Friday, 18 March 2016

The eighth day of the week

On the first day of the week it was a chance encounter. He wasn’t concentrating, as usual; his attention divided between texting and listening to his MP3 player. Melissa wasn’t concentrating either; she pavement watching, even though it was a beautiful, hazy blue day.
It was but a chance encounter; ending in, obviously and ominously, a collision. Their surprise was genuine, neither of them had seen each other in over twenty years; since they had, unsuccessfully, dated in school. It had been a brief “romance” for they had gone out for just three weeks and had barely kissed in that time. However, unbeknownst to Grant, it had set the template for all of his future relationships.
Grant was bemused to see Melissa, it had been so long since they had last met that he had actually forgotten what she looked like. She recognised him instantly and spoke to him as if barely a week had passed. He feigned recognition until the right mental circuit had been formed and the memory flowed.
Melissa had been his first childhood romance, after all, and the first one to see behind the shy awkwardness that came naturally to him. She was anything but timid and Grant often wondered why she had been attracted to him initially. 
Melissa was extremely pretty with freckles that spoke of sweetness and innocence to Grant, and she seemed delicate with an almost porcelain pallor to her skin. Her hair was fine and fair, yet her eyes had an unknowable depth that frightened him when he looked too deeply. Yet she proved so much stronger than him when she ended the relationship.
It was the first time he had ever been rejected, but looking back on it he had certainly deserved it. He rarely spoke during those initial dates… his shyness often being misconstrued as hostility.
In many ways the break-up had been an act of mercy, it was obvious that Melissa meant him no ill will but Grant could not deal with the rejection. In his eyes she no longer existed. It wasn’t that he purposely ignored her, he just no longer saw her. Therefore he never saw the hurt that emblazoned her eyes, never noticed the visible change in this once bright and sparkling girl to a retiring and timid mouse. And when that year finally finished and Melissa moved away, he never had to deal with the broken heart that he had inadvertently caused.

But looking back at Melissa now, he could read none of this on her face and Grant felt himself fall helplessly into her eyes again; it was now that he felt ashamed of his past behaviour and guilty at his insensitivity. He felt this so intensely his face went a dark crimson and he cast his eyes downward. Melissa took this as a sign of embarrassment and put her hand to his cheek, holding it there so when he looked up at her smile he felt all the years disappear, and he saw her exactly the same as she was when they first met. He smiled back at her, and placed his hand on hers and felt his knees go weak. “I’ve been thinking about you.” She said.

Later, he was sitting opposite her in a coffee bar as if it was yesterday, wondering how twenty years could disappear so suddenly; amazed that she bore him no malice and actually talked to him as if they had parted the best of friends. It seemed so bizarre and yet it felt so natural.
Grant was relaxed, a rarity for him; he sat with his hands on the table, his legs open rather than being either tucked underneath him or crossed like a barrier. He was able to open up to Melissa in a way that he never had before; he felt completely at peace with himself. They spoke for a couple of hours.
To Melissa the past didn’t exist, she had forgiven Grant even before she broke up with him and, although it truly broke her heart to see him in school, she bore him no malice. Even at that young age she was far more mature than he was, even now. He smiled at that irony and Melissa smiled back. He still felt her hand on his cheek from earlier and he resisted the urge to place his own hand there.
As if in answer to his unspoken and even unrealised desire, she put her hand on his. Her soft warmth creating eddies under his skin mirroring the butterflies that made his head so light. Grant held his breath. Everything was happening far too fast and…
I am so glad that we bumped into each other…” Melissa said, breaking his consternation. “But I didn’t realise that the time was ticking on. I have to go, my love.” She pushed her chair away from the table, stood up and bent down to kiss him in one fluid motion. She kissed him on the forehead like a mother to a son, “Please.. look after yourself… and don’t look so worried – everything is going to turn out for the best.”
As if in perfect counterpoint to how they met, she was gone. Now Grant did place his hand on his cheek and wept with a lifetimes worth of damned up emotions. He wept without understanding why. He wept without caring for those restless, uneasy onlookers. He wept with uncertainty and with the knowledge that things were happening beyond his control and his life was going to change dramatically from this moment on.

