A Trace of Hope

It was no effort to chase after the man -- my feet barely touched the ground as I ran. We left the graveyard and the surrounding forest and entered a small alley. The rain had let up, falling down now in a gentle drizzle that kissed my skin. We were in a residential area that seemed lightly populated. It was the dead of night and a dense covering of clouds all but obliterated the moon and stars above. I needed neither to see -- I found I could see perfectly in this darkness.

The man stumbled once as he endeavored to get away from me, then made the mistake of looking over his shoulder as he turned a corner. This caused him to stumble again, this time falling down on his knees in a shallow puddle of rainwater.

I skipped gracefully to his side and felt a bubble of laughter escape my lips.

"We meet again," I said before falling on him. I embraced him like a lover, cradling his head in my hands and tilting it so I could stare into his eyes. His scent was swirling all around me, a tangy-salty mixture that pulled at the back of my throat.

He gulped, the movement making me pay attention to the raised column of his throat. "Please," he said in a reedy voice. "Please..."

I traced a finger down his face, marveling at how soft and warm he felt. "Please what?" I said in a gentle voice.

Emboldened by my question, he continued, "I have a wife and babe at home. Please don't kill me." His voice broke in a sob on the last word.

"Ah, so you're a family man," I said, smiling. His eyes widened at the sight and I could see myself reflected in his large pupils, my smile shining like a lamplight in the darkness.

"Y-Y-Yes," he stammered. "Please, miss. Don't you have any family of your own?"

Before I could reply, a flood of images rushed into my mind. They came too fast and furious for me to completely process them, but one thing remained constant in each of them -- each picture showed someone reaching out towards me, smiling at me. And each person looked like me --  they all had the same alabaster skin and glittering eyes. The same otherworldly beauty.

The last image lingered in my mind's eye, somehow clearer, more distinct than the others. I was in a large room with many tables and chairs and a long counter in the center of it. A blond man with shaggy, unkempt hair sat at the counter reading a paper. I could just make out a date on the top of the paper, December 3, 1948.

I felt myself tugged towards him as though he held a magnet in his core that was inexorably pulling me. It felt like an eternity before I was finally able to reach him. I touched him on the shoulder, making him turn towards me. My breath caught in my throat as I saw him clearly for the first time. He was the most beautiful being I'd ever seen, his eyes almost the same golden shade as his hair. A warm smile lit up his face, and I knew he was smiling just for me.

"Would you believe me if I told you I've been waiting all of my life for you?" he asked in a lazy drawl.

Before I could respond, the edges of the image shimmered wildly and I came back to myself. I was back in the dark alley with a man caught in my arms. The clouds had parted and the moon was now shining down on us, illuminating the man's face. It was creased with the passage of years and his eyes held a trace of hope.

"Please, Miss. Don't kill me," he repeated, his voice firmer now. His hands tugged at the lapels of my shirt. "Think of your family. How would they feel if they lost you?"

For a split second, I could see him again, the same leonine man with the strange golden eyes. Somehow I knew he was out there, waiting for me even now. I had to find him.

But first there was something I needed to know.

I stood up, pulling the man up easily with me. He whimpered quietly, his hands dropping uselessly to his sides.

"I'll let you go on two conditions," I said.

He nodded jerkily, the same hope brimming over in his eyes. "Anything. Just name it. Please."

"One: You never saw me. And two: Tell me the date."


I shook him in my impatience. "What's the date, today's date!"

"May 17, 1922."

I was gone before he had finished speaking, leaving him standing alone in an alley at the dead of night, wondering if I'd ever been there at all.

The End

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