The Course of Time (Short Story)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
What happens when you live forever, but the one you love has limited time on this earth?

Submitted: October 25, 2015

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Submitted: October 25, 2015

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Will you wait for me?” I asked her, holding her frail pale hand in mine.

She looked up at me, her crystal eyes shining brightly.

I will,” she told me.

Forever?” I asked her urgently.

Forever,” she agreed.

 

I opened my eyes as the car I was riding in pressed on. The memory of that day so long ago, still bright in my mind’s eye, the day we were torn apart from each other. It wouldn’t be long now, that I’d be able to meet her once again by our safe place – our cherry tree.

I couldn’t wait to see her again.

“How long is it now?” I called to the driver, as he looked at me in the rearview mirror. His storm gray eyes appeared tired in his weathered face.

“Only about ten minutes, Mr. Wells.” He replied solemnly as I nodded and peered back out the window at the dull landscape.

Spring was only slightly upon us – and the chill in the air told me that winter, was likely to give one last storm before it let up.

All the more reason I had to visit the tree. I had to see if she would be there if she’d arrive.

If she’d be there just as we had promised each other many years before.

I gazed out the window, at the world of gray and brown before me. The grassy fields the car passed on its journey, while green in patches vastly appeared thin and light brown, not having been revived yet in the coming of spring.

I sighed looking away. I knew just how the landscape before me felt, while I may have appeared alive, I felt dead inside.

However, I had hoped – that would change soon.

The car soon rolled up to a small hill, that while appeared like the other patches of landscape – with green patches here and there, was more green than the other fields I had passed.

I slowly got out of the back of the sleek black car, and gazed up on the hill.

I couldn’t see the tree from where the car was parked. But I knew it was up there – I knew it was waiting for me.

I turned back to the driver, and thanked him.

All he said in return was, “No problem. Just make it quick, not sure what business you’d have out here in the middle of nowhere anyways, but you’re the one paying the fare.”

I smiled kindly at him – although his words held a harsh undertone, before I turned to climb the hill before me.

I prayed to myself that she would be there – that she’d be there waiting for me, that I could see her face one more time.

I envisioned her crystal blue eyes, bright in the dim spring light, her hair – in light brown curls falling down her back, and her pale face, rosy in the cool morning air.

I envisioned her just as I had seen her before I left that morning for war.

For a war that was not mine to fight, but yet one I had to partake.

I hated how long it had been, how many years had passed since I had seen her.

The cool wind blew by me, ruffling my hair and causing me to shiver slightly.

Normally the cold air didn’t bother me, but somehow today it did. Almost like it has been warning me, giving me a chance to turn back. I knew however that I couldn’t – I had to see her, I had to know she had honored our promise.

As I climbed the hill – our safe place, our place we had first professed our love came into view, and I stopped to take in the sight.

It was one of the most beautiful cherry trees I’d ever seen, and just as I had expected it was blooming.

The gray branches of the tree swayed in the breeze, as the pink petals danced from their resting place descending toward the ground.

I stood admiring the soft pink hues against the harsh gray sky – just as I saw a shape move out of the corner of my eye.

It was a dark shape – and distinctly human.

I moved my gaze from the tree over toward the shape, and soon realized it was a woman.

However, it wasn’t the woman I had expected to see.

Instead this woman was elderly, and appeared to be glancing up at the tree as well – in awe and admiration.

She had a gentle smile on her wrinkled face, and despite the blemished skin of age, she was beautiful in her own way. Her graying hair was pulled up securely in a bun on the back of her head. And her eyes – vastly blue – turned slowly from the tree and rested on me.

I eyed her curiously – those eyes were so familiar, and the instant memory of the day I had departed came back to mind.

A feeling of nostalgia hit me. Could it be…?

“I knew you’d come back,” she said hoarsely, like she hadn’t used her voice in ages.

I swallowed hard and stepped forward.

“Maria…” I spoke quietly, my voice trailing off, “Is it really you?”

She looked at me sadly. The familiar sad look I had seen the day I had told my love I had to leave her, but I would return.

She nodded slowly, before she spoke. “Yes.”

I felt my heart shatter within. My blood drained from my face, and the emotions of excitement of our meeting again fell away.

I was too late.

“How…How is it Maria?” I said my voice cracking.

She smiled kindly at me, but it didn’t touch her eyes, just as I noticed – age hadn’t touched them either.

“I’m not immortal like you, Robert. I’m human, mortal. You’ve been gone for fifty years. I’m not the vibrant seventeen year old beauty you left, the one you hold in your memory.”

I remained silent as I took in her shaky words. They were words that held a desperation and sadness, a tone of longing hiding inside her quiet voice.

I watched as she looked back up at the tree – its petals showering us as the cold wind blew around us. It chilled me more than the notion that I had been too late. I was too late to come back, too late to change the course of time.

“I almost didn’t come here today, as I promised,” she whispered, before she turned to glance at me sideways, something she had always done before.

“You didn’t?” I asked, equally as quiet.

She shook her head, glancing back up at the tree. “I didn’t want you to see me like this. To see me old, weathered and different than when you had seen me before.”

I listened to her words as she took a deep breath and turned toward me – her hands slightly shaking at her sides.

She blinked and I felt my breath catch. Her eyes – while the rest of her aged and began to waste away, her eyes remained the same. The same crystal blue I had always remembered – the eyes I had always loved.

She smiled half-heartedly and a little tired again. “I’m not beautiful anymore, Robert.”

I swallowed the hard lump forming in my throat, and gazed up briefly at the wind blowing the branches of our tree – our safe place.

I looked back down at Maria – as she looked at me, with eyes full of love, wonder and sadness.

And I knew exactly what I would say next.

I stepped forward and spoke, “But you still are Maria, you still are beautiful to me.”

I watched as shock and something else sparked in her eyes, but before she could speak I continued, taking her hands in mine, just as I did before – and they were still frail, but soft and warm.

“You’re still beautiful to me. You’ve always been beautiful, and it is my fault I didn’t get back to you in time. I was fool to think you’d still look as you did – but I had hoped. Being immortal doesn’t mean we can’t be together still.”

She looked up at me. Tears stung the corners of her eyes, and I wiped them away slowly, and smiled down at her – I could feel my own tears forming.

I had been too late to save her the life of a mortal. To take away the thought of death, to make her young like me forever. But even as I knew our time now was certainly limited – I would not take it for granted.

“Don’t cry,” I whispered, “I’m here now.”

She nodded, and looked away from me before she spoke. I could hear her weak heartbeat, feel that the strength she once had – was now gone, disappearing with the years that had passed us by.

“I don’t have much time left; it could be days, weeks, months… I may have a few years left in me. But nothing like we had before you had to leave.”

I nodded slowly. I understood what she meant – but I didn’t care. Not in the slightest, she was Maria – my Maria, no matter how old she was.

“I know the years lost are gone. Those are years we can’t get back, but I am here now – and you, no matter age, or how long we have left together, are still my Maria. I intend to spend every moment I can with you.”

I was serious and I hoped she knew that. I could tell though, as she looked up at me that she had. She knew I was serious – as I always was when I had my mind set on something.

Her eyes sparkled in the gray light – the light of morning, as I held her hands still within mine.

“You waited for me,” I whispered, kissing her forehead, while she nodded tears springing into her eyes again.

“I did,” she told me.

“Forever…” I answered closing my eyes holding her close.

She paused and then slowly, she whispered, “Forever.”

And we stood there – in each other’s company. There was no power within the universe, within time or space that could ever tear me away from her again.

We were ages apart – but we still had forever.  


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