The Pretty One cries when the Orange One does not return.

(They have names and she knows/knew/will know their names but they are so hard to remember when one has so many other important things to store in one's memory systems and Girl Pond is so very orange and Boy Pond is so very pretty, very pretty, yes he is.)

The Pretty One cries and she does not see the Orange One again except in diluted memories and the simultaneous swirling of time and space that circles around her, in her, through her. The time and the memories are golden and as orange as she is/was/will be and they are warmwarmwarm and she feels that thing that doesn't have a word, that thing that is human and bright and warm and orange.

But the Pretty One does not feel the warm and orange thing because he cries and is heavy and dark and the Orange One is gone, gone, so gone and she is never coming back (even though Orange One is here, was here, will be here but the Pretty One doesn't see things the way she does). He cries silently but she can hear his sadness through her walls, through the many rooms she has created for him since he returned without the Orange One (there is a room with sunflowers and a room with fish fingers and custard and a room with Roman Things and a room with a cot and a mobile that sings of stars and a room full of beds and ladders and a room with all of his memories of her). He does not like her rooms and she does not know why.

She thinks he might be broken.

She just wants to help.

Her Thief keeps quiet, running his hands over her more than he needs to, his hands humming his sorrow with his fingers instead of his mouth or his eyes like the Pretty One does. She hums back, but he cannot hear her.

She liked the Orange One. She will miss her orangeness and her funny clothes and the way she made the Pretty One and her Thief feel warm, orange things and smile with their mouths and their eyes. She likes it when her Thief is that warm, orange thing that she does not have a word for, only a color and a temperature and a feeling.

He does not feel these things now.

She knows her Thief and she knows his twistiness and how twisty he gets when a friend goes away, but this time is worse. This time he feels the Orange One and the SmartDumb One and the SmartSmart One and the Flower and all of the others all at once, all sitting in his head and .

They are all gone. He loved them so.

When her Thief thinks of the Orange One, he thinks of himself and of those others and of all of the other others, the ones like him, the ones not like him, the ones that were the same as he is only different. He runs his hands over her consoles and he thinks of all of the ones that left like the Orange One did, because of him. All of the ones he made gone.

He thinks of all of the ones he will make gone. He thinks of the River and of the Library and of timeandspaceyouwatchusrun and he thinks of how the Pretty One will feel when he finds out about that and his darkness and twistiness melts onto his face and she wants to take him somewhere that will bring him light but she does not know where or when or if that is even possible because maybe his darkness consumed him entirely and maybe there's no light left in him, her Thief.

One day (today, yesterday, tomorrow), the Pretty One confronts her Thief and there is red and there is "YOUR FAULT" and there is loudness (but not the kind of loudness that the Pretty One and the Orange one make on the beds with the ladders or the kind that her Doctor and the River make with the handcuffs when they think no one is listening) and there is fire and hotness and redness and she would feel things in her chest if she had one but she doesn't so she feels things in her mainframe and wants them to fix things and to stop the red and the hot and the loud.

Time and space are swirling, around and around and around.

The Pretty One doesn't cry anymore.

Her Thief does.

When she lands at the Pond Place, the Pretty One opens her doors with force and does not look back while her Thief stands there, making his face, wanting to say something, anything, anything more than nothing. She feels his thoughts racing, pounding, stampeding and beggingbeggingbegging for the forgiveness he will never allow himself.

The Pretty One cries once they are gone and he is at the Pond Place without Girl Pond. The Pretty One will never be the same. (She sees, she saw, she knows.)

Her Thief travels on, carrying the darkness in his pocket, and he will not change.

This is how it has always been for him, dark and twisty and alone.

This is how it will always be.

She sees, she saw, she knows.