Timeless Love: A Final Kiss Across Decades

Submitted into Contest #237 in response to: Write a story about a first or last kiss.... view prompt


Fiction Romance Speculative

I've always been more at home amidst the hum of lab equipment than the rustle of book pages. As a child, I was fascinated by the world around me, always asking 'why' and 'how'. I remember summer afternoons spent in the backyard, my little hands covered in dirt as I examined rocks, leaves, and bugs, my mind buzzing with questions.

My parents nurtured my curiosity. They bought me my first microscope when I was ten. I spent countless hours peering into the tiny lens, marveling at the intricate patterns of life invisible to the naked eye. It was then that I knew I wanted to be a scientist, to unravel the mysteries of the universe one atom at a time.

As I grew older, my fascination with science was accompanied by a deep-rooted interest in history. I found myself drawn to a particular period, a dark time that cast a long shadow over humanity. I spent hours poring over black and white photographs, reading firsthand accounts, and studying the chilling statistics. I was captivated by the resilience of the human spirit, the stories of survival and resistance.

You see, my grandparents were survivors. They never spoke much about it, but their silence spoke volumes. They had numbers etched into their skin, a grim reminder of a past they wished to forget. I never asked them about it, but I understood. I knew why every year, on a certain day, they would light a candle and sit in silence, their faces etched with sorrow and remembrance.

My interest in the Holocaust was not just academic. It was personal. It was a part of my history, my heritage. It was a part of me. And so, I studied. I learned. I remembered. Because to forget would be to let those who suffered, those who resisted, those who survived, fade into oblivion. And I would not let that happen.

So here I am, a chemist with a passion for history, standing at the crossroads of science and memory. Little did I know, my life was about to take a turn, leading me on an adventure that would intertwine my love for science, my fascination with history, and my longing for love in ways I could never have imagined.

It was a biting winter day when I first saw him. He was huddled in an alley, his body shaking violently from the cold. He was thin, too thin, his skin stretched taut over his bones. His eyes, sunken and haunted, held a depth of sorrow that made my heart ache.

He was naked, his skin pale against the stark white of the snow. I couldn't just leave him there, exposed to the elements. I approached him slowly, my hands held out in a gesture of peace. He flinched at my approach, his eyes wide with fear. I spoke softly, trying to reassure him, but he remained silent, his gaze never leaving mine.

I took off my coat and draped it over his shoulders. He didn't resist, but he didn't thank me either. His eyes, those haunted eyes, never left mine. I helped him to his feet and led him to my car. He was light, too light, his body frail and weak.

Once we reached my home, I found him some clothes. He dressed silently, his movements slow and deliberate. I offered him food, but he refused, as if he either didn’t understand me or was terrified, his gaze distant. He seemed lost in his thoughts, trapped in memories too painful to share.

I didn't press him for answers. I could see the fear in his eyes, the way he flinched at sudden noises, the way his gaze darted around the room, always on alert. He had seen horrors, that much was clear. But where he came from, what he had been through, those were questions for another day.

That night, as he slept on my couch, wrapped in blankets and still wearing my coat, I couldn't help but wonder about this strange man who had stumbled into my life. I didn't know his story, but I knew it was a story of pain and fear. And I knew that, for better or worse, our paths were now intertwined.

Trust is a delicate thing, built slowly, piece by piece. With him, it was no different. Days turned into weeks, and still, he remained silent. He would watch me, his eyes filled with a quiet intensity that was both unnerving and intriguing. At night, I would hear him murmuring in his sleep, his words a soft whisper in the stillness of the night. The language was foreign to me, the syllables unfamiliar. "Zi gezunt", "Nisht geshtoygn, nisht gefloygn", he would mutter, his voice filled with a longing I couldn't comprehend.

As the weeks turned into months, he began to speak, his words hesitant and halting. It was German, a language I didn't understand. He seemed to realize this, his gaze filled with a silent apology. But he tried, oh how he tried. He would listen to me, his eyes focused intently on my lips as I spoke. Slowly, he began to pick up words, repeating them back to me with a childlike determination. "Hello", "Thank you", "Please", he would say, his accent heavy but his pronunciation clear.

He was like a child, fascinated by the world around him. He would spend hours in front of the television, his eyes wide with wonder as he watched the images flicker across the screen. He marveled at the technology, the ease with which information was shared, the advancements that had been made since 1942. He never spoke of it, but I could see it in his eyes, the awe, the disbelief, the silent questions that he never asked.

