"What made her strong was,
despite the million things that hurt her,
she spoke of nothing but happiness"- J.A.
Location and Time: The middle of nowhere in England's Country. December 2nd, 1836.
Truly, 15 years prior to the present.
Upon a soft pillow of grass with a blanket, staring up into an expansive starry night, delicate fingers intertwined with His calloused hands. The small lingering touch of his padded fingers danced along the lifelines of her palm. The Lifelines of too many lifetimes no one would ever be able to touch. Lifetimes she'd live beyond and before Him.
Upon a hand traced in soothing comfort and pondering; a thousand wandering thoughts projected forth as Wishes, dreaming to be voiced, but always falling short just as he'd hesitate in his memorizing exploration of every inch of her. Gagged by an unwilling tongue to voice that which hung so heavily between their self-constructed solace, he gave into replacing their silence with anything that wasn't the inevitable,
"Do you think the Lion King got it right? Are our ancestors looking down on us now?"
There's a warmth that spreads from his touch, one that she couldn't place but desperately tried to. He has the kind of warmth from a fall fireplace. Laying next to him she had the undying urge to be in a sweater and cuddle until dawn colored the sky. But she knew she couldn’t. It's a wonder that with how many times she tried to get her heart to meet the train tracks her mind was leading her to; the floodgates of her swelling emotions wouldn't burst through her self constructed Dam. Only a damsel who put everyone else before herself would succumb to the torture of crumbling away one fractured piece at a time.
But she wasn't the Damsel that needed saving anymore.
Those deep sea blue eyes bore holes straight into her skull. No manner of questioning or happy banter about ancestors and skies could make her forget that this, this moment in time would end. For all the times she could go back and revisit this one forever would be just out of reach. It was so damnably the present that it was irreplaceable.
He stole air from her lungs in the way, despite the beauty of the universe before them, falling on your back does; suddenly and without remorse. He gazed upon her as if she had all the answers to his curious soul. With an innate intimacy he had always whispered, 'beyond the shell of your body, I see enduring kindness and love weaved within your creation. A strength and fortitude that can't be rivaled because you choose to love me, Rosebud.' How couldn't she love the Romantic Psychic? When she withdrew her sight from the stars to give him her undivided attention she'd find him doing the same to her.
For Nicolai Bishop, a man from nowhere but always going somewhere, the mysterious muse Evelyn Rhoades had become, in a brief time of true romance but a lifetime of friendship, the center of his world. This was forever a truth buried deep in the marrow of her bones and his. There was something beyond them that connected soul and spirit. The intensity of the look of love as he took in her sweet smile was enough to shatter the silence she dared to hold with bated breath.
"I..I don't know. I've never bothered to ask."
Reaching out with her thumb, she traced his blue lips. Even now they were smooth beneath her padded finger. Time was passed and days were spent kissing him to the point that hers were swollen. The summer breeze wasn't cold. But the blood pumping through her veins felt as if it should have been. She's stone cold with bitter regret. He's cold because he's a ticking time bomb.
How awful to think that when the roles were reversed no amount of courage, brazen fortitude, or unrivaled determination could alter the course Time had set forth as Fate. The Knight in Shining armor, with his disheveled brown locks peppered with grey hairs, still held his million watt smile for her private viewing even though he was the one fading.
"Than what do you think? Will we be there one day?" Whispered breaths came slower. A half mast gaze reminded her of a life lived as if Life itself was a drug, forever meant to be high upon. Living that way was his trademark. Now it would be her legacy.
"I'd like to think so. I’d like to think there's always a place for us to go." Because thinking that there wasn’t made for a bitter end to this life. They weren't meant to feel that kind of loneliness. She wanted to believe there would always be arms to wrap around her to make this strange and foreign place home. A home that was just home and not one that was filled with a hundred apologies.
I'm sorry I took up your time.
“Do you remember the night I took you dancing?” He softened.
“When we were kids?” She was melting.
“Yep, and I kept stepping on your foot because I had two left feet. But you always said, practice makes perfect.”
“And you told me that you could only practice it so many times before you looked like an utter fool.”
“Then we’d be fools together.”
They’d go into a fit of giggles and laughter; repeating a childhood conversation verbatim. What Evelyn would give to go back once more and do that first meeting over and over again. She tossed her head back to look up at the sky in the last few dreamy sighs she’d be blessed to share with him. He stared at her because sometime soon the warmth of her body in his arms would be cold.
I'm sorry I couldn't give you more.
