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"Listen," she said, and pressed his ear against her chest. "Can you hear it?"
"Hear what?"
"Listen."
"It's the ocean."
"It has been ever since I met you."

She moved quickly down the rail of the train tracks. Her hair was pulled back from her face in a loose pony tail. It allowed you to fully appreciate her eyes. The kind of eyes that were blue enough to put you to shame where you stood; the kind that would make grown men weep. A patchworked bag hung down from over her frail shoulders to just above her knees. Every few miles she would find a new wildflower that she would pick to replace the previous one resting behind her ear. She never stayed in one place for too long, and few of the people who saw her ever came to hear her voice. After long enough many people began to question if she'd ever passed by at all. She was more of a figment than a being. Except to him. To him, she was very real.

It was in the third aisle of the local convenient store that he came to catch her gaze. He harshly grazed her arms as he hurriedly walked past with a gallon of milk in one hand and cigarettes in the other. The three marble composition books and the tin of altoids were knocked right from her arms.
"S***. No, no, let me get it."
She never said a word, but merely nodded and followed him to the checkout.
"Here, I've got this. Sorry. Sorry, I didn't mean to..."
His voice trailed off and he averted his eyes in fear hers would burn straight through his skull. She shook her head adamantly and handed him a crumpled ten dollar bill which he immediately refused.
"Please, allow me; seriously."
Her eyes grew wider than planets, and she began to tug at her skirt nervously.
"Here."
He handed her the books and smiled.
"You safe to get home?"
"Thank you. I'm fine."
He looked down for a moment and packed down his cigarettes.
"Well, it was nice to have met you. Sorry again, I-"
She was already halfway down the road.
He was half startled by her, but shrugged it off and turned to leave as he head the faint clinking of peppermints against metal.
"Wait! Hey, you forgot your mints!"
He could've been calling to the wind. She stopped in her tracks, but never turned around. He ran up beside her. Panting slightly he said, "Here."
"You didn't have to do all that."
"I know."
"Is there any place nearby to get something to drink?"

His house was calm and quiet. The floorboards groaned as he walked across them as if they were dying to tell all of the house's secrets. There was no air conditioning, and the humidity clung to her bones. His refridgerator and the small table lamp in his living room were the only signs of technology in the entire house. No clocks. She smiled to herself. He handed her a glass of water, and put the milk in the fridge.
"So, I'll take it you aren't from around here?"
She shook her head 'no'.
"Where are you from?"
"The beginning of the tracks."
"Which beginning? They begin and end all over."
"I haven't seen an end. Not yet."
"Well, what are you doing here?"
"Needed more journals."
"What's your name?"
"Whatever you'd like it to be."
"I'm serious."
"Me too."
"You don't have a name?"
"I'm just a girl. That's all you need to know. We name things to give them meaning. I don't need to have meaning to you. At this point, me having a name would just be irrelevant."
"Well, I'm just Matt. And I don't know what to call you."
She took a long sip of water. The room even smelled damp. She began to wonder how clean this glass was.
"Hey, girl, you need a place to stay?"
She smiled as she said, "I bet you can see for miles out back."

They watched the sun set, and then rise. Matt talked constantly. He talked for hours on end about the state of this world, society, morality, fate, and her. She responded every so often, her vocal chords hadn't been used for so long; the noises sounded almost foreign in her throat. She never took her eyes off of him. It made him nervous.
"Why do you stare like that?"
"I'm looking, not staring."
"Looking for what?"
"I'll tell you when I find it."

After a few weeks, she still hadn't found what she was looking for. Matt had taken a liking to calling her 'Miss' or 'Missy'. Miss didn't seem to mind. One night as she and Matt were leaning against his back porch, calling out constellations, she looked away from him for the first time.
"Miss, what is it?"
"Don't."
"What? Talk to me."
He reached down for her hand and she quickly recoiled from his grasp.
"Matt, don't. You can't."
"I can't? I can't what? You aren't making any sense."
"Don't fall in love with me, okay?"
For the first time in his life, Matt was at a complete loss for words. His mouth hung open at the hinges in awe.
"You can't. You can never have me. Not like you would want."
She walked off towards the field behind his house, but left her bag so that he knew she would be back.

