In the park down by the river I found her sitting on a bench looking at the white cliff across the gray water flowing onward to its destination.
I sat on the bench and gazed across the water at the skeletal cliff.
She slightly turned her head and looked at me out of the corner of her eye. A smile flirted with her pale lips and I caught it and returned the smile.
And the gray river slowly flowed onward down to its destination as we sat and gazed at the alabaster cliff and on up to the quicksilver sky.
“How long do we have?” I asked. “How long will this go on?”
She shrugged and said, “Who knows. Perhaps for a lifetime and a deathtime.”
A passerby ambled on the gravel path behind us. He slowed his gait when he heard me talking. He looked askance at me and then he quickened his pace and walked hurriedly away.
“I think we scared him.” I remarked.
She raised her brows and said, “You scared him, I didn't.”
Her bloodless lips tightened and she gave out a mirthless chuckle. “He saw you but he didn't see me.”
“Ah, that explains it,” I replied. “He thought I was talking to myself.”
“Exactly,” she said.
“Why is it that they see me but don't see you?” I asked.
She shrugged and said, “It's a quirk.”
“You mean, it's a glitch?”
“Yes, something like that,” she replied. “There's no explaining it, it's just something that happens.”
I breathed out a sigh and looked at the gray river flowing down to its destination.
“Do you ever get bored?” I asked.
“No,” she answered. “I have a lifetime of memories, and numerous subjects to reflect upon. There's enough to last a thousand years and more.”
“Are you happy?” I asked.
“Happy,” she murmured. “Happiness, joy, delight. They are so distant. But then so are sadness, despair, and regret.”
“Are you lonely?” I said softly.
“I'm as lonely as you,” she replied. “Loneliness pervades all things. We are all lonely—the living and the dead.”
“Will it ever end?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “There is no end.”
I noticed that the sky had darkened and the cliff was now in shadow, and the gray river was flowing faster.
“When do we join the river?” I whispered.
“It won't be long,” she replied. “The water is moving faster.”
“Will it be painful?” I asked.
“No pain,” she murmured.
She shook her head and her long black hair swirled.
I noticed that her eyes were also black, her skin was translucent, and her lips were gray—like the color of the river flowing fast down to its destination.
“Just stay close to me,” she said.
“I think I'm beginning to understand,” I murmured.
She nodded and gave me a gray smile.
She stood and walked toward the river, and I followed.