and a talk and a sense of camaraderie with other human beings. Having always felt somewhat alienated (although by no means the effect of those few who she did befriend) Namine couldn't understand any of it
It was with a toxic pleasantness that the following popped into her head: I'm a fly, she thought. A fly, buzzing around a picnic, bothering the kind people who wanted to enjoy a nice day.
Suddenly struck with that realization she felt uneasy on her feet and suffocated by the apartment, the crowds, the music, all of it - it was as though she were being choked simply by standing among so many people on what should've been a night of fun. It was New Year's Eve; who was supposed to be bothered by that?
With determination in her eyes she traversed the crowd, a captain in choppy seas, until she found the large glass doors to the patio outside. She walked out and, feeling finally safe, allowed a deep breath to bring a calm over her entirely. Namine stood at the railing and observed the city from such a great vantage point.
Down there, down below the apartment and the patio and the people she didn't know were countless scores of strangers gathering outside around the town's large clock tower to coexist as a single entity for one moment when it struck twelve and rang in the new year. There were still Christmas light's up in many places in the city and from her point on the patio these multi-colored lights looked to her like digital rainbow particles. Stores in town were decorated with yellow and white lights, all of which surrounded the city's main plaza, creating a large ring of light noticeable from above. The night was dark, with nary a cloud anywhere, and the light of the stars shone brightly in the cold winter even when compared to the artificial lights glaring up from below. She thought she spotted a constellation when her quiet reverie was shattered by a voice coming from behind her.
"Having fun?" he asked.
She didn't turn around.
"I - Well, I can't say I'm not enjoying the silence a bit. Or the cool air."
"You and me both." he said, walking up beside her and leaning on the railing, arms crossed underneath his chin as a resting place.
When she looked to her left, she saw a boy she recognized as a friend of a friend: Roxas, one-year roommate to Sora, who she visited once or twice when he lived on campus. She remembered him mostly for being much more of a dead-pan person than she'd ever expect Sora to get along with, although it seemed now as though a good friendship had grown between them.
"You were Sora's roommate, right?" she asked.
"Yup, same one. I think I saw you at their wedding too, right?"
Kairi's wedding hadn't been long ago, and now that she was reminded of it, Namine did recall seeing the boy beside her somewhere in the crowd of people the pair invited to their big day.
"Yeah, I was there" Namine answered.
"Roxas." he offered his hand
"Namine." she shook it
They were silent for a while more, until Namine ventured a look at her watch. 11:45, it read.
"You know, I feel like I should be more excited for a new year, but…" she began
"But it's more confounding than you'd like to admit, isn't it?" he completed.
She nodded. "I just can't help but feel like it's hard to accept. It's a new year, sure, but that means we're leaving the old one to rot in the past. One year, one whole year of your life has just past. Why is that exciting? How isn't that just absolutely horrifying?" she found herself speaking more openly to him than she'd planned, and her face reddened a bit.
"I know what you mean." he answered. "You look over the precipice of a new year, and all you can see are fears and anxieties rushing up towards you. It's a damning kind of freedom, because we have a whole new year of things before us and no instructions to follow."
"On top of all the issues from the year before." she broke in.
"On top of all the issues from the year before." he said. "And the worse is that you feel like a dick for being a downer on a day like this, when everyone else is so excited."
"Yeah," she giggled, despite herself. "I feel like a fly, buzzing all over the nice picnic that Kairi and Sora put together."
He gave a lopsided grin. "You're nowhere near as grimy as a fly."
From inside there was a great roar, as the party-goers began their countdown. The sound was echoed by the crowd down on the street encircling the clocktower.
"I guess we've got no choice!" Namine yelled over the roar of the counters. "We gotta go into the new year whether we like it or not!"
"Yeah!" he yelled back. "We have to jump in!"
"The water might be cold!"
"We'll get used to it!"
"The first!" she said "Its my birthday on the first!"
"I'll be 21!"
"I'm not sure I have a choice!"
"Happy birthday!" he yelled
"Happy New Year!" she returned
Their voices were drowned out by the rising cheers of the people below, the rush of their movements and voices and hopes and dreams flying up from down on the street and from inside the apartment. It was almost a physical wall of noise, a wave in the ocean carrying with it the very force of the sea itself.
Naming gave an honest smile to Roxas, who returned it. She leaned in for a quick peck, a New Year's tradition she was, at this moment, happy to follow through with. He gave her a quick kiss back, and the two of them stared at the clock tower silently while it ticked on and on and on towards the first full minute of the new year.
"I guess we made it through the new year." she said.
"And the old one's behind us."
"Maybe it's always just around us, the lessons we've learned and the people we've met and the things we've seen." she wondered.
"Maybe." he said, thoughtful again.
She reached over without looking and grabbed his hand. It was a comforting gesture, as they were both still so anxious over the possibilities of success and failure and mistakes in the new year. Or rather, the current year.
Kairi came out then, all smiles and joy, and put both her arms around their shoulders. "You sad bunch have to come in and enjoy the party!" she teased. Then she kissed both of them on the cheek. "And happy New Year!"
