you were

“you were the love of my life,” she whispers, softly touching his face. the hair there is still soft, if faded.

closing her eyes, she touches his ear, down his neck, all along the hard ridges of his spine.

“i loved you for so many years.” her voice is on the edge of shattering. “you were so magnificent. handsome. funny. my life was better with you. even when you shut me out, it was still better because of you.”

she sighs. pauses. strokes his head again.

“i know you never loved me like i did you. i know i shared more with you than you did with me. i know all of this. i know.”

his ribs rise and fall. each dip a little more shallow. each exhale a little more faint.

“you weren’t my only, nor are you my last. but you were the love of my life.”

he moves a little, an eye flickers open, shut.

her eyes well. “i told you so much, but never the truth. and i am sorry for that. but i’m here now and will be until the end.”

she pulls a tissue from the box and another falls to the floor. “we’re ready,” she calls out.

the doctor enters the room, her white coat garish, her smile fixed and bright. “if you’ve said your good-byes, we can begin. do you want his ashes returned to you?”

the woman looks at the table, her hand still resting on his side, and thinks. “no, i don’t think i do. he never did want to stay. it’s more fitting if he’s scattered free.”

“that’s fine. we’ll arrange that with the cemetery for you.”

his eyes open again, lock on the woman. she strokes his cheek. “it’s time, my friend.”

he gently bites her finger and purrs until his breath is no more.



no not

“no. not that one. the other one.”

“this one over here?”

“no. the one next to it. the one with red on it.”

“oh. this one?”

“isn’t she cute? look at her.”

“i guess. i mean, she’s yours.”

“what do you mean “you guess”? do you not like her?”

“she… she just looks like all of the other ones.”

“no. see that bit of red? she’s different. cuter.”

“when do you get to take her home?”

“couple of days.”

“are you sure you’re ready for this?”

“yeah. i still need to get a few things. a bed. carrier. toys. that sort of stuff. you really don’t like her?”

“i do. i do. i promise. it’s just hard get a good look from over here.”

“i’ll bring you back tomorrow and you get to know her more then. but we should go now. hospital visiting hours are over soon.”

she pauses

she pauses in the doorway, one foot tentatively outside, her palm resting on the weathered white frame. she looks at the ground beneath her two feet–one hovers above fallen leaves, the other on a scarred wooden floor.

she turns her head slightly, biting her lower lip, and looks over her shoulder. caught between two worlds, the late autumn sun lights her hair, the darkening room shadows her face.

a slight intake of breath, her fingers tighten on the frame.

she looks up. “i’ve always been in love with you. ever since…”

her hand releases, her feet move forward. leaves crunch. the door moves slightly in the breeze.

you reach up and touch the frame where her palm last rested. a faint trace of warmth lingers, you imagine it moving up your hand into your arm. tracing veins, chasing blood back to your heart.

you press your fingertips to your lips, closing your eyes. breathing. she can’t be far. you can stop her.


“honey? dinner’s ready. and shut that door before the cats get out.”