That night Grant felt a peace had long been denied him. The emotional release in the coffee bar had been unrelenting and had embarrassed many of the other customers. In a typically English fashion no one had enquired after his well-being, they simply kept their distance and judged; judged and passed comment into their croissants and coffee cups but, for once, Grant couldn’t have cared less.
Once the deluge had finally subsided he shakily got up out of the chair and walked out, all red rimmed, puffy eyes and tear streaks. None of that mattered to him, he felt lighter than helium. He knew that Melissa had paid for the coffee in the same way that he knew that he would never see her again and although he was saddened by that, he also knew that it could never truly be.
She had forgiven him and helped him, more importantly, to forgive himself. He thanked her now, with all his heart, in a way that he never could before and for the first time in what seemed like years he slept soundly.

On the second day of the week he was more aware but totally unprepared still. Susan could have been anyone and that had been one of the qualities that attracted Grant to her in college. She had that wholesome “girl next door” quality that allowed her to be completely unobtrusive in a crowd which selfishly suited Grant at the time.
And it was precisely those qualities that prevented Grant from seeing her when he was walking along the high street. Luckily she was persistent and waved furiously at him from across the road for minutes before crossing over and thumping him playfully on the shoulder.
That’ll teach you.” She said, adroitly.
You always did have a spiteful sense of humour.” Grant replied, when he had finally gotten his wits about him. This was more than co-incidence, he rationalised – or was it? Surely stranger things had happened.
Yes, but you liked it – remember?” She parried. He remembered the verbal fencing from when they were dating. This time the relationship had lasted eight months and had gotten well and truly physical, which was one of the reasons for its longevity.
The verbal fencing had seemed fun at the start but had soon deteriorated into arguments, spiteful and cruel. But the sex had been as passionate and tender by contrast. At the time Grant had wondered whether the fencing was deliberate, like Susan’s idea of foreplay.
I remember we both did.” He grinned, and Susan grinned back. Like with Melissa, the years fell away and the past seemed to shimmer and fade.
I’m parked just round the corner.” She said, matter of factly. “We can go back to my place, if you like.” The lust that sparkled in her eyes reflected the same emotions that were now coursing through his own.
I live about five minutes from here.” Grant found himself replying. “It’s closer.” She smiled and took him by the hand.

Back at the flat, Grant barely had time to make his bed properly. It was one of the few times he wished he’d bought something else other than a sofa-bed. True, it normally only took him five minutes to put it together but even that seemed like an eternity with Susan stripping slowly in front of him.
He wanted to say something; wanted to apologise for being a prat and putting her through hell in college. He knew that he had treated her abominably… it wasn’t that he had ever been unfaithful to her, but he had never publicly admitted to having a girlfriend, even when they had gone out on dates. If he met anyone else that he recognised then he’d become indifferent to her and he was always very careful when displaying outward signs of emotion, making sure that there was no one in close proximity. He was callous, but then she almost played on that by never making an effort. She spoke only when spoken to and was so unassuming in her appearance that it was possible to look directly through her.
Her passion during sex more than made up for it though, and when fuelled by anger or spite she was insatiable; but it was never making love, for that particular emotion never entered into the relationship for either of them.
Grant was still not over the break up with Melissa. It was something that he could never admit to and he had actively sought someone else out that he could use up and cast aside. Susan had initially ticked those particular boxes for him, but then he became so turned on by her, and with the easy access to sex, that he soon forgot his initial game plan. Of course, the relationship ended disastrously.
But that seemed a distant memory that neither of them wanted to re-visit. At that moment Susan was more interested in ridding Grant of his clothes as quickly as possible, and with the bed finally made he wanted the exact same thing.

Things were moving far to fast for him to wonder what was happening. He didn’t think about the co-incidence of meeting or of the intensity of her passion after such a long time. He was too caught up in his own passions; the searing, coursing fire that now spread through every pore of his body as they became one, writhing in the enjoyment of each other, There was a depth of feeling that they’d never encountered before, the passion real; naked and pure; unfettered by guilt, pain or anger.
When they were finally spent they held each other, fearful that if they let go then they would never see each other again. Grant knew that was the truth and held her tighter, breathing her scent in with each breath, trying desperately to remember this moment for the rest of his life. He had never experienced such intimacy before and silently cursed himself for not realising that such a thing existed.
Eventually Susan left. She kissed him on the forehead just as Melissa had done barely a day before. He caught the jasmine scent of her perfume one last time and then she quickly dressed before leaving him. He was still lying in bed, the days light dying all around him.
It was only now that he questioned what was happening. Melissa first and now Susan.. that must surely be a coincidence; he didn’t want to think about the possibility of what was happening or where this was leading.

