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Chapter twelve: Untouchable
He stays on the ground.
Breathes. In. Out.
He tries to move. Groans.
Pain strikes across pain. It is written on his face.
Time passes on. Minutes? Hours? It's all the same to you.
He sits. Rests his back against the wall. He doesn't dare open his eyes.
Like the angel of death. But his blood is not a lamb's. And she did not pass over him. Only draw away.
But he is bloodied, and she is gone.
He looks around. Tired. Broken- oh, but of course!
There is a paper at his feet. He raises it to his eyes to better see it in the dim light. She wrote it. The full extent of his injuries. How to work with them.
You know that he won't let himself fully believe it. But there's hope. You can see it. To you, who knew him so instantly, there is nothing that can be hidden from you.
Hours slither by as he prepares.
He is careful. He avoids strain. He takes every pill required. He eats.
You are the instrument through which he opens the cans. So mundane. But you are grateful nevertheless. You do not want him to die. You are grateful to be his salvation. This is the purpose for which she left you.
He naps irregularly. He screams in his sleep.
For the first time since she left, he looks outside.
He prepares himself. His legs are good enough for travel. His damaged arm, he will have to leave alone for now.
He stares at you. You know that he's wondering whether to take you.
You are her left hand. The suffering of her touch in steel.
But he receives you. And together, you go.
You know that he doesn't understand. But he is patient. You are patient. He will understand.
You travel slowly. You travel discreetly. No-one could hope to recognize him. Is he grateful for the marks on his face?
He threw up once, when he saw the everything that had been done to him since he first met her.
You avoid travelers. You avoid soldiers. You only approach the burned towns.
You wonder where she is. Where she is going. Where she has gone.
You know that he is asking himself the same.
You could suggest. If only you could communicate.
Instead you must watch as he puzzles it out. Fights it. Evades it. Ignores it.
Because he doesn't want to think it. Doesn't want to believe it.
But you know what he is thinking. What you are both thinking. Even if you don't know.
You are thinking... that you may find out very soon.
Too soon for his liking.
He commissions a boat. He finds a man willing to go to Cuba.
And you wonder- as he must be wondering- if she has gone there ahead of you.
"Now listen, senor: I want you to drop me in the ocean half a mile from the coast."
"The Cubans, they will not like you trying to swim past them."
"I'm not smuggling."
"Then why do you come to me in the dark?"