"It's always been this way," whispered Rof as he led me up the mountain path, a granite streaked with brown and green that tangled and untangled up the ascent, worn smooth by the rivulet's of water that trickled like tears in the cracks. My feet remembered the path of their own accord, though my mind only remembered shadows of something far rougher, far younger.
Rof's cane struck stone as he walked, and I turned to face him, asking, "And how long has that been?"
"Since the beginning, of course, Reve. Every fifty years we make our way back here, when age's shadow appears from around the corner. Then we raise each other, twenty years for growing and passing down memories, and ten for love, and twenty more for care." He smiled through his eyes, two green irises deeper than any other I had ever seen, besides my own. The hints of wrinkles had begun to form at their corners.
I frowned, slowing my pace, and watching the streaks in the granite pass.
"Well how do you suppose we found this place the first time?"
"I don't know, but does it matter? We were dying, and love finds a way. Best be glad we made damn sure we wouldn't forget."
He gestured at his foot, where a tattoo of symbols clustered underneath the ankle. Numeric symbols that no one on earth had known for eras, except for the two of them. Even time found it to change coordinates, but the numbers were now two miles from their original intent.
I looked at him, into his eyes again, seeing my own green ones reflected in his. And though I couldn't bare to hurt him, I had to ask the question that threatened to stick in my throat.
"Did we love each other in the beginning? Or did we because we had to, because we're the only ones like us?"
Rof paused, and for an instant his facial expression flickered, before he replaced it with confidence.
"Do you not feel it here?" He placed a hand over my heart, just above my breasts, "Can you not tell? Why else would we be permitted this existence. If it's real, love finds a way. At the cost of our memories, love found a way, a way to keep us together."
I heard the strain in his voice. The hope. The wishing, the yearning, that he was right. But not the knowing.
The steaks twisted closer together as we neared the top of the mountain, as trees fell away to bush, then bush to grass, and grass to bare stone. And at the top, in the very center, there was a small pool.
The stars reflected in its surface, and though it was clear, the depths fell far beyond sight. Two ladles rested on the edge, one with my own name engraved in it's bowl, and another with his. Though they were made of wood, neither had rotted away, but were instead as fresh as the day they had been carved.
We both stared silently at the pool, at the water that shaped and reshaped our existence. Rof kissed me then, his lips pressed hard against my own, his tears falling to mingle in the water.
"Until we meet again," he said, our lips still touching, "Until I've grown, and we can be together once more."
Rof bent, and filled his ladle with the water.
"Until then," I whispered, and he drank.
It wasn't until he shrank to a boy that I started crying. His face formed confusion, and as his body size dwindled, my tears ran thicker.
When the transformation completed I turned away from the crying infant and looked over the mountain, down far below to a small local village. Soon two locals would be making their way up the mountain, one paid by me two hours before to take the first person they saw at the top east, and the other paid to take the first person they saw west.
As I stared, the streaks in the granite blurred, and I couldn't tell if they fell together or apart at the mountain base.
"If it is real," I muttered, raising my own ladle to my lips, "then love finds a way."
I drank, and the crying of one infant's voice became two.