My fingers closed around it, and I began to tug it out of the pocket. I didn't want to pry at Jared's personal items, but he had entrusted it to me. It felt warm, being in the pocket by the fire for a while, and smooth.

As if he could sense what I was doing, Jared sucked in a gasping ragged breath and strained to lift himself from his pillows. His shoulders rose a few inches before he admitted defeat and slumped back, still too weak. But he was alive, and he had captured my attention. I thought for a moment, deciding which need was greater; my own to discover what this object was - it would only take a minute - and Jared's obvious ill health which needed tending to immediately. With a sigh I let the object slip through my fingers to rest at the bottom of the pocket again. There would be time later.

Jared searched my hands with frantic eyes before closing them, as if in relief, upon seeing they were empty. My eyebrows drew together in confusion; if he had not wanted me to see the thing, then why had he given it to me? My puzzlement was replaced by surprise as I saw a crystalline tear seep from the corner of his closed eye and trace a shining clear trail down his bloodless cheek.

Whatever this object was, it held some sentimental value in his heart. In a moment of determined resolve, I plunged my hand back into the pocket and drew it out. I looked at it in my tight grasp, and felt a definite sense of anti-climax; after all that wondering, it was simply a cylindrical short tube. I had thought it was plastic, but it looked more like metal; in the dim room, it was hard to tell. I set the object down on the small table by the sofa and drew the curtains open to let the grey light of morning flood the room. The snow that covered the world outside in a sparkling blanket, that laced the dead trees like cobwebs, was too bright to look at without hurting my eyes. There was no sign of our halting struggle to the door last night; the snow had gently erased our tracks, leaving the fields smooth.


I whirled around at the sound of his voice. His eyes were open again, fixed on my face with an intense gaze. He had freed his hand from the swaddling blankets I had wrapped him in to wipe away his moment of sorrow, and he held the strange tube in his fist.

I went over to him at once, kneeling by the sofa so that my eyes were on a level with his. I knew the time had come to find out just who Jared was.   

The End

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