The eggs are as cold and flakey as the wooden table they are sitting on, the blueberry tea beside it just as stale. Yet in a vase that sits at the center, a few lively stems of lavender can be seen stretching upward. Hanging off the table’s edge is one of several notes strewn about the quaint Maine cottage, each containing words of appreciation or announcements similar to this particular one, indicating the scribe went to get milk. It’s the same serene scene every morning, all waiting for Charlotte’s arrival from the bedroom.
A pair of pale green eyes stares blankly at the sea through a glass door, studying the way some waves flutter like tickling hands, yet others crash with force. The eyes belong to a man whose cotton shirt currently clings to his ribs with each unsteady breath. There’s no sign of life about him except for a slight shaking sensation in his hands. Don’t think of her.
His left hand presses the metal rim gently against his temple.
His thumb teeters among the trigger, contemplating it, feeling its texture as if it enamors him. Perhaps it does. One click and it’s over. Just one quick motion. The simplicity is almost brilliant. He swallows. A gentle wind shuffles through an open window. A shudder.
Then the smell of lavender, blown over from the kitchen table.
A gasp. He can still see the curve of her lips as she admires the flower nearly 50 years ago. Abruptly, the man is almost in tears. It’s as if he can see her.
His left hand is defiant, keeping the metal rim in its place. But the entire world is still. Frozen. He can see her. She is right in from of him. Yet the man keeps his eyes to the ground. He doesn’t even have to look at her to remember. Crisp cheekbones, covered in her warm, pink complexion, always making her seem flushed. A gentle, almost awkwardly upward-tilted nose. Honey curls that flutter about her shoulders. That porcelain look to her skin, even around the elbows and knees. It’s you.
“Ch…” A pause, his dry tongue needing a moment to remember the sound it so often used to sing. “Charlotte.”
The man wobbles forward, as if needing to push himself with each step, but he keeps his head down. Once in front of her, he is hesitant and careful about putting a hand to her cheek, as if he fears bringing the smell of the gun and the closeness of death to such a lovely creature. It can’t be you. Not now. Not after all this time. And then her fingers are around his. The man gasps, grimaces, still not looking at her, and she lifts his unoccupied hand, running it along those crisp cheekbones. The metal rim is still against his temple.
But finally, their eyes meet. And suddenly, they are young again.
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