The scent of the silence of solitude.

Alone.

The slave girls have long gone—not by choice, however.

None of them ever could. None of them.

Rising from the sleep that was awake, the eyes graze the corner. The corner, the furs.

His.

Ours.

Patroclus, I am but a shadow now.

The heart pulses like midnight.

Slowly, the feet lift. They graze across the pebbles, and the dirt. Grazing, heaving, dragging. Shadows.

Taciturn, bodiless shadows.

Alone in the mass of many.

The hands grapple with the darkness, and the folds of the tent slowly part. Night scalds the eyes. A few dead steps, with the toes wrestling the sand and gravel as they rise, clench, and fall. The sea is louder now, groaning and tumbling like winter.

I stop when the grains become wet beneath my soles. Wind tumbles toward my body, never continuing past it, or around it.

It escapes through it. It escapes through me.

I am no more than a shadow.

A phantom.

Deeper and deeper the shade wades. Soon, its feet are not there. Then its calves, and its thighs after it—its chest has gone, too. Its head is no longer its own. The ghost is hollow, breathless—bereft.

It kicks downward, and slowly begins to rise. First its head, my head, then its chest, my chest, then its thighs, my thighs, then its calves, my calves, then its feet, my feet—all returning, yet still absent. Returning quietly while I rise.

Yet—the higher I drift, the deeper I drown.

Patroclus.

I am nothing but a shadow now.

Much later, I begin to pick my way back, back to the tent. The tide has receded, I notice.

The Trojan sand is wet with final parting tears.