When she stole another look at Nicolai, he’s smiling at her. She’s smiling back. She’s watching him, watching her. The years of falling in love from miles away first from friends to romance lovers beneath a night sky woven into the fascination they shared for one another. They were a Shakespearean Sonnet come true. With a shaky breath she asked, “You liked it, didn’t you?”
“Traveling through time with me?”
“Are you kidding Rosebud?” His face twisted in astonishment, but he pulled her closer. Wrapping his arms around her, he held the fragile woman to his chest. Beneath a sharp ear, mixing with the thunderous heartbeat of her own, she heard his; the one she inspired with every fucking breath. Thump. Thump. “All I wanted was to be apart of the things you love.”
“You..you don’t regret it?”
For a moment the elephant was back in the crisp night air with them. This time the elephant suffocated them with the striking realization that as the seconds ticked by so did their love affairs timely demise. But the romantic psychic’s confession is raw and real, as close to his heart as she is, “No, it was worth every minute.”
I'm sorry I can't give you more time when I know it's all you want.
Her thoughts are scattered with memories of Him.
Thinking back, Evelyn subjected herself to relive the collection: they're making funny faces at each other sitting between church pews in a crowd of people; he strokes her hair in the garden as he holds her in a fit of sobs because that time she came back blind; Nicolai filled the empty spot in her heart a mystery murderer left when her Eldest brother was shot dead by three bullets to the chest and one to the head for good measure. Thinking of Him made a hazy world come in clear. But he’s cracking the glass she looks through forcing life to become a splintered mess.
Never did she allow memories of his hospital bed or the nights he’s spent worshiping a porcelain God cloud her visions of him. Instead, she saw the moments he’s had the opportunity to steal from her: laughing while they danced in the rain, skipping down cobblestone streets in top hats and frilly dresses, riding on carriages and visiting history in the making as it happened. The pressure of a few precious Time Traveling glimpses together sit on her chest like a loaded gun. She warned Nic of the consequences of Traveling through time but with as little time he had left with her, he asked to be lost in time with her even if it would cut life short. At least, he wouldn’t have to go through months of brutalizing pain with just a sliver of hope to live.
I'm sorry I can't take the pain away.
The tinge of regret that plagues the heart is worse than the fire that tinges the edge of a burning piece of paper. The inferno is nothing compared to the cold drifting into his limbs piece by piece. The regret that he didn’t have more time is a growing cancer that is spreading to her. It is the Cancer. Now he lays there dying, holding her in his arms, and she’s doing the best she can not to shed a tear because slowly she is breaking along with him. Neither of them can cry yet because they haven't reached a final goodbye.
I'm sorry that I wasn't enough.
A dozen different images flashed in her mind like a movie: suddenly she knew why he was insistent on her going to the beach with him even though it scared her. With so little time left together, he wanted her to experience every new thing she could and he wanted to see her do it because that's what lovers do. They share moments together that will mean a lifetime together.
Pinkie swears about a white dress and suit wouldn't come true. He didn't want to see her a widow the moment she became his wife. He would never hold his child or his grandchild. He wouldn't feel the satisfaction of living in a cabin in the woods he would have built with his two hands. He wouldn't finish school. He wouldn't laugh with his friends. The thought of him never living the rest of his life for her to bare witness as he had hers was almost too much. It wasn't fair. The Cancer was slowly robbing him from her, but she was the one to deliver the final blow. Was it a curse or a blessing that she had quickened his journey to Father Time.
"Will you sing me one more song Rosebud?" She felt something shake loose inside, like the first drop of rain before a storm that would eventually lead to a mudslide.
"Of course, Lovebird."
Everything they have done has lead up to this. His promise to her that he’d tell her when it was time to go. Her promise to him to pass those last moments away beneath a night sky in the time period he loved most while singing a lullaby. So she listened to the beat of his heart for the timepiece to their final tune.
"If I should stay..." She puts forth thoughts and emotions as a song for their goodbye, voicing everything their thinking but unwilling to say.
She allowed dreams to drift to the sky for ancestors to hear as an eternal tune in hopes that when he joins them he'll always hear it too.
In love and in pain, she was linked to him as if he was the air she breathed.
But she's choking on the pain of holding back tears so that this song isn't tainted with the shattering pain of her breaking heart, knowing that at least now he won’t suffer anymore.
She let her goodbye be the words she's shared with him for a lifetime. Even though he says nothing back, she felt the smile against her head as he kissed her a final time.