She moved through the trees with ease, as if it was where she came from- as if she had been rooted and born here. Her long black hair flailed gracefully about her long, green cape and her worn brown boots made the barest of thuds against the mossy floor of the forest.

He watched her patiently, wondering where she was going. She held herself tall, with confidence. He knew if he attempted to follow her she would hear. Her very being told him she knew herself as well as she knew these woods.

So this was it. This was the moment to decide. He had seen her three times before and each time she seemed to appear out of nowhere. She was spectre-like in her presence, but his body did not lie. He felt her even more than he saw her.

She was headed toward the hill, perhaps to get water from the stream. So now he had to ask himself: was he her witness or her man?

Her ebony hair shone blue beneath the dewy canopy of firs. Her hair was his North Star, his lighthouse. He was drawn to her by something beyond himself- something dense, yet light. There was a voice in his gut that told him knowing her would mean meeting himself- would mean facing a love so fierce it would break him open before putting him back together: whole and free.

He followed. Staying thirty paces behind, he risked losing her but never did. They kept a rhythm that united them in spite of the space between. And as she began to scale the hill, he swore he saw her give the scantest of glances over her shoulder but she did not waver.

Any doubt he had previously held lay in pieces at the foot of the hill. He was now taking each step fully present and aware that it was exactly where he was meant to be. He was being breathed by something pure and perfect. This was what moved him. This was what finally brought him to her side.

“I’ve seen you before,” she said softly without turning to him. She was kneeling by the stream, washing her face and hands. He wondered if she could see his reflection in the waters below. Hers was blurred by ripples.

His voice was hidden beneath layers of wonder, nerves and lust. It took him a moment to find it. “And I you,” he uttered finally.

“I knew you would follow me eventually. I’m glad it was today.” She dried her hands on her cape and stood. Realizing in that moment he had never seen her face, his breath caught in his throat waiting for her to turn. As she did, he was met with eyes that had haunted his dreams these ten years at least, but he never recalled them until this very moment. A decade of dreams swelled up and landed in his chest as he tried to take her in.

“I know you….” was all he could say.

She laughed at that. “You do not,” she said lightly. “But I take your meaning. I understand.”

To be seen and heard by her was almost too much. He had to find his bearings before he muddled this up forever. That fear struck him and existed beside a quiet knowing that he would take her hand and never let go- and that, remarkably, she would let him.

“May I lead you back down?” he offered, taking a step closer to her.

She smiled and coloured slightly. “You may,” she said brightly.

He offered his arm and she took it. Searching his mind for something witty to say, he was only coming up short. Even if she was his destiny, even if their being together was written in the stars, he had to have the words to match the moment. Anything less was pathetic, surely. His heart raced and he stifled a frustrated growl. She noticed.

Squeezing his arm lightly, she looked up at him. “All is well,” she said. “I feel it too.”



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