First time I have been in the snow in years, it is exactly like I remember it. It is bleak and featureless as it rolls over the world. The snow is falling, melting into my coat and slowly seeping into me. I am cold, really cold.
I didn't wear enough, I didn't plan enough. It is so much colder than the last time I was here, but I can't say that I mind. I have always liked the cold, much more than the heat. I have always preferred being cold to being warm, to being cool.
I will always prefer being cold to staying still.
I like the view behind me, one set of footprints, slowly fading. She will never find me here, she may look here but she will not find me. She never liked the cold like I did, despite what she told me. She never liked the cold like I did despite her efforts.
But she looks for me in cold places, so the sight of my fading footprints gives me hope.
It isn't that she isn't like me that is why I have run from her, it is that she is too like me. I would like to believe I am not a narcissist, and so a person who is so like me holds no appeal. The thing is that it holds appeal for her.
We look alike and we think alike, the only differences are places like theses where I am right at home and she is not comfortable. She knows me so well, we have been together for three years, she knows that I will go to a place she doesn't want to.
But I have to get away from her, I have to escape.
I am not a narcissist and I do not relish the idea of being chained to one. She is a narcissist and I know it, she told me once that the reason she was so attracted to me was that I looked like she did, it was the first time that my appearance endeared me to a woman and I think that is why it took me so long to run away.
I have never been masculine, never looked it nor acted it, and I have never been appreciated for this, I have never been accepted for it until I met her. So the fact that it is only one set of footprints that is fading is something I enjoy.
I like being by myself, as did she, but she took it out on me.
She thought it was a shame that they don't clone humans.
But I don't want to dwell on her, I just can't help it sometimes. I can't help but think about her when I am escaping her. She is inside my head and I don't want her there and that is the real reason that I have run from her.
She is too much for me.
I face forward again, the wind behind me whipping my hair around my face. The wind moves me forward and I don't fight it, walking across the snow like only someone as light as I am can. I am slim and I am gaunt. I was never gaunt before I met her.
I brush my hair behind my ears but it frees itself easily.
My last boyfriend loved to play with my hair and the girl before her wanted me to cut it. But she loves my long dark hair the same way she loves her own, she loves my dark eyes the same way she loves her own and she loves my lean frame the same way she loves her own.
I don't know why it took me so long to run away but now I am doing it properly.
I am walking into the snow with no intention of returning, and she has done this to me, she has taken away my desire to return. I feel myself shaking beneath my heavy coat and I don't mind, I have yet to hear my teeth chatter.
I walk into the snow without direction and so it is interesting that I find something.
I see a figure in the distance, just out of sight, I cannot make them out through the snow. I keep walking, not hurrying now that I have found someone but not dawdling either. They don't resolve through the snow as I approach, the snow merely gets thicker around them.
"What in the world is another person doing out here?" a stranger's voice asks me, a woman.
I am so grateful that it isn't a voice like mine that I tell her. "I am escaping."
She stands and she is a little bit taller than I, she resolves into focus and I want to be shocked, but somehow I am not. She is wearing jeans and a white shirt, nothing heavier, and boots to keep her feet dry. And she is melting the snow around her.
"What are you doing out here?" I ask her.
"I'd say that I'm escaping like you are," she tells me, leaning forward a little so that our faces are level. I brush my hair behind my ears again but again it doesn't stay still.
"But…" I prompt, wondering why it didn't occur to me to bring a hair tie.
"But it wouldn't be the truth," she tells me, pulling a tie from her pocket. "Here."
I tie my hair into its usual pony tail. I usually have a pony tail, or used to, before I met her, she never liked my pony tail, she wanted to see my hair even if she never touched it. It feels good to have my pony tail back.
I ignore the fact that she hasn't actually answered me. "Why are you not wearing thick clothes?" I ask her.
"Why are you?" she replies with a smile, leaning back so that she is taller than me again.
"Because otherwise I would be cold," I tell her, she gives me a look. "I understand what you are implying, but I don't see how it could be the case."
She smiles. "Good answer," she tells me. "Neither do I, so I cannot explain it, I only know that I have a much lower body temperature than most people. This means that I have to be in an amazingly cold place to stay cool, like this place."
