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when you were dead

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You make your choices, and you stick with them.

Charlotte had said goodbye, decided to stay, told him that she belonged here.

They all had reasons. This was hers.

For forty-five minutes, she thinks he's dead. The light fills the sky and something shifts, and then the people on the beach gather to make sense of what's just happened. There's word of an explosion. The freighter. Dead. All of them.

Daniel, she thinks, the hairs on the back of her neck standing up, urging her toward the water.

Forty-five minutes is a long time when you've never told him how you feel.

When the Zodiac finds land, it's a mile up the beach and Charlotte sits at the edge of the treeline, her knees pulled to her chest, the heavy feeling of emptiness beginning to settle in her stomach.

It will be twelve and a half minutes before she hears his footsteps behind her, before she looks toward she sunlight, shields her eyes and sees his face.

Twelve and a half minutes.