He walked into the room, finding her whispery, willowy body even more frail and broken-looking than normal. Who knew how much longer she had? He certainly didn't. The doctors would tell them this and that, their diagnoses were here and there. But in his heart, he knew the truth: she was at her end. He had the feeling she was simply living on borrowed time now, for his sake. And honestly, he knew he was being selfish. He never ceased telling her to fight, even when they both knew the fight had long been lost.
"Love, I'm here," he whispered, his sweet English accent still managing to make her weak heart skip a beat.
"Hey there," came her barely audible response.
He gently grasped her hand, taking the chair beside her bed. "How are you feeling?"
"I feel like I'm dying," she replied with a pathetic giggle. "But I feel a little better with you here," she lied. His presence put her at ease, but now, despite the pains meds, she felt nothing put constant, dull pains, fused with the occasional sharp, tear-inducing pain.
"You aren't funny," he smiled, placing a soft kiss on her cheek. He knew the pain she was in, even if she wouldn't be honest with him.
"I'm hilarious; admit it," she whispered, lightly hitting his chest but hurting her hand, rather than him.
He leaned up, kissing her cheek once again, wanting to get in as many as he could before their time was up. "You're a lot of things, love, but comedienne is not one of them."
"Yeah, well, you're no Larry the Cable Guy yourself."
"I'd surely hope not. I came from Essex, not down-home, backroad countryville." He added his worst redneck, hillbilly dialect to the end of his words.
She rolled her eyes. "I wonder why I ever fell for such a fool," she sighed mockingly.
"Because I wasn't a fool until I met you," he said quietly.
"'Only fools fall in love'," she quoted an old song they liked to dance to.
"And only fools live on when it's time to go. Maybe it's time to close your eyes, my sweet angel, and let go," he told her firmly.
Her smile faded slowly from her chalky white lips. It was the first time he'd admitted she was a lost cause. "That's the first time you've told me to give up," she said quietly.
He shook his head. "Not give up. Move on. Find peace."
It happened fast. It was no movie moment where she professed her love like it was the first time she was saying it. The only sign she gave him was the tightness with which she clenched his hand before the incessant beeping fazed into an intolerable flatline.
He felt cold and numb, irreparable, but he knew he'd done right by her, and that was enough. Even as his beating heart cracked into pieces. With each step he took to find a nurse. While he watched from the outside looking in as they crowded around her, trying unsuccessfully to resuscitate her. He just smiled, living his first moments without her, searching for the sadness and the pain. But all he could find was her weak smile, photographed in his mind, permanently etched into him. He thought he'd be trading her happiness for his own, but knowing she could be happy, or at peace, or whatever it was, that was all he'd really needed in the end.
He swaggered through the doorway with a halfbroken smile.