On the third day of the week he was wary. Even though he had two weeks holiday, he resisted the urge to stay at home and vegetate; hence the daily walk up the town. It was a token gesture to get him out of the flat and amongst people.
For the last couple of days he had been wrapped up in his own little world and had pretty much ignored what was going on around him. He had learnt a lot from those days, the least of which was to pay attention to his surroundings. As wonderful as it had been to meet up with both Melissa and Susan he didn’t want to push his luck too far.
Luck, though, was on his side that day for his friend Paul was going into VG Smythes, the bookshop, just ahead. He knew which section Paul would be browsing and Grant stealthily walked up behind him.
I think the pornographic lithograph section is behind you, Sir.” He said in a deep, booming voice. He knew that everyone would be looking their way now, but Paul’s embarrassment would far outstrip his own. To Grant’s disappointment Paul just turned round and smiled.
I had a feeling we’d meet up today, me ole’ mucker!” he replied. 
Paul was always happy; chipper, even, but he could never hide discomfort well; and by the look in his eyes Grant knew that there was something troubling him. “Want to go for a coffee?” Paul asked.

Grant had known Paul for over twenty years. Their friendship wasn’t always close for they were very different in temperament, and their outlook on life didn’t always match; but it was the longevity that had kept them together. (And the fact that Grant had mellowed significantly during the years. Paul hadn’t changed at all though and there were times that Grant resented that. Grant’s life had been in turmoil –mostly due to his own hand, but even so…)
Now Grant saw Paul as a rock, a fixed point that he could always return to and would always remain the same.
But in all the years that Grant had known Paul they had never just met for coffee.

As chance would have it, they went to the same coffee house that Melissa took Grant to previously. Grant wondered whether any of the staff would remember that occurrence and act differently towards him.
They both sat down at a table by the window. Paul ordered a cappuccino and Grant prevaricated before ordering the same. Paul seemed reticent to start the conversation even though he was the one who instigated the coffee. Grant used the time to study him.
In all the years that he had known Paul it was surprising how little he had changed, even on a physical level. He’d grown in height and had matured but that was it, still the mischievous glint in his icy blue eyes –often hiding the deeply intelligent inner core. Still the same hair cut that suited him so well, but was hard to really put into words. There were curls, to be sure, but they were wry and almost ironic –much like his personality. He always dressed conservatively and today was no exception. He wore a dark navy t-shirt and pale jeans, but there was a reticent air about him today that Grant found hard to see through.

