• “No…”
    “I have to.”
    He glared at the ground, the trees, my hair, which was reaching out angrily into the harsh winds. Anywhere but me. The moon glowed brightly in the surrounding darkness, if only I had a moon all to myself.
    “You only think you do. A rebel, you call yourself, yet you’re still slave to your own fears. You think you’re the one we need? Like some heroine who’s going to get there just on time to save the day? You can’t do anything. It’s too late. You’re no better than a common megalomaniac. You’re just leading yourself to death by your own devious thoughts. Why not save yourself?”
    With cold seeping into the very marrow of my bones and my toes curled over the edge of a dark cliff overlooking the “pure” waters, and my one and only, my soulmate, my “king” as he liked to call himself, yelling at me for disobeying, and I laughed. He hardly knows me. A friend wouldn’t even have tried that pointless argument on me. I turned to face him, stepping forward, forcing him to back away.
    “And you call me selfish!” I smiled, and his expression darkened. He unfolded his arms from around himself and dropped them to his sides in mock defeat, a flash of silver in his throwing hand that would have been invisible if not for the bright, full moon.
    That’s what saved me that night. The moon. How many times I thought that a boy would save me, and it was that beautiful planet instead, ha! I think I prefer that glowing stellar body in any situation.
    “You can be happy, you can live with me, I’d do anything for you…” All lies. He must have been with another girl again…or he doesn’t know me at all. Oh right. “…You’re giving up everything. Everything we had, everything your family gave you-”
    My calm laugh broke his crazed pleading, “I’m happy right now, Razon, I’ve never been happier.”
    Something snapped in his eyes, something died a resentful death and something else, something that was deeply repressed before, took control. His already quiver-tight jaw tightened- I feared it would snap- and the spark of reason in his eyes was smothered as if a lit match in a windstorm.
    “They were right about you. They all were,” I winced, remembering the teasings, “You aren’t the docile little girl you led me to believe you are. Devious shapeshifter, I’ll be doing the world a favor when I kill you. I’ve given you many chances, greedy witch, but yet you laugh in my face!” He roared the last bit and it seemed to echo in my ears. Maybe I had pushed him too far, but then again if he knew from the start, why did he bother to try and sabotage my escape?
    He lunged forward; I danced away from the turmoil in the waters below while dodging his clumsy jabs. He turned, holding the small knife awkwardly, as if it were likely to gain its own mind and bite him instead, glaring as if he actually believed his words.
    He wasn’t going to give up. If the only thing we had alike, stubborness was it. I glanced over the edge, the old nervousness of the churning waters below returned from a forgotten childhood; I wasn’t supposed to jump, I was supposed to run. My plan was being ripped to shreds by reason already. Even a terrible, crazed boyfriend wouldn’t push his slightly less crazed girlfriend off a cliff, right? Oh, sorry, Razon, EX-girlfriend.
    Distant shouting and the tell-tale buzzing of shock guns were sounding nearby, down below the cliff, in the darkest of the woods. There was a sound like a million pieces of paper being crumpled at once- leaves being trampled. I knew they would come for me, but I had no idea they’d send this many. At least twenty soldiers for a rebellious little girl, who hasn’t even turned fifteen? A simple theft is considered terrible these days, worth twenty half-trained ____<slang for soldiers>___? They most not of read the old stories like it was required to in Youngling Training; and I thought Skyly was joking when he said everyone cheated on that Trial.
    A roar sounded-deep in the forest but not far from where me and Razon were having a “heated chat”- and a few soldiers cried out. Wincing, I resisted the inborn urge to rush off and pounce on the forgotten beast. They’re after you, Ariah, they’d kill you just because they were told you’re bad.
    Razon was watching me, waiting, glaring. Sobbing? Can’t be.
    “So she really is dead…Arie wouldn’t just stand there and watch. Who are you?” He glared, “You aren’t Arie. You aren’t her.” He jabbed at me with each word, and I danced away, as careful as a giggling child hiding from her parents. So to speak, not at all. Maybe I deserve to be killed.
    But, I didn’t have much of a choice in that matter at this point, as he pulled out my father’s prized bark-brown pistol, and shot. The shout of the shot rang through the night, and time seemed to slow as I instinctively stepped to the side and back. The soles of my ratted boots met nothing, but my brain was too busy following the shot. He had aimed at me; did I dodge it in time? Did some kind spirit catch it in the air? Perhaps it was still heading towards me- I oddly wished to fall faster.
    I teemed over the forgotten ledge, holding my breath to keep from screaming. Had I missed it? Or had it at least missed my heart? Out of the darkness the sharp light of pain jabbed; the bullet pierced my shoulder, I could feel it slowly destroying everything in its path as it traveled. A red flower burst from my chest, a rose in bloom. I fell over the edge and watching it slowly growing away. He peered over the edge, on all fours, close enough to reach out and grab me. I closed my eyes to blank out the horrifying look on his face- a mix of triumph and regret. His hand flashed, and a small but heavy something hit me in the chest- my cold hands fumbled at it but I managed a hold. He had flung the gun at me! I clutched it to my chest, my arms wrapped tight around it. You may think it seems pointless, to hold on to something that can’t help you when you’re falling. It’s comforting, really, as if somehow, something can survive. It won’t be you, but at least you’ll save something else.
    The edge of the cliff, my cliff, my secret hiding spot from the world, was fading into the darkness. Razon had long disappeared from the edge, and I heard a call from above but it was barely audible through the static-like roaring in my ears.
    I turned, angling my arms and twisting my body until I was welcoming the fierce waters with open arms. So this is what it felt like to fly, I must tell Skyly sometime. I shut down the Reason part of my groggy brain which still barely comprehended what had happened- there likely wouldn’t be another time to brag with Skyly. Oh well, I remembered thinking while I fell, at least no one will find my body.