The picture chosen for this week’s flash fic was lovely, but once I saw it as the modern-day balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, I could imagine nothing else. So I’ve chosen my own inspiration this week, because I really wanted to write something. My apologies to the rest of the group for striking out on my own.
The lab was dark but for the light coming through a high window on the east wall and a candle on the table, which added to the eerie atmosphere. Arrick was ever one for setting the mood. I shivered with anticipation, even as terror made my nerves as taut as guitar strings.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked, gazing at me solemnly across the table. His eyes were dark pools under lowered brows, but I knew the irises were as green as new leaves in spring when the light hit them. “It’s not required. I will love you until… well.”
He didn’t say the words, but I heard them anyway: Until you die.
Smoke poured off the liquid in the wine glass set atop Arrick’s ancient recipe books, wisping away into the shadows that crouched ’round us. He’d let me watch him make the potion, but I still had only the vaguest idea what was in it.
“It’s the only way we can stay together, is it not?” I hugged myself, suddenly chilled.
“There is time yet,” he said. “No need to do this now.”
But I was aging as we spoke. Every minute of every day, I was getting older while he remained young and beautiful. Arrick had been alive over three hundred years.
The year he was born–1500–Portugal claimed Brazil and the Ottoman Fleet defeated the Venetians. He was nine when Henry the VIII ascended the English throne and Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The year France conquered Mexico, he was twenty-one, and a few months later, he became immortal.
I was thirty-two. It was 1837. “Will it hurt?” Stiff with anxiety, I stared at the acrid, pluming smoke.
“You don’t have to do this,” he said again.
All morning I’d teetered on the sharp edge of indecision, but now the choice was made. I only had to look at the face of the man I loved more than life itself.
I picked up the glass. It was unexpectedly cool to the touch. “All of it?”
Not giving myself the opportunity to overthink it, I raised the glass to my mouth, held my breath, and drank it down. The aftertaste made my lips curl, and I shuddered at the bitterness.
The seconds passed. Arrick watched me closely.
Drawing in a sharp breath, I gasped as seemingly every cell in my body exploded and was remade, dropped the glass on the stone floor, where it shattered, and gripped the edge of the table. “And then there was light,” I rasped as stars flared, burning bright on the inside of my eyelids.
Arrick circled the table and took me in his arms. “And life eternal,” he whispered in my ear.
The thought was briefly terrifying. I swayed against him, dizzy.
Arrick leaned over and blew out the candle. “An endless future lies before us, and we shall see it all.” He led me to the narrow bed in one dark corner. “But tonight, while magic still flows in your veins, we make love.”
I was 143 years old when John Lennon was shot in 1980. When Princess Diana was beheaded in a car crash, I was 160. The year I turned 200, in 2037, billions of people the world over died from a virulent bird flu mutation. I celebrated that birthday on top of a mountain in the French Alps with Arrick by my side.
The world was burning, but we would go on.
Word count: 635
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