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If

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“Don’t,”

                Smiling. But it was ironic. She was fair, but now completely colourless. Reminded him of his Irish cousin. Ghastly. But that black frame that was her hair, lashes and eyebrow provided a brilliant contrast against that pale skin. When he found himself liking what his eyes perceived, he had to take out his rage upon the unmoving chamber-seal. Of course it had hurt, but the throbbing in his hands could barely compare with that of his heart.

                “They will come,” she said again, but her breath was making wheezing sound, and that sound gave him streaks of serious chills. The air within the chamber was cold, freezing even. He could see his own breath-vapour, but with the help of the little light coming from the emergency light, hers were fading. So when the faint smell of rusty iron wafted by, a series of fear flashed at the back of his mind, sending his stomach upside-down. He wasn’t prepared for this. He did not anticipate this. It wasn’t in his plan!

                “And you will be alright,” he said. But she smiled; that sorry smile, hopeless and bleak. The vault was growing eerily quiet now; the wheezing sound had faded. She has no breath vapour, her fingers so pale, it appeared blue. When she closed her eyes, something clicked, and panic burst.

                “You cannot go!” he shouted, lunged for her, but was stopped when she motioned, with her passing might, a signal. He froze in his steps, the inertia setting forth the onset of a tremble. He wanted to hold her, but there still exist one barrier between them - her barrier. The trembling grew as per his desire to hold her so violently that it affected his breathing, messed with his nerves, so much that he spouted that line she forever deemed as nonsense. “But I love you, Anne!”

                “If love alone is enough to keep one alive, no life will flutter and hearts would not shatter,” she pointed out, a smirk caressing her paling lips. Their eyes met, but he doubted, with all his heart, that she was seeing him. Emotionless, deep, empty and broken – those jewel haunted him every second henceforth. “If love could alter fate…”

                “The world would be a better place,”

                “But also, crazy,” she pointed out, eyes now only half-open. By then his manly ego had shattered, and the last barrier that stopped him from broadcasting his heart dissipated with a torrent of tears that fell from his eyes freely and honestly. No more stopping. No more pretending. No more acting.

                “The brave may be revered. But rarely do they live long.”

                “And I am a coward.”

                “Sometimes being a coward…is a better choice,” he thought, was she trying to pacify him? He had meant it. If only he wasn’t a coward, this would not happen. If only –

                “To live, you need cowardice,” – quieter now. But she still insisted. Such depth was the reason he was first attracted to her. His own deep, dark core, which was attracted to that light buried within her seemingly dark exterior, at the very last moments, explained his unlikely attraction, and also, perhaps, her rejection. Her strange way of thinking; her reverse logic, her unusual perspective – her uniqueness, her acceptance, her way of manoeuvring life – her value, her melancholy, her darkness…her everything.

                “Is this your answer?”

                “It is fate’s answer for us,” she added with a smile; still rather brilliantly beautiful, despite the truth of her fleeting, final moments. He wanted to curse everyone, everything, every goddamn thing; fate, himself, her past, his past, the future, their destiny, the bastard who inflicted her wound that introduced her to Death, what could have been his, hers, theirs, his cowardice, her bravery.

                “We are but humble…creatures,” she said with increasing difficulty. Her colour continued to drain, with the growth of that crimson puddle surrounding her, sapping away her breath and what little will she had left. The forgotten panic grew, setting him on a rollercoaster of emotion.

                “Don’t speak, Anna. Let me help you.”

                “How?” she smirked again. This woman – this damned hypocritical woman who turned against herself; her rights for a happy ending – and his helping hand! Must she still be so severe with herself, even at such critical moment?

                “Let me help you!”

                ‘How?’ she still asked - now only in mere whispers. That wave on her chest – weakened. He finally admits to it. Dying. It was real. The trembling stopped, his body now completely enveloped with cold and emptiness as he his eyes helplessly perceived her. He jolted forward, but was stopped again by his conscience. He tried again, and failed again.

                ‘We are but mortals…’

                “I am a coward…” he sobbed, faltering and he saw her smile. That was the last smile. It was the last smile, before her fleeting breath was claimed by Death, and thus closed her final chapter. Falling to his knee, his heart stopped for a moment, his world greyed. When the chamber burst open, it no longer mattered.

                It has ended for them.

 

                A woman knocked, and he woke up from his dark dreams. Edna.

                “I found this, among her possessions,”

                A coin pouch. Probably homemade, with green silk on one side, blue the other.

                “…Edna?”

                “Your name was in her will. She wanted you to have it.”

                He opened it. Found a piece of paper, written rather hurriedly with perhaps a fountain pen. Not exquisitely beautiful, but it was a dearly familiar penmanship to him; so much so that tears began flooding his eyes yet again, for the hundredth-time since her journey ended.

 ‘A coward does not deserve a brave…for his heart will suffer. O’ how I wish I was not gifted with this bravery, and then perhaps…perhaps…’

…perhaps we could have been together.







Author's note:
No short pieces for over a year - since I graduated and joined the work force. My inspirations are in a jumble as of late...but meeting several writers for the past few weeks relit the fire. Hopefully the embers will remain, and eventually return to its fiery form. This piece might not make sense now, but it is a practice piece for a broader storyline, but thank you for reading. It means world to me.

 

Previous short story:
Luminance
Next short story:
Anna and Lan
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Iasa

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