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She took full advantage of her badge and its ability to get her into places exempt from the public. Up here, she was completely alone, for the first time that day.

The muscles in her face strained under the weight of the friendly smile. It was more difficult to drop than expected.

She congratulated herself on a job well done fending off the persistent inquiries towards her well-being, her resolve enclosing her like a bullet proof vest. Throughout the past year, she had fortified it, weaving the strings of Kevlar ever tighter.

He found her first. The clock behind her struck seven times to the rhythm of his footsteps. Her breath hitched only for the quickest of moments. His presence filled her with warmth, breaking the memory’s icy clutches.

They stood in silence, facing the darkness. She exhaled slowly, allowing her shoulders to slump. In front of him, she did not have to keep up appearances. They shared a near-death experience at the hands of the monster in her nightmares.

Today, they cremated that monster. It had a face now, making it all the less frightening. And yet she knew it would live on inside her, and everyone around her.

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