A colossus of feeling went through him when he subtracted the years. Almost forty-five of them, pouched with to-do’s not done, mean regrets, and the seismic memories of Elani. Her skin. Her smile. Her voice, always shy even in anger. The simple, homemade skirts she preferred. Eyes downcast, even with him. It broke his heart to see that shyness, that disservice she did to herself. Goddamn, she was brave, and she would laugh if you said so.
“I’m not brave, David. I just survive. If you think I’m brave, it’s only because I’m not foolish enough to give up.” And that wry smile, old and so casual. She would look up, look him straight in the eye when she said it. Yeah, right. She was brave. She saved him.
She was the first one to see him naked. She did not turn away. That first time, with his arms bleeding and throat mauled, she did not turn. Tears smeared his eyes and the world was washed with salt. But he saw her, and she looked back, and for a long time; she just looked. And then she came to him. Just like that.
Of course she was brave.