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Charles watched impatiently as Nephthys applied her scarlet lipstick diligently. Her full lips looked delightfully plump as she blew a kiss to herself in the mirror. She looked flawless as usual in her black cocktail dress and long ebony cascading waves. 

Despite the incomparable beauty in front of him, Charles was apathetic as he stared at her glumly. He sat slumped in his room with his shirt disheveled and jeans hanging loosely on his lean hips. “Why am I always waiting for you?” he asked in irritation. 

Nephthys smiled at him with coy amusement in the mirror. “Because you don’t know how to enjoy anything around you. You’re so focused on me being ready for you you forget to pay attention to life. How utterly boring.” She said smoothly. She walked gracefully toward his settee and sat down with feline grace, stretching her long legs out before him, her bare toes nudged his scuffed shoe out of the way playfully. She leaned down to grab her black lacy stilettos and slipped them on slowly taunting Charles as she smiled demurely behind the curtain of hair falling down her shoulders. 

Charles was filled with a sudden rage that he sprung from his chair in agitation. “I am tired of waiting for you! We have had this conversation over and over again. You constantly mock me as if you don’t even take me seriously. No matter how much I beg you to come, you tease me.”

Nephthys’ eyes cooled slightly as she stared at him in stony silence for a moment until he sat back down in embarrassment at his outburst. She reclined on the settee slowly, her movements predatory, all signs of flirtation gone. 

“You’ve asked me to come for you as if time is the same for both of us. Your obsession with time is the cause of your misery. Every day you run around like a rat in a cage rushing impatiently to get to a job you hate on the clock. Then you stare at the clock all day, waiting to come home. You rush and rush into nothingness and wonder why your life feels so empty. Yet you have the nerve to rush me into the same state of hysteria that you live by?  I think not, Charles.” 

Charles hung his head in shame and looked away from her with watery eyes. She sighed in sympathy. She stood up and walked around until she faced him directly. 

“The world may seem so cruel to you we cannot change the past and bring her back to you. You asked me to stay with you a year ago and I have stayed with you to keep you company. I have warned you that I would not give you what you asked for until it was your time.”

The word “time” was said with gently mockery. He winced as she mentioned “her” and wanted to immediately cover his ears against her words. He wanted to avoid the memory but it came at him like an unavoidable wave. The sound of screeching tires, shattering glass, and wrenching metal as the drunk driver smashed into the SUV. The sound of screams cutting off roughly. His breathing became ragged as he became lost in memory. 

He felt soft hands on his clammy forehead as Nephthys stroked his hair back. His eyes focused on her gentle black eyes. As he stared into her eyes, he became lost in the swirling vastness of shadows that seemed to pulse and flare. The deeper he looked, the more the darkness seemed to flow into currents of light. He felt light-headed as the weight of his body seemed to shift. A bout of dizziness and nausea overwhelmed him as his equilibrium shifted and his body seemed to disintegrate into an infinite explosion of nothingness. He wanted to gasp or scream but there was nothing. Just as sudden as he experienced this illusion, it was gone. He jerked away from her gasping air back into his lungs. 

“You see? It is always you who is never ready for me. I have seen your future and I know what is in store for you. Living in grief is such a tragedy that you humans hold onto with such greed. One day you will remember that living in a state of grief is nothing more than living in lack. You are always lost in the thought of what you had.” He choked back the sobs in his throat at such harsh words spoken so gently. Her voice was full of love. 

“One day, you will remember what you have and this is when you will experience gratitude for the life you have now and gratitude for all that you have experienced; even the things and people you have lost. Until you return to gratitude, you will feel this emptiness. Emptiness is an eternity for an undisciplined mind, my dear Charles. “

Nephthys stood up and brushed her flaring skirt down her legs. “I have a gift for you for our anniversary dear Charles. Please follow me.” She held out her hand.

He took her hand slowly and stood up with slumped shoulders. She walked him to the bay window and he stared at the night sky with empty eyes. He did not appreciate the beauty of the full moon or the shimmering stars adorning the night sky like diamonds. She smiled at the sky delightfully, enjoying his whimsical musings. “I simply adore diamonds,” she said absently as she stared at the sky in child-like awe. 

He wished that he could see the world like she did, with such wonder. All he saw was death and misery everywhere he looked. She tutted with exasperation, “that’s because you watch too much news.” She said derisively. He snorted in irritation. 

“Stop reading my mind.”  He muttered to her. She shrugged her delicate shoulders dismissively. “I can’t help it.”

She looked at him a little sheepishly. “I’m about to do something that I’m not supposed to do, but I wanted to give you a gift before I leave.” 