I accept her explanation because there is no reason for her to lie to me.
"What are you escaping from?" she asks me.
"Narcissus," I tell her. "I am getting away from someone who wants me because I am like them."
"Then won't they follow you?" she asks, sitting down on a rock, which I assume is where she was sitting before as there is no snow on it, despite the volume that is falling from the sky above us.
"I am like they are but we are not the same," I tell her. "She will think to look for me here but she cannot stand the cold where I enjoy it."
"How long are you escaping for?" she asks me, obviously noticing the absence of supplies.
"It is my turn to ask a question, I think," I tell her. "I answered your last one."
"Go ahead," she says.
"How long have you been out here?" I ask her, after realising that I don't really have any questions for her.
"Nine hundred and thirty one hours," she tells me. "My turn: how long are you escaping for?
"Forever," I tell her. "Or that seems to be my plan."
She doesn't say anything to that.
I want to keep walking all of a sudden, like I don't need to stay here any longer.
The cold has reached my fingers and my toes and my face and my shoulders and my spine. I can't stop shuddering with the cold and I don't want to. I still cannot hear my teeth chattering and so I don't mind the cold.
It is noise that gets to me.
I have always hated noise, I have always hated the busy world and I have never been fond of music. I don't like to talk because it makes noise and I don't like to be talked to because I have to listen to noise.
I don't mind talking to this woman in the snow.
"What is it that is different about you?" she asks me. "What is it that only you can offer others?"
I can't help but smile at that, all that I can offer others is a willingness to brave the noisy world for them. All I can offer others is a willingness to stay for them, a willingness to be alive with them, to live while they live, in case they have need of me.
"I don't want to offer others anything anymore," I tell her. "I don't want to be alive for others anymore, and I have never much wanted to be alive for myself."
She looks at me, like that was the last answer she was expecting, like she had been expecting me to say that there was nothing I could offer the world, nothing that made me unique. But I am not the sort to lie, a lie is a waste of words.
There is nothing I detest more than a waste of words, but here I am talking to a stranger. Here I am talking to a person I don't need to talk to. I know what my reason for it is and I don't much like it, I don't like that I am still willing to brave the noise for someone.
"I used to have a boyfriend," she tells me. "He was cold like I am hot, he had massive body temperature and so he gave off too much of it. We were together because of that, I was too hot and he was too cold, and so we were balanced.
"You asked me what it is that I am escaping from and I didn't tell you," she admits. "But I am escaping from here, staying in a place had cannot go. He is escaping from me, living in a place I cannot go, he is out in the desert.
"We are escaping from each other because living for each other became too much," she continues. "I regret it, I want to go back, but I don't know if he does too, I don't know if he is on his way back to our house and I don't know if it would be right of me to meet him if he was."
"Are we coming to the life lesion soon?" I ask her.
She smiles at the ground, a sad smile. "All I want to say is that living for yourself is not a good thing," she says with a sad voice. "If you have never wanted to live for yourself then that is a good thing and it is your prerogative if you don't want to live for others anymore. But do they want you to keep living for them?"
"I'd like to think so," I tell her. "But no one has ever been able to find a shred of Narcissus within me, and no one has even been able to convince me of my self-worth. And only a meagre few have tried."
"So you will just leave them?" she asks me, looking at me.
"They all know what she has done to me," I tell her. "She made me feel like I was important until I realised what her reason was. She made me feel like I should live for her until I realised that that is what she lived for.
"My friends all know where I am and not a single one thought they could stop me," I finish.
I can't feel my toes anymore.
"Do you think being dead will be better?" she asks me.
"No," I tell her flatly. "I think it will be different."
She is out of things to say and we both know it.
"I will tell you something though," I say. "You are the first stranger I have ever wanted to talk to."
I know that doesn't help her, but still it is what I leave her with, walking off into the thickly falling snow, no longer able to walk over it. The snow is too thick and to new for me to walk on, all I can do is wade through it.
I love the cold the same way she loved me, as a part of herself. I love the snow because it is cold, and I love the wind because it is cold. I love the way the world moves around me but does not deign to disturb my thoughts with noise.
I love how quiet things are when they are cold.