Normally Paul was quite jovial, as in the bookshop, but now that they had sat down it was obvious that something was troubling him. Grant resolved to break the ice that was forming between them and told him of Melissa and of Susan. Paul said nothing all through the monologue and often shifted his gaze uncomfortably. When Grant had finished Paul thoughtfully stirred his cappuccino, mixing the chocolate with the froth so he could finally drink it without wearing the inevitable mustache.
I don’t know what to say.” Paul finally spoke, after taking a couple of sips. There was still a very faint coating of chocolate on his top lip and he tentatively licked it off. “It sounds like quite a roller coaster and it ties very spookily into us meeting each other.”
“How do you mean?” Grant asked, although he had been expecting something like this.
I dreamt of you last night.” He turned away for a brief second, checking his reflection in the window. “Not like that, you dirty sod… you always have to make some kind of innuendo, don’t you?” Paul said and smiled.
It wouldn’t be me otherwise, mate.” Grant replied. “And besides, you were getting a bit too serious for a second there, lad.” He lightly punched Paul on the shoulder.
But this is serious.” Paul replied, making eye contact once again. “You know I’ve never shared the same beliefs as you. I don’t understand half the stuff you talk about and I’ve often wondered whether your fascination with the more… spiritual side of life, as you’ve often put it, has actually made things worse for you…” Paul took another sip of coffee and wiped his mouth with his thumb in a gesture that they’d both seen in Jean Luc-Goddard’s film “Breathless”. “But it sounds as if something is really happening to you. First seeing Melissa and then Susan, in the same order in which you actually dated them? Ok, that could be co-incidence but it’s highly doubtful –even to me, that’s stretching things a bit.” Grant nodded, surprised at Paul’s reasoning. Paul always erred on the side of co-incidence, but not now, it seemed.
What are you thinking, Paul?” Grant asked. “This isn’t like you to be so.. cryptic. Just say what’s on your mind.”
This dream.. . Well.. you were getting back with Zoe.” Paul knew what effect this would have on Grant, for it was something he never wanted to be reminded about.
I’m glad you told me…” Grant said after a couple of seconds. “And it’s confirmed something that’s been on my mind ever since meeting Susan.” It was Grant’s turn to look out of the window as he tried to banish those thoughts from his head.
You need to be careful, mate…” Paul said, trying to keep eye contact with him. “You barely got out of that relationship with your sanity in check. I’m not so sure you could manage it a second time.” Grant nodded, dating Zoe had been a mistake. Paul had said as much at the time but Grant had ignored him.
At the time of meeting Zoe he was at a definite low point in his life. The break up with Susan had left him reeling and for a year he had stayed deliberately single. The relationship had been tumultuous, to say the least, and most of that was Grants fault. He had to take responsibility for that and figure out the reasons why – at least that had been the initial idea. After two months of soul searching he gave up and sank into a depressive, alcoholic haze. Susan had reflected too much of his own personality and that was something that he didn’t want to admit to – it was the main reason that they sparked off of each other so dramatically. She had the sense to end the relationship before it self-destructed leaving Grant firmly in denial.
Grant had started drinking whilst perusing one of the many dating sites. As usual the website promised a preferable date within three months but insisted on a years membership fee up front, which didn’t do much to endear itself to him. Nevertheless the “GoFishing” website showed the most promise and he signed up for the free membership package. He filled out his profile, including a two year old photo –which seemed to be customary on such sites- and waited to see if he received any “nibbles”, as they were called.
On the second day he received nothing, not even a tentative nudge and on the third he started actively searching. All the profiles had the same basic plea for genuine gallantry, promised all and never delivered. He scoured them, sent many messages and received no replies. Each day brought the same disappointment and, never one to give up on futility, he cast off fresh messages; being careful not to target those he’d already struck out on.
The drinking started after the first week with just a single measure of malt whiskey. After the second week it had doubled with his despondency and after that he just drank half a glass at a time.
When Zoe messaged him he was barely able to string two sentences together and was so surprised by it he fell off his chair – he was that drunk. He looked at her profile before replying to her and was enamoured by what he saw; the alcohol doing it’s best to fog over the details. Had he read her profile properly, or been more sober, he would never have agreed to go out on a date with her. As it was he saw her very glamorous photo consisting of ample cleavage and sultry look and replied instantly.
They arranged to meet up the next evening, which was something that the website warned against, but it suited Grant down to the ground. He had been without intimate human contact for so long he felt as if that part of him had atrophied.

When he woke up the next morning he tried to find her profile on “GoFishing” but it had been deleted. He had her number on his mobile and texted her, just to prove to himself that it had been a real experience and not a whisky fueled hallucination. To his relief she replied almost instantly.
They had slept together on the first date, which surprised and pleased Grant no end. He saw no ulterior motivation, he was just grateful for the attention. He was never aware of her game plan, never wanted to admit to her motives until it was too late. Paul saw them and tried his best to warn him, but Grant was adamant. All he saw was someone who desired him and he would do everything he could to make this relationship work, regardless of the consequences.

It’s been a worry to me,” Grant replied, snapping out of his reverie. “but I’m not sure what I can do about it. Obviously I don’t want to meet her again, but I don’t know whether it’s actually going to happen, and if it is how the hell I’m going to avoid it.”
Well, there is one obvious way to avoid it.” Paul replied.
What; not leave the flat? Be serious, Paul.” Grant snapped, and then quickly apologised. “I’m on holiday, and the last thing that I’m going to do is stay inside every day and do nothing...”
No, that’s true.” Paul said. He looked down to the chocolate encrusted rim of his mug. “There is one thing that you could do that would make the most of your time.” He said wryly.
And what’s that?” Grant asked, his curiosity hooked.
You could start writing again….”

On the fourth day of the week he delved. If Paul was right and there was something going on, then the best place for him was to stay in his own flat.
At first Grant was totally against it; there was no way he would become a prisoner in his own home regardless of the threat, but then Paul had provided the spark that he needed. For years Grant had moaned that he’d never had the time or the motivation to write. Idea’s or inspiration were never a problem, Grant had both in abundance, but he found every excuse in the book not to set pen to paper (or finger to keyboard). But now, as Paul so rightly said, he had the best excuse in the world and it was an opportunity that he couldn’t afford to pass up.
So he spent the rest of the third day and most of the fourth rooting around in drawers to find all the scraps of paper that he had scribbled ideas and shards of stories on.
Once he found them he marvelled at what he’d written. Some were indecipherable –one of the hazards of writing things down in a hurry- others didn’t make any sense, but there were at least a dozen that could be made into decent short stories if he had the time; and time was something that he now had in abundance. He thought back to Paul’s suggestion and wondered how much of this was part of the “plan”, as he was now calling it..
On the fifth day of the week he wrote. He wrote as if his life depended upon it, for in many ways it did.

