It Was A Good And Quiet Life
by Keren Ziv

They're two different kinds of people: she breathes the island like it's her soul, and he feels that it's eating him alive. Locke would tell them both that it doesn't work that way, but neither one has gone to him for advice on their sex life yet.

It's the forest surrounding her that tells her his secret. She didn't understand it at first, but come a week's passage, she knew true enough that no Frenchwoman and no set of skeletons could complete with what he was hiding.

Turns out that he didn't even know it himself.

"Death comes unexpectedly," he says when she tells him, and it reminds her of a movie she saw when she was a child.

She thinks that perhaps he's trying to smile now, but she can't be certain. What she's just confronted him with still hangs in the air surrounding them, and it enters their nostrils and becomes the breath they use to live, even for him.

The island gave them all a second life.

"How do you figure?" he asks."How do you figure I'm dead?"

There was a woman, she wants to tell him, who was made of trees, but instead she points to his shoulder. That is a wound healed in white lines and tightly pulled tissue. The dead do not scar. He's not dead, but he was. She whispers then, so softly that she thinks that he might not hear her, but the look on her face tells her that he does. The island has his father.

"Is this purgatory?" He reaches out toward her face, and she steadies herself for his touch. Instead, he caresses a tree limb, runs his thumb over the smooth bark. "Are we all dead?"

By the streaks of sunlight on his face, she sees that her silence answers for him what he had been fearing. He is the only one. She wants to offer comfort, but she is thinking of Locke sitting in the caves, without walk, and knows where his thoughts also lie.

The island has this habit of taking away its gifts. The castaways discovered this not when their guide fell but when their stream failed. That had been their first night: she had taken him aside and poured her anger and confusion into his flesh, and he had let her.

The island has done wrong, and she must put it to rights.

"I think," he tells her, "that maybe the island is turning you crazy. Sayid is right. A lunacy races through the trees."

Only she thinks that she might have said (or thought, or only believed) the last two sentences. She's not mad, but the madness holds her in its arms like a companion, like a husband, and whispers to her its secrets. It grows to be her most intimate of lovers, and she finds herself married to it.

Come with me, Kate murmurs in his ear, and she pulls him up the path and deeper into the heart of her island.


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