Kairi walked back into the apartment, looking behind her for the pair to follow, and with a look and a shrug towards each other, Namine and Roxas walked in through the door, in through the portal to a new year, and into an endless void of possibilities that'd rush to greet them regardless of whether or not they were ready - a stipulation that never mattered to the ever-flowing river of time anyway.
Those bone white fingers of hers grazed my cheeks like a soft cloth and I couldn't help but sigh. We were sitting quietly in the corner of a cozy café, near the end of the night or the beginning of the morning, perspective wise. She was bundled in a brown sweater, black jeans and a little beanie hiding the rushed brushing she did so quickly to meet me out there on the border of night and day. In her blue eyes was tiredness, but she seemed alert enough after half a cup of coffee's caffeine filled her veins part in part with the blood it dispersed. Under my legs on the ground was my bag, packed and ready from the night before, and hidden from her sight. It felt heavier than it should be, haphazardly stuffed with my clothes and some goods, and I thought that perhaps it was because I was hiding it.
"So…" she looked everywhere but at my eyes.
"So." I returned.
"It's…uh, it's so early." She laughed her little giggle "Or maybe it's so late!"
Chuckle, chuckle. I chuckled at her corny jokes because it makes her after.
"I hate to draw this out. I really do. But…"
She started shaking her head a little, very slowly but noticeably. She looked up with tears and a sad smile.
"You don't have to say it; I understand. " she paused, collected her thoughts. "The snow outside – it's falling sideways. The wind is hardly ever this bad."
I was at a loss. Why would she be bringing up the snow? This was hard, this was so hard to tell her that I had to leave, that the big city was calling and I was going to make it, I was going to be somebody.
She turned her body then, more towards the large window to our side and her smile grew wider while tears began to flow a little more easily. Her legs crossed, knees close to each other under her dainty hands like she was a breakable porcelain doll. "I haven't seen wind this bad since I was a little girl."
Like the wailing of a widower's ghost, the wind screamed outside of the windows. Skeletal tree limbs whipped back and forth in the gusts, dancing to the song of the icy dead.
"I,uh I – " but she interrupted me.
"I was maybe 6, and the wind was whipping the snow around so fast it was like we were in a giant snow globe being tossed around in space. My dad told me that the snow was soft like a cloud, and if I went out and tried to play in it I'd fall through the sky forever and ever and ever. With this great big smile he hugged me and told me to always be careful not to fall through the snow and the clouds, and that it's almost impossible not to if you're not traveling with someone."
The world outside did resemble a snow globe, and the orange tinted glow of streetlights gave them an almost impure look from the rest of the cotton white snow piling quickly on the ground, like these pools of corruption threatened to eat through the earth itself. On the smaller buildings around the café, snow was collecting itself in sheets. She seemed so happy to observe all of this.
I reached out and tentatively put a hand on her shoulder. She didn't move, aside from a muffled laugh. Or a cry, perhaps. "I'm going out there, out to the city. And while I'd love to take you, I have to go this alone. The life of an author is a solitary one."
More shaking of her head, a smaller smile, but it was there. "Is it?"
"Yes. It's lonely and terrible and only through suffering can I learn the truest lessons of life."
"But what about the life lessons you can't learn alone?"
I had no answer, so I too, slowly, turned to watch the snow falling fast and hard out the window. A waitress came with seconds of our orders, and I drank the piping hot black coffee without waiting for it to cool down. Bad idea; my tongue was on fire and the coffee I spilled pulling the cup away from my mouth burned my cheeks too.
"diddly!" I yelled, a little too loud. The waitress looked over, tut tut tutting her tongue. She looked to be around 25, a few years older than Nami and I, and her blue hair contrasted the serious personality she appeared to have.
My girl, ready for anything I guess, lightly dabbed a napkin on her wet tongue and used it to wipe off the burning liquid from my cheeks. Motherly, with care. Just like her. And there was triumph in her eyes. It was small, but it was definitely there.
"Listen," I said, "I only have a small, one room apartment and there's not much space."
"Is this the reason that you didn't move in with me last month when I asked you too? How long did you have this plan? The entire time we've been going out?"
I looked away, embarrassed. "A while, now."
"Were you stringing me along the entire time?"
I could sense the hurt in her voice.
"No. I just…you know that I never had a firm grasp on what I wanted to do in life and –"
"And I've stuck by you the entire time."
" – And I finally made my decision. It's a life that won't be rich or fabulous or anything. I'll be poor and hungry and desperate, searching for success."
"But if I've stuck by you this whole time, why would I stop because of something stupid like poverty?"
"The author's life is a solitary one – "
"Stop with that!" she yelled. I was taken aback for a second – she'd never yelled before. Never. "That's just your excuse!"
And she was right. She was totally right. I didn't want to look weak and desperate in front of her. I didn't want her to see the many failures before my success. And I wanted so much just to emulate my favorite authors. If they could earn success through misery, so could I, right?
