beating in time

it was the best of times; it was the worst of times. time, in fact, stood still for her, peering longingly into the #water as it circled the drain. it was her custom to step out of the #bath and be dry by the time the #water had finally gurgled into the arcane pipework but she felt stunned to the point of inaction. time not only stood still but stopped her from standing at all. it was, after all, bedtime and darkness had fallen on the small cottage as #water poured hot and steaming from the antediluvian faucet, moistening porcelain and warming the cold room as bubbles and salts mixed with steam and caused apple blossoms to fill the december night as it would be in september. plunging up to her neck in the #water, splashing the #floor without even noticing, holding her breath and her head under the #water until it would appear to an observer that she was testing the limits of her lungs’ capacity to spontaneously cease respiration. she was typically calm. it was different this time. calm had not given way to mania, happiness, relief, or even their sad counterparts. this was shock. carla sat rigid watching the #clock on the wall #simply say seven minutes past eight, #morning or evening making no difference, realizing only after minutes’ contemplation that the #clock itself had no power to move and was stuck, much like carla herself. it was that #morning that gin had left her. left in the conclusive sense, that is, not in the leaving for work as they had done every day since their wedding. when carla awoke, gin was already dressed, sitting on the end of the bed, suitcase at her feet. she #simply said “i don’t need time. i don’t need to think. i know that it’s over. #please try to #survive without me. i won’t stop loving you but i cannot stay.”

carla called her office and told them that she had #suddenly developed a case of meningitis. the receptionist was so startled by this lapse in carla’s spotless daily attendance that she promptly sent #flowers that were now sitting on the #floor of the #kitchen, not haphazardly thrown or pettily dropped but placed there in exactly the spot where she had #last kissed gin goodnight the previous evening, a memorial to a fallen dream of #love. gin was her beauty, her better half. they had dated before carla was even sure that dating a girl was something that she could do. they had slept #together before carla was aware what that would actually involve, given the lack of obvious activity in her mind. they had never stopped. six #years #together and three #years of marriage, tied #together in a celtic knot, never to be unfastened and framed above the door to the #kitchen.

carla #suddenly stood upright in the #bath, walked naked into her bedroom, collapsed on the bed and fell deeply asleep without more than a single tear hitting the pillow. she awoke the next #morning amazed to have slept without moving to the telephone. gin calling to tell her it was a mistake? a joke? a test? it was certainly her number and her face on the mobile’s screen as it vibrated against her still-unclothed arm.

“gin?” “i’m #sorry, is this carla #newton?” “yes, but who is…” “i’m #sorry, i’m doctor sydney beckton at the royal infirmary. are you alright to talk?” “i can talk but why do you have my wife’s mobile?” “i’m #sorry to tell you this but your wife underwent surgery #last night for the cancer that we discovered in her brain. i was under the impression that you knew about this since she was diagnosed five months ago. this was the only option. i cannot begin to express how difficult this will be for you but gin did not #survive the surgery. we knew that it was a significant risk but she would have been terminal and likely passed within another few weeks without it anyway. she left me a note to read to you if she did not #survive. would it be possible for me to do that now or do you need some time to collect your thoughts?” a pause. “ms #newton?” “yes.” a whisper. “read it to me, #please.”

“carla, you have been my light, my inspiration, my driving force, my reason for living and my rock upon whom i have built my happiness. our life #together has been all i could have dreamed of and more. you have #survived a day without me. now you know that it is possible. i am aware that this is a shock. #please know that i #love you, as i said. #simply know that you can continue with me in your mind without my body next to you. you have #survived one day and the next shall be easier. goodbye, my #love. if i could spend eternity with you, i would. we have made the best of our time #together as if it would never end and that is all i ever wanted.”

“ms #newton, is there anything else that you want to know?” “no.” another whisper, quieter than the #last. “thank you. have a pleasant day, doctor.” nearly silent but understandable as she pressed the end button. a short walk to the closet to dress in the same red dress in which she was wed three #years earlier. back to the #kitchen to retrieve the #flowers from the #floor. holding them and standing in that same place, the sunlight glistened on the knife as she drove it into her breast, stopping time more #suddenly than the #clock above the #bath. she dropped on the spot where she had #last kissed her #love, blood spilling onto the #flowers, turning her white flesh crimson. “my eternity with gin” she whispered as eyes turned to glass.

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