Carissa recalled the last few days she’d spend with Elon—when they’d reunited in the town, the night they’d spent in that dripping cabin. If she had known that those were the last days she’d spend in his company, perhaps she wouldn’t have chased him away in the first place.
Grief wound around Carissa’s chest, regrets cutting deep into her heart, but she had no tears left to shed. At least that was a small mercy. Her eyes nearly ached from crying and the tears made the cut on her cheek burn.
The world was silent, except for the wet squishing of her boots into the mud beside the creek bed. Her throat had gone dry; it felt as if it were threatening to crack like dirt after a drought.
She went to her knees, wetting the trousers, and dipped her hands into the water. Water Elon had used to heal her only the other day. She clenched her fists beneath the cold current and closed her eyes.
“I’m so sorry, Elon. If I could just—”
Warmth rushed up her arms, and she gasped, her eyes flying open. The ring was glowing beneath the water. Movement flickered in the corner of her vision, and she glanced at her forearm. The wound was stitching itself shut. As if someone were healing it.
She lifted her arm from the water, staring at the freshly formed skin. It was perfect, flawless.
She spun around, her gaze combing the forest. “Elon? Can you hear me?”
A warm pulse. Emanating from her finger.
She glanced down at her wedding ring. “Hello?”
Another warm pulse.
“Elon?” She cradled her hand close to her chest, fixing her gaze on the ring. “Are you… in there?”
A third warm pulse.
So he was in there. Somehow. But wasn’t he supposed to be in Second Life? Perhaps the ring was a communication device, a bridge between the two worlds. Perhaps it was a bridge she could cross.
“Elon, can I use this to be with you? Can I be where you are?”
The metal remained cool.
Perhaps he hadn’t heard her. “Elon?”
Nothing. Stupid ring. Perhaps she needed to be closer to this Second Life place for it to work. She held up her hand toward the sky, wandering beside the creek. “Hello? Can you hear me now?”
“Yes, I can.”
Not Elon’s voice. Carissa spun around, her hand going to the dagger at her waist.
A man walked toward her. “What’s a lass like you doing all the way out in the woods?”