The shadows faded as the sun waxed up over the hills. The valley slowly filled with golden light. Mari and Tomas stumbled down the rocky path.
They caught each other as they tripped on loose stones and their ankles were snagged by those plants which had strived to escape the cleft in the landscape. No doubt they regretted it; their leaves were pale and mottled, branches dry and snapped as Tomas kicked past them.
Tomas and Mari cast long black shapes into the declining darkness. It reached up eagerly to envelop them, and they ran into it with hope in their joined hands. The heart of the valley was twisted under itself and the river that ran through it was clothed in night throughout the day. It was not far. But the sun rises quickly. Its heat chased them down the bank.
Mari slipped once too many and fell, her grip tugging him off balance, sliding and scraping down the sharp slope. The valley grew steeper as it raced towards the black river. They fell with it, rolling and tumbling, bouncing awkwardly. With every roll the sun grew closer.
Desperately Tomas sought to control his descent, twisting and digging his heels in. His feet hit a rock and jerked him upright, but with too much velocity to slow he flipped over the edge of the cliff and was launched face down into the water. Darkness and cold embraced him and he gasped in relief, punching up for the surface.
Mari wasn’t there. No tell tale stream of bubbles and splashed wake. The cliff above him was out of reach, dust and pebbles streamed over the edge. As did the light. Tomas had no choice. He turned and swam into the safety of the darkness, the water hiding his tears.