She always spoke so softly, her voice smooth and elegiac, but this time her words were different.

"I don't want you to keep doing this to yourself."

He didn't reply, didn't even turn his head, but she knew her point had been conveyed. She stood beside him, her hands white where they rested on his shoulders. He shivered once and pulled his black jacket tighter around him, but otherwise didn't change position, even though his knees had begun to protest nearly half an hour ago.

"Scott, you need to go home. Freezing your ass off out here isn't going to change anything, except possibly the state of your health. So help me, if you catch a cold for my sake, I'll- "

"Mel, I miss you," he whispered hoarsely. The wind almost took the words away before they could be spoken. "I just- "

"I know you do." She slowly rubbed his upper back, trying to soothe. "And you know I'll always be here when you need to talk."

"I don't know what to do with myself anymore. Home isn't the same without you." He rubbed a hand over his face, eyes closed. The other hand rested on the ground, fingers twisting through the short, soft grass.

"Oh, silly, you'll be perfectly fine. You've gone without me before, after all." She laughed once ruefully, almost choking. He just shook his head slowly.

"Tell me what to do, Mel. Please." His hand left his face and settled on the black granite in front of him, blindly tracing the lines and cracks that time, rain, and many hands had carved into it.

"What do you think I've been doing, Scott? Get up off your knees. Go and live your life. Stop coming around here." Her voice broke on a little sniffle. "You don't belong here, and I don't belong out there anymore. The flowers... they're beautiful, really. I love them. I don't know where you managed to find lilies this time of year, but I appreciate the gesture. Don't think I don't."

He sighed once deeply, almost a sob, and she paused before continuing.

"Like I was saying, this just isn't right, and I can't stand seeing you like this. If you keep coming back, I'm gonna' have to keep telling you the same thing over and over again. You know that, right? Scott, please!" She stepped in front of him and knelt where she was eye-to-eye with him, her hands framing his face.

He shivered again.

"Being here like this, Mel... it almost feels like we're really together again."

She pressed a single soft kiss to his lips and then pulled away. He was shaking.

"Mel, I'm gonna' go now. I'm so sorry; please understand. Mel, I love you so much." He leaned forward and pressed his lips once softly to the granite slab, rose to his feet, and walked away without another backward glance.

She watched him walk away and then sat down on the stone, absently tracing what was left of the fading letters, the numbers long since worn smooth under a loving hand...

Melissa Patterson

Teacher
Messenger
Friend
Lover

A Queen walked among us
dressed as an Angel;
she ruled hearts,
changed minds,
and told stories.
She left us different than she found us,
and here the Beloved Lady sleeps.

As he walked out of the cemetery, a slim, pale figure lingered behind, seated on the stone, one hand raised in farewell before vanishing like a thought on the chill wind.

"I love you, too."

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