Pairing: none (yes! this is gen!)
Rating: G, drama
He found me at Malibu at sunset, watching the sparkling waves surge
and withdraw, roughening then smoothing the dark sands. Farther down
the beach, laughing couples gathered around impromptu bonfires whose
russet flames echoed the sun's last flare before nightfall.
The February wind was chill and so I sat, shivering a little, despite
warm clothes and an old woolen blanket. Once, I would have spent
Valentine's sunset rushing home from work through the slippery streets
of Manhattan. Haggling for red and white roses -- passion and fidelity
-- with a corner flower merchant. Teasing Roz while she showered and I
shaved, swiping at the steam-clouded mirror with a towel. Rushing out
the door, late for our dinner reservations. Making love in
candlelight, her hair, a dark curtain against the pillow.
Instead, here I am. Sitting alone, cold on the sand. Over fifteen
years dead. Useless and unwelcome tears, chill upon my face. My life,
my loves erased. A living ghost. A man out of time.
I'd known he was there. Had felt his presence when he appeared. But, I
didn't bother to turn. Didn't bother to wipe the tears from my
face. Didn't bother to think of a sarcastic or witty greeting. None of
it mattered. Whether I was in heaven or hell, didn't matter. Tonight,
I just wanted to be with her.
And now, all I have left of her, of our love, is sharp-edged memories.
He sat down beside me and stared out at the waves, the unnatural heat
of his skin warming my body even through the blanket. He didn't seem
inclined to speak. Perhaps he sensed and respected my bleak
mood. Perhaps he was just waiting for the right moment, the perfect
time to twist the knife. Again.
"I have something for you." His voice was serious, with none of it's
usual irony or sarcasm.
I turned towards him and his burning eyes searched my face, flickered
over my tears. His expression was unreadable.
"Give me your hand."
Reluctantly, I did so. I wanted no gifts from him.
He pressed something cool into my palm and closed my fist tightly
around it. And then, he was gone.
As I stared at the waves, the sky's russet became indigo and indigo
became midwinter's black velvet. And finally, under the faint light of
the winter stars, I gathered my courage, opened my hand, to reveal the
golden circlet of my wedding band.
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