• Shelley Cass

The Missing Piece

When only forever will suffice.

2016.

Soft fingers in my hair, brushing away glass and pain.

Whispers by my ear; gentle.

“I have to get up, you stay here.” Her body is cool against mine.

“You stay here with me; I need to warm you up.” My eyes don’t want to open. But I can see her. I know each expression, each move by heart.

“You have warmed every moment of my life.”

I feel her shift, slipping away. I entwine my limbs around hers.

Even colder now.

My head throbs. A fist around my brain, squeezing and contracting.

“I’m not ready to get up,” I grumble. “I always leave first anyway.”

Her lips press against my cheek. I am stinging all over. I do not feel the warmth of her breath.

“Not this time.”

My chest tightens and aches. My heart feels strange. There is a piece missing.

My eyes won’t open. But I can see. Golden hair, tickling my shoulder. Wide smile, and rounding cheeks that fit perfectly in my palms when we kiss.

“Keep them closed. You rest,” she tells me as I try to look at her. “You must be tired.”

“No good to drive when you’re tired,” I agree. “We did need to go somewhere together…”

“Not now. Now there is no need to worry.”

She lays her head on my chest. Her hand is a light pressure. Barely there.

“Still beating,” she says. “Still mine.”

“Still yours,” I say. “Always.”

“From when we danced in the park?”

“Before then. You had your blue jacket and gloves on that day though.” My fingers lay on hers. “I wish I could find them for you now. You're so chilled.”

“From when we had those ice-creams in the rain? I had fun. You got sick.”

“Before then. You had chocolate and I spilled mine. Strawberry.”

“From in the library?”

“Maybe even before then. I fell down. You helped with my books.”

“Yes, it was then.”

“My heart was always yours.”

Her hand feels too light. “I’ll take a piece with me, when I go.”

“Don’t go without me.”

Nothing.

“Please?”

There is light that I can make out through the veil of my eyelids.

Flashing white then orange.

Fading then brightening.

The back of my head is scraping gravel. Not our mattress.

My cheeks and chest feel like fire. Throbbing, biting.

But something worse is happening.

There is a small hole in my chest, and it is getting bigger by the second.

“Buddy?! Hey buddy! I’ve got you. I got you out in time!”

My ears pop, and I gasp as my eyes open.

Sirens screaming.

A stranger’s face, lips moving and arms waving.

The night sky is a twinkling background.

His skin changes tones as the lights do.

I don’t care.

My head is heavy, and the stars really do spin as I lift it.

I look down.

Her hand is in mine. She made it to me.

And I remember.

I remember she was dragged, and I was dragged.

I remember I was too tired.

I remember the moment.

When our world had slowed down. Millisecond by millisecond.

Breath by breath.

Then only my breath. My rasping.

“Come on buddy. Hold on. Just hold on.”

No.

No.

Not alone.

Her hair had lifted. Floating.

Her fingers had reached for mine.

We had stretched across the eternity between us.

Then her head had jolted. Impacted against the window.

Shattering screams. Glass like showers of sparkling stars.

I look past the fingers entwined in my own.

To see the crimson flower blossoming upon her temple.

To see the stillness in her eyes, still fixed upon my face.

To see my future, and the loss I will carry forever.

With my world slowed down. Millisecond by millisecond.

Breath by breath.

Only my breath. My rasping.

I close my eyes tight.

I close my eyes every night and see her.

When my hands become soft and crinkled, they still reach for her and the life we should have had.

When my heart still bumps clumsily, from the missing piece, and from the tiredness of having gone on, I think of the warmth I am waiting for.

I do not have to wait forever.

When I close my eyes, I feel her hand upon my chest. Her fingers light.

And my heart becoming young and whole.

“Still mine?” a whisper.

“Still yours. Always.”

“I have kept this piece, until it was right to give it back.”

“We lost a lot of time, waiting for then.”

“Now I need to go again.”

“Must I stay?”

“I want you to come. We need to go together this time.”

“What will we do?”

“Dance in the park, in the rain, in the library.”

“You won’t go without me?”

“I will have your hand in mine for all the way.”



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