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Fiction Mystery Urban Fantasy

She sat at the bar of a fancy hotel on New Year’s Eve. She liked to think of herself as social enough. Meaning that she went out enough to stay under the radar, to not arouse suspicion about why she was such a hermit, but not enough to draw attention or make any lasting impressions. Sure, it was nice to be well-known and stand out. But, at this point, she’s learned the beauty of anonymity and going unnoticed; a true blessing in disguise, at least for her.

She could see the appeal of celebrating New Year’s. Saying goodbye to the past and welcoming the future and all the possibilities to come. She had thought that she would grow tired of the celebration. When you’ve been around as long as she has, and experienced as many New Year’s celebrations as she has, one would think that it would become redundant at some point. Yet she never saw it that way. She always took the time to be grateful for the memories of the past year and welcome the new year with open arms. One could never be too sure how much time they had on Earth, even someone as old as she. So, she cherished each and every year that she was given.

She stared into the pink concoction that she was drinking as she reminisced on past years. She has lived many lives in her many years. Each one different than, yet exactly the same as, the last. She tried to move every 10 or so years. Enough time to experience the area and settle, but not long enough for anyone to realize that she doesn’t age.

She didn’t know what happened, or how, or why she was different. She just knew that she was. One day she had just… stopped. Stopped aging. And at one point, she had thought that meant that she had stopped living too.

After all, what is the point of life if there is no promise of death? Is it really living if there’s nothing at the end of the path? It’s like an endless journey with no final destination. There’s no meaning. Do you really have light if there’s no darkness?

She eventually got over it, realizing that if she was to really spend eternity on Earth, she couldn’t just mope about. She had to do something to avoid going mad. So she did what she had to. She lived. When her moment finally came, if it ever did, she wanted to be able to say that she had lived.

After all, sometimes the journey is the destination.

She did it all. She traveled the world. She learned about history, about different cultures. She picked up new hobbies. She did whatever she wanted. She lived everyday like it was her last, because truly, it could be. She had no understanding of her condition and when it would end, if it ever did.

Sure, sometimes it was lonely. She’d lost her parents many, many years ago. Being an only child of two only children meant she was the last branch of her family tree. Plus, all the moving and needing to keep a low profile weren’t exactly the ideal conditions to make friends. Every time she moved, she had to start over again. New city, new people, new identity.

She had met so many good people that she’d had to leave behind. That was the hardest part of it, she thought. Not having anyone to really share it all with. Sure, she had so many great memories, but no one was there by her side. Which begged the second existential question: What was the point of having it all, doing it all, if she didn’t have someone to do it all with?

She had thought about finding someone, but what was the point? They had no future. There would be no growing old together. She would outlive them, and have to mourn them when they eventually passed. Besides, how would it even work? Would they move around together? Would they stay in one spot? What would they say to friends and family when they inevitably noticed that she never aged? There were too many what-ifs and variables. Best not to chance it.

She scowled into the pink concoction she was drinking as she slowly stirred the straw. She liked to think of her immortality as a gift, but sometimes it really felt more like a curse. As she was stewing in her own self pity, she couldn’t help but wonder, yet again, why her. Of all the people in the world, why her?

“What did that drink ever do to you?”

She looked over to her right, somewhat startled that someone was trying to talk to her, especially because she hadn’t noticed them walk up. She was even more surprised to see that it was a relatively good looking guy. His hair was perfectly styled, his clothes looked like he just stepped out of a J.Crew ad, his features looked as if he’d been sculpted by the Gods themselves. He looked like the kind of guy who would fit in effortlessly with this crowd. He almost looked too good to be true. 

Normally, she would have sent him away, as she did with almost every guy who came up to her. Yet there was something familiar about him that she couldn’t quite place. Something that told her that she should keep talking to him. “Do I know you?” she asked as her brows knitted together in concentration as she tried to put a name to the face. Or even just figure out where she’d seen him before. She’d come across many people in her time. Maybe she really had seen him in a J.Crew catalog.

“I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure.” He gave her a smirk that was borderline arrogant while leaning easily against the bar, subtly flexing his muscles under his suit jacket.

She frowned, wondering if that usually worked on women. “I know I’ve seen you before.” This was going to bother her until she figured it out, she knew.

“I don’t think so.” Amusement danced behind his eyes as he gestured to her forgotten drink. “How many of those have you had?”

She let out a frustrated breath. “I’m not-” That’s when it came to her. She snapped her fingers, her eyes widening as she sat up straighter and turned to fully face him. She leaned in closer towards him and lowered her voice as she whispered, “The Royale, New Year’s Eve, 1965. You were there.” 

He blinked in pure shock. He didn’t say anything for a minute, as if his brain had blue-screened. “Wha- I- How did you-” He cut himself off and she could see the exact moment that he recognized her. “I remember you now. You were there with the Maxwell siblings. What were their names again? Ah, yes, Harry and Lisa.” He seemed to look her over at that moment. Really examine her. “How do you look exactly the same?”

“I could ask you the same question.” She raised a brow in response, because really, it seemed like he of all people should know the answer to that question.

“Touche.” He extended a hand. “Let me properly introduce myself. Or reintroduce myself, I suppose. Apollo.”

“Apollo? Like the Greek God?”

“The one and only.” That arrogant smirk returned.

She eyed his still extended hand for a second before reaching out with her own and shaking it. “Jennifer.”

“Jennifer?”

“That’s what I said.”

“I seem to remember you having a different name the last time we met. Kimberly, was it? But maybe my memory is just deteriorating with my old age.”

She shrugged. “I was a different person when we last met.”

He hummed in thought. “You’ve been busy then. And if we were to go all the way back, back to the beginning, what name would you be bearing then?”

She thought for a moment, considering whether or not she really wanted to tell him. On the one hand, he had to be like her; cursed, or blessed, with an infinite amount of time. On the other hand, he was still a stranger. Yet, there was something in her gut that told her she could trust him. “Athena.”

“Athena, huh? Like the Greek Goddess?”

“The one and only.”

“Well, it’s nice to officially meet you, Athena.”

“I’m not sure if I can say the same of you.”

He simply chuckled at the response.

The rowdy crowd around them managed to break her out of the little bubble they’d somehow manage to create. She saw people hugging, kissing, cheering. Glasses were raised in the air on toast. People who didn’t know each other were celebrating together. It was a beautiful thing to witness.

“Happy New Year, Apollo.”

“Happy New Year, Athena.”

January 01, 2022 04:09

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