He became intrigued by her expression and looked at her more intently. She was never unsure about anything. She turned to face him abruptly and stepped closer to him until her breasts were brushing against his chest.

His eyes widened in shock at her move. She had never moved so boldly against him before. His breath caught in his throat and he felt his heart pound in nervous excitement. She looked at him with black hooded eyes of mystery, her scarlet lips parted in anticipation. 

She smiled at his hesitance and pulled his head down until his lips met hers in a spark of heat. He felt his whole body wake up immediately the way it hadn’t since his wife died exactly one year ago. At thoughts of his deceased wife, his body tensed in guilt but she held onto him with her lips pressed firmly against his.

He relaxed into the kiss as he became aware of every sensation. He felt heat travel throughout his body. The heat began to expand beyond his physical form as reality melted away into a dream. 

He was in bed with a beautiful woman with red hair and ivory skin- not his wife, but another woman. She smiled at him and touched his face. He felt a love like never before fill his heart as she touched him. Suddenly, a weight of pure energy catapults into bed with them as a little girl around five years old launches herself into bed singing “wake up sleepy-heads!”

The image fades and now he stands on stage in a room filled with thousands of people cheering. A distinguished gentleman in a suit is presenting him with an award. 

“Ladies and gentlemen, no other advocate against drunk driving has ever made such an impact with rehabilitative programs and treatment centers around the world to treat people struggling with such a life-destroying disorder. Through his own experience, Charles was able to rise above his own tragedy and advocate for change in the world in the most effective and compassionate way that has made a phenomenal impact on the lives of so many people.”

The image faded and he became aware of Nephthys holding his sobbing body in her arms. He felt a sense of loss and hope simultaneously. The hope that maybe he could live again. She rocked him gently. 

“All this time you’ve been waiting for me, we have been waiting for you. Sometimes, we have to suffer an event that feels like the most excruciating thing we’ll ever experience so that we can change the world. Imagine, without this one moment in your life, how many thousands of people you would never have helped. This was the agreement between all of us. She was ready and now you must realize that you are not ready for me.” She pulled back to look into his eyes. 

“Please do not give up on all of those people waiting for you.” He felt the weight of release from his heart as every answer to every question he had over the last year was finally answered. His body became limp in surrender as he felt relief and experienced his first moment without grief since that fateful Valentine's night that a drunk driver struck his car killing his wife as they drove home from their date. 

His body seemed to flow weightlessly as he relaxed against her completely in trust. She held him in her arms until the sunlight broke the horizon. They stared quietly out the bay window in silence. His eyes were contemplative instead of grief-stricken, though his lips still tilted slightly in sadness. 

He sighed a deep breath as he became aware of the ache in his limbs from sitting on the floor for so long. He moved to stretch and looked at the beautiful woman next to him from the corner of his eye. She smiled and stretched like a cat as she gave a delicate yawn behind her hand. 

“I have to leave now.” She said gently. He sighed in acknowledgment and nodded. They both stood up and she touched his cheek. 

Her eyes glazed over for a moment as she seemed to be somewhere else. She gave a sigh of exasperation and shook her head. “It looks like I have a date with a young man who decided parkour on a cliff edge was just the thing to do. The immortality of youth.” She spoke so casually, with a hint of amusement. 

“I’ll be back. Don’t wait for me.”

July 06, 2020 18:08

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8 comments

Jubilee Forbess
04:35 Jul 15, 2020

So interesting! Love the voice and style. :)

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Alethea Jimison
18:14 Jul 16, 2020

Thank you Rhondalise! Please follow me for more short stories to receive updates. I'm excited that I found this website to share my stories :)

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14:33 Jul 08, 2020

Great Story!

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Alethea Jimison
18:12 Jul 16, 2020

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it :)

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03:42 Jul 08, 2020

Quiet intriguing. I wanted to keep reading more.

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Alethea Jimison
18:12 Jul 16, 2020

Thanks, mom! LOL! I'll be more than happy to share additional stories with you. If you visit my website www.aj-thewordsmith.com and sign up for notifications, you can receive emails every time I write new stories, blogs, or poems. I plan on writing more stories, so uou can always follow me here at reedsy.com for more of my stories.

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Ben K
17:32 Jul 16, 2020

This was so. Subtle. So beautiful in it's own way. This was touching in the sense of relief the character feels in the end. How even a fleeting moment can be exactly what we need to accept ourselves. No matter how difficult it may be. Your words flow and the strength of the characters truly shine through in this piece.

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Alethea Jimison
18:09 Jul 16, 2020

Thank you for your feedback Ben. I appreciate your reflection. Every day is the opportunity to reflect on ways to accept the best and worse parts or ourselves.

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