“There is no one for me but you,” he whispered.
She looked into his eyes, saw the sincerity, the pure love, and even the sadness and heartache that her death would bring him. They both knew she was dying, but it somehow felt wrong, like it wasn’t supposed to happen this way.
“Alexander,” she began, stopping with a gasp, pain wracking her body. Closing her eyes tightly she couldn’t hold back the whimper as the pain sliced through her like a knife. She felt the cool touch of his fingertips brushing over her cheek and up to her temple.
“Breathe my love,” he whispered.
She didn’t know how he did it, and she wasn’t about to question him. Just the brush of his fingertips brought immediate and much needed peace and comfort. With just the touch of his hand she felt whole again.
She breathed deeply, expecting pain, but all she felt was a soothing warmth spreading over her body, and she smiled up at him. She knew it wouldn’t last, but she would take whatever comfort she could get.
“Alexander,” she began again. “You shouldn’t tie yourself to me. It isn’t good for you; you need to be free…and happy.” The last came out more quietly and strained than she had planned.
She wished she could live her life with him. She loved him with all of her heart, but couldn’t help but feel guilty that he was here spending time with her now. She was just holding on and he was just watching her die. The time he spent with her could be time he spent with another, and actually living a joyful and rewarding life.
“Meggie,” he admonished softly. “I love you and no other. I am here because there is no other place for me to be but by your side.” Teasingly, he added “you are just too stubborn to believe it.”
She smiled with relief. She knew he wouldn’t leave her, but she was still compelled to free him, it was more for her own peace of mind, because she still couldn’t believe that he was hers, body and soul. He told her as much, but at first she didn’t believe him. The way they had met and the following days and months after were still fresh in her mind. She would not allow the pain and sickness to take those joyful memories away from her. She wouldn’t!
She had been walking back to the orphanage outside of town when he’d stopped her. She had of course been wary of him. He was dressed in much finer clothing than hers, and even finer than some of the wealthiest town people. She knew quality when she saw it.
He had a bright smile and was very nice. He was a little hesitant when asking her name. Naturally, she was reluctant to give it, as he was a stranger, but deep within she felt warmth build inside as she studied him. She’d felt a kinship that pushed aside any concern for her safety. She had a feeling that she knew him somehow and that she would always be safe and protected in his presence.
In her study and admiration of him, she had taken too long to answer, which left his bright smile a more diminished grin. After a small bow, he apologized for the interruption in her day and then turned to leave.
Not wanting him to go, she reached out, putting her hand on his sleeve, stopping him. His eyes lifted to hers, studying her in return. She had given him a small smile and told him her name. He then took her work callused and berry stained hand, lightly kissing her knuckles.
She cherished that day and all that followed. When she had fallen ill, he moved her from the orphanage to the hospital, only wanting her to rest comfortably regardless of the cost.
His voice brought her back to the present and she focused on his face, a face that was now showing concern. She lifted her hand to his cheek…her caress bringing him comfort as well, she knew, allowing him to close his eyes at just her touch.
“I’m fine Alexander…just thinking of when we first met,” she admitted with a smile.
He opened his eyes studying her face; it was then that he was able to smile in return. “You are so beautiful,” he whispered, lightly touching her lips.
She chuckled in response growing still while he memorized her face by touch. She watched his eyes follow his own fingers as they caressed her cheek. His touch resonated deep into her being and right into her soul.
“I love you Meggie,” he said as he lifted his eyes to meet hers.
No one had ever said those words to her; not even the women at the orphanage, so it still came as a shock whenever he said them. There were just so many kids and not enough caregivers. She had never known love until Alexander. It was him that made her realize all she had been missing.
She took a deep breath, eyes welling with tears, one escaping and trailing down her cheek only to be wiped away by a fingertip. She watched him lift it to his lips and taste.
“I love you Alexander,” she whispered back.
His eyes changed in that instant and he slowly lowered his mouth to hers. She would not shy away; this is what she wanted from the beginning. She felt the light press of his lips on hers and she sighed. He pulled away after a moment and rested his forehead against hers.
“There is never enough time,” he said softly before kissing her again.
She had a hard time understanding some of the feelings she had when she was with Alexander, but she knew that they were right. They felt right and she pushed aside her wary nature to accept them all as they came.
Closing her eyes as a sudden sharp pain shot through her body, she couldn’t help the small cry that escaped her lips. Sweat broke out on her brow as her body stiffened and convulsed at the intrusion.
She heard Alexander say her name through her agony, before feeling his hands grasp and pull her to his body. Her breathing came in small gasps as she tried in vain to push the pain away. It didn’t work and tears that she had no control over trailed down her cheeks in a steady stream.
She faintly heard the door to her room swing open and the soft footsteps come near. She felt movement then a glass pressing to her lips. She didn’t want the liquid because that would take her away from Alexander, and even for a short time, was not wanted.
“Please my love,” he pleaded, “drink.”
Slowly opening her eyes she looked up at him. His eyes were full of pain and sadness. She knew she was going to die soon; reluctantly she parted her lips and let the cool liquid slide down her throat, all the while looking into his eyes.
After she was finished he set the glass aside and brushed her hair from her face, wiping away the tears. “It’s too soon,” he whispered.
The liquid worked too quickly because she could already feel herself floating. As she floated she quickly said, “I love you Alexander,” smiling and touching his face. “I always will.”
A lone tear trailed down his cheek and this time she caught it bringing it to her lips.
She never awoke…