A few more weeks passed. The leaves were slowing changing color. So were her eyes. It seemed each day as the green left the trees, it was captured back inside of her irises. He now called her 'Lily'.

It was early morning. Dew had just begun to settle upon each blade of grass, still parched from the summer sun. Matt brought Lily the last wildflower of the season on his walk back from the field. It was a deep violet color that looked as though it was made for the sole purpose of complimenting her skin.
"Why not?"
"Hm?"
"Why can't I, Lily? Why won't you-"
"Don't. Don't do this. Not now."
"I can't help this. I can't."
"You can try."
"I don't want to."
"Matthew."
"Yes?"
"Please. Don't make..."
He sighed and threw his arm half-heartedly through the air.
"I love you."
Lily's eyes filled with water.
She ran out to the field again.

The next morning, Lily was gone.
Matt looked for her everywhere. Her books, her bag. All gone. He ran back through the field and then into the house. He almost tripped over the tin box laying on the kitchen floor. Inside was a deep violet flower and a ten dollar bill with a hastily penned on message: 'What you can't fight keeps you from feeling alive." Matt punched his fist through the wall separating the kitchen and the stairs. His knuckles swelled almost immediately. He darted into town.
"Have you seen LIly? Have you? Shorter than I am, but still tall. Green eyes. Dark hair."
No one had seen her.
"F***!"
Matt couldn't breathe. He fell to his knees and sobbed like a child. He felt like a little boy. Without thinking he ran home grabbing nothing but the tin and some extra money. He ran to the tracks.

Flat for miles. And still no sign of Lily on the horizon. Matthew stopped in every town to ask if they'd seen her, but most people were more concerned with what this man was doing running about in a t-shirt and jeans in the middle of winter. Finally, he came across a small town that a rusted sign called 'Willow's Creek'. He'd just missed her. She didn't look so good, sickly even. An old barmen said she'd come in only a few hours ago. She'd said something about the ocean.
That was all Matt needed to hear.

Matt stopped sleeping. He forgot how to eat. He knew he was miles off from Lily, but he couldn't stop. Frostbite had settled into a few of his toes at this point, and his body had whithered away to become pale and thin. He was a shell of his former self.

72 hours. No sleep. Hadn't had a decent meal in weeks. A sign loomed overhead. Matt heaved a sigh of relief condensating the air in front of him. He trudged through the snow as fast as his bones would carry him.

A girl lay doubled over, shivering violently as she kneeled in the mix of snow and sand. She hummed a summer night's song.
"Lily?"
If she had heard him, she showed no sign of recognition.
"It's me. It's Matt. Lily..."
He touched her shoulder lightly and then took her into his arms. Her skin looked paper thin stretched over her muscular system. Her eyes had sunken into her face and had lost all the life behind them. They were now gray and held no resemblance to any star in the universe.
"Lily. Look at me."
Matt held her close and sobbed. He brushed strands of hair back from her face.
"Look at me. Please. I'm here."
She looked up slowly. Her expression was blank until suddenly the ocean filled her eyes. All at once the snow fell harder and the icy waters of the sea edged closer and Matt grasped tighter to the only thing he ever loved.
"Matt."
Lily's voice was feeble, but echoed in the confinement of Matt's mind as it had since the day they met. It sang to him in his sleep.
"Matt. Why didn't you listen to me? I told you not to."
"Look at me. I love you. Do you hear me? Do you understand?"

They sobbed in each other's arms for hours on the deserted beach. Matt came to learn that Lily's name was Sarah. That this Sarah person was dying. She might even be a ghost right where she lay. He found that she had been walking for close to a year before she came into his town. It seemed Sarah had been running a disease that would kill her. She came into town searching for the one thing she could destroy. If she couldn't kill the cancer coursing through her veins, she wanted to ruin something else. She wanted power. She wanted control. Just one last time. And that's where Matt came in. And she knew she could break him from the moment she met him. The only fault in her planning was that she hadn't intended on falling in love with him as well. That only helped the cancer grow stronger. 'What you can't fight keeps you from feeling alive.' And she just couldn't hurt him anymore. He wasn't supposed to come after her.
"You were supposed to forget me."
"I won't ever forget you."
'I love you' rang in perfect unison between the shriveling pair.
"Listen," she said, and pressed his ear against her chest.
"Can you hear it?"

The tides washed them away.





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