The feeling of the sun and the sensation of breathing. The rich and rhythmic heart that, at this moment, clenched and unclenched dramatically within. Had it already been a decade? The years had marched on steadily, leaving no trace on this strange, enduring body. The body that began and ended but was never altered.

Vaguely he remembers the first days of this new life. The way the wind blew and the birds sand, the leaves scraped the ground and it was all a symphony. Such a simple purpose to everything. He saw it all so clearly. The way the world and every living thing held itself, and supported each other. Now that the minutes were counting down, That feeling was back again.

But there was no time to drink in those sensations anymore. The rain was pouring down in sheets on the windshield. The sickly pale moon was low and glared bright, a white blur through the downpour. The young man, in his stiff Sunday best, growled and cursed to no one in particular. This wasn't what he wanted. So few times, so rare the moments he was able to see her. Touch her. Fill his empty spaces with her presence. All he wanted was a clear night. She hadn't seen the moonlight; the stars in so long…

Biting his lip. Pressing down on harder on the accelerator. The pickup truck roared noisily beneath, the tires slipped and spun, trying to find purchase on the wet gravel. It was a losing battle, trying to be this patient. He could feel the black and smoky sky pressing in, lower and lower, as if the universe were falling slowly into this stretch of land, to lay upon the sea. The ground beneath seemed to rise, writhe and churn to expel the life within. Under the vast sky, driving down through dense hills, the only living thing in his dented truck, he nevertheless felt crushed between the earth and sky. His heart pounded, the phantom pressure heavy in his chest. The air was forced from his lungs and dispelled in foggy bursts into the thin, shallow air. Every breath was a gasp. He could hear his own respiration above the pounding rain. Absentmindedly he clicked on the radio. Amid the static were faint, tinny traces of sound. Almost nothing. From the snowy hiss a gospel choir sang. He twisted the dial. A woman's voice rang clear and bright. "Just call me angel of the morning, angel/ Just touch my cheek before you leave me…" His hands turned to ice and his stomach burned. He yanked the dial firmly away. Crimson and Clover filled the truck and he left it.

As he came upon the last hill, the ocean came into view. It was barely distinguishable in the shifting blackness within the night. The moon was shattered into a million illuminated pieces upon the tides. Babylon, was what he was. Babylon was his name. Something fated to be destroyed. Babylon wondered if it was significant enough, the atmosphere of this night. Whether he liked it or not, every element of this day was bound to him with a new importance. Important because it had been so long. This was the way the sheets felt in my bed, the day I saw you again, after so long. This is what I wore on the day I saw you again, after so long. This was the song on the radio the day I came to see you again, after so long. God, so long. So many dreams she was close and ever-present, and always another day, with it's ever-accumulating collection of empty spaces.

Over three thousand days he walked on in this lovely world, alone. Ahead, he saw the wrought iron gates and columns of stone. Not another day. Not another day alone in this world. He parked at the end of the lot and out of sight. The heavy metal door swung shut, but wasn't heard above the rain. Babylon dressed in boots and a long raincoat against the storm. She wouldn't see him covered in mud. He didn't want her to see him in anything but the clothes he wore last time they were together, truly together, so long ago. He sighed, grabbed a shovel and a flashlight from the back of the truck, and slipped past the gates of Whiteridge Cemetery. It was time to dig her up.

The ground was wet, soft and heavy on the day I came to see you again, after so long. Six feet beneath the ground she waited. Babylon's treasure, buried under the cold, hard earth for a decade. Never forgotten. Eden. No name, no dates on the headstone, just a crude etching of a full moon, mirrored perfectly in the reflection of the ocean beneath it. He understood so perfectly now, why. As he unearthed the first pile of dirt, he could almost hear it. The singing voices. But how did he know they were singing? How did he know there was so many of them? He never heard them, not with his own ears but…he understood a shifting in energy. Perceived that he was not alone. There was something not organic, existing and living in this cemetery besides him. A multitude of blind, deaf, and mute souls. But he felt them here with him. He knew they were singing. They surrounded him. One stray move, and maybe he could even reach out and touch one. But the only moves he made were those of steady, constant digging. Moving and shifting dirt and mud. Over and over again. Babylon didn't notice any time pass. It seemed to bend and stretch. Slow and stop.

Finally, the shovel's tip hit something solid with a jarring "thud". The air was knocked from his lungs as Babylon wiped the sweat from his forehead, and threw himself into the newly dug trench. The rain had lessened in the past hour, but it's steady flow had washed the last fine layer of earth from Eden's ivory coffin. In the moonlight it seemed to emit an ethereal, pure white light. Babylon's wet and trembling hands stumbled and fussed over popping the latches trapping her in.

You were so perfect. Untouched. Preserved just as I remembered you, on the day I came to see you again, after so long.

