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Old Love

This was a story I revised for a contest. I wrote it circa 2000. Nothing has been changed since I revised it for the contest.


His breathing was clipped and slightly ragged as he recovered from the exhaustion of passion. Sweat trickled down the side of his face. The soft sheets beneath him drank it with thirst. His eyes gazed at the wrinkled body lying next to him. Her wrinkles matched nearly all of his own. His lips curled into a boyish smile, though his outer-layer betrayed his true age. He felt her pale hands against his chest, her fingers running over the gray silken hair curled together lay there. Her hands were a stark contrast against his skin; his dark wrinkles made her pale hands seem to glow in the darkness. He felt her warmth, her spirit, her love as they moved closer together underneath the single sheet.

His thumb brushed the white hair back from her eyes, stroking her cheek gently. He felt the sweat on her too, a pure sweat from passion, lust, and love. Her storm cloud colored eyes gazed up at him. Her spirit flared brightly inside them. His heart leapt in his chest when he saw it, when her aura combined with his own. All of their years together had brought them closer as lovers and friends. The fire in her eyes reminded him of the first time he had seen her. The very thought twitched the corners of his mouth into a tight smile.

Moonlight pulled itself over the windowsill, poking its head into the room, and watched the two. Her back was to it, but his face was revealed in the light. He pulled her close, his arms wrapping around her, her own clinging to him. Their legs intertwined with the passion of the experience. Their love had been shared in the most intimate of ways, shared in the way they chosen never to share with another. They were together, for all time, and no one could take that from them.

She trembled. He knew why. All of the obstacles they had overcome, the hatred, the separations, the misunderstandings, all of them had been obstacles that should have torn them apart. But they endured. They fought. They lived, loved, and learned. They stood side by side against the staunchest opponents, never once flinching or faltering. And in the end they had won. He rubbed her back, thinking of the first time that he had comforted her. She cried, he soothed. And there had been many times his tears stained her shoulder and her hands relieved his burdens. Their devotion kept them strong. They truly were truly bonded.

Life had been full of challenges. Yet their love moved them through any obstacle. He combed his fingers through her hair, watching her with his dark eyes. She sighed in content, pressing harder against him, the moonlight tickling her face with its fingers. Their hearts beat in sync, the echo of emotion permeating throughout the room.

“I love you.” Her voice was small and sweet, filled with a hint of soft summer breezes. Her eyes watched him. Silvery tears glistened at the corners. He pulled her closer, feeling her warmth and love wrap tenderly around him.

“I love you too, angel.” She put her head to his chest and he combed his dark fingers through her hair. The moonlight’s gentle fingers entwined them in its loving grasp and the breeze blew through the open window, enveloping the room in a refreshing coolness.

They had endeavored their entire lives to do all the things that they had set out to do: raise a happy, loving family and acquire the key to happiness. They had completed both. Even in their twilight years happiness was theirs. Even in peaceful bliss of each others arms after a passionate night. Even then they accomplished all they set out to do.

He watched her glistening eyes and kissed her brow as she smiled. He waited for so many years, through untold hardships to be one with her. And she had done the same, enduring everything with equal ferocity and determination as he. And now they were one, a singular vessel of finality.

Watching her, he smiled and told her again of his love before his eyes closed. He knew hers had as well. The last thing he saw, the last image in his mind as he lay with her in his arms and he in her arms, was her eyes, with the ever-present beautiful soul burning in them. And then they drifted off to sleep as one, lying snuggled together under a single sheet with the moon throwing its luminescent fingers hands their bodies.

Their daughter came to visit them in the morning and unlocked the door. Nothing was cooking and the television wasn’t on. She went to the kitchen and called for them, opening up some of the windows to let fresh air into the house. She checked the coffee pot. Nothing was in it. Her father, though having not drank coffee for most of his life, had just recently needed the caffeine boost to wake him up in the morning. And if the coffee wasn’t brewed, it meant they were still asleep. She half laughed to herself. Her mother and father never slept passed 11 o’clock. She headed to the bedroom.

When her amber eyes took them in, she gasped. She gasped, not out of disgust, not out of the vulgar display, but out of fear. She knew. She choked back a sob. She knew. Railing against her self-control, tears rolled down her cheeks. They lay together, naked, with only a white sheet over them. Their eyes were closed and they faced each other, cradled in one another’s arms. Sleeping peacefully, she knew.

She had been raised to understand sacrifice, to comprehend an archaic gesture that it was said only the greatest of men could make. She had seen it in her parents. The way their eyes looked at each other and their mouths whispered each other’s names. She remembered vividly the way her father watched her mother reading to her when she was only five. She remembered the way her mother smiled when her father tried to teach her how to play guitar. She remembered the way her father would take her into his studio, show her how everything worked, and let her listen to what he was working on. She remembered fondly how her mother would take her into her lap as she worked on the computer, telling her all about the stories she wrote.

She always marveled at the way her father was able to give her mother something new every week and how her mother was always taken by honest surprise and wonder. She fantasized about her own husband doing the things her father had done for her mother and the joy that would fill her own heart.

But she remembered most of all how they felt about one another. How her father would whisper and say the sweetest things to her mother and how her mother would make special knick-knacks for the sake of giving them to her father. And how her father treasured those special heart-given things.

She knew this was the way they would pass; resting in each other’s arms for all time. The tears fell away but not in sadness. There was only the happy clarity of understanding as she watched them lying cuddled together in the center of the vast bed. She smiled and slowly walked to the side of the bed. And she leaned over first kissing her mother’s forehead and then her father’s. She pulled the sheet up to their shoulders and smiled sweetly at both of them.

“I love you mom and dad. You two get some sleep now.” And then she walked out slowly, closing the door behind her, leaving them to sleep in each other’s arms for all time.

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When the rain stopped, Katherine laid there for a long moment, contemplating whether rising was in her best interest. With a sigh, she realized that if she wanted to eat today, it would have to be.

Like every day before today, she rolled off of her bedroll tucked beneath the single cupboard of her barren little room, stood, stretched, and ambled to the door. There was no point putting on any clothing; no one was going to see her. Her greasy hair was tied back in a ponytail and her hands and feet were still covered with the dirt and grime of yesterday’s hunt. She surmised that her face was too but it had been so long since she’d seen her own face, she’d forgotten what she looked like.  A forgettable little girl in a forgettable little room. At least that’s what her parents had once said. Now they didn’t talk because they were dead.

She stepped into the bleak hallway and stood squinting against the little bit of light streaming in through the cracks in the ceiling. When she was little, she remembered standing in that hall and thinking about how big it was. Now it seemed little more than a tomb that wanted to trap her inside every day.

She stepped over charred beams and other debris leading to the stairs ascending towards the early morning sun. She squinted as she crossed the threshold into the world above. Charred and broken beams twisted this way and that from there base of the structure, the skeleton of a home she had once shared with her family. All around, the woods were scorched for miles and the pall of death hung over the once vibrant forest.

(I will one day continue this story… I love the set up and where I will take it)

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