We were quiet for a long time, both of us. The only sound was the assault of the whipping wind outside of the window. As the sky grew lighter and lighter the snow kept falling, but was nearly drowned out of sight by the light gray clouds. A few people walked into the store now that it was getting close to work time for most. A young, red haired girl, seemingly already doped up on sugar and caffeine, ordered a cappuccino. Two men argued about blitzball in a friendly way, both carrying identical briefcases for work. A couple holding hands, ordered a slice of pie and sat at a table away from mine.
She kicked the bag beneath my legs. "You're going to leave from here?" No clue as to how she found it.
"Yes. I'm taking the 8'oclock bus to the city." That was an hour away.
"By 'I'm', you still mean just you, don't you?"
"Nami, I'm sorry, I really am, but I need to do this. For myself I need to completely rewrite my life."
She looked down and those deep blue eyes of hers, the color of sapphires under the ocean, closed for a few moments before she stared back up at me. Absentmindedly she wiped a strand of hair behind her ear. Still more silence, although now I had her eyes peering at me with an emotion I couldn't grasp. Somewhere between painful understanding and unwitting resignation. As more people piled into the small and warm café, their voices gave rise to a background music of human creation. She started looking around, disconnected from the scene but somehow interested, like a god leaning back to examine its creation, and stopped looking directly at me. She'd look at the clock behind my head, or at my reflection in the window. And I too felt uncomfortable and guilty and terrible so I avoided her eyes like the plague.
When 7:30 rolled around I picked up my bag and my coffee, stood up from the table and pushed in my chair. Nami stayed seated, watching, observing. I didn't know what to say at this point. The pathetic little script I had wanted to follow failed spectacularly at the start of the conversation when I lacked the balls to just go ahead and tell this cute girl who loved me, and who I loved back, that I was going to abandon her for a misguided dream. But at the time, that dream seemed like the only important thing in my life. I might lose her at some point, I told myself, but I'd never lose my writing or my skills. And so, with the pragmatic powers of a drug addict I chose writing. With just a simple "Goodbye, Nami" I began walking towards the door.
Our seat had been close to the entrance, however, so even when she whispered I could hear her answer to the good bye I had just given:
"Be careful not to fall through the snow and the clouds." She said quietly. "It's almost impossible if you're not traveling with someone."
I didn't look backwards when I walked out, but I could feel her eyes on me the entire time. I could feel them my entire way to the big city like a ghost following me.
It wasn't long after I left my old town that I was sitting in my new small, dingy apartment, my "Author's Paradise" as I called it, when I was searching the obituaries for the name of the main character of the novel I was about to write (a novel that would never be completed in a long list of works never completed by me piled under windows and in the corner of empty rooms where they took on a life of their own just to die slowly, unused and unread and unwanted). As I was searching I came across her name in small but bolded print. And the single line of the description mentioned her just falling, just descending like a star, through the clouds and the snow. It was deemed a natural death like any other, not a suicide, not a murder, not a massacre. A death along the lines of a car crash or a heart attack.
Awestruck, I sat back in my chair with what had to be a look of absolute horror on my face. The way the newspaper reported it, and later on the way witnesses told me, she really did just fall right through the snow and through the clouds in a way I couldn't even wrap my head around. Was her father right? Were those witnesses right? I never really learned for certain, but in my heart I believed it was true; the gravity in which she believed in the ability to do that was convincing, to say the least.
And so it was not long later that I went to her funeral, a closed casket one because there was no body to bury what with it falling falling falling through the sky and earth, and spoke to her father. A tall and intelligent man with jovial looking laugh lines, the frown he was wearing didn't fit him much (although I couldn't blame him for his pain). I somehow managed not to feel a thing, as if I locked my sadness and devastation in a cage and threw those feelings in a deep corner of my mind. Her father, having met me before and knowing of our relationship, took me to the side after the precession was over to talk to me.
"I'd just like to know one thing." He asked, with his gravelly voice full of seriousness.
"The last time you saw her; what was it that she said? I…I know she told you important things, and after the divorce with her mother, my daughter and I had sort of a…strained relationship."
With my voice barely above a whisper, I said "Be careful not to fall through the snow and the clouds. It's almost impossible if you're not traveling with someone."
All her father could do was choke down a sob, pat me on the back, and walk away. But I didn't deserve that pat or the respect. She had been traveling with me and I let her go the way a child did when they no longer wanted a balloon and watches it drift off into the distance forever, cold and alone.
The witnesses to her death tell me that when it happened, it was hard to comprehend, that it took them a lot of time to process it all. And from each one (an older man, the same redhead who walked into the café on the last morning I saw her, a dog walker) slight details differed. But the main story I could gather was this: Namine had been walking through the streets on a day similar to the one when I had left, and then, out of nowhere, she vanished. A few seconds later she was falling through the gravel gray clouds above, into the plentiful powdery snow on the ground and through the earth and existence itself. Life wasn't a cartoon, however, and there was no Nami-shaped hole in the ground. There was no slide whistle. She was there, she fell from above, and she, like a ghost passing through a wall, went right through the snow and the street into something beyond, be it eternity or nothingness.
She had fallen, as it was, through the clouds and through the snow while traveling all alone in the world. And then I too was traveling all alone, anxiously anticipating the single step that would send me plummeting through the clouds and the snow myself.