Eden lay like a folklore princess under a spell. Soft dark hair fanned out around her head. She had the smooth, young face of a woman just past the threshold of adulthood. Long eyelashes only just touched her white, lifeless cheekbones. She rested on a silk pillow, perfectly aligned. Her thin fingers laced around a bouquet of long-decayed flowers. Her plain white dress still clung to her cold, hard body. She was eternally beautiful, holding the same gentle countenance she had in life, so many years ago. But most certainly dead. Babylon felt a strange tingling on his cheekbone, and rubbed it with his thumb. It was wet. Rain…warm rain.

Eden's body was quickly wrapped in a blanket and carried back to the truck. To Babylon she seemed like stone. The heaviness, unmoving limbs, and the awful coldness. She was so very, very cold. She was an alabaster statue.

On the way back to the beach, he couldn't help but glance over to the passenger side. She sat stiffly, propped up against the seat. Even in these short minutes in the open air, the shifting seemed to begin. She only moved when the truck bounced and shook along its path. She didn't appear to be alive. Perhaps only less dead now. In the dark of night, wrapped up in her blanket, she almost seemed to be sleeping. So peaceful, her delicate features arranged so artfully.

They parked close to the beach, where the sand touched the road. The rain had stopped and all was quiet. The sky was clearing, and pinpricks of glowing stars began to emerge. There was a good chance she'd see a starry night after all. Babylon changed out of his muddy boots and his dirty raincoat, to reveal his suit underneath. He looked ready for Easter Sunday. Getting ready for a different kind of resurrection. Only disheveled auburn hair hinted that he'd spent the last hour digging through the mud. She leaned slightly against the window. He sighed. This was the hardest part. But he had to do it, it was essential to everything else. The first step. The most difficult. He clumsily maneuvered to Eden, and unwrapped her from the blanket, letting it fall around her narrow hips. From this close-up, he saw with dismay that her alabaster skin was, in fact, a bluish-gray tinge. Her lips, once soft and rose-red, were now purplish blue. Hard to the touch as he pressed a finger against them. It was almost too much. For what seemed like forever he pushed on, endured. He cradled his love in his arms and pressed the warmth of his body into her, through her. Slowly, ever slowly, her wooden body gained a pliability. In his arms he felt her soften to his touch. He pressed his face to hers and felt as the silken softness of her cheeks was restored. Slowly, slowly she was returning to him. It wouldn't be long now. With a tremulous sort of joy, Babylon traced patterns of warmth on her body, through his fingertips. Warmth that glowed on her body and remained. The clammy gray skin was flushed with shades of rose and beige. Babylon cradled her somnolent face in his hands and watched the rosy patches of her flushed cheeks bloom from under his palms. The temperature rising as her body began to emanate heat. Still comatose, still trapped somewhere deep within. Babylon's eyelids dropped down in sudden weariness, but he pushed it aside. He ran his hands along her slender arms, her sharp hips, her soft stomach, her voluptuous chest, which warmed and softened under his steady hands. From above, there was a flicker. A fluttering. Beneath her eyelids, she was waking up. He stared into those eyes until they finally blinked. Once, twice, straining in the moonlight. Eyes that had known only darkness for years. Pale green eyes that flicked spasmodically, everywhere. Taking in every glorious shape; every perfect color. They searched, scanning, until locking into a pair of soft brown eyes.

"Did you dream of me, Eden?"

Her silent eyes changed in some imperceptible way. They shone brightly with pure emotion, blurred and blinked. Tears spilled, running down the sides of her face. Only her eyes moved in her atrophied body, but never did she seem more aware. Eden's body seemed almost to hum with the unbound and electrified energy that exploded and swam just under the surface of her skin. For a moment, the two could not break the gaze that held them. The gaze so strong that it seemed to be a psychic rope binding the two souls together. Babylon bent to close his mouth against Eden's cold, petrified lips, locking in their slight pout. It was like kissing a stone statue, and his lips slipped awkwardly, sliding on the unmoving hardness of her mouth. In a few moments time it would make sense. After a time Eden's mouth softened, tenderly her lips twitched and shifted, moving to match his, complying and mirroring his movements. Under him, Babylon felt her mouth slowly part, and he bit down on her lower lip. He heard her gasp, and raised his head. Another gasp, deeper this time. Color flushed her face and Eden sighed in ecstasy of the first breath of life to enter her lungs in ten long years. With glazed eyes she turned her head and addressed the young man in black, staring down at her.

"My heart doesn't beat… but looking at you… I can almost remember the feeling of it. I've never seen… anything as beautiful as this." She swallowed air like a drowning victim. "Never felt…love like yours…encompassing me this way. This wind is blowing…to fill my lungs…the waves are crashing…to open my ears. The moon and stars are shining down their light…for us…" Her chest rose and fell sporadically, heavily. Like a newborn, learning again how to breath.

"Extraordinary, Babylon. I can't take my eyes off you." Babylon realized he'd forgotten the sound of her voice. The dulcet tones, the soft, whispering purity of it lost until now. But he recognized it had changed in death. There was a somber touch in it. And a quality, as if she were speaking through a dense cloud; through another dimension. Eden held Babylon's hand in hers, and raised it to her chest, pressing his hand between her breasts.