On the sixth day of the week he was possessed. Grant barely existed except as a vessel to translate his stories from raw dream stuff to the glimmering words on a computer screen. He slept little, ate little and drank less. He was alive, perhaps for the first time in his life; a concept that he found fairly ironic in the circumstances. He’d accepted the fact that he was now dying and knew that he should go to the doctors to check out his suspicions but they would find nothing physical; this was a deep knowing that had been confirmed during his writing. It was something that had to happen.
There were times that he felt like he was losing his mind; if anyone saw him then they would have severely doubted his sanity but he pushed such thoughts out of his head and concentrated on his stories. They were the only thing that mattered to him now.

On the seventh day of the week he was spent. He could write no more and slept for a couple of hours. This was it, he thought – my last day, and I’m not going to waste it cowering inside. He made sure that each of his stories had printed; thirteen of them in all and as he placed them in an envelope he felt proud of his work. These would outlast him, that was for sure. He knew that Paul would do his best to get them published and somehow he would succeed. He wrote Paul a small note thanking him for being his friend, and explained what was happening and why.

He felt hungry and realised that he hadn’t had a proper meal in over 36 hours which was very unlike him. He resolved to post the letter and pop into the local supermarket for something to eat – it might well be his last meal. He grinned at this macabre statement, he had resided himself to what was happening now. He drove to the local post box, despite it being five minutes away and realised that he couldn’t be bothered to cook. He wanted to go to MacChickDips, he deserved a slap up meal regardless of the consequences because, for him, there weren’t any!

He ordered his usual large Big Chick and fries, with a quarter pounder on the side, and then threw caution to the wind and ordered another Big Chick instead. He was quite sanguine about his fate, even if he did meet Zoe now there was nothing she could do that she hadn’t already done.
Despite his initial reservations when talking with Paul he now realised that the old fears no longer held him. He knew that was down to Melissa, she had given him closure. She was able to forgive him in a way that he had never been able to do for himself, and Susan? Susan gave him unconditional love and he was able to love her and give himself to her totally. For those hours that they had lain together they were one person and he felt blessed knowing that. By understanding the gifts he had been given he was actually happy, truly happy and it was precisely that moment that he was drenched by the extra-large diet-cola.

I’m so sorry.” She said. “it’s all over you…I can’t believe I was so clumsy!” She rushed over and dabbed him with napkins and apologies.
Please, don’t worry about it.” Grant replied with utmost sincerity. With the way he was feeling now there was nothing that could dampen his spirits – what was the point when he only had a few hours to go? “They’re saying now that the caffeine based shampoos are better for your head, so I figure you’ve just saved me going to a salon!”
Thank you for not being a shit.” She said, still blushing. Grant was amazed at how unassumingly beautiful she was. Her hair was short, mousey blond and very tactile; she was petite but that made it easier for her to take his breath away; and her eyes, such a depth of blue that he could float for all eternity in them. He found it hard to pry his gaze away from hers.
Ah, that’s ok.” He replied. “It’s easy enough… I often think that to be a true jerk takes a lifetimes work and I just don’t have that amount of time to waste any more.” He smiled, knowing that to be the truth. “Please, won’t you sit down?” He said, motioning to the empty chair opposite him. Luckily he had the foresight to sit on a table with four chairs so he was able to move away from the damp patch. The cleaner was extremely sharp in tidying up though, Grant noticed, especially when there was no sign of altercation or argument.
Upon sitting down she introduced herself. “My name’s Emma Watts.” Grant held out his hand.
Grant Pageson.” He replied, her handshake was firm despite her smaller hands, warm and so inviting. “I find it hard to believe that anyone could be a jerk to you.” The words sounding so corny once they were vocalised.
You’d be surprised…“ She smiled, accepting the off-hand compliment. “Or maybe not.”

