He had stood strong through it for what felt like an unbearable eternity. Through all the hugs and crowds of faces, all wearing the same mask of sorrow and acceptance, he’d held it together. The music had played its lament and the preacher wove the woe with hope for all the things she did, at the person she was, and still he stayed intact. Now, as he stood silent and alone at the stone that marked her resting place, where they had buried every ounce of light in his life, there was nothing left to hold together. All the empty framework, the hollowness that he had now become, it all gave into gravity and collapsed under its own darkness.
The sobs he once tried to hold back racked his shoulders and twisted his spine. On his knees, his head could not rise up again to see the darkening sky, the flowers in his hand the only thing keeping him from digging his fingers through his palm. The shaking and convulsing grew stronger and stronger along with his own whimpers until what little resolve was left finally broke and he screamed heavenward. The tears streamed down his face in all manner of direction, but all he could feel was his throat going raw from the wail. Finally, he fell completely to his hands and forehead. “I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I’m so, so sorry…” he repeated over and over to the ground.
But he did not weep alone.
Once the day had fallen into twilight and part of his fractured senses returned, his reddened eyes locked onto the marker and its inscription. Part of him wished to wash the writing away under his sleeve, another part desired to focus on it, as if to look beyond the words and forever burn the last of her smiles into his memories forever. “I wish, I wish I were stronger…smarter…whatever it takes, I don’t care! Please, don’t leave us…leave me…not yet! Just let me see you one more time Just one more day!”
“Is that what you truly wish for?”
It startled him right onto his tailbone, this sudden voice from the shadows. Coming from everywhere, yet nowhere, it made his tears freeze and aching heart careen to a halt. “Wha…what the hell?! Who are you? What do you want?!”
He was greeted by something between adorable and terrifying. No bigger than a puppy, it leapt up onto the headstone and perched to look down at him with wide, unblinking amber eyes. Cerulean fur shimmered in the dying light and an ivory-tipped tail swished behind it playfully, yet the strangest feature was the halo around it, never rattling and always stationary near the tip.
When it spoke, its mouth did not move from that unbreakable smile, nor did its attention deviate from him, “Is that what you truly wish for? One more day with her? Could you really be satisfied with that?”
Such was a stupid question that he responded without thinking “Of course I could. I’d give anything for that!”
Its ears perked up at the deceleration, “Then why don’t you do just that? The power for that lies within you.”
He looked at the creature as if it had just slapped him with its tail. Did it just casually suggest to ignore the facts of mortality…and give him one more with day with her smile, with her touch, with her kiss?
“How, what do I do?”
“Simple.” It stated, cocking its head to one side in a adorably terrifying way, “All you have to do make a contract with me. Then your one wish will be granted.”
“One wish?” he repeated, trying to wrap his mind around the idea. “Any wish?”
“Any one wish you desire,” it nodded. “When to contract is made, the wish is granted.”
He wanted to say no, to wake up from this dream…no, this nightmare that came to him and dangled the sweetest carrot in front of him. It was too good to be true, it had to be. But, did he not say the same thing the first time she had ever crossed his path on the streets full of strangers? Did he not utter these same words the first time they lay exhausted under warm blankets together, only to feel her laugh under his arm and taster her lips once more, hearing her say how wonderful a man he was for showing her such happiness. Did their fathers not voice the very same feelings to their collected families as they stood together, her in regal white gown that elevated her beauty to a level above perfection?
How could he say no to that?
A little something that started as a late entry for a Free Write Friday challenge from Kellie Elmore. I say started, because this one is going to get some more attention in the coming days, though I have no idea where it’s going yet…
Still, I hope you enjoy!