He raised his hands in front of me, displaying a long line of rough twine with a thin, curved hook gleaming at one end.

“Pain,” he whispered, “is when your body has no more options.”

I realized how true that was as he began to sew.

A single flame guttered quietly in the night.

My body strained as I reached far over my head, stretching my fingers to catch hold of the fruit dangling above me. Branches scratched at my face as I stood on my toes, straining upward, and I nearly lost my balance as I steadied myself against the trunk with one hand. I felt my fingers close around something shapely and round, sun-warm and soft to the touch.

Rose petals lay scattered, strewn wildly across a dark pool of motor oil.

The sound of footsteps echoed down the hall outside as she leaned against the door, her ear pressed tightly against the wood paneling. A cool breeze swirled in from the door's gap along the floor, chilling her bare toes as she listened anxiously, almost frozen in place as she tried to tell what direction the footsteps were heading.

The footsteps stopped, and suddenly she heard a tiny sound, like the ringing of a small bell. She stepped away from the door and a smile blossomed across her face as she dashed for the bed, quickly throwing the covers over herself as she put her head down, pretending to be asleep so that when they arrived she could act surprised.

She peered at the bracelet on her wrist through slitted eyes, and tried her best not to giggle out loud when she saw that a small light on the side had begun to wink on and off.

Today was finally her turn.

A car turns slowly onto a gravel drive, tires crunching in the early spring morning.