"Put a beating heart here, in me. I can't help but hunger for you when you look at me that way…" She moved his hands to her hips, felt their warmth, that hidden strength.

"Can you walk?" Babylon asked. Eden tilted her head, swayed her legs back and forth rigidly.

"…Maybe. Only one way to know for sure though."

Along the shore walked a couple, whose lives were an eternity. One supported the other, as she stumbled and almost fell, trying to walk the earth again after many years nestled inside it. Slowly, slowly, they edged to the shoreline. She sifted her feet in the sand. Walked out to the water and let it flow across her legs. In the sand they sat and watched the moon, reflected in the water below. The glittering stars beyond. Babylon traced her spine with one hand.

"The sky is infinite tonight. You could look into it and get lost forever." Eden raised her head to meet his eyes.

"I couldn't. Not tonight. And I can't wait any longer."

All at once they were encompassed and entwined like ivy to a lattice. His fingers tangled in her hair, her arms around his neck and waist and digging farther; wandering. Exploring the vast landscapes of the separate planets that were their separate bodies. Eden's mouth could not escape his; they inched closer to asphyxiation with every mad second. Never had either been so alive, aware. Somewhere, something echoed. It was the crashing waves, the song on the radio, the creaking of the universe contracting to fit only them, only the beach.

Every inch of her body was a particle, every particle sifting through his body, made of those same pieces. Every possible game they could play was exhausted. Still, they were separate bodies, two planets on the brink of collision, of merging. Babylon knew it, his face was clouded by the implications of this act. Eden knew it, and she could feel a phantom ache in the empty hollow where her heart should be. The heart she would have to take.

"Do you love me enough to die tonight?" This time, the question was hers to ask.

There was a surge like lightning, like waves crashing on jagged rocks, like biting a lip to taste the blood. Her body felt so impossibly good inside; he'd answered her using only his. Even now, he could sense the transferal, they very act of dominating her body was spilling his life into her. At the moment, these thoughts were pushed aside to favor thoughtlessness. A fantasy to mask the truth; that death could not exist with life. Could not follow close behind, could not observe from a distance. Two bodies became one sanctuary, where a multitude of unspoken promises and regrets were born, died, and replaced with new ones. It was here, in shallow breaths and constantly shifting movements, that they locked themselves in an inward paradise. There were the only two inhabiting this paradise, each having their fill from forbidden trees.

The sun inched its way up from the sea, and Babylon still clung tightly to the last few strands of his mortal existence, treasuring them now so much more because soon, very soon, they would no longer be his. The time was coming to sacrifice it all. Beneath him Eden writhed methodically, sending up her sighs and cries, trying to push him over the edge. She was guiding him to the noiseless, sightless oblivion. She was taking his life. And it would feel so good to let go. It would feel orgasmic, literally. In one thoughtless moment of primal ecstasy, Babylon's fate would bind him to the earth.

"Don't fight it. Give in. Just, let it." Eden saw the haze in his eyes, as he finally gave in to fate. The two collapsed into the bed of sand, unmoving, unspeaking. The tide bubbled at their feet. From under his weakening body, Eden's heart beat in steady rhythm.

Babylon hung lazily over the wheel as they drove back over the hills. For the third time in a row, he coughed convulsively. Eden rubbed sand off her dress and frowned.

"I hate seeing you so sick. Was I like this?" Wiping a trickle of blood from his lower lip, he shook his head.

"I remember you being more graceful in this-cough cough…this part. Why does it feel like I'm breathing smoke?"

Eden saw the cold sweat break on his face. Even now, death had begun to hunt him down. His pale face with those deep set, dark eyes, now rimmed in red. If she were to touch his tired arms, she knew they would feel cold, clammy. His head would tingle inside like a million moths in flight. Her young heart ached in compassion, as she knew firsthand what lay ahead. Head bowed, she touched the flowers. Those Hyacinths and Calla lilies had a longer life span than did the man who'd given them to her. As sorrowful as it was, they both understood. There could not be two moons in the night sky. Just the true moon, and it's constant reflection, following it in the sea beneath.

At their familiar home they embraced for the last time, again. Under her touch, Babylon was a marble statue. Every painful breath a gasp. Eyes not willing to close, in fear that too soon they would not open again. Blood was chilling in his veins. He lay in the coffin, waiting. Eden at his side.

"I forget what it's like to die."

"No wonder you resist. It's so overrated, love. Just let it take you."

"You make it sound so easy." Again Babylon erupted into a fit of coughing, blood staining his pale lips red. Eden moved to look into his eyes; his rigid body could move no more.

"There's no easier thing in this world. It's far harder to live."

And it was harder. It was harder by far to kiss the cold, firm lips of the only man she'd ever loved. Harder to taste the blood they left behind. Harder to shut the lid on his coffin. Harder bind him to the earth. Harder finally, after so long, to live.

The End