He placed the heavy rucksack onto the ground, it crunched on the dry autumn leaves and a chilled air brushed over him. He shivered, rubbed his hands together causing what little heat he could muster. His pale skin was almost translucent from the cold, he breathed onto his fingers, his breathe plumed out in a pale blue cloud.
He glanced up at the girl in front of him; her long brown hair obscured her face. She worked quietly; unzipping her bag to reveal a collapsible stool, she yanked and tugged at the objecting forcing it loudly from her bag.
She looked up, her hair fell away from her face; her green eyes were drawn, cold and serious. He gave her an awkward smile, hoping to lighten the mood, but she did not smile. He coughed and unzipped his bag. His fingers shook at the effort, but not from the cold. He looked back at her, she stared down with intensity that seemed to burn away the freezing air and he looked away unable to look.
He pushed away the open bag, and rested on his knees. He breathed deeply and ran a hand through his light brown hair, pushing back his fringe, which instantly fell back onto his face. He shook his head and muttered incoherent words while picking at his fingernails. The girl cocked her head, her eyes melted to reveal some emotion.
He looked at her and closed his eyes, a withered smile passed on his face.
"Do you really want this?"
The girl looked down and picked at her fingers, her hair obscured her eyes; leaving her face shadowed.
"I can't…I can't do it anymore."
He crawled over to her, ignoring the pricks from dry twigs, he leaned back onto his knees and placed his hands on her shoulders. She didn't look up; her fingers entwined together, he could see the whiteness of her skin, almost translucent like his but, he could tell she was squeezing her fingers together; to hold back her tears.
"You don't have to do this," his voice was soft and warm, a comfort; a dream.
She looked up, her eyes glistening in the light. Her cheeks were bright red from the cold, and she looked utterly defeated, he did not recall seeing her eyes so sad, they green light dulled to a grey blur.
"You don't have to do this."
"I do!" Her voice was hysterical.
Her shoulders racked gently and he head the quite sob escape her as her tears fell from her eyes, spilling down her face and onto her hands; each drop splashed outwards glinting in the pale sunlight.
"I…don't…I can't," she gasped between sobs.
He didn't know what to do. He looked away from her, into the trees looking between their skeletal forms, hoping to see something that would ultimately make the situation better. He knew it was hopeless, the overwhelming sense of dread had built up to its pinnacle and he knew there was no going back.
"I just don't want to string you up to die," he sighed finally.
She looked up at him and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, smearing the tears across her face. Their green eyes locked gazes and the world vanished leaving their forms to stare eternally at each other. Slowly she raised her hand and cupped his cheek, her skin was ice cold on his face but he sighed and shut his eyes. He placed his own freezing hand over hers and breathed deeply once more.
"Please, for me," Her voice danced through his mind, his ears rang slightly. He nodded, unable to wipe the sorrow from his face.
He crawled over to his bag and tugged out a coil of thick rope; he hefted it onto his shoulder and stood awkwardly to his feet. The girl pulled herself up and straightened out her rain jacket.
"Is there no other way?"
She smiled sadly and shook her head, her hair flowed with each movement; a waterfall of beauty.
"I…I can't harm myself, you know I hate pain. If you did it to me, I'd move; I know it. This is the only way…" her voice trailed into silence, as though she wanted to say more.
"But this will hurt, you won't die instantly!"
She smiled and shrugged, "I know."
He placed his hands on his mouth, before pulling down on his face and looking back at her, "If I was to cut your throat, or stab you're heart…it'd kill you in a flash."
She smiled and hugged him, but did not feel warm. It felt to him like she had already died and he was hugging her corpse.
"I don't want to put you through that, you hate pain too."
She kissed his cheek, and led him by the hand towards the tree she had chosen. Their feet crunched and stamped on the leaves, their sounds echoing through the empty forest. He looked to the grey sky, a solid blanket of white; no sun, no birds, no life.
She unfolded the stool under a high branch and he jumped up, quickly throwing the rope over the branch and knotting it securely. He tugged on the end; the branch bounced with his movement, but did not snap, he jumped down and stared at her.
"Is…is it long enough?"
She smiled, "I'm not sure."
He held his hands over his mouth, he felt utterly sick.
"Don't worry, you don't have to watch."
Her voice was so clam, serene, like she had found peace with herself.
He closed his eyes, fighting back the tears, but slowly they forced their way out. He clenched his hands before turning to her; she looked at him with shock as he ran to her. He wrapped his arms tightly around her body, squeezing his warmth; feeding it to her.
"I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you," he repeated over and over, his voice frantic and strained, he gasped through his tears, refusing to stop; if she was going die, she would die knowing he loved her. She pulled him off her, and wiped his face. His vision cleared allowing him to see her face for one last time; alive.
"Go, go on home."
His heart hurt. The pain was a stab in the left of his chest, pushing through the organ and out, leaving a huge jagged wound. He nodded; tears still fell from his eyes. Turning away took all of his strength but he walked back to his rucksack, kneeling down he zipped it up and slung it onto his shoulder. He looked over at her bag; the grey material identical to his and unzipped the front pocket. He slipped his hand inside and wrapped his fingers around a small cold object.
He opened his palm, showing the small silver heart memory stick. It shimmered in the sunlight, the rays bouncing off its body and twinkling through his tears. He pulled off the end, checking it over before placing the cap back on and placed it into his pocket.
He looked back at her; she stepped onto the stool, placing the noose over her head. The wind died, the birds stopped chirping, bugs stopped scratching and he held his breath. She glanced over at him and smiled; lifting her hand in a final act of goodbye.
Then she stepped forward…
He turned away instantly, squeezing his eyes shut tight. A crack echoed loudly, vibrating through his skull; a sickening crack, that would never leave his mind. Slowly sound returned, he sank to his knees, shaking his head, tears flowing fresh once more. He closed his eyes against the agonising pain. The hole tore itself wider and wider, leaving his heart as a ragged wound.
He screamed. The sound ripped from his mouth, forcing itself out of his throat and mouth, into the cold, unfeeling air. He opened his eyes, and screamed again, gasping in air. He was hysterical but couldn't control himself. His vision was blurred but he could see her body hanging lifelessly; clear as day.
He blamed himself, the feeling of guilt threatened to drown him, pull him under. He knew it was hopeless; he couldn't have saved her but he should have tried until the end.
He didn't stop screaming until his throat gave out, he felt sick, and hurt; burning with incurable pain. He stood shakily up, and wiped his eyes, his tears finally stopped, he dare not look back at her body, and slowly he trudged out of the clearing, hoping to find comfort at home. And while he walked away, her body swung in the freezing breeze, and unknown to him, she died with a smile.