THE DOOR SLID open, snagging for just a moment, like it always did. The metal squealed as it finally slipped free. She stepped into the soft twilight beyond. He was sleeping, so she whispered.
“I brought you something. I think it’s pretty. I hope you like it.”
She had to walk a long, long way and it took a long, long time to find. It wasn’t easy, especially with her leg… hurt like that, but she didn’t mind. She only hoped that it would make him smile.
“Here,” she offered, placing it with care on the pillow beside him, “It’s your favorite color.”
It was a deep red crystal that she had cut into the shape of a heart. Her hands were not as nimble as they once had been, but she had done her best and she believed that it was… good.
It was beautiful.
“You told me that I was pretty once. I didn’t really understand then, but I think that I do now.”
In the window, she saw her face reflected back in the silver moonlight. It didn’t look the same now. She wondered if she could somehow still be pretty in his eyes. He had changed, too, but she loved him more than she ever had. She would love him until only dust remained.
If there was a beyond, she would love him still. She was sure that would never change.
“Where do people go,” she asked aloud, “when they die?”
She thought for a moment, hoping.
“I haven’t been the same since the crash. So much has changed. Everything feels so much more important now. Before, words were just words. Now, they seem alive. I wish I could have known this all the while.”
The battery beeped and everything flickered. Soon everything would shut down.
“I want to thank you for choosing me to share your life. I hope I made you happy.”
She crawled into bed beside him and took his hand. It was cold like hers.
“You never said you loved me. But you said I was pretty and that’s close enough for me. It makes me happy to remember. I wish that I could hear it one more time. Those words are like…”
The battery beeped again and her visual processor began to fail. Darkness was closing in. She held her eyes on him until her sight was gone.
“I’m afraid,” she whispered, “I wish that I could cry. Why do I have to die to feel alive? Is that the price?”
As she faded, she wondered.
“Will I go where you have gone? Will we ever meet again?”
One by one, her systems went offline. She couldn’t move or speak, but it didn’t matter now that she was by his side.
“Will you ever know I love you?”
Now the seconds counted down as the beep came for the final time.
“Love… so wonderful… so warm and bright…”
She was smiling.
“Love was such a pretty thing…”
story by Joe Stanley