Her memory had always been foggy after that night. Junior year, during one wild and drunken jaunt, she’d left the Kappa Kappa Psi party and starting making her way home. It was here that she found a quiet, darkened road where she could sing off key, carrying her heels over her shoulder like a freshly captured prey. It was here that she’d stumbled off of the sidewalk and into the street, between the glowing frame of streetlights and parked cars. And, it was here that she last remembered a blinding light, devilishly good looks, and the trumpeting, deafening sound of a blaring car horn.
She awoke in a tangle of wires and tubes. Beside her stiffened bed and body sat a stranger both mysterious and magnetizing. He was perfect, in every way. Had he saved her? Yes, he had been there in her time of need, she was sure of it. He told her the car had barely missed hitting her, had he not been there. But, as he hung his head, he confessed that he wasn’t quick enough as her broken and bruised legs proved all too well. Since, he had failed to leave her side, keeping a keen eye on her every step of the way through her recovery. The days turned to weeks, the weeks to months, and still he stood by her side. The pressures of class and homework became a thing of the past. Her admiration swiftly grew into adoration as they became closer and closer. He was the one, the one with who she would spend the remainder of her days. He was hers. She was his.
Their first apartment, bland and bleak and full of love. Their days were full of long walks along beaches, their nights full of passion and pleasure. There was not a care in the world that could break her away from this paradise. She had become complacent and changed into someone she’d never known she could be, enjoying the pleasures that came with a lack of responsibility. All she knew was to take and take and take what he was willing to give. But, he too began to change. His words filled putrid spite and fury towards her lackadaisical attitude. His offhanded remarks and snide looks as she wished for more and more. To travel, to feast, to enrich her life through material and financial means. With each cold glare, she became more distant, longing for the life she’d lost and the friends she’d forgotten. Perhaps a trip, a romantic getaway could clear her worried heart. Miles between them. Miles between their destination and home.
The ride wasn’t the worst of it. It was the complaining. He’d never truly wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, he’d only done so to appease her constant begging. Her eyes were sunken and sallow. She had no tears left to shed, no time left to waste on this man with whom she’d forgotten how to love. Was this a man with whom she could spend her waking days with? This man who only knew to take and take and take all of the love she was willing to give. She had seen his passing glances at women. She had noticed how he no longer looked at her that way. She had noticed the rot and rust of the railing he leaned against. Could this man be forgiven?
No. The palm of her hand pressed firmly against his chiseled chest as the wind raced behind him. As he fell, the illusion around her faded. Anger and confusion streaked across her face and a pair of blinding, white wings enveloped her.
“Your choice has been made.” The voice was his. A voice that she had loved, that she had let hold her. Heal her. She was sweating through the black and white striped shirt which she had worn for their trip. The heat of the desert was nothing compared to what was coming for her. Tears evaporated in the air as he rose higher and higher, watching her fall. She grasped through the sulfuric air, gaining no purchase within the floating ash and soot. To forgive someone of their sins was the ultimate sacrifice, and now she would sacrifice everything to take it all back as the flames licked her heels.