she found herself alone a lot; solitude grew on her as she passed through childhood like leaves on a tree in the springtime; grew thicker and fuller until by the time she turned twenty she only felt comfortable under the umbrella of it. she would venture out, but when out she was not herself, she wore her mask and lowered her voice; shook her hair around her face and quickened her pace. back in her little world she could relax, could pretend it was all she needed, that she had all she needed in herself. it was a mirrorless void where she played her melancholy music loud enough to drown out any possible argument, any seeming still small voice that might alert her to the gnawing she had detected deep down in her soul. she hung in the balance, she was breathless half the time. she could not know then how he would find her there, invade her careful circle with his brightness and love so pure it would break her heart in two; could never have known the way he would pick her up as she wept for the first time in many years, how he would put the pieces back together as he stroked her hair, kissed her brow..had she been given time to prepare he would have found only footprints in the snow fleeing out the open back door, but she would be eternally grateful for that holy suprise.