The year is 2070, she died in 2069. And now the scene was finally set. He had held on for what to him was an unfathomably long time, though it was only a year.
The unceremonious, sad and belated time had come. He lay, 82 years old, in bed staring bitterly at the small television screen across the large bedroom. Agatha Christie’s Poirot ran on and on, reassuring white noise to keep him company. ‘Have I smiled this past year?’ he questioned. His eyes glazed over, blurring his vision, so little attention actually paid to the images on the screen. Onto his forehead, thin white strands of tired, unkempt hair fell. His wide lens glasses slipped to the tip of his nose. There was no more he wanted, or needed to see. The future held nothing but doubts, memories and fear. So he slipped down the soft pillow, further and further till his chin touched the seam of the duvet cover and his toes were freed at the other end of the bed. The ceiling provided the perfect blank canvas for his thoughts to multiply upon. The sound of the television became a very distant hum. The room was quite empty for all the things he’d given away since she died. Only a chest of drawers upon which sat the television remained. Hanging from a drawer handle was her dressing gown which had not been moved in the whole year; not even touched. It had become a symbol for him to prove his unflinching reverence for her. On the floor by his bedside was a half-finished tumbler of whiskey, one last treat he thought. In truth is was a necessity, and it had become a daily one.
He was so lonely. Of course, he had children, and grandchildren, who all loved him and who visited. But it felt so fleeting. Before he knew it he was alone again, with only television and whiskey. ‘How did I fall into such disrepair? He questioned as only a former engineer could. He remembered a photo of his 80th birthday. The two of them entwined, healthy, smiling. It wouldn’t be long till she was no longer there. Could that have been the last time he smiled? He imagined it might have been.
He lay, with the ceiling blank, until, with his last remaining might and strength, he summoned her back for a last goodbye. There was no rush, he knew well that his final breaths would come as he slept that night, and so he stayed awake to relive her love. In a beautiful flash he was back, asking her to dance, for the first time at the ballroom. ‘Oh how we could dance!’ he had once proclaimed to his grandson. A notion which brought tears to his eyes now. For he thought of his last attempts at dancing which had ended only with sore limbs and embarrassment. ‘If she’d been there we’d have shown them all what a pair we were!’ He shivered under the duvet from the cold. An image of the two of them danced sweetly across the ceiling. Her dress swirling and fluttering as they waltzed. His eyes lit up at the sight.
Their first kiss struck at his slowing heart and the image painted itself upon the ceiling beside the still dancing couple. At the time of that kiss, he had thought of Death as being so far away from them; inevitable but distant and un-real. When their lips met he believed them to be untouchable. That great valley of time that separated them from the end, was an exciting journey and here they were at the start of it.
Now here he was at the end of it. Her perfect voice rung out in song and filled the room. Her cries of joy and tears of pain. Their life together filled the once blank ceiling above him, a collage of their undying love. The past year without her had gone on too far and he felt the moment perfect to bring it to an end. What was he without her? The world had become simply too much. In his head he spoke his last; ‘to the people who remain, who loved me and who I loved equally, I hope that you know, on without her, I can no longer go’.
He shut his eyes tightly and took his final breaths, their wedding photo pressed to his now motionless heart.