Nicholas heard her call again. Standing here, at night, with only the moon and stars on his side, he had to resist the urge to answer right away.
“Nick,” she sighed. “It’s time to go. I’ve been waiting.”
His hands came together slowly. He ran a finger over an old scar on his palm.
Different memories of them growing up together flitted through the grass before him, a ghostly puppet show just for him. Little Nick, meeting her for the first time, pulling her ponytail because he didn’t know what else to do. Teenage Nick asking her out, fumbling over the words so they came out in a jumble. Young adult Nick, getting down on a knee, hands trembling so badly they could have started earthquakes and leveled cities.
And immediately after, a huge ball of fire that tore through the rest with an otherworldly hunger. Scarlet and bronze paintbrushes dancing across the tapestry of their lives, covering, transforming, erasing.
“Nick. Come on. I’ve been waiting forever.”
She was getting restless, her voice in his ear still as soft as a whisper, though more insistent than before. It seemed to him that she grew less patient with each year that passed. It was his fault, he knew. Not hers.
This time, more than any other time, he almost didn’t leave. But this time, as with every other time, he eventually did.
He sighed, bent down and picked up a length of aluminum. Stuck one end in the ground and leaned on it with a long exhale.
The wind died down and her voice in his ears died with it. He looked sadly at the gravestone before him, iron gray and beginning to crumble after forty years standing sentinel in this place.
“Goodbye,” he said, his voice the only real sound given life in recent hours. It was the same this time as it had always been.
He walked away, intending to come back again tomorrow. Same as he always had.
Same as he always would.
Okay, honestly, I promise the next story won’t be so mournful.
Between this and the other three stories I’ve written recently, I feel like things have gotten very dark. Next time: smiley faces and cotton candy, puppies and winning the big game. I swear.
Anyway, as the weekend comes to a close, I find myself looking forward to Monday again. Excited for more time to work on my WIP!
And, as always, thank you so much for reading! I really hope you enjoyed the story!