Shiloh didn’t press further, almost ashamed as he stood beside her, and they surrendered to silence for a while. Then again, it wasn’t proper silence, was it? There was the anticipated murmuring of the waves like an audience between scenes, waiting with piqued curiosity for what comes next. There were the heavy, clumsy clouds like curtains, drawn halfway over the spotlight moon. The actors perched on their lighthouse stage, their breathing drawn and catching as they improvised, as they scrambled for the words that weren’t there, words that had not been written quite yet.
And then, the girl found them:
“What’s it like?”
He glanced over at her, almost surprised at the sudden sound. “Hm?”
“What is it like to die?” she asked slowly.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “You just stop breathing, you can’t think. You start getting cold and everything moves in slow motion. It's like you're drowning, and everyone can see you. They can see you and they're breathing while you're suffocating.”
“I want to die, sometimes,” she said.
This took him short, and his throat tightened. “Why?”
“Do you always need a reason?”
“I don’t know.”
She turned the little silver ring round and round on her finger, her large eyes cradling the moon between them. “Shiloh?”
“What would you do if I climbed up on that railing and jumped?”
Almost instinctively, he reached over and grasped her wrist—it was a rougher gesture than he intended, but he felt it was necessary. “Emmy,” he said.
“What would you do? Would you go after me?”
“I wouldn’t want you to.”
“Well I would. Now you better stop talking about shit like that. You’re not jumping off anything.”
She didn’t respond, nor did she try to reclaim her hand to the pocket of her jumper. She just let him clutch her wrist, since he seemed to have forgotten he was still holding it in the first place. Of course, it was a useless thing on his part: it would take far more than a tight hold on a wrist to keep alive a girl who would rather be dead. But it seemed enough for now.
—The Moon in the Door