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my time."

"Stop saying that. I refuse to accept a universe that would choose to take you away from me now that we have found each other."

She raised her head again, her eyes straining upward for him. "How improbable was it that we should meet, and fall in love, and spend even this short time together, Galen? There is a design. And we are as much a part of it as my love for you."

He was part of no design. There was only randomness and chaos and despair.

Her voice rose in intensity. "No one here can undo what has been done. Don't leave me to die alone."

Why did he fight her, when he knew she spoke the truth? "I won't," Galen said. "I won't." He knelt, cradling her head in his arm, hoping that she would be reassured and lie back.

"I'm cold. Hold my hand."

He pulled her limp hands apart, inserted his between, closed her slender fingers in his.

Her neck remained tense, holding her head up ever so slightly. She raised her eyebrows. "Listen to me, Galen, my dearest love. You have made me happy, and proud, and I regret nothing. My only regret would be... if the fire that I see in your eyes now were to burn your soul to ash in the future. Your soul is too beautiful for that." She ran out of breath, gasped. "You must learn, one day, to forgive God for His decisions." Again, her words ran out of air. She closed her eyes, and her words were soft, breathy. "I'm sure it will greatly relieve Him."

Her breaths were shallow, rapid. Within her, the spike reached C3, where the last phrenic nerves branched from the spinal cord to the diaphragm. He willed her eyes to open, and they did. All her energy was focused in that fierce gaze, on her struggle to stay with him.

"If there is a purpose, if there is a design, if there is a way, after I am gone, I will call to
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