"Did you love me?" He asks, breaking the silence that was not silence. The seagulls crying and the constant noise of waves hitting the rocks below remain unending.
"More than life, " she answers with a smile. He cannot tell if she was surprised or not at his voice. How long had they been sitting there, themselves silent, dangling their feet over the edge of the cliff, gazing out onto the never-ending waters, listening to the wind, the gulls, and the waves.
"Hm" he responds ambiguously. More than life. He wonders why he did not ask her until now. He should have asked when they were alive. Would it have made a difference? He furrows his brow at his own confusion, and turns his attention away from the fine lines of her face, back towards the water.
She doesn't seem, to him, to be at all disturbed by their current circumstances. She does not seem to question where they are. He waits, for a time, for her to ask something of him, but she does not. She seems strangely happy. No, he thinks, not happy - content.
Looking around again, he takes in his surroundings. The old rock, lichen, low plants. The rocks tower above the sea, but are worn down with wind, rain, time. One of the low plants is red, he gets the feeling it's Fall here, wherever they are. A slight chill on the wind, though the sun is warm, the earthiness of everything, the feeling like things are coming to an end.
"Why am I in your afterlife?" He asks, still looking around, remembering how she loved the sea, the rocks, the fall.
"You aren't. I'm not dead." She answers, and he turns back to look. She's remained unchanged, looking not at him, but out across the sea. The wind plays with her hair. He finds himself wishing she would look at him. He finds himself wishing that her hair would stay still somehow, that time should stop. Maybe it had already, he suddenly thought. How long had they been sitting here? Is there time in the afterlife?
"I don't understand," he says. It comes out desperate, scared. The ocean is suddenly overwhelmingly large. His own voice startles him. He wants her to smile again.
"What makes you think this isn't your afterlife?" she asks him calmly, she glances around as if everything is as it should be, and then finally shifts her eyes to rest on his. He calms some, when he speaks again, his voice is steady.
"Well," he starts lamely sliding his eyes back to the ocean, "I guess I thought it would be like a city. A city full of interesting people to meet."
"You don't like it then?" She asks and he looks back at her. He's used to gauging her moods, but now she speaks without emphasis, without indicating if she wants him to like it or not. He can only be honest.
"It's just not what I expected, I guess," he says, "It's not that it's bad. I mean, you're here, and I've always enjoyed your company," he smiles at her, in the way he always did, to let her know that she meant something to him. "It's just, well, I don't know where I am and it's a little unsettling."
"That's easy," she replies, and he can see the spark in her eye, the mischievous smile she always used to get when she knew something he didn't. "You are in Fall: the end of something. You are by the ocean: the edge of what is known; but, you are also in the Fall: the beginning of something. You are also at the edge of something unknown."
"That's cheesy, and frankly doesn't help" he replies with a roll of his eyes. Her smile brightens.
"You are also not alone," she says, and her smile softens. He thinks, perhaps, he should have asked her if she loved him back when he was living. Maybe things would have been different. He wonders, if she is not dead, what she is doing now. Part of him wonders how she can be living and also be here with him. Maybe this is not really her, the thought scares him.
"It wouldn't have made a difference." She replies, and covers his hand with hers, "You knew without asking, anyway. We were both well aware of that."
He stares at her, as if the lines of her face were unfamiliar, as if for the first time seeing her as something other than who he thought she was.
"How..." he begins, but stops. 'And the other questions?' he wonders.
The mischievous grin returns and his heart speeds up in response.
"Who says you're dead?"