“Do you really have to go?” she whispered, her breath cold and her heart quick, as the darkness of the night surrounded them.
“Yes,” he answered briefly, looking somewhere into the distance as he answered.
“Why?” she choked. That’s all she ever wanted to know and that was all he would never tell. She knew that for a fact, but her curiosity and grief were more than enough for her to bear.
“There is a reason…” he replied, his voice dim, and he looked down at her, “I will tell you sometime.”
For a second, she felt hot anger in her heart at the vague mention of him keeping another secret, but the heart she owned was too tender to stay hard and she sobbed quietly. His lips moved as if he wanted to say more, but he said nothing and silently wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into a tight hug.
“I’ll be back,” he comforted, laying his cheek on her head and she hugged him back tightly.
“Oh, you- you always say that!” she sobbed.
“I do come back,” he spoke in a bargaining tone.
“After how long? Months? That’s your reason?” she sniffled.
“I have to. You don’t understand,” he said. Her head was pressed against his shirt but she felt him shake his head.
“Yes… I suppose I never do understand, right?” she remarked weakly.
“I don’t leave you alone,” he said, voice raising slightly.
“Yes, you do,” she cried, her tears wetting his shirt.
“You have Alan,” he argued still further.
“Alan?” she spat suddenly, struck by the comment, “Why, Alan is no one to me! Good God, he can’t take your place! Not even after you abandon me!!”
“He cares for you while I’m not there,” he answered, voice subsiding again to a gentle tone and arms dropping to his side.
“I don’t care! Why do you have to leave me so bad!?” she wept softly. He didn’t answer. He was silent and guilt-stricken, because he knew what he was doing. He knew what she was saying. And, he knew why she was saying that. For the next seconds, the only sounds in the middle of the deserted lane were her weak whimpers and his unsteady exhales.
“You aren’t even hugging me anymore,” she sobbed sharply, clutching his shirt even more tightly.
His response could be heard hardly as a whisper. “Please… you have to understand… I-I don’t want it too, but I have to… I have to…” His words faded as she looked up with shining, tearful night-like eyes, the half-moon reflecting in them.
“R-Really?” she whimpered.
“I’d never lie to you,” he consoled, patting her back lightly. The words stung her, though. How could he say that after so many secrets? So many lies?
She bit her lip and looked down as she spoke. “Well… if it indeed is so crucial… so important… just go… I can’t stop you anyway, right?” The last words were laden with sarcasm and pain. He bent slightly and kissed her dark hair.
“I’ll miss you,” he whispered.
“Me too,” she sniffled.
He let go and held her hands in his as he stared at her one last time. Her face was red and wet and she blinked away the tears her eyes held to look at him. Nobody spoke for at least half a minute. The only sounds that the darkness of the night held were heavy breaths, and they looked at each other, as if they might never meet again, with such longing and pain and duty. He broke the moment by pressing her hands tightly before leaving them altogether and then running to the end of the lane as she turned.
As he was about to disappear around a corner, he stopped and turned to raise his head.
“Goodbye!” he called, voice tenderly echoing in the dark silence.
She raised her hand and waved lightly, as a tear ran down her neck. He smiled softly and then disappeared around the corner. Her hand was still in the air as she stared at him go.
“Goodbye,” she whispered inaudibly and, under the cold mercy of the silver moon, turned to go home herself.