Three years of this, hurling herself at the bricks and battlements, desperate to find somewhere to lean. To shore up a narrative against the cold and laughing darkness.
Face to face with it, how can she not ask? When the abyss presents itself for questioning, when the monster looks at you with all the love in the world, and says, "The one question you have always been denied, I know the answer. It is short, and it is long. I can save you from the inevitability of your life."
"No! I never meant to kill him. No, the tree house was far from the water. I wasn't sure how much he saw, so I just wanted to talk to him, see what he knew. That's all."
She shakes her head. They're answers but they're not the answers: "You went to his apartment at one in the morning... To talk to him? Quit lying to me."
He's trying, so hard, not to. But the pieces are jagged, and packed away too hastily.
"No, if I wanted to kill him I could have. A dozen times. But he didn't remember me. I mean, that's when I knew that I was... free."
"Until you kidnapped him," she says, and part of him relaxes. He's still got her on the hook. "Why did you take him to this place?"
"You said he was starting to remember, you were helping him remember. You left me no choice, Sarah."
She flinches when he says her name; revolted by the implication: That she has killed this boy, or worse. That her flailing, floundering, that even with Ray Seward smiling on her from the parts of the island she's only yet to know, that even with all of this she couldn't do the one thing that would save her. For three years she has burned with it, burnt off pieces of herself, of her heart, just to see this boy grow up into something other than what she thinks of as herself.
"You know? I should have. I'd be long gone by now. But I couldn't do it, I don't kill children."
"Twelve-year-old girls! How?"
"I don't need excuses," he shrugs. The actual answer, and neither of them hear it when it comes out of his mouth. "What about you? What's your excuse, why are you here? Are you here for Adrian, or is it because you need to understand how you could have made love to me just a few hours ago?"
He asks like they're mutually exclusive; he asks as if it's not the same question, in different words.
"It meant something, Sarah. Admit it."
If she loved him, she spits, it's because she didn't know him.