A heavy hand around a girl’s shoulder leads her into the dark. Both wear a smile, both know that this is right. The girl rests her head on his arm, closing her eyes for a moment, trusting him to keep her from falling if she should trip. Her body is no less broken, still badly scarred from past fights and falls. But now, she can ignore the pain; let him tell her it’s all going to be alright, even if they both know it won’t be. He leans down to kiss the top of her head, a promise of protection, reassuring her as they step towards the first door. His lips brush the entry wound from the sword he used to crush her spirit.
“I’m so sorry, I had no choice but to hurt you,” he whispers.
“What changed?” she asks, accepting his apology without batting an eyelid.
“Nothing,” he pauses for a second, “I gave up.”
“On what?” she asks, unfazed.
“Life,” he replies bluntly.
There is a moment of silence as the girl tries to understand, but can’t. Though she knows how the world’s mechanics affect her, she doesn’t understand how this man can even have a concept of life. They stop just short of the door.
“I’m sorry, but you have to go back,” he says. She opens her eyes and looks up at him, still smiling.
“I’m not afraid, just be here when I get back,” the girl replies. The heavy hand brushes aside her hair, seeing past the cuts and black eye to admire the beauty beneath.
A brief kiss is their only goodbye, though they both know it is more than enough. She steps through the door, confident and strong. His heavy hand keeps in hers for as long as it can.
He closes the door behind her.