‘I’ll be alright’ she said, tears rolling down her cheeks. ‘I know you’ll be’ he said, ‘you’re brave’. ‘I’m not!!’, she wanted to say. I want you to stay. I need you to stay. But not a word she uttered. She just nodded as he took her face in his hands and wiped away the tears with his thumbs.

He looked at her, as if searching her soul. ‘I cannot stay’ he said. She nodded again, fresh tears threatening to roll down. ‘I need to go back to my child and her mother’. Hair covered her face as she tipped her head forward to hide the pain. ‘Your eyes will stay with me’ he said. She looked up, raw emotions brimming her eyes. She trembled uncontrollably, and then felt his hand on her spine, kneading away the tension. He lifted her hair out of the way and pressed his fingers to her neck, soft as ever. And then the warmth gone as he stopped caressing her face and let go of her hands. His feather touch gone, taking away a part of her soul.

She didn’t know why she let him in. She didn’t know why he was special. She didn’t know how it could break her heart when she had known him just for a few days. Just a few days. She felt his pain, too. She said she will be brave but it hurt. She sat by the river and cried. She let the river wash away her tears. The one thing that she asked of him was to remember and not let go. And when she got up and walked away from the river, she didn’t look back. Because she needed to be brave. One look at his face would have broken her. So she walked away, never looking back. And he never knew that the steps that took her away, took away a part of her soul.