Never again will you hold
on to what you once let go
Tempted by the past you
had and what shall no longer show
Inside scrapes against nothing,
nothing then scrapes back
Greeting to the emptiness that welcomes you below
They were looking at HER with those big, big eyes. As if they weren’t asking for the impossible. As if they weren’t asking for their death.
SHE could have held on. SHE never did, not before. SHE knew better than to hold on for too long with most. Everything had an end eventually. HE reminded HER of this every day.
But they were HERS. The first thing SHE had ever had. They had given themselves to HER, unyielding in their attempt to broach HER initial distance.
Then time passed. They grew old, as everything did. Except for HER. Except for HIM.
They could have lasted a little longer, she knew. Even without HER help. SHE could let it be as it normally was and they would survive for a bit longer.
But HE was here – the one SHE usually loved to see. But HE was here – not for HER. For them.
“they’re mine today” HE said. There was no emotion in his voice, not today.
They smiled up at HER. “It’s okay.”
HE kept everything forever. SHE had everything for such a small period of time. SHE had to smile for them, if it was the last thing SHE could do.
SHE would say farewell.
The world would turn.
Everyone knew the story. No one knew the truth.
“You told him what?” He adjusted his collar. And again. It didn’t move very much.
“About what you said in your sleep!” Oh, she was unaffected by what she had done to him. Like normal. How come he could never embarrass her? It was always him!
“Wh-why would you tell him that?”
She smiled, innocently. He had no idea if she really didn’t understand what she had done or not. “We were talking and it just came up!”
“How could it just come up?” There was no way he could go into the meeting now.
“Uh…” She shrugged. “It just did! What’s wrong?”
He took a moment to pinch the bridge of his nose. The motion gave him a moment to think about what just happened. Which didn’t calm him down as much as made him freak out. “Okay, okay… it doesn’t have anything to do with anything. Just focus on the work.”
“You can do it!”
Well, she was always a good cheerleader, at least.
There was something about pain. Something about it’s blindingly white, cold shock. It genuinely comforted him.
“Is it because it reminds you you’re alive?” she asked, trying not to pick at her bandages. They were new. New and white.
No. It didn’t really have anything to do with that. Not like it did for her. He kept that latter part to himself.
“Maybe it’s the adrenaline rush. That’s what it was for Mickey.”
He knew what it was for Mickey. Something about how close it could come. How far away it was. But Mickey wasn’t very good at judging the distance.
“They say he’s going to pull through.”
He shouldn’t have had to pull through. They were supposed to be watching Mickey close. More close than either of them. She never did much more than graze the surface. He didn’t always do that. One didn’t have to break the skin to feel pain.
“It’s not about the pain for me,” she admitted. “It’s watching the red. It’s always so red, isn’t it?”
He took her hands, removing them from her arms. After doing so, he removed his own bandage and pinched the skin. It wasn’t a big deal, it wasn’t something that needed more than a simple plaster, so no one had really paid attention to it. But he could pinch it, right there, and it still hurt. It welled a little, the red she liked. It distracted her from her own blood.
“I wonder why I like the red so much?”
It was a small thing, so insignificant she normally would have overlooked it. But the day had been long. Her patience had long since snapped.
Taking in a deep breath, she affected a smile. He was her husband after all. “Did you leave this on the couch?” She held up the can.
She could appreciate that his own smile froze in place when he saw it. They had been together long enough, he had to know she wasn’t feeling up to this, to bring it up. They had been together long enough, she could finally read right through that usually unreadable expression of his.
“Was that on the couch?”
She frowned and he cleared his throat.
“I mean, yeah. Of course that’s mine. I just didn’t realize that I’d forgotten it on the couch. Sorry about that.”
There was a tight feeling in her chest that eased when he got up and reached out to take it. “Please, everyone will be here soon…”
“…and you spent all yesterday cleaning. I’ll be double careful. Sorry.”
It was comforting to know that even when she wasn’t at her best, he could pull himself back together. Now knowing her husband would be careful, she went to make sure the children hadn’t made another mess.
He wasn’t surprised none of the taxis wanted to stop for him. Considering how much blood he was covered in, it would certainly ruin their chance for sensible fare for the rest of the evening.
But his other option was bleed out, so he wearily struggled again to get someone’s attention.
“Do you need help?”
He glanced wearily at the man who spoke to him. Oh, not man, his mistake. It was a vampire. “No, I’m cool.” He couldn’t blame the vampire for it, but he wasn’t going to give him permission for any blood consumption.
“If you insist,” the vampire said, put out, but leaving him alone.
At least, until pulling up in an ambulance five minutes later. “What?” he asked, staring up at the same vampire stepping out of the ambulance.
“You might not want my help, but you’re gathering a crowd of blood consumers around you and I certainly don’t trust all of them to wait until you are dead to dive in.”
Then, without asking, the vampire threw him into the back of the ambulance, hooked him up and told the driver to get them moving to the hospital.
Faerie circle in the dust,
open to a world of rust
riveting feet to wheels of ashes
expanding minds of eyes and lashes
vicious and gentle, the Faerie way
employed the night to the hairs of day
raising us to dance on the sea
sipping dry draughts of eternity