They were children of the valley. They did not talk of the past or the future but only of the present. When they moved they moved slowly and with purpose. They lived in the sun and slept under the moon and stars. In spring their bed was one of celandine, and they swathed themselves in comfrey and borage for warmth and to bring sleep. It was her custom to spend the night lying against his body; his to sleep with his hand on the soft curve of her hip.
One night he awoke and gazed into the red black sky, at the moon and stars, at the valley sides, the escarpment beyond it. He was restless and left her side to climb the valley slopes, to scale the rising ground. He returned before she woke.
He began to rise each night to explore what lay between him and the moon and stars. The time away grew longer. Until one night she woke alone and called his name. The sun was in the sky when he returned. He held her, reassured her.
But nestling in his hand was a cultivated rose—its petals rouge and fleshy—which he had taken from the escarpment. He breathed its perfume. On each petal was a droplet of the night’s water. And in each droplet the moon and the stars.
She took the rose from him. A single thorn pierced her hand. She dropped it to the ground. Dark liquid flowed from her skin. She brought her hand to her lips relishing its earthy taste. Placed her mouth on his, so that he would taste it too. He turned his head away. She looked into his eyes and saw a distant light burning within him—as distant as the moon and the stars.