She was certain that there was nothing in this world so cold as his eyes.
Bitter, betrayed, little-boy innocence
under too many years of pain an adult could not bear.
Carpet of leaves lying abandoned on the forest floor -
gold, burnt orange, fading sliver of evergreen,
but overshadowed by the brown.
His eyes could be a forest of a thousand hues swirling,
a thousand thoughts whirling.
Nothing so cold, so vast, so swallowing.

She was always so certain she had mastered the art of denying him,
but then it was a tumble, drop, roll
into the twin torments of his eyes,
and all of her vest defenses were these little,
silently screaming insignificancies -
fine sand in rough surf -
and it became her hands weaving through short, dark hair,
"hush now" and his tears under her fingers
as she traced a stubbled jaw, a damp cheek.
Later, the sorrow would bleach itself into exhaustion,
and he would rise, try and smooth his mangled hair,
dust away the weakness.
He would rise,
having taken what was offered,
whole again for the time being.
He would rise, and then she would search,
turn inward to seek out the evidence -
a tiny part of herself now missing,
cold vacancy where warmth had once been.

She was always so certain that it would be the last time,
but his eyes were prisms of need,
and he truly believed that he could love her,
truly believed that the wanting was enough.
It would all come tumbling down.
She would be convinced, certain.
And then there would be the ghosts of his hands
sweeping across her cheeks,
the phantom of his arms encircling her gently.
Sparse, infrequently given touches…
but so sweet, so pure.
It would all come tumbling down,
and she would be /thisclose/ to leaving,
walking, denying him finally the hold
he was so unaware of possessing.
But all it would take was the back of one long finger
delicately tracing the contours of her hands,
and there was nothing in this world she needed more
than the sustenance of that touch.
There was a strange certainty in staying -
to always know upon what she could depend,
their forever-twisting circle.
Love was balm enough to make the betrayal less stinging,
and desire made promises she knew it would never keep.
Need was an ache that became a comfort with time,
and fear an old friend nurtured and warm
within the lies they chose to believe.
There was certainty in staying, because it was a life -
of a sort - the only life she could know anymore.
And to leave was a seeking nothing,
the certainty of his desperation without her.
To leave was the prospect of other things,
giving herself in other ways,
and she was certain, knew it without fault,
that he had long ago taken anything she had left to give.
She was standing at the edge of a deep, vast body of water.
Dark, strange depths.
Swirling eddies and riptides.
She stood at the edge and called his name,
stood at the edge and searched the waves for his form.
Suddenly, he was there before her,
hands churning against the sea,
legs flailing against the tide.
He was there before her,
extending his hand, calling her name.
She stood at the edge, afraid of the water,
watching as it sucked,
and breathed,
and gasped - almost a living thing.
She knew, understood,
that the water would drag her under,
that she would not be able to resist its pull.
He called her name.
And his hand was this thin,
wisp of white against the dark,
stretching towards her.  He called her name.
Leaning, reaching, knowing,
she surrendered her palm.
Leaning, she grasped tight, terrified fingers
around cold, clammy flesh.
she tried so very hard to pull, rescue,
drag him from the sea.
But she had already been certain,
known how it would end.
"I'm sorry," a tug, feet digging into sliding ground,
and the water was as cold,
as dark as she had known it would be,
the waves as fierce.
Slowly, his hand grew frigid and stiff in her grasp,
unresponsive fingers sliding away from her touch,
and she was alone
- at last -
with the darkness.