I feel her shiver as she curls against my collarbone, tears stilled, cheeks still damp but flushed and hot. Her hair smells like almonds, wrapped in the length of burgundy fabric she uses as a head scarf. It itches against my skin but I say nothing, letting her fill the silence with fragile confusion.
“Isabelle,” She murmurs after an eternity, sending shivers down my spine, “Isabelle, why do they hate us so much? What have we done?”
I feel I should offer comfort, some words of solace, but none come. I have no answer. I place my kisses on her forehead, her eyelids, her lips, and slowly she ceases to shake, falling still and quiet in my arms. I bite my lower lip to stop it trembling.
When I had met her she was carefree. She had been so beautiful, holding a snowbell to her mouth, her brilliant green eyes hidden behind those enormous beetle-blue sunglasses, smiling and singing in the sun. Instantaneous love. I fell for her so suddenly and completely it felt like drowning.
It occurs to me that if I had left her alone, she would still be like that. She wouldn’t be curled in my arms bruised and weeping. She would have a home and a family and someone to promise her that the world could be hers. I felt I had taken that from her in a fit of selfishness. My Sara. My beautiful Sara.
Her breathing slows and she becomes heavy with sleep, and I lay there beneath her, stroking her hair, still searching for answers. None come. Slowly I drift off into troubled dreams, empty comforts on my lips and a broken heart in my hands.