“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.