He lay in bed watching her as she slept, admiring the gentle curve of her lips and the arch of her brows. Her chest slowly rose and fell, rhythmic and gentle, occasionally with a quick snore. He spent many nights this way, unable to sleep and unable to take his eyes away from her. He felt like he was living on borrowed time and these quiet moments at night were all that he had to keep himself going. He remembered the many nights he had done the same thing, though with happier thoughts on his mind, and grew restless laying there alone in the dark.

Finally giving up on sleep, he slipped out of the bed and threw on a light robe. The air outside was cool and still, only broken up by the occasional barking dog or distant truck. He sat down on the ground and absentmindedly ran his fingers through the loose soil, thinking over what had happened and how he had gotten here. The rolling hillside stretched out before him, brightly lit as the moon slowly rose in the night sky. He sat, quietly, searching for an answer to a question he did not know.

As the night wore on, the stars began to fade as the first quiet rays of sunshine snuck over the horizon. He took it all in, observing and experiencing all there was to see. He thought about how few quiet moments such as these he had experienced in his life, moments of true stillness where time ceases to be and life can be observed in it's full potential. Eventually though, his mind started to chatter again, allowing the fear and loneliness to seep back into his being. For a moment he fell, allowing the feeling and emotion to take over his being, listening to the little voice in his head whispering so seductively. "Give up" it said, "There is no hope". He smiled at the voice, allowing it to fade into nothing, knowing full well the path that he must not choose to take.

Behind him, walking barefoot in the soil, she appeared as a beautiful vision. In silence she sat next to him, offering him a cup of steaming coffee. They sat quietly for some time, both admiring the world awakening before them. He stole a glance in her direction, hoping she would not notice but knowing that of course she would. He sat there, thinking about where they were and where they had been. He did not have the words to express it, so many things he was feeling were beyond words and almost beyond his ability to understand.

She had blossomed, it was impossible not to notice, but he had failed to recognize the beauty in it. Fear had gripped him, blinded him to the reality which he faced. Instead of embracing it, allowing it to be and noticing the beauty of the process, he had hidden, feeling alone and afraid of the changes she had undergone. He saw now, all to clearly, how wrong he had been. He saw now that her growth was a powerful force, a beautiful flame that ultimately made her all the more desirable. He knew that had he could have been there with her, experiencing it with her, that he too could have known that beauty, that passion. The potential to grow together had been so great, yet he had once again allowed his fear to dominate his life.

After some time, she rose and headed back into the house, slipping away without a word. He had so many words to tell her, but he knew they were useless at this point. He longed to relive his mistakes, to make everything better and avoid the life he had so carelessly allowed himself to create. The future was uncertain, and he did not know if it was within his power to do anything about it. Again the feeling of despair and hopelessness washed over him, desperately trying to drag him down once again.

Eventually he rose and surveyed his surroundings. He had many happy years here, yet he felt the pull of the road leading away from this place. He glanced at the distant highway and felt a yearning, a desire to be free and run away from everything and everyone in his life. He knew this road well, he had taken it many times before in his life and he knew where it lead. With a long sigh, he turned and headed back to the house. He knew that his path was difficult, perhaps impossible, yet he knew he must try. He was tired and could run no more, but he refused to retreat. He would move forward, regardless of the outcome, and hope that it was not too late. Regardless, he knew that moving forward was his only option, for the other way no longer had anything to offer him.

He reached the house and opened the door, pausing briefly before opening the door and walking inside.

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