They fell easily into conversation. Talking to Emma took no effort and it was like they had known each other for years. There was the barbed pang of irony that Grant couldn’t hide from and he couldn’t stop himself from smiling weakly.
What’s wrong?” Emma asked, “You don’t like the idea of having your feet mauled by goldfish?” They had been talking about the new fad of allowing fish to gnaw away at the dead skin that piles up on feet, and Grant had felt himself drifting off listening to Emma’s relaxing tones. He didn’t know whether to tell her what was happening, it didn’t seem fair to suddenly break such news to her, but at the same time he felt that he could tell her anything.
I’m dying.” He said, more matter-of-factly than he meant to. Her expression didn’t change, it didn’t flutter or quiver but just remained stoic and loving.
I know.” She replied.

They left soon after, hand in hand, walking to Grant’s car. He didn’t know anything about her, yet she knew all about him. He knew that he had the rest of his life to discover everything there was to know about Emma Watts.
She explained to him why they had met; what he’d been experiencing those last seven days and what was waiting for him, should he choose to accept it; and for the second time that week he had cried tears of joy. She placed her hands on his and allowed her love to flow to every pore of his body.

They drove to Emma’s house in the middle of nowhere. It was so peaceful in the country with no light pollution and he was awed by the stars that enveloped the sky. He felt so small, yet inextricably linked to every one of those radiant suns. Emma beckoned him into her house and they walked upstairs to her bedroom. It was now almost midnight and they kissed, holding each other, never wanting to be apart – knowing now that they never would be.

On the eighth day of the week…

Mellissa suddenly found herself thinking of Grant. She knew that she would never see him again and, even though she wasn’t the least bit religious, said a prayer. There had always been a great sadness around him, one that had nearly swallowed them both. She had initially blamed herself and then afterwards, many years later, blamed him – but after meeting him earlier in the week she could see that he just as much the victim, if not more so. She was glad that they had parted as friends and truly wished him happiness wherever he might go, and she somehow knew that he would be happy.

Susan lay in bed, her husband sleeping next to her. She had somehow known that Grant was dying and that their meeting had been karmic. Despite all their bickering and games they were always close and could even read each others minds – that’s what made it harder when they fought, they always knew where the other was vulnerable. She didn’t regret sleeping with Grant and certainly didn’t consider it being unfaithful – for her it was closure. They had shared so much and this was their only chance at happiness, however short lived. If anything it made her love Bill more, knowing that whatever time they had together would be brief.

Paul opened the envelope that had flopped from the letterbox onto his hall carpet. He recognised the writing straight away and tore it open. Inside were the neatly typed but badly spelt stories that Grant had spent two days writing. All the stories were full of magic and wonderment, a direct opposite to the life that Grant had chosen to lead.

Paul smiled and cursed at the same time. He had known Grant for the longest and known how frustrating and stubborn he could be. All that talent, and he never did anything with it. It was almost as if he had been saving up all the creative potential for something else. He smiled at how ridiculous that sounded. He read the letter, knowing what was going to be inside it – it was a discussion that they had had numerous times. Paul was not a believer in anything except that he could empirically account for. Grant, however, believed in Karma, ghosts, Re-incarnation and UFO’s –now who was right?

Zoe woke up in tears. She had been dreaming about Grant again. She had been thinking about him all week without knowing how to get in contact with him, but she knew now that she’d never see him again. There was no way that she could ever apologise to him for all the hurt that she caused. She did truly love him and that made it so much worse for she knew that, despite all she had done to him, he loved her. And it was far too late for them both.

The funeral was a small affair, a few members of family and Paul. It had happened so suddenly that there was no time to really prepare, and as Paul maintained “he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”
It was a typically British, overcast and drizzly day. Paul stood over the grave when all the others had dispersed, for once he was determined to get the last word in.
You knew that this was going to happen.” He said, feeling the tears stinging his eyes. “I’m just glad you had the foresight to type up all those wonderful stories. It would’ve been great if you used a damn spell check though.” He managed to choke out a laugh. “You probably know this already, but there’s been quite a bit of interest in them, and there are at least two publishers on the cards, so I think you might even get your stab at immortality, y’bastard.” Paul smiled and turned away from the grave.

In the distance, at the far end of the cemetery, were two figures –a man and a smaller woman- standing underneath the trees, holding hands. Paul could barely make them out. The woman turned to the man and said something. The man shrugged his shoulders and she slapped him on the shoulder with her other hand. The man bent down to kiss her on the cheek before looking right at Paul, and then they both waved at him. The tears were now streaming down his face obscuring his vision and he had to wipe his eyes in order to see clearly again. When he looked back at them they were walking away.

Far beyond Paul could see the sun starting to shine over the clouds beckoning the couple on to a wonderful new life together, and he smiled.

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