It was hot. We squinted as we glared into the ferocious sun.
Mesmerised, perplexed, petrified… I suppose we felt it all. We felt everything. In this moment there was nothing we didn’t feel, or hadn’t felt, or would ever feel again. We felt it all. Time suddenly felt very peculiar, like it had never really meant anything all along. As we stood there, I thought back over our life and couldn’t quite believe it was almost over. Yet, here, now, every passing second was another eternity. The end was in sight but it wasn’t yet upon us. It was peculiar. Time suddenly became a constant, yet somehow benign, threat. Wasn’t that strange? Strange how a concept that once dictated our entire being, our daily meaning, suddenly felt like nothing at all. We squinted. We stood and we squinted.
My fingers were interlocked with yours, my left hand firmly tucked into your right. Every few seconds your thumb would caress mine. I don’t know if it was a conscious movement, but I didn’t question it. There was no more time for questions anyway, but if I had enquired, I was pretty sure you would retract the circular motion. So I kept quiet and allowed myself to sink into the feeling on my skin, the one that was drawing from my memory our entire life’s work together. Each rotation from your thumb onto mine took me back another year. I saw everything. I felt everything for the first time all over again. I thought of our children, and wondered if you did too.
We hadn’t heard from them, there was no way to hear from them, but I knew they must be glaring into the same sun as we were, standing as strong as we were. My mind raced over the billions of souls on the planet and I felt an overwhelming pang of togetherness. For the first time in history, the earth stood as one, and everybody was looking together. I guess there was simply nowhere else to look. I suppose our side of the earth had front row seats, as it were, but eyes from all over the world would have been as transfixed as our own. When the kids were younger, they used to draw faces on the sun. Bubbly, smiley, sanguine. Yet this wasn’t the face we were looking at now. Far from it. Blaring, searing, seething. This gargantuan sphere of flame hurtling towards us, staring us down. Taunting us, teasing us. Begging for us to make the first move. Yet we were powerless. What could we do in the face of such a monster? There was nothing to do but stand and wait. So we stood. And we waited.
We’d stood here once before, years ago. I think it was the night we first met. I remember you vividly because your dress exactly matched the colour of your eyes, it even had the speckles of white and green, like it was designed from the sea in your eyes, and it blew me away entirely. Your eyes so blue. So blue, so deep, and so ready for an escape. So we escaped. We jumped on a bus, the first bus out of there, and we escaped. It was just you and I. (You and me?) I allowed myself one final smile as I imagined your rolling eyes mocking my poor grammar with a jovial intensity. You and me. Wait, was that right? I’m not even sure any more. My mind was wandering away from these final moments, so I pulled myself back to this spot, to your hand, to your caressing thumb. It was keeping me grounded. You were keeping me grounded. Here we were, once again. Isn’t it funny how everything comes back around? How nothing really changes? How nothing changes but everything somehow feels slightly different. I glanced at the trees. The leaves have changed shape over the years. They’re burning away now, but the change was terrifyingly noticeable in this moment.
It was moving faster. The sun had never looked so big. It must have only been a few million miles away by this point. Had anybody seen this coming? I certainly hadn’t. Call it naivety, or maybe selfishness, ignorance perhaps, but we had made a life together, and my world was consumed with you. Nobody else had bothered to listen anyway, aside from those crazy few. There wasn’t any saving them either, though, so I’m glad I lived my life in bliss. With you. For some strange reason we were both incredibly calm. There were no tears, no raised voices, no furious, pointless attempts at redemption. Side by side, our fingers traced the lines in our palms, the lines we had carved out over the years, and we squinted. We didn’t need to look at each other, we didn’t need to speak. We knew. We just knew.
The heat was almost upon us and I could feel the moisture seeping out through my pores. I could practically feel the life draining from my skin as my temperature rose to levels I have never experienced. I’d never been so aware of my own being before, I could feel every crevice and every follicle as they expanded and were overcome with fire. Coarse fingertips, still locked with your own, had finally stopped moving. Burning arm hair, roasting off with each passing second, left my forearms bare and vulnerable. Firm shoulders, sore at the weight of waiting, slowly sagged with the realisation of finite life. Weathered necks, guttural throats, creaking jawlines, furrowed brows, eyes drier than they had ever been before. From the depths, a single, solitary tear started to roll down my cheek before the heat of the sun stole it, sucking it up through the atmosphere. My final tear. In those final seconds our faces turned towards one another.
Dry lips, no words, our final sentiments escaped.
I love you.
You are my world.
It has been an honour, my eternal lover.
Finally we closed our eyes as we collided with the sun.