He held her close to him as only he could, their bodies pressed tightly against one another. Urgency and electricity crackled in the air around them, the sparks flashing and hissing as they slowly fizzed out. He looked into her glistening eyes, swimming with tears that threatened to spill over and course down her face. So many things he wanted to say, so many things that she could and would never know. A fierce battle raged through his mind, but he knew what he had to do. And he continued to look at her, as if he were trying to memorize her face for the last time, trying to somehow let her know the depth of his feelings without voicing it. He did not want this moment to end, for with the end of this came the end of everything. Still she waited, waited for the words that she knew would inevitably come from his perfect lips.

"I never got to say goodbye," he began, as a fleeting thought passed though his mind wondering where this would lead. Her heart sank as she heard this dreaded declaration, sending her through a frenzied spiral of anguish, sharpened by the finality of the entire situation. "I never got to say goodbye," he repeated, steadying his voice, while his mind screamed at him, "NO!" She gazed up at him, trying to read the thoughts that lay behind his blue-green eyes, and softly replied with as much composure as she could muster, "I don't like goodbyes."

He smiled at her sadly, knowing that this would be the last time they could be together like this. Her mind traveled back to the last few weeks and months, hastily revisiting everything that had happened between them, and she wished with all her heart that this was not happening. Her own confusion continued to hammer at her head, muted for a moment by a new thought. This is the end, she realized, not knowing what to say or do, stalling as long as she could by letting her eyes roam over his tender gaze, wishing she could look at him forever. His next words interrupted her thoughts, and he gently asked, "Can I say goodbye?"

She looked up at his eyes, the eyes she had grown to love, his sadness blended with an unshaken determinedness, thinly veiling the gamut of emotions that lay beneath his calmly expectant face. Again, she was hit with uncertainty, not knowing what he meant by those words. Her own unsteady mind reeled, wracked with bewilderment and desperation. Didn't he just say goodbye? What is he thinking… what does he mean? No, I don't want you to say goodbye, but that's not going to stop you… please don't… please... She took a deep breath in an effort to clear her mind, but this time she was unable to stabilize herself or to stop her heart from racing as it pounded loudly in her ears, and the words tumbled out of her mouth in a frantic last ditch attempt, "I… I don't know… I don't want you to say goodbye… I don't want to say goodbye… I don't know what you mean, what do you mean? I don't, I can't… I don't… please…"

Swiftly, he pressed his lips down to hers, embracing her with the full strength of his arms. She responded immediately, and the tension that had been in the air finally subsided, gradually dissipating as they kissed, the world around them drowning away into sweet oblivion. They stood there at the top of the plateau in one another's arms, holding each other with such a burning intensity and intimacy that it was as though their very lives depended on it. When they finally broke apart, he looked at her, a faint smile dancing on his lips, and he smoothed her hair out of her eyes. "I love you," he told her, fully believing what he had just said. She gazed back up at him, her mind thinking about a million things and nothing at all at the same time, and she held him close, putting her head on his shoulder, silently whispering, "I love you too… more than you could ever know," but not daring to say those words out loud for fear that they would mean nothing.

They kissed once more, the pure urgency of the previous occasion melting away into gentle exploration and rediscovery. Seconds became minutes, but all too soon, the time came when it all had to stop. They were always under the constraint of time, and time was the only thing that would have stopped them from what they were doing. They both knew it was really over now, that this would never happen again, and they had to let go.

He walked away in one direction, and she in the opposite. They looked back at each other at the same moment, a last glance of reassurance and encouragement, before they turned away for the last time and continued on their own paths. It was then that she finally let the tears roll down her face, splashing faintly onto the dusty gravel beneath her feet.