The stars had already disappeared.
Far off in the distance, the eastern sky was brightening and the trees, concealed by the black of night, were finally regaining their color.
He was out of time.
On the ground a boy was fighting against a strange-looking monster. The creature stood on one side, shaped like a long, giant serpent, although its body was composed entirely of blades. And the boy stood on the other side, his whole body drenched with his blood.
But the snake-like creature was the only one on the verge of death.
The boy carelessly stepped forward and the monster, barely able to move and dying, pierced one of its blades through his chest. That was its final act of resistance.
To the side of the creature’s still corpse, the boy heaved a ragged breath as an excruciating pain raged through his body. Fighting that monster couldn’t really be called a fight. He had only done it in her place, to make himself feel better.
But this was no time for rest.
Once he put on the coat he had hidden under the ground, he grabbed his shovel. The familiar grip filled him with courage, like an old partner offering reassurance.
Leaving red footprints on the ground, he hurried towards the grave. His feet felt heavy, as if they were being dragged down to the earth. He cursed his sluggishness.
Struggling against the pain, he finally managed to reach the side of the grave. He came to a stop and thrust the shovel into the ground. But after only a few scoops, he threw down the shovel, dropped to his knees, and like a mole, used his hands to remove the earth.
Underneath the dirt, his fingers eventually coiled around some strands of reddish-brown hair. In the grave he saw his beloved, sleeping so silently as if she were dead, with streaks of tears on her cheeks.
It was only natural. After all, what he had done to her was terribly cruel. Yet now he was going to do something even worse.
Selfishly, the boy prayed, “I hope she’ll forgive me.”