to planet fall. And I guess I'm a bit depressed, being unable to get my message out to John."
She dug the small box out of her pocket.
"But I feel blessed to have found such a love. And I know you were blessed too."
She handed it to him.
"This is to remembering, healing, and living. I hope you won't be mad."
"Why would I be mad about getting a present?"
With his smile securely fastened, he ripped away the plain paper wrapping and opened the box. He took out the love stone she had removed from his quarters yesterday. One end of the stone was now pierced by a silver loop that was attached to a silver chain. His expression remained fixed as he held it up, as if he didn't recognize it. Anna was afraid to speak, felt the growing, inexorable realization that she had unintentionally inflicted a horrible wound.
"I didn't even notice this was missing," he finally said, a musical tone to his voice.
"I just took it late yesterday," she said.
"I used to look at it every night, every day, every hour, sometimes several times in an hour. I used to go to sleep with it in my hand, and I used to wake up with it in my hand."
"I didn't notice it was gone. How long did you have it? Twenty-four hours?"
Anna nodded. It was actually longer.
"I didn't notice. I didn't look."
His face spas med. In the harsh light it seemed almost something alive ripping through his features. Another spasm wrenched his face, and another. She'd never seen anyone in this much pain. It was horrible to watch, more horrible because she had caused it.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
She had ripped open the wound of the past, destroyed the callus that had begun to form. She took his hand-the one not clenched around the stone. It shook with the violence of a seizure.