Word Count: 484
Prompt: this pic: here and "glare"
A/N: Written for musemuggers, Challenge #538, Option # 2 and brigits_flame
I’m reading a book about dying. It reminds me of you, although I didn’t choose it for that reason. I thought it was going to be a mystery, or maybe a thriller. The cover was blue and the title was cryptic, and it seemed like one of those stories that people read when they are in the mood to figure out something. Instead of a wizened detective, the first page was full of pathogens and microbes, and I knew I’d wandered far afield from fiction, but I kept reading anyway. The words are dry as wood, stacking higher and higher, where you wait. I don’t want to see you peeking down, but I can’t stop each unwanted letter from soaking into my consciousness until I climb to meet you.
We say nothing for awhile. I watch you pick at your nails, an old habit that I find suddenly endearing. It’s a bit of a relief to know that I haven’t forgotten everything. “Is it as bad as they say?” I finally ask.
“What, the end?” you ask. “Nah. Well, yeah. I guess.”
I don’t have to tell you that I don’t understand.
You sigh. “I can’t describe it. You’ll just have to see.”
I am embarrassed that the tears start so soon. I was never one of those beautiful criers; my face swells red and snot flows. In the absence of a tissue, I wipe the mucous on the back on my hand but it just leaves a trail of slime on the skin. We both ignore it. “I don’t want to wait and see.”
“I miss you,” I say, but even that, in all its yearning, seems inadequate.
“I know,” you say, and I know you do.
I sniffle and try to stop crying, but the fear keeps rising. That book has put thoughts in my mind that I have tried to smother, and now I can’t. “I have to know that it didn’t hurt. They said you didn’t feel it, but it looked like you did. It looked like you were awake. Were you scared?”
The wind blows a strand of hair across your face, obscuring your eyes. “You know I can’t say. Ask me something else. But we only have a minute now.”
I blurt out the first question that comes to mind. “What’s your favorite memory?”
You smile, and it lights up your face. “That day with you on the lake.”
“In the boat?” I ask.
You nod, still smiling. “I’ll never forget it.”
As I reach for your hand, the light behind you intensifies in to a glare. My eyes water and I close them against the blinding brightness.
“I love you,” you say. “I love you.”
I wake up alone in darkness, your name on my lips. “I love you, too,” I say, and I imagine that wherever you are, you hear me and know it will always be true.