He was a gentleman, always respectful, always considerate. He never took advantage of my hospitality, never overstepped his boundaries. He stayed in the spare bedroom, his presence in my home a constant, yet unobtrusive, reminder of the strange circumstances that had brought us together.

He was a mystery, a puzzle that I was slowly piecing together. He was more than just a curiosity, he was a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, a living reminder of a past that was slowly fading into the annals of history. And as I watched him navigate this new world, this new life, I couldn't help but feel a sense of admiration for this man who had endured so much, yet still had the courage to trust, to learn, to live.

The breakthrough came quietly, without fanfare or grand gestures. It was a simple act, a moment of normalcy in our otherwise unconventional relationship. I woke up one morning to the scent of coffee, a rich, robust aroma that filled the house. I followed the scent to the kitchen, where I found him standing by the stove, his back to me.

He was preparing breakfast, his movements confident and sure. There was a pot of coffee on the stove, and on the counter was a spread of food that was distinctly Germanic. There were boiled eggs, fresh bread, and a variety of cheeses. When I asked him about the lack of meat, he said, “Not…kosher.”

I watched him for a moment, taking in the sight of him. He looked different, healthier. His skin had lost its pallor, his eyes were no longer as sunken. He had gained weight, his body filling out in a way that made him look less fragile, more human.

He turned then, his eyes meeting mine. There was a moment of silence, a moment of understanding. This was his way of showing trust, of letting me into his world. It was a small gesture, but it meant everything. I felt a warmth spread through me, a feeling of affection that took me by surprise. I had taken him in out of compassion, out of a sense of duty. But this was different. This was personal. This was real.

That morning, as we sat down to breakfast, I realized that our relationship had changed. We were no longer just two strangers brought together by circumstance. We were friends, companions, allies in a world that was often too harsh, too unforgiving. And for the first time since he had stumbled into my life, I felt a sense of hope, a sense that maybe, just maybe, everything was going to be okay.

As the weeks turned into months and his grasp of English improved, our relationship began to blossom. We were no longer just two strangers sharing a living space, we were becoming friends. My career as a chemist played a significant role in this transformation.

When I first told him about my profession, he was surprised. A woman in the field of chemistry was not something he was accustomed to. But he was not dismissive or condescending. Instead, he was curious, eager to learn more about my work and the world of science that I was a part of.

My knowledge of chemistry proved to be beneficial in more ways than one. It allowed me to help him understand the modern world, to explain the technological advancements that he found so fascinating. It also helped me to help him, to understand his needs and to provide for them in a way that respected his beliefs and traditions.

It was more than just the practical aspects. My career as a chemist, my passion for science, it gave us a common ground, a shared interest. It sparked conversations, discussions that went on for hours. It allowed us to connect on a deeper level, to understand each other better.

He was no longer just the silent man who had appeared on my doorstep one day. He was a friend, a confidant, a part of my life. And I, in turn, was no longer just the woman who had taken him in. I was his friend, his ally, his bridge to the modern world.

Our relationship was not conventional, but it was real. It was built on trust, on mutual respect, on shared experiences. It was a relationship that was growing, evolving, blossoming into something beautiful.

It was a year to the day since he had come into my life, a year filled with surprises and revelations. But nothing could have prepared me for what was to come. He was nervous, more so than I had ever seen him. He was holding something back, something important. I could see it in his eyes, in the way he fidgeted with his hands.

"I need to tell you something," he said, his voice barely above a whisper. "About my past."

He paused, taking a deep breath before continuing. "I was in Auschwitz," he said, his voice steady despite the gravity of his words.

I stared at him, disbelief etched on my face. "That's impossible," I said. "You're too young."

He shook his head, a sad smile on his face. "I'm not as young as you think," he said. "I... I traveled through time."

It was a lot to take in, a lot to process. But as I looked at him, at the man who had come into my life a year ago, I realized that it made sense. His appearance when I first found him, his knowledge of a time long past, his fear of the modern world. It all added up.

"I'm afraid," he confessed, his voice barely a whisper. "Afraid that I'll be returned to that time, to that place. That's why I've been hesitant to... to propose."

His words hung in the air, a silent confession of his love, his fear, his uncertainty. But as I looked at him, at the man who had survived so much, who had come so far, I knew what my answer would be.

"I love you," I said, my voice steady, my resolve unwavering. "And I'm willing to take that chance. I'm willing to face whatever comes our way, together."

And with those words, a new chapter in our lives began, a chapter filled with love, with hope, with the promise of a future together, no matter how uncertain.

