27 Seconds After the End of the World

A short bit from a piece of fiction I’ve been writing. The full work is called Cold and Alone at the End of the World. Enjoy!

Ten years ago.

We chased the falling sky, splashing through pools of moonlight that imbrued our flesh with its deathly pallor. We blinded the stars and made the dawn blush. Ancient monuments crumbled under our fingers and their false gods trembled before us. From dizzying heights we watched eternity unravel. At the edge of the night, where the darkness bled into the feeble light, we joined hands and raised our fragile voices into a chorus that echoed down the centuries.

I tasted the ashes upon your lips. Under a blanket of dreams, we laughed as they fell to their knees over mere ephemera. You held me close and we melted into one and abandoned our old forms to decay into the earth. They never knew our secret.

A black rain fell and washed away all that had come before. You walked out into the deluge, turned, and with terrible passion written in your eyes, invited me to join your apotheosis.

Ten years later.

He pulled the envelope from a box that had been collecting dust since God knows when. Traced across its front, in filigreed script, were nine words, “Do not open until the end of the world.” It aroused in him a sudden sense a familiarity. He knew the hand that wrote those words, though he knew too that this was impossible. It had been locked in an old chest that hadn’t been opened since well before he was born. And still, he saw something in those delicate lines. It was a face, but indefinite, like the vague impression of a wet footprint that has almost dried out under a high sun.

She whispered to him, “I will come back to you. I promise.”

The wind shook the leaves in the old oak tree that stood over the meandering stream. He held the envelope in his hands, gazing past it into an infinity he could not comprehend. Backlit by the westering sun, he saw that it was empty. No, it wasn’t empty. He knew it wasn’t empty. Something rested inside.

She bent low and kissed his chilled brow. A single tear dangled from an eyelash and plunged into the vacant space that stretched between them like countless lifetimes. She pressed her warm cheek to his. “Come back to me.”

He saw it move in the shadows, little more than a flash that dissolved instantly into memory. He walked over to the window, pressed his face against the glass, and searched for it, but it did not reappear. The envelope sat patiently upon the desk. He had to know. He pulled away the rose and looked upon the hidden mysteries within.

He took her hand, weaving his fingers into hers, as she rested her head upon his shoulder. As they stood upon the precipice, looking out over the endless span, a voice floated up to them, carried across the sea by the crashing waves, like a memory.

“I will find you, always.”

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