There we were, in the time of a breath.
We looked around, puzzled for a moment. The place was not as we recalled — the air was musky and stale, despite there being no roof. Endless rows of walls jutted out of the dirt, creating a maze of unpredictable hallways; that much was still the same, their glasslike material translucent in the light.
The light, yes, the light was different.
I looked up. Despite the death of its sun, this place had found countless more stars, streaking the sky in twin crossing galaxy-arms. Their purplish hue tinged everything in the lifeless, endless night.
I felt my companion brushing my leg a moment before she actually did. She flashed her impatience at me, even as she looked for comfort.
But, I told her, we needed to be here, on the anniversary. We had to.
The ground had seen no tending for a long while now, fraying under our light step. Sometimes I stopped to look at the runes etched on the walls, covering every inch. I smiled remembering the old times they bore witness to, the inanity and happiness and camaraderie. Here, a joke; there, runes I carved, asking for a little help from anyone, my first time. Trades and rulings and announcements. I caressed some of them, written by long-lost friends, and I lingered for a moment.
Then we moved on.
We stopped to rest a while. My companion cuddled at my side in an elegant loop, her twin tail making her look like a painter’s convoluted signature on a bizarre planet-wide work of art. Her head in my lap.
I looked at her.
We met long before this place. It was a tiny little thing in its previous form, and I remember knowing we’d be together for life long before I truly knew what these words actually meant. I know now she did too, at the time, though she only told me much later.
I still remember when she changed in a flash of pure happiness. I was looking at her, at her eyes, and did not look away as the light engulfed her. I remember hearing her in my mind for the first time as she was evolving.
It was the very moment we both decided nothing could imprison us anymore.
I was thoughtful as we retraced our steps back. Long-buried memories of this place helped me not get lost. This is all this place is now; dead memories of distant youth.
We looked in each other’s eyes.
It pained me, but I told her: yes, it’s time to go.
A last look at the endless halls of our words — now epitaphs to a long-lost moment of our lives.
But is it truly lost, I suddenly realize, what lives on in us? Is it truly dead, that which made us what we are?
Our heads went up to the sky, to our distant star.
Let’s go home, she thought.
One more thought and we’re gone.