Even from afar, I knew that mound was Sam. I ran faster than I had ever run in my life. And there, lying limply on the grass was Sam. Her face was almost unrecognisable, she looked like she had been mauled by a bear. All over her body were dark blue and red marks, stings, bites, scratches. Her dress was so tattered she was practically naked, if not for Abe’s great cloak blanketing her. The grass she lay on was a dark crimson.
“Sam! Sam! Wake up Sam! Wake up!
“David.” I heard Abe’s voice calling me from behind.
I wasn’t able to hold my anger. With every emotion in my body, I found myself spewing, “You! Where have you been?!! Why did you leave?!! You were the one who invited me on this quest!!! You were supposed to be my guide!!! You left!!! You disappeared on us!!! If you were there, if you had never left, we wouldn’t have fought, she wouldn’t have left with that stupid fox, she wouldn’t be dead!!!
“I’m not dead”, Sam whispered weakly, still lying very limply on the grass. “At least not yet.”
“Sam…”, I turned to her. “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have let you go. I should have killed that stupid fox.”
“It’s not your fault. I should have listened to you. I should have believed you. But I was angry. I was really angry at you. I’m so sorry. I’m so so sorry David.”
I turned to Abe. My face in a tight frown, eyes red with burning , brimming with tears.
Sam’s voice interrupted my gaze, “Don’t be mad at him, David. He was the one who found me. He took me out of a pit of scorpions that the fox led me to. He brought me here, where you found me. He saved me.”
“But he could have prevented this…”
“He wanted to. But we didn’t wait. I didn’t wait. And I ran. I told you, I was angry, I was hurt, I was so scared. I ran away.”
Sam was right. None of this was Abe’s fault. In his absence, we had forgotten, we had forgotten everything. Forgetting is what naturally happens when we stop remembering. In our pride and fear, in our impatience and insecurity, we failed to remember the hope of that first invite, the excitement of going on a journey together, of the close call on our capsized boat, the beautiful fireworks from a welder’s sparks, when a shared sandwich, ginger beer, and a good story was all we needed to make us believe again. So we stopped believing. Little by little like a skilled lawyer we built a case against ourselves with an unforgiven record of wrongs.
“David…” Sam called as she squeezed two of my fingers she was able to reach.
“Do you remember when you told me you loved me?”
“How can I forget? You told me you didn’t believe me.”
She smiled sadly, “I believe you now. My whole life I wanted to be loved for my honey, and you don’t even like honey, when the fox told me he loved my honey, it felt so good. It felt so good to hear someone tell me my honey was good.”
“Abe likes your honey.”
“But you don’t.”
“I don’t like honey. You know that. But if you only told me, I would have eaten all your honey. I would have bathed in your honey.”
She laughed very weakly. “Don’t be silly. What I want to tell you is, I know now. I know you loved me, because you were the only one who loved me for me, not my honey. I regret that I had to learn this way, but to know that at one point in my life, even when I didn’t accept, someone, you, loved me for me, what a satisfying idea. How bittersweet the beautiful realisations that come too late.”
We were both crying now.
“Do you still love me?” she asked with a painful look in her face. I could see where the fox had bitten off chunks of her face, her torn ear, the scorpion sting marks.
“Of course. Of course. Of course I love you. How could I not? You’re the most beautiful girl in the world.”
She laughed, and in between heavy sobs she asked, “How can you say that? I can feel my ear dangling, and pieces of my face missing, I am dying, David, and dying ugly. How can you call this torn dying stupid girl who rejected you most beautiful?”
Holding what was left of her face in both hands, and now my tears were rolling, I looked into her eyes, “Because you have the happiest eyes I know.”
Looking back at me, she smiled, “Forgive me for I must close them now. Make a David promise to me, the ones I know to never break, promise to remember my happy eyes ok? Remember my happy eyes looking into yours.”
She closed her eyes and told me, “You make me so happy, David. I Lo…”
She never got to finish what she was going to say. I’ll never know now. Samantha Lune’ was dead.
I don’t remember much of what happened next. I know I cried, and cried, and cried, and cried some more. I know I held on to that bloody lifeless corpse as long as I could. I know that I experienced anguish that we have no words for. And I remember Abe kneeling down, embracing me with his large frame, and together we grieved. The world never heard more piercing wails before or ever again.
No one ever thinks about the end of things, and when the end does come no one is prepared for how fast and vicious it truly is.