Our marriage took place in an Orthodox Temple, a beautiful ceremony that was both traditional and deeply personal. Samuel Levy, my Samuel, stood by my side, his eyes filled with love and a hint of disbelief, as if he still couldn't quite believe that this was his reality.

The next two and a half years were a blissful blur of shared moments and experiences. Samuel found a job at the Jewish Community Center, where he dedicated himself to teaching others about the Holocaust. He was passionate about his work, about ensuring that the horrors of the past were not forgotten. But he always kept his own experiences hidden, always wore long sleeves to hide the numbers etched into his skin.

Our love continued to blossom, to grow stronger with each passing day. We had our disagreements, of course. Like the time he insisted on using my chemistry equipment to make latkes for Hanukkah. I was furious, worried about the potential contamination of my work. But he just laughed, his eyes twinkling with mischief as he promised to clean everything. He did, scrubbing each piece of equipment until it shone, his apology wrapped in the scent of fried potatoes and onions.

One day, I had news of my own to share. I was with child. I was nervous, unsure of how he would react. But when I told him, his face lit up with a joy so pure, so profound, that it took my breath away. He was going to be a father, we were going to be parents. And in that moment, I knew that no matter what the future held, we would face it together, as a family.

The third month of my pregnancy was supposed to be a time of joy, of anticipation. But instead, it was marred by a diagnosis that shook us to our core. Samuel had terminal cancer.

The shock hit us like a tidal wave, sweeping away our happiness and leaving only disbelief in its wake. It was impossible, inconceivable. My Samuel was strong, vibrant, full of life. How could he be dying?

The hurt came next, a deep, gnawing pain that settled in our hearts. It was a constant companion, a reminder of the unfairness of it all. We were supposed to be starting a family, not saying goodbye.

Fear and grief followed two sides of the same coin. We were afraid of what was to come, of a future without Samuel. And we grieved, not just for the loss of what could have been, but for the loss of what was. Amidst the pain, the fear, the grief, there was also acceptance. Not an acceptance of defeat, but an acceptance of reality. Samuel was dying. But he was also living, and we were determined to make the most of the time we had left.

As my belly grew, a testament to the life we had created, Samuel's health declined. It was a cruel juxtaposition, a reminder of the cycle of life and death. By the sixth month of my pregnancy, Samuel was admitted to the hospital. His once vibrant eyes were now clouded with pain, his strong body weakened by the disease.

Through it all, Samuel remained Samuel. He was still the man I fell in love with, the man who had survived so much, the man who was the father of our child. And as I watched him fight, watched him hold on, I knew that no matter what happened, his spirit, his love would live on in our child.

Our final kiss was in the sterile confines of the hospital room, a place that had become all too familiar in the past few months. Samuel was weak, his body ravaged by the disease, but his eyes still held that familiar spark, that unyielding spirit that had drawn me to him in the first place.

I leaned over him, my hand gently cradling his face. His skin was cool to the touch, a stark contrast to the warmth that had always radiated from him. I pressed my lips to his, a soft, lingering kiss that held all the love, all the pain, all the unspoken words that we had shared over the years.

It was a kiss of goodbye, a kiss of love, a kiss of acceptance. It was a kiss that spoke volumes, that said everything that needed to be said and more. It was our final kiss, a moment suspended in time, a memory that would forever be etched in my heart.

As I pulled away, his breath hitched, a small, almost imperceptible change. And then, instead of the expected silence, the expected stillness, something extraordinary happened.

Grey and yellow sparkles of light began to surround him, dancing around him like fireflies on a summer night. They were beautiful, ethereal, a sight that was both breathtaking and heartbreaking in its intensity.

He began to fade. Not just his physical presence, but his essence, his spirit. It was as if he was being pulled away, drawn into the past, into the memories that had shaped him, that had made him the man he was.

The sounds of the concentration camp, the gas chamber, the horrors he had survived in 1942, filled the room. They were harsh, cruel, a stark reminder of the past. But they were also a testament to his strength, to his resilience, to his unyielding spirit.

Just as suddenly as they had appeared, the lights faded, the sounds ceased. Samuel was gone, his presence replaced by a profound silence, a void that could never be filled.

Even as I mourned his loss, and grieved for the man I had loved, I couldn't help but feel a sense of peace. Because I knew that Samuel had enjoyed a respite from pain. His death came after love. In finding his peace he had given me mine.

